How to get Married without Breaking the Bank

Marriage costs infographic

We all know how expensive a wedding can be.

It’s one of the biggest days of your life and can often come with the heaviest price tag, and catering to all your long-forgotten family and closest friends in a celebration of your special day can place a dent in your finances for years to come – no matter how worthwhile it may be!

There are, however, simple and savvy ways to save on your wedding without having to cut back on all the frills and fun of the day, with some common sense and some curveball options allowing you to chip away at some of the spend on food, locations, and other elements of your booking.

So get that dress for less and bag a bargain on your meals with the help of Vouchercloud – and have the wedding of your dreams at a price that can let you sleep at night…

 

Marriage costs infographics

Fantastic locations to pop the big question this Valentine’s Day

Sopwell House hotel pictured at night

The most romantic night of the year is almost here, so cue the endless bouquets of red roses and the sound of the champagne cork popping. But if you’re planning to pop something else (the big question) this Valentine’s Day, we’ve rounded up five of the top hotels which promise an exciting engagement night you’ll never forget.

♥ Contemporary: The Arch London (www.thearchlondon.com)
Five-star hotel The Arch London is the perfect location for lovebirds seeking the ultimate romantic night in the city, being a stone’s throw from Oxford Street and Hyde Park.

Exterior, The Arch London

The Arch London’s Valentine’s package offers an overnight stay for two in a luxury suite with a bottle of Champagne, an indulgent Valentine’s dinner with a glass of Champagne, as well as English breakfast and late check out. The package is available from 10 until 19 February 2016 and is priced from £559 per night. The Arch London will also be serving a sumptuous three-course Valentine’s menu and a Valentine’s Afternoon Tea.

1. Royal Afternoon Tea at The Arch London

♥ Cool: K West Hotel & Spa (www.k-west.co.uk)
Formerly the BBC Building Kensington House in the 60s, an endless list of Rock ‘N’ Roll royalty has stayed, played and misbehaved at K West. For Valentine’s, the hotel has created a mix-tape of perfect packages.

Executive Room 3 at K West

Just as Bob Marley sang, the Saints Valentine’s Package is perfect for couples with ‘one love, one heart’. The romantic package includes a Champagne welcome, an Executive Bedroom adorned with rose petals, gifts from K Spa and breakfast. Alternatively, get your kink on just as The Kinks would want you to: all day and all through the night with the Sinners Valentine’s Package. Guests will enjoy a giant Porn Star Martini upon arrival, Executive Bedroom seductively dressed with feathers, the gift of an F Box and breakfast in bed. The packages are available from 10 until 19 February 2017 and are priced at £219 per couple.

Love Potion at K West

♥ Country: Sopwell House, St. Albans (www.sopwellhouse.co.uk)
Sopwell House is a stunning countryside Georgian manor house in the city of St. Albans. Located only 20 minutes from London St. Pancras, the hotel is an idyllic romantic getaway just outside of the hectic capital.

Sopwell House (front)

Sopwell House is the perfect place to have an intimate dinner looking out on 12-acres of beautiful gardens. There are a wide range of dining options exclusively for February 2017; The Restaurant is offering an indulgent five course tasting menu, The Brasserie has launched a Valentine’s Day three-course menu, and the traditional afternoon tea has been given a romantic makeover.

The Brasserie at Sopwell House

♥ Classic: Lancaster London (www.lancasterlondon.com)
Lancaster London is an iconic mid-century hotel located opposite Hyde Park. The 18-storey hotel offers unrivalled panoramic views across London’s skyline.

HeART Tea at Lancaster London

The hotel has reinvented its much-loved ARTea Afternoon Tea to offer an exclusive Valentines edition. HeART Afternoon Tea includes oysters with salmon caviar and adorable heart-shaped white chocolate and strawberry macaroons. Island Grill will be offering an exclusive Valentine’s 9-course tasting menu of sharing dishes. The menu will feature divine dishes plus speciality cocktails like the Love Potion Martini.

