Saturday, 4 April 2015

Help me plan our 'wedding'

People keep asking me, "So how are the wedding plans going?" and I have to admit that they're not really going at all. We are somewhat in limbo at the moment: until Thomas finishes his PhD, we have no idea whether he or both of us will need to relocate. It's hard to plan a wedding when you don't even know where you'll be living in two years time; whether our savings will be needed to pay the mortgage as he searches for a job or whether we'll have some spare for the wedding.

Beyond reading a lot of Rock & Roll Bride, I also have no clue where to even start with planning a wedding like ours. That is, one as cheap and with as few of the usual trappings of a wedding as possible. A non-wedding wedding, if you like. So, I thought, why not ask?

Anyway, what I want to know is this:

If you've been married, what - if anything - would you do differently? What wouldn't you change or miss out for the world? What was worth the money and what did you feel was less important?

And if you've been a wedding guest, what elements do you enjoy the most? And what makes you roll your eyes?

Hit me up in the comments: you guys always give the best advice!


    So I can say my bits. If we did it again we'd go possibly bigger and less traditional. Always. I'd wear trainers because I love trainers though my skull shoes were FANTASTIC. Food mattered to us so we spent time and money on that. Music mattered to us so we made an amazing playlist (if I do say so myself) the rest was just having people we cared about in a room together. Our flowers were fake as my family has hayfever and it means I got to keep them and have them in the house.

    If we did it again I'd maybe have more bridesmaids because I love my girlfriends so much and my hen do would have been a mixed gender affair so more of my friends could have attended. Reckon it would have been more fun that way.

    I'm still glad I wore my hair short. I am still massively glad I had someone else on logistics on the day of so we could just relax and hang loose. I'm still glad I read A Practical Wedding in the run up to getting hitched more than Rock n Roll Bride (less pressure more practical tips in my opinion) I'm still glad I decided I could not be bothered with being blog worthy. I'm still glad we gave out mix CDs as wedding favours and stamped our face on them - the day we spent stamping and making place cards was really fun. I'm still glad we had Radiohead table settings and I'm still mostly happy with who was there. It can never be timeless and that is totally okay - the day itself is only ever a snapshot, but a snapshot with lots of awesome folk who wont always be around that is why photography is mega important in my opinion and doing some of those boring "formal" shots to get everyone in. Sure some people come and go (my brother in law and his girlfriend broke up) but I seriously do not mind. Among other things H was badass and I am glad I got to know her - however briefly (she lives in Canada). So yeah - this is a mini- essay sorry!

  2. So, from the point of view of a guest: don't bother with favours unless you have an AMAZING idea (I usually take them to be polite and I've seen so many couples disappointed that their favours mostly got left behind); one couple had peace lilies as centrepieces which people could take away if they wanted a memento - they ALL went home with someone; OMG serve the cake earlier - I spend the last two hours of every wedding waiting for that cake; have a timetable which suits you - one of the best weddings I attended was over by 9pm; don't bother with a guestbook or similar as most people will ignore it or will write something drunk and incomprehensible or everyone will squeeze their comments on one page and you'll be left with a largely blank book - just make sure there are lots of photos. And have a blast!

  3. This is all great advice! I totally agree with the favours thing (although Rebs gave me a truly amazing idea on Twitter earlier - secondhand books as favours, although it's just occurred to me that no.1 on my list is NO SEATING PLAN, so not sure how the carefully chosen books would get to their guests). The guestbook thing is a good one - I HATE thinking of something profound to write and always end up scrawling something saccharine and cheesy. And as we're doing this super duper budget-style, one idea is to have the cake as dessert, so that would help with your waiting-for-cake problem.

  4. This is all such awesome advice, thank you! I hadn't even heard of A Practical Wedding (can you tell that I've barely even started thinking about it?!). Every single piece of advice I've read so far has been 'don't stint on photography', so that's going to be our main priority, money-wise, I think.

    So far these are our ideas:
    No seating plan, no favours, no DJ but iPod playlist + musician friends instead, no formal speeches, and despite last night's Twitter convo probably no first dance. But yes to lots of food, homemade wedding cake for dessert, maybe a music quiz (it's where we had our first date, although a friend of mine used this idea at her wedding last summer and I was gutted!), lots of booze! We have a very tiny budget so who knows whether we can manage to get what we want...

