Weddings are super expensive, there’s no doubt about that. Here’s why I actually wish we had spent more money on ours.
As someone that normally writes about saving money it may seem a little strange that this post is all about something I genuinely wish we had spent more money on. I know to some people this will massively sound like first world problems and I am honestly so grateful that we were able to have a wedding and have a reasonable amount to spend on it. But I think also think I made some pretty big mistakes when it came to spending on our wedding. I really hope others can learn from these mistakes and make their big day the absolute best it can be.
In hindsight it’s so easy to see where we should have spent more and where we could have spent less. It would also be easy argue that even if we had spent more, some of the things that went wrong may well still have gone wrong. Or been even worse, no matter how much money we had thrown at them. I would also like to mention that we didn’t have a super budget day either, our regrets don’t stem from not spending any money at all. We spent around £14k which is much less than the average wedding but not what I would consider a cheap wedding either.
We only viewed two venues after getting engaged. We fell in love with the second one and that was that. It was expensive, more than we had planned to spend, but we had exclusivity for the whole weekend. The venue was completely DIY so we figured we’d save the difference sourcing and doing everything ourselves. We had just over a year until the big day and thought that was plenty of time to get everything sorted.
In some areas we got super lucky. We always knew we wanted a non-religious ceremony, so rather than pay a fortune for a registrar to come out to the venue we got ‘officially’ married in a quiet two plus two ceremony at the registry office a few days before the main wedding. Dave Parker, a friend of ours who is an independent celebrant agreed to do our ceremony at the venue for no charge.
I asked a friend from work to do the catering, as she actually used to be a wedding caterer. We’d supply all the ingredients and she’d turn it into a simple afternoon tea.
We both work at a pub so asked our boss to run the bar for us and supply all the beer. We’d supply the spirits and wine. So far so good.
All the DIY
I always thought I would love planning my wedding. I love organizing things, parties, events etc. It was actually one of the most stressful things I have ever done. It felt like every thing that could go wrong did go wrong. From a company that was supplying a photo-booth and other entertainment going bust (thank god I paid with paypal!) to having our first and then second band cancel on us it really felt like one thing after another. And don’t even get me started on trying to get people to RSVP on time.
On top of that we took on far too many DIY projects. There were so many little things I wanted and to save money I did them myself. Some of these I really enjoyed, such as creating a Harry Potter Themed sweet table. Others were more stressful than I had anticipated – like hand stamping all of our place settings and making our table plan.
When considering the DIY elements of your wedding I think it’s important to include the cost of your time as well as the cost of materials and whether you have the skills to pull it off. It is not money saving to buy everything, realize you don’t have the time or skills to complete it and then pay someone else to do it for you at the last minute.
Then there was the big, unexpected life change a month before the wedding. Our boss was taken ill and we were asked to take over the business we both worked at until further notice. This meant my husband living there, working 100 hours a week and all the remaining wedding tasks falling to me. It was a very stressful time, but necessary as there was no-one else to take over and the business may have faced closure if we hadn’t done this.
This also meant we no longer had someone to run the bar at our wedding or supply and set up the beer. Luckily Dave Parker’s wife offered to run it for us after contacting a few company to find they were all booked up at such short notice. However, we still had to sort all of the beer. The easiest solution was cans. Not classy, but practical. We added it to our Tesco order which at least made the delivery of it easy.
Disasters on the day
To get the contents of our DIY wedding to the venue we hired a van. We hadn’t realized quite how much there was to take to the venue and couldn’t fit it all in. We ended up ringing round family members last minute to get them to take stuff down with them.
One of the barrels of ale we had bought was damaged in the back of the van and leaked half of it’s contents on the hour long drive to our wedding venue. We lost about £40 worth of beer and had to spend an hour cleaning the van and everything that had got covered in beer the night before our wedding. Also the alcohol we bought for our groomsmen was accidentally put behind the bar and sold, meaning half our gifts to them were missing.
The venue had a beautiful garden that we had planned to get married in. On arrival we discovered the previous wedding hadn’t removed the hay-bales they had used for seating. The venue were having them removed that day but the grass was all yellow and ruined where they had been sat wet and rotting.
We could have re-covered the mess with our own hay-bales. However, we had actually planned to get married in a different part of the garden. We had spent quite a lot money on garden decorations to create an arbor, which we could now no longer use. Unfortunately heavy rain was forecast for our big day, so plans of getting married outside anywhere at the venue were scuppered.
We decorated a room inside instead for our ceremony, but it was dark and under decorated. Absolutely nothing like the bright outdoors ceremony I had been dreaming of.
At 11am on the day of the wedding the friend that was supposed to be doing the food had not arrived. So, I made start on it instead of getting ready and sent someone to ring her. No-one could get hold of her. I went off to get my hair done, hoping she would arrive any minute. Turns out she was stuck behind a huge accident on the motorway for almost 4 hours. She’d tried ringing some of the guests to let them know but the signal was poor at the venue. She didn’t arrive until two hours after we got married.
Several of my lovely friends and family stepped in to start making sandwiches. They did their best but didn’t have enough time before the ceremony to get as many as were needed made. I felt we were really short on food for the wedding breakfast. The evening food was completely different to what I had asked for. They forgot to bring gluten free food despite being reminded the day before that we had gluten free guests.
The band were over an hour late arriving, again due to traffic. I was very aware that they were late and this caused us further stress on our big day. It also meant our evening celebrations started much later than planned.
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My Three Big Wedding Regrets
One of my biggest regrets is not hiring a wedding planner to run things on the day. People were continually coming to me with problems even when I was getting my hair and make-up done. This meant that I couldn’t relax and enjoy it. Having someone there to keep everyone away from me and deal with all the last minute odds and ends would have made a huge difference to how happy and relaxed I felt on the day.
My second biggest regret is how much we spent on our wedding band. A whopping £1200. Something we both agreed on was that we wanted our first dance to be to live music. After our first two bands cancelling we had a bit of panic that no-one decent would be available. The band we chose were fab, but barely any of guests were up dancing and enjoying them. We may as well of had DJ for a quarter of the price. They did do a DJ set after their live sets but the song choices were awful and no-one was able to make requests as the literally put on a playlist and disappeared.
I also really wish we had got someone in to do the bar for us. It would have saved so much stress and anxiety. It would probably have cost a bit more, but I really think it would have been money well spent.
Have a Plan B
I realize the majority of this post is very negative. Don’t get me wrong, bits of our day were amazing. I got to marry my man in front of our friends and family all of whom were amazing at helping out with anything that needed doing. They loved our day and venue choice (one of my husband’s cousins still mentions how awesome our wedding was every time we see him). But my overriding memory of the day is of feeling stressed and worried about everything that went wrong.
I had given myself so much to do all the time I missed out on doing any fun stuff the venue had to offer. Honestly I wish we’d spent more just so that I could have relaxed and enjoyed the whole weekend properly. I was so focused on saving money I took on way to much and have ended up regretting it. Yes, it’s just one day. But it is a day I will remember forever.
The best piece of advice I could give to anyone planning a DIY wedding is have a Plan B. For everything. Even if you think you have planned every little detail, plan it all again with a back up. And hire some help. Even if it’s only on the day itself, let someone else take the strain and enjoy your big day.