Dessert Heart-Island-Grill at Lancaster London

♥ Coastal: The Club Hotel & Spa, Jersey (www.theclubjersey.com)
Situated within walking distance from some of the island’s most breathtaking beaches, The Club Hotel & Spa boasts a sought after St Helier location. Enjoy romantic strolls on the beach before indulging in Michelin-starred dining at Bohemia Restaurant & Bar. The glorious Roof Garden Cocktail Bar is the perfect location to enjoy a pre-dinner drink whilst admiring the ocean views.

Bohemia restaurant The Club Hotel & Spa, Jersey

Why not treat your other half to a couples’ treatment at the luxurious Club Spa before diving into the outdoor heated pool? The Club Spa’s private Rasul Mud Treatment for two is one of the Spa’s most popular treatments and comprises an exfoliation followed by therapeutic mud being applied to the body.

Bohemia restaurant at The Club Hotel & Spa, Jersey

Cruising with Silk Flowers

crusie ship picture

Having a destination wedding is beautiful and will create memories that last a lifetime. One up and coming trend is to have your destination wedding on a cruise ship – a wedding weekend and holiday all in one, what could be better?

Planning a wedding far from where you live can be a challenge, especially when it comes to ordering live flowers. If you are planning a cruise ship wedding, the best way to incorporate floral arrangements into your big day is to purchase artificial flowers.

Silk flowers provide the same style and design as fresh-picked flowers, but without the hassle of maintenance.  First and foremost, there is no stress that comes with artificial flowers that there is with taking care of living flowers. Artificial flowers do not need to be watered, and are not as fragile as live flowers. This means there’s no fear of accidently knocking off a few petals or breaking any stems.

Cruise-Ship-inside

The life span of living flowers is short, and if you don’t plan on having your wedding ceremony the first or second day of the cruise, there is no guarantee how those flowers will look the day of your wedding. There are florists on-board cruise ships, however their selection is limited, and the price range can be much much higher than floral arrangements purchased on land. Plus you may not be able to take your living flowers off the ship.

Artificial flowers are easy to pack and ship. That means they will be bundled up and ready for your wedding. There is no risk of petals drying up or falling off or stems breaking in transit. What you see when you order is what you will get – no chance of brown flowers or arrangements that are too unappealing to use.

To save headache and wedding day stress, the best decision for your cruise ship wedding floral arrangement is to go with artificial silk flowers. Guests will marvel at how you were able to get such great arrangements all set up and in one piece for your wedding. They’ll never even know that they’re not real.  The best part is, you can even take them with you after the wedding (still intact and looking as great as they did on your wedding day)!

cruise ship room

Guest blog by Emily Rochotte

Looking for the Perfect Engagement Ring?

engagement ring

Here are some things to consider

If you and your partner are ready for the next step in your relationship and you’ve sneakily spoken to your partner’s parents about what you intend to do, it’s time to locate that perfect engagement ring. If you’re not sure where to even start with such a mammoth task, then here are some things to consider:

Remember, they have to wear it forever more

This means avoiding buying a ring that will go out of fashion over time (yellow diamonds won’t be popular forever and don’t go with everything) and choosing something you know they’ll love. Take all your personal preferences out of your decision – it’s not you who will be wearing it!

Opt for something timeless and if you really can’t find anything that ticks all the boxes a jeweller such as 77diamonds offers you the opportunity to create your own ring, choosing everything from the metal used to the shape of the diamond.

Remember the 4 Cs

The four Cs are important to consider when picking out your ring; they stand for cut, colour, clarity and carat in terms of the stone you choose. They are especially important when choosing an engagement ring that has to last. The higher quality stone you choose the longer the ring will stay wearable and look good. Here’s a great guide on what to look out for.

Be prepared to stretch your budget

After snooping in their jewellery collection at what they already like you might discover that the budget you set aside might not stretch to pay for something that matches their tastes. Obviously don’t go overboard but simply expect to always pay a little more than you anticipated – you don’t get coupon deals for this sort of thing!

Think about your partner’s lifestyle

Are they active? Can they wear jewellery at work? This will impact on how they wear their engagement ring and your decision on what to purchase for them. If she works with food, ensure she has a ring that is easy to clean or if she works in a profession where she has to care for people, elevated diamonds and prongs should probably be avoided to remove any chance of injury. Jewelry wise offers some great insight into what to consider when it comes to your partner’s lifestyle.