  5. Sounds like you're on it. Just remember the following:
    You're wedding is not an imposition
    What you want/like will change (because people change)
    The best bit is the love and companionship of a bunch of people you love who are rooting for you

    I reckon you guys have this x

  6. I've been to several weddings, and I've been a bridesmaid once. I honestly can't remember the favours I've seen (which perhaps shows how pointless they can be?) but I do remember the little pots of homemade lemon curd which clearly a lot of time and effort had gone into but the jars were just too big to fit in little bags or suit pockets so sadly many got left behind. The longest speech I've heard was just over 45mins and that was far, far, far too long. As Sarah says, have cake! At one wedding I went to they completely forgot to cut it, everyone was too busy dancing and having fun, I only realised when I was heading back to our hotel room and saw it in the bar! There's only so much cake the families of the bride and groom can eat at a later date! I don't know if you're going to be in different venues, but I went to a wedding in Northern Ireland and there were many of us without transport as we'd flown. The mother of the groom had arranged for all guests without a car to be matched up with someone who had space in their car so we didn't need to pay for a taxi. A lovely gesture we really appreciated. At one wedding all guests could take a blank CD home along with a SAE so they could post photos they'd taken during the day - especially good if there are photos you don't want shared over social media. I know some couples who have tried really hard to stand out and be different so their guests remember their wedding - and that's great, but in all honesty, I can't remember many little details from most weddings I've been to! The details I can remember generally involve dancing and talking with friends, things you hope will happen but can't stage or really organise! Lots and lots and lots of photos too - formal and informal. I appreciate many people like the formal one but the informal ones are awesome too. My favourite from when I was a bridesmaid is of the father of the bride as he saw his daughter walking downstairs in her dress - his face says it all. I thought the photographer was taking thousands of photos (and she was, she really was) but when I saw the final edit I realised just how many she needed to take to ensure she got all the perfect ones. So yes, lots and lots and lots of photos needed, professional and otherwise!

  7. We pretty much eloped, mainly because of the horridly short time frame we had to deal with (thanks to visas) and both of us being away from family that it was all totally very impractical to have a "proper" wedding. In the end it cost like $500 and we just had a nice meal out afterwards. Although I know that wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but for us it was perfect. Saying that, I wouldn't change it at all. On a guest side of view, have a fun gift list (because I love it when couples put things like board games on them).

  8. A 45 minute speech?! Youch!

    This all reminds me: don't be afraid to say if you don't want people posting any pictures/details on social media until a certain date/at all - it seems to be more and more common for couples to request that. Alternatively, don't be afraid to make up a hashtag and insist that everyone uses it! Have a think about how much you want shared with people other than your guests.

  9. Part of me is v tempted to elope! But with Thomas's best friends all overseas and both our families spread around, it's too good an opportunity to bring everyone we love together. A gift list is something I'm quite conflicted about - because pretty much all of our guests will be travelling at least some distance to attend, it seems a bit mercenary to then ask for gifts!

  10. A 45 minute speech?! Wowsers, I'd be heckling by about the 15 minute mark! You're so right though, the thing I remember from weddings I've attended tends to be the music and therefore the dancing and fun times.

  11. I honestly don't think I'd change anything about our wedding, I had the most amazing day and I know Mitch did to. Saying that though, having a wedding in August wasn't the brightest of ideas, summer weddings are stressful because if you need to hire stuff (venues, chairs, tables,glasses, lights, caterers, band) they're likely to be more expensive in summer AND, because it's the most popular time to get married, you end up being turned down by some places because they're already booked up. If you're cool with planning and arranging I would deffo recommend booking a venue that let's you do exactly what you want. So many of them dictate the food, the decor and the price of booze, a blank slate means you can have the day YOU want and manage your budget. Ask friends and family for help - ours helped with decor, setting up and baking cakes for our 'bake off' style cake table. BYOB was a money saver. We provided some wine for the tables, a keg of ale and fizz for toasting but otherwise out guests brought their own, which went down v.well :) the food will always be late (this has been the case at ALL weddings I've been to, including my own) I'd say it's worth having nibbles after the ceremony (if you have one). Our ceremony was incredibly informal, our v.good friend said some v.lovely introductory words, Mitch and I said our own vows and swapped rings. One of the best things was a) marrying Mitch (obvs) and b) having all the people we love there to celebrate. I can't explain how awesome it was to look around the room and it was ffull of all our v.favourite people. Friends, family, drinks, food and music to dance to, that's all you need! If you have any questions, I'm no expert but I'm here if you need me :)

