Sunday, 16 January 2011

Marriage: The maths bit

Preserve of the overly careful, deeply unromantic - unless there's something in numerology that does it for you, in which case, my numerical dyslexia and I salute you - and prissy old things budgets might be: but they are also essential to weddings.

This week, glorious medieval venue confirmed, it was maths time and I was unexpectedly on very unsure footed territory. It's all too easy to get all blithe and swoony with the romance of it all, and to let the reason you're doing all of this [the wedding which begets the marriage] get lost among the small things. A lovely, personal, unforgettable day is a given with a wedding, so forgetting the whole meeting of what I perceived as other's expectations, trusting our own instincts  - was a must. In the words of wedding luminary Mark Niemierko, you should always walk into a wedding and think "this is so them". And it will hopefully only be the champagne addled bits that might slip off into the ether's of time, anyhow. Equally, although you should always be mindful of knowing when less is more (this especially applies to budget blitzing flowers, guests, and diamante - for which there is very little excuse), it is the time for getting carried away with the sheer joy of a wedding, to be generous, and to wear the most breathtaking dress and say the soppiest things to each other.

One excel spreadsheet later, and numerous "what does a wedding actually need?" ponderings later having rifled through the trusty internet blogs to find out what a budget checklist looks like, I came up with the below....and a few handy tips and titbits of advice I picked up along the way.
  • A venue (see previous post). But don't be afraid to gently ask if the price they quote you is the best they can do - lacing a bit of cheek with nicety goes a long way. One venue we looked at dropped £1,000 from their hire fee once we asked about best price offers.
  • Registrars/Wedding ceremony fees: realistically this is going to cost you anywhere from £120*                                                  *standard registry office fee
  • Venue furniture, marquees, dancefloors, soft furnishings: Many venues are going to fetter you to their own suppliers, but if you are creating most of your reception from scratch, get quotations, pleasantly barter, and be aware that is generally wisest to consolidate your suppliers rather than hustling around - their prices are generally better and it will save the stresses of trying to ensure everything arrives at your venue to schedule.
  • Wedding breakfast: go as 'local' and 'seasonal' as you can with food and caterers - thus reducing your eco footprint, supporting local trade, and the seasonality of your wedding will keep costs down (for instance, autumn and winter are peak season for wildfowl, game, Venison etc).
  • Wedding cake and flowers: don't let talented relatives, friends or acquaintances hide their resourcefulness and skills under a bushel - many would be only too happy to help if you cover costs or would accept in lieu of a wedding present. Also, don't overlook your inner Nigella or florist - many adult education centres offer one day courses in floristry and cake baking
  • Designer Dress Hire
    Girl Meets Dress' Dina Bar-El
    wedding dress to hire from £109
  • Wedding dresses: whilst you can get some corkers in sample sales, these are likely to be that little bit grey and forlorn. Wise girls who wish to hire go to
  • Bridesmaids' dresses: think Sex and the City when it comes to bridesmaids - individual colours, sexy, elegant and with the potential to be worn again as evening gowns. French Connection, Reiss, Coast and Topshop's floor length silk chiffon numbers are all worth a look for a dress around the £120 mark. Traditionally the bridal party pays for these, but you might want to ask if bridesmaids would be willing to chip in if you all fall in love with a more expensive dress.
  • Groom and Groomsmen's outfits: Dependent on whether you decide upon more classic wedding dress for the chaps, or choose to ask they all wear a particular colour suit, you might be expected to help with costs or pay their hire fees.
  • Hairdressers and beauticians for the bride: Whilst it is lovely to be cosseted on your very special day, it is downright expensive. Seek out trainee or blossoming hairdressers/make up artists through friends and offer a reasonable fee (you could also try posting an advert through University or college website where such subjects are taught - such as - for London College of Fashion trained beauticians. Many beauty counters in department stores and larger Boots will also happily help with bridal beauty (Chanel, Mac, Lancome and Nars are lovely).
  • Favours
  • Wedding bands: antique rings are in general much better value. Don't be put off by the thought that they are likely from a failed marriage or given away by families - think of them as a ring that needs another chance, a re-homing, and your loving partnership is just the place for it.
  • Band and music: A rule of thumb goes something like this - pay for a rollicking band you know and love to play your wedding, then stick on a preloaded iPod for the unbridled dance floor action. You can also use it to reference songs that would mean something to particular guests - a little song 'gift' if you will - such as that Van Halen song that he broke his leg leaping from the table to, or the swinging Andy Williams for your aunt, and Kings of Leon for your younger, rocking cousin. Plus, it's free!
  • Venue decoration: fairy lights make an ethereal wonderland paired with gold-sprayed branches, tealights in a motley crue of old glasses sourced for a steal in charity shops as centrepieces, and lace curtains as chair covers, perhaps dyed black for a Gothic glam feel, bundled up in a bow at the back, and sheaves of corn for a summer wedding (a symbol of fertility) - none will break the bank but will finish your wedding off in high, unique style.

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