Find out their ring size

There’s nothing more disappointing than being presented with an engagement ring that doesn’t fit correctly, whether it’s too big or too small (the latter is the most crushing). Sure, it’s relatively easy to have a ring re-sized but that means heading to where you purchased it and then handing it over to be adjusted for a potentially lengthy period of time when you just want to show it off to the world.

Use jewellery they already own to work out what size they require and press their ring into a piece of blu tac to take to the jewellers with you. However, if they don’t take their jewellery off try out these sneaky ways of discovering their ring size:

  • If one of their friends is also recently engaged ask them to share their engagement ring round when the group is together and report back to you if it fit.
  • Tie a knot round her finger with a piece of string, either carefully while she’s asleep or find some way of jokily doing it and use this to workout her ring size.
  • Attend a festival market or craft fair and try rings on together and take note of which ones fit.

Finding the perfect engagement ring needn’t be stressful, keep these things in mind and you should be able to present a beautiful ring they will treasure forever.

How to add a personal touch to your big day without breaking the bank

Bride and bridesmaids

Wedding days are one of the few occasions that a couple can be as self-obsessed as they wish, and tell the story of their lives, their present past and future. Creating the perfect wedding for ‘you’ can be as elaborate as you wish – anything from aisle runners to confetti can be used the way you want  – but the more you put in, the more is taken out of your account. Here are a few simple ways to personalise your nuptials in style without overreaching:

Invitations
The first stage of the process, and one which the internet has changed beyond all recognition. Once a time-consuming and costly exercise, you can now create and buy personalised wedding invitations in any style from rustic to retro and Wild West to Wonderland. One word of advice; try to match up the invitation with the eventual theme of the wedding itself.

Go second-hand
The cost of stylising each table at a wedding can be extortionate if you buy everything new. However, if you know the style of the wedding early in the process (perhaps when you sent out your invites) then you can pick up bits and pieces from car boot sales, auctions, eBay and other sellers in plenty of time. Finding pieces for a Victorian/80s/holiday/Irish theme, to name but a few, will be easy tasks. Alternatively you could hire items from various site.

Photograph wall
A great idea for the entrance or walls of the venue showing self-printed pictures of the bride and groom from throughout their lives. Another option is to create a specific wall showing guests who are attending or absent friends, created from pictures found on social media. The ink costs might not be too cheap, but will still be miniscule compared to professionally-printed efforts. Pick up cheap frames for the pics or just mount them on stiff card and watch everyone enjoy trying to find pictures of themselves.

Ask friends to perform
Live music is always a great way to entertain the gallery, but not necessarily a cheap option if you’ve already got a DJ as well. So here’s where you call upon one of your performing friends (everyone’s got someone who can belt out a tune) and ask them to do a mini-set in lieu of a wedding present. Performances can also include magic and stand-up comedy, or perhaps caricature drawing.

Family favours
Borrowing from members of your family can save a huge amount of money, but also brings an element of nostalgia to the proceedings. Cherishing a grandmother’s wedding ring and an uncle’s vintage car as part of the day will bring pride to the whole family. You may even be able to re-use a wedding dress; for example, this writer’s wife wore a dress that had already been worn by two other members of the family (it helps that an aunt was a dressmaker who could make adjustments). If no family heirlooms exist, borrowing a sibling’s sound system or similar could save cash.

Unconventional Uses Of Flowers In Your Wedding

Unconventional uses of flowers in your wedding blog

Today everyone wants their wedding day to reflect their own unique personality and tastes. This means everything is subject to change, from the most traditional elements through to the most individualised quirky and bespoke twists.

However, when it comes to the traditional “must have” aspects, flowers are certainly one of the things that will be vital for every wedding planner to get right.

Thankfully, today this offers far more opportunities than simply choosing a few buttonholes and a bridal bouquet.

Scene setters
From extensive arrangements that make for dramatic or colourful backdrops, through to ornate constructions such as a flower fountain, there are many ways to make a big style statement.

If any part of your wedding is taking place under canvas, draping garlands of flowers around the interior frame can create an otherworldly effect with great simplicity. Likewise, if a building has an impressive staircase feature it can be embellished by using flowers to turn it into a magical floral masterpiece.

