How we Planned Our Wedding

It may have been the summer of 2003 that Andrew and I got married, but when we started planning our wedding, we had a few ideas of what we wanted and how we wanted to make it special for ourselves. We were also planning on a strictly tight budget, but wanted it to look a million dollars. The details below give you all the secrets we learnt over our time, so you can get some tips for yours.

How to find a venue on a budget – We started looking for our wedding venue before we got engaged. I know this sounds odd, but I had been made redundant and Andrew knew I needed something to do, so set me on my major task. So I started looking in the May for a venue for the following October, so a year and a half of planning to go. We were based around Cambridgeshire/Bedfordshire border and so we looked at a few hotels and even some of the college brochures, but all were very expensive even 10 years ago. Anyway in a parallel thought I contacted a place we had been for a garden show and asked if they did weddings. The answer was no, but we can hire you the venue for an evening (at £600), you would just have to get married somewhere else and so we had our reception venue and opted to have the service in the local church. We knew our reception venue would take some work, as we had hired a shell, which needed furniture, catering and decorations all under the guidance of English Heritage.
What to do ourselves and what to get others to do –
The Service
Covered by our local vicar.
The Venue
Wrest Park Silsoe, changed the date to the end of August due to no heating in the venue.
The Furniture
Hire tables and chairs from a marquee company, for delivery on the Friday.
The Catering
Use local catering company to provide sumptuous 8 course buffet dinner. They would also provide linen and glasses etc.
The Drink
Booze Cruise to France and buy loads of wine. Soft drink from supermarket. No paid bar all included.
The Cake
Andrews mum makes a lovely fruit cake, so we commissioned her to make us some plain iced fruit cakes. I would take on the job of decorating them.
The Flowers
My Dad had always loved arranging flowers so we asked him to do some of the arrangements for the wedding with my help. I never thought out of our wedding I would own a flower business for 5 years.
The Car We needed a car to get from church to reception as it was about 30 mins away. We wanted a mercedes as this broiught back memories for us of being in Rome.
The Favours The favours we made ourselves. It took us months to find enough terracotta pots to make them for our guests and then we filled them with homemade fudge. You will find the recipe on the website as well as a very good supply of pots !!! We also had a disaster when we bought chocolate dragees and they went moldy before the wedding…yuk.
The Photographer
We asked one of our friends to be our photographer, as both of us hate having our photo taken. We asked for candid shots of the wedding nothing too staged and he did this wonderfully. We also had a photography student take some photos, which she could then use towards her portfolio.
The Stationery I wish I had a picture of our stationery, but we made it ourselves with paper roses and my Dad hand calligraphy’ed every invite in gold ink.
The Outfits
The Dress
Being a larger lady I never wore dresses, but there was one day I was going to wear one, so I set about making my dress. It took me 6 weeks to make with nearly 10,000 beads hand sewn on. Wonderful, but then a somewhat good disaster struck. I lost 6 stone in weight and my dress didn’t fit. By chance this meant I needed a dress and quickly. Andrew and I returned to the only shop I tried anything on at and tried the one dress I had previsously, but this time instead of the zip being about 4 inches apart at the back it just did up and fitted. We bought the dress there and then and yes with my husband to be and we are still happily married.
The Suits
We hired the suits, but we had already decided that we wanted to have an orange theme to the wedding, being in an Orangery. Well 10 years ago orange was not a colour you had, so we had to get cravats made for the men and we had a waistcoat made for Andrew. We wanted the groom to stand out so went for the inverse in all the outfit changing the waistcoat and cravats around from orange to cream etc.
The Shoes
As well as being a big woman, I also have huge feet and so was very pleased to find some shoes in Evans at only £40.00. One of my bargins.
The Bridesmaid
I didn’t plan to have a bridesmaid until my dress changed and I had a huge train. So my best friend was pleased to help and we found her a dress in wallis that worked so well with the colouring. I made her a rose comb for her hair and her outfit was complete.
The Hair Accesory
I didn’t want a tiara, it just wasn’t me. So instead I went for a comb to go into my hair at the back. I made this from pearls and swarowski crsytals. We had our hair done at the local hairdressers and did our own make up.
The Set Up Day
We took a day to set up the wedding on the Friday, so we could relax and enjoy everything on the Saturday.We started with a shell……
Then the furniture came….
We worked on flowers all day with 2 pedestals and 6 ivy trees in the Orangery and 7 table centres.
We also set up the cake, which caused to many people to ask the next day what was on it, as the venue was open to the public until 5pm. We had loads fo people waiting for us to get there so they could see us.
We had the basic linen from the caterer, so we could set the tables up to final cloths with table centres…
We then moved onto the Church
We made 6 pedestals and arrangements in the church
We made pew ends from Chinese Lanterns that Andrews Nan had grown in her garden for us….
…and welcome arrangements as well
What we learned
Don’t buy things on an impulse You will probably change your mind through the planning. Mine was okay a dress problem, but also we changed our favours, which wasn’t a huge mistake.
Use the skills your friends and family have Not only does this make your wedding a very personal affair, but it also gives everyone a role and makes them feel more part of the wedding.
If something goes wrong No-one will notice anything going wrong, as they don’t know what you have planned. Don’t stress about tiny details, as long as they main wedding is flowing it is all the matters.
Our Wedding Conclusions
We both say we wouldn’t have changed anything about our wedding, even if we had had all the money in the world.You can do a wedding on a budget. There are ways of working high venue prices or getting what you want from venues if you are prepared to do some things yourself. Our wedding budget finally came to around £3500.

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