  12. Well I had a very non-wedding wedding, just a registry affair (though we did fork out extra to have it in the town hall which was much nicer), an off the rack dress that was meant to be a bridesmaid dress but was the one for me, and a meal out with immediate family. SO it was a bit more harried than I would have liked, planned in a month or so (I'm American and my visit visa was running out - NOT the reason for our marriage but after six months of living together we were pretty convinced (and 13 yrs later are still together so...). It was one of the happiest days of my life. The only thing I would change is I would have liked to have more friends and family, but seeing as circumstances prevented me from having my peeps we agreed to just have family only. Oh and the photographer, booked last minute and pretty awful, that I would invest more time in. Other than that the main thing is you and your partner feel comfortable and have your own wishes placed first. I see so many people have these huge affairs and it feels like they get a bit lost in the mix. Oh I wish I had a cake, that's the only thing I sometimes think, just because I watch too many wedding cake shows on the Food Network! So: dress you love that feels like "you", person you want to marry, people you want to be there, and a cake are the essentials! :-)

  13. In my experience as a wedding guest, the best weddings are always the ones that feel most personal to the bride and groom. I can't stand 'generic' weddings where it's just the usual function room/buffet type deal that has absolutely nothing to make it stand out as Bob and Joan's wedding, you know? I want to know that I'm there to celebrate the love of two specific people, not just any old randomers. It's about the couple, not the flowers or the room or the buffet, it's about what makes you two an awesome pair. I have no idea if that is helpful or not haha xx

  14. This is ace, exactly what I need to know! I absolutely loved the look of your wedding reception - if I remember rightly it was in a village hall? - but I suppose I'm a little daunted by the thought of arranging all the stuff you mention (chairs, tables, glasses, etc) and still managing to get it within our budget (which is a tiny £5k, with a hope we can do it for less if possible). We are also totally tied to school holidays, so will most likely end up with a May, July or August wedding. But the BYOB and the bake off cake table is exactly the kind of thing Thomas and I had been talking about doing.

  15. Oh, I am for sure going with an off-the-rack dress from the high street, I just can't see myself spending a huge chunk of budget on my clothes (especially as the style of dress I want should be fairly easy to find on the high street... she says, hereby dooming myself to never find it!).

  16. I am so with you on the generic wedding thing - the same chairs, the same room layout, the same food.... urgh, I can't think of anything worse!

  17. I'd say one simple principle should be this - make it utterly impossible for a guest to wonder if they're at the right wedding. As has been said here and to us about our own wedding, it needs to be 100% through-and-through J&T-brand. Every detail should be meaningful or purposeful, or just leave it out of the proceedings altogether. Every guest ought to be there to celebrate the commitment and love and dedication of the rest of your lives together, it's not a procedure to gain the blessing of your chosen diety or government so make it as 100% about you as the sentiment already is. Nobody is there to judge, appease no one. Have precisely the wonderful day you want, and nothing out-of-the-box for procedures' sake and you won't go wrong.
    Oh and take any advice with a pinch of salt too, including this.

  18. Also, not wedding, not-wedding. My mistake.

  19. I'd go against the tide and say no cake, it's just for looking at as it usually looks prettier than it tastes. No formal photographs as you are unlikely to look at them frequently, costs a bomb and probably won't look much like you, either much better or worse than you would ordinarily look. Nobody else likes waiting to be posed in a picture that will sit in wardrobe or loft for years gathering dust when they can mingle and have fun. As others have said get a dress you like whether it's expensive or not. Wear comfy shoes. Favours are a nice touch but you won't please everyone. We had candles as centre pieces not flowers. Didn't consider fire risk but thankfully no-one burst into flames. You will be torn between friends and family. The time will be too brief. Don't stress over the gift thing just say do what you want and some will, some won't. In conclusion, it's stressful and expensive so have a house party with friends, go visit family and elope because it's only about you two x

  20. I've barely scratched the surface of planning and I'm already tempted by the 'elope' option, haha!

  21. I love the idea of the J&T brand and making sure we stay authentic - great advice!

  22. From planning my own wedding and going to others... [Disclaimer: my marriage didn't last. But the wedding was great!]

