Money, money, money…

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Behold, the wonder that is a spreadsheet. I LOVE spreadsheets. I am not overexaggerating. They are the tits.

I use them at work daily, so it’s fairly natural that they’d spill into whatever I am planning at home…usually holidays in the past, but they’ve really come into their own with my wedding planning. Immediately after getting engaged in August I made a spreadsheet of over 30 local wedding venues, including their contact details, website links, details of their open days/appointments we had with them, and estimated prices. I know. I had corresponding folders for each venues’ electronic brochures and price guides too. If you’re as nerdy as me, I know that you will appreciate this. If you’re not, I apologise…this post might not be for you.

I’ve got a spreadsheet for our budget (as you can see above), which will no doubt become more detailed as we have further discussions with our venue and suppliers. My final two spreadsheets are for hotel accommodation (the wedding party are staying at a 16 room boutique hotel about ten minutes from our venue, with the rest of our guests being sent details of other suitable hotels) and our guest list.

The most useful spreadsheet in the long run in going to be the budget. We are planning our wedding for less than £7k, which is a fairly small amount in today’s wedding market. I know that some people will still think that this is an extortionate amount to spend on one day, and to some extent I can see your point. However this is arguably one of the most important days we will share together, and paying for our family and friends to be there is an integral part of that.

Whilst doing our wedding planning both online and in magazines, I have repeatedly read the claim that £20,000 is the average cost of a UK wedding. There certainly does seem to be a lot of marketing done telling brides what their ‘essential’ and ‘must-have’ items are. Quite often a lot of these supposedly necessary things are expensive extras that don’t really add a proportionate amount to your (or your guest’s experience). What really matters are the things that are personal to you…love fashion? Spend a bit more finding your perfect dress and having a bespoke suit made for your hubby to be. Massive foodie? Put more of your budget towards delicious eats. Huge music lovers? Hand over a bit more towards live entertainment for you and your guests to enjoy.

At the end of the day there are a lot of things that you can cut costs on. For instance you could:

– Grow your own flowers (like we are – thanks Mom for the use of your allotment!) or make paper flowers or brooch bouquets.

– DIY your wedding stationary. This can cost hundreds of pounds for even fairly simple designs bought online. You could use cheaper sites like Vistaprint or Optimalprint, or design your own and have a local print shop copy them for you. Making your own invites, RSVP cards, table numbers/names and seating plans could save you a small fortune.

– Do away with favours. Most of the time they are left on the tables or forgotten at the end of the night. I have been to weddings where a charity donation has been made in lieu of favours, and not one person said anything negative about it. I have been to a wedding where there were no favours at all, and nobody mentioned it in the slightest. If you really want favours, you could consider something edible or drinkable, or perhaps something like bubbles or photo props to get the evening party started? Another really sweet idea I have seen is personalised badges and buttonholes for guests to wear. If something is personal – not generic – then guests are more likely to cherish the gift that you have spent time and money on to give them.

– Save some pennies by making your own party playlist rather than hiring an expensive (or cheap but rubbish) DJ. We are having a guitarist doing a covers set from 7pm until 9pm, and then we are putting on a 4 hour iPad playlist. We checked with the venue and they have the facilities to hook it up for us in our wedding suite. We have already started thinking of songs for this, and will be boring our friends and families at BBQs and dinner parties between now and then to make sure that we: a) haven’t missed any classic tunes out; and b) have got the flow and mood of the songs just right. If you fancy doing this yourselves, make sure that your venue has the correct hook up/equipment; and remember that you’ll need roughly 12-14 songs per hour of party time.

I found this list of money saving ideas on Martin Lewis’ ‘Money Saving Expert’ site (sorry non-UK readers – Martin Lewis is a bit of a money-savvy guru in Britain), and some of them are pretty good. Here is the link if you fancy a nose: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/cheaper-weddings.

Feel free to share your budgeting tips in the comments below.

Big love

DIY Bride x

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