Silk flowers
One of the easiest ways to make a statement when it comes to choosing flowers for use in a wedding scenario is to avoid one of the traditional routes altogether, and go for silk flowers. Doing this offers the chance to have truly unique designs and also means that you don’t have to worry about “on the day” freshness for flowers that might wilt, or at worst even look a little past their sell-by date.

Of course, any of the ideas already mentioned can be made more exotic and enticing by using silk flowers, but even the most traditional uses can benefit from going down the silk route. Everything from a beautiful handmade Domed Bridal Bouquet in Cream Chloe Rose, through to a silk take on a classic Red Rose Wedding Guest Buttonhole can add that individual touch and make your wedding day unlike any other.

Versatility
The almost endless possibilities offered by using silk flowers means that versatility regarding colour and shape combinations are limited only by your own imagination. However unconventional you want to be there will always be a way of getting the exact effect that you want from your flowers.

However, there are many other ways that you can stamp your own style on your wedding day.

Shutters
Wedding ideas come thick and fast these days from all kinds of sources, and this means designing the decor for your wedding is easier than ever.

There are lots of different ways you can incorporate bespoke shutters and screens into the overall presentation, from mounting them with pictures or images, or using them as holders for guest placement cards, buttonholes or other mementoes of the day.

Perfect day
Ultimately, your wedding day is exactly that – yours. Although the needs of guests always have to be taken into account, at the end of the day the two most important people are the bride and groom, and that means making sure every aspect turns out exactly how you want it to be.

What’s The Key To Wedding Planning Success?

Blog about planning your wedding

Wedding planning can quickly become a headache for any bride and groom when it comes to time scales and budget if it’s not gone about in the correct way. But what is the key to wedding planning success?Well, you can’t just take one key and hope it fits many of the locks you will metaphorically come across while planning the seating arrangements and times for the cake cutting. There are many keys to choose from, all of which will help make your big day a success; here are the most important ones:

Settle on a budget

The first thing to do is decide how much you can spend on the wedding and try not to stray from this amount. No one wants to enter married life with unnecessary debts under their belt.

Prioritise what to spend the budget on

It’s also a good idea to decide what you can save money on and where you can splurge a little. For many people the venue is one of the most important elements and swallows up most of what you have saved. A photographer is also something you shouldn’t skimp on when it comes to price – no matter how good your Dad reckons he is with a camera.However, you can actually save cash on table decorations and by being clever when it comes to bridal wear, skipping the high end bridal shop and heading to the high street for dresses that look just as good but don’t have such huge price tags. Here’s a great guide on what to spend and splurge on.

Inspiration

Bridal magazines are out to make money, so while their shoots look beautiful and offer some great inspiration they aren’t the only place to look for ideas – especially if you are looking to plan a wedding on a budget. Sign up for magazine subscriptions for some interior and food titles in the run up to the big day and take elements from these that you like, to incorporate into your wedding.

Don’t be afraid to change your mind

Something that you loved a year ago might not be your cup of tea now, so if you’ve agreed on a hairstyle or a particular kind of flower in your arrangement but really don’t want them now, speak to the person who deals with these as soon as possible. It’s an important day so you don’t want to just ‘put up with things’ if you don’t like them, especially if they are costing you money.

Delegate

You can’t do everything yourself, so it’s important that you and your partner delegate certain jobs to people in the wedding party. Your bridesmaids could be in charge of sourcing items for the table decorations and your mother-in-law to be could look into where is best to place your cake order. Relieving yourself of certain jobs will help you focus on the bigger picture and the more important elements of the wedding planning.

Leave yourself plenty of time

DJs, caterers, photographers and florists get booked up very early so ensure you look around nice and early to avoid disappointment. Many wedding planners online are a little tight with the times they suggest (looking into the hen party only four months before the wedding is risky business) so ignore some of the guidelines the ‘experts’ suggest and always get a head start on everyone else. If you live in a small town then you’ll be competing against other brides for venues and entertainment!
As you can see wedding planning isn’t a simple process but if you keep a level head, lean on your friends and family throughout and don’t let the little things get to you. You’ll only look forward to the day itself and those nervous butterflies won’t be related to you worrying about the caterer letting you down.