    Things that were worth putting time and effort into:
    Planning the ceremony. I really thing it's worth putting effort into making it personal to you (and it is the most important bit!) We didn't bother with a rehearsal/run through but I think it would have been a good idea.
    Photography. So important to get this right and get a photographer who 'gets' you.
    Cake! Everyone loves cake.

    Cool ideas:
    Last dance. Instead of a first one! Loads less awkward (because you're drunk and everyone joins in)!
    Open speech policy... If I get married again I will definitely do this. I went to a wedding recently where the bride's sister and the groom's Mum both did beautiful speeches.
    Cheese and biscuits as an alternative option (in addition to, I mean) to the cake.
    Fancy dress box! Photo booths are crazily expensive. A box full of props is not (and everyone's got their own cameras).

    Things that weren't worth bothering with:
    Obsessing over Pinterest. It will make your head explode with feelings of wedding inadequacy :)
    Favours. People really don't appreciate them enough to make it worth the time/effort/money/stress.
    Anything that isn't important to you! Like, if you don't think fancy invites are worth the time or money, don't bother (for example).

    And... It is only one day! It doesn't all have to be perfect, or all totally unique. If you don't get to use up all your ideas you can just throw an epic birthday party another year :)

    I hope this is vaguely helpful and that you're enjoying the planning!

  23. This is ACE advice, thank you! An open speech policy is definitely something we want to do (I want to try and have them more as part of the ceremony rather than the party, so that people who do want to speak don't have to spend time stressing during the meal)

  24. Bit late to the party on this as i'm catching up with my blog commenting, but I definitely agree that making the wedding individual is the best plan, which I'm sure you will! Someone I know who is also an English teacher had a book theme and made a beautiful arch of books which looked amazing. Another friend chose to give Penguin classics as wedding favours which was sweet, and they left out classic children's books on the kids tables too. They also sent out mix cd's with the invitations, featuring their fave music which was a nice idea! x

  25. The book theme will, I think, end up featuring heavily!

  26. You published this on my wedding day :) I don't know why but this makes me smile.
    I say do your own thing (which you've already decided to do) and if you have an idea that makes you both smile - go with it. Doubt is the enemy. If you not sure about something then it's not right for your day, you shouldn't have to convince yourself to do anything.
    My sister in law told me that the only thing she regretted was not having a proper wedding dress - she had a very elegant 3/4 length shift dress and bolero - so I remembered this when I bought mine.
    If you're having fun, your guests will have fun.
    I hope you enjoy the process, I'm not going to lie to you, you'll make so many decisions that sometimes you'll find yourself incapable of making another, but overall the planning is kinda part of it, so try to go with the flow. Once your venue and date are set, every thing else seems to follow a natural course.

  27. duck in a dress23 April 2015 at 17:26

    In my experience of getting married, the one thing I'd do differently is make sure someone was around with a video camera. Although we have thousands of photos, there's no film footage and of course, there's people who came on the day who have passed away since. We got married back in the dark ages of 2007 so it's probably not so much of a problem now since everyone has a smartphone with a decent film camera on it!
    We missed out a lot of the usual stuff on our day and just did the things which we wanted, using our experience as wedding guests to help plan our day. So we didn't bother with a seating plan (as a guest I'd rather sit where I want) and put things like jelly babies and bowls of crisps on each table instead of nuts and sugared almonds (does anyone really eat those?). We got married at 4pm (in a church in our high street) and had a reception that went straight into the evening disco (in a local village hall). The food was a help-yourself buffet from a local bakery (the usual rolls and nibbles fare, nothing fancy) and for dessert we just bought some industrial size fancy puddings from a cash and carry store. As far as decorating was concerned, it was just a few banners, tablecloths and balloons! The whole shebang came in at about £3500 and we had a lot of people say they'd had more fun at our day than some of the other 'cost-a-fortune' days they'd been to.
    The main thing to remember is to just do what you and Thomas want - it's your day and everyone else is only there to share your happiness. As a guest, if you get given free food, drink, or entertainment, that's simply the extra bonus and not the real reason why you've attended :-) xx

  28. This is awesome advice, thank you! Part of me wants to have a blogger wedding too - just to invite everyone who's been so lovely and given such ace ideas!

  29. I LOVE planning so once I have time to properly sit down and look at things I'll no doubt thoroughly enjoy the whole process. Just so manic at work lately that I haven't had a chance to get my head around things.