If you’re currently planning a wedding, congratulations!

It’s such an exciting time, but can also get quite costly. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can save a few pennies. By being a little bit creative you can still have all the beautiful touches you’d like, while making sure you stick to your budget.

Wedding stationery can often be quite expensive, but simple elegant invitations are easy and cheap to make yourself – plus it’s something fun you can do with your bridal party. Pop open the bubbly and throw you and your bridesmaids a craft evening!

You Will Need

For the Inlay

Craft Essentials

How to Make

1. Cut two strips of lace trim to size and stick along the top and bottom of the card with craft glue.

2. Use the letter stamps to print ‘X & Y’ (your initials) diagonally from top left to bottom right of the card.

3. Use your wedding rings stamp in the top right corner.

4. Add four of the adhesive pearls just underneath and above both the lace trims.

Top Tip!
Make a sample card first using a spare piece of paper so that you can experiment with the layout of your invitations without wasting any materials. You can then use the sample as a model to help you with the rest.

Outside of wedding invitation

5. For the inlay, add the text you’d like to the downloadable template and print on your lovely shimmery white paper (you’ll get two inlays per page). Cut to size and stick to the inside of the card.

Inside of wedding invitation

This post was not sponsored by Hobbycraft, but I’d really love to work with them. Hobbycraft, if you’re reading this, I’ve got mad skills and I’m ace at the ol’ social media malarkey.

I’ve been feeling really good recently.

No, make that great!  Like, smiling at strangers in the supermarket and feeling like I’m an unstoppable force kinda great.

At the weekend I had the immense joy of watching two of my favourite people in the world get married.  I was a bridesmaid for the very first time and I loved every minute.  I laughed, cried, caught up with old friends, drank too much champagne, and danced all night.  My thighs are still hurting, but it was totally worth it!  It was a perfect day.

No YOU'RE drunk.

No YOU’RE drunk!

You know it’s been a good day when you start off looking like a princess and end up looking like Boy George!

nice weddingboy george

The days are getting longer and warmer, I have some potentially exciting opportunities on the horizon, and I’ve finally started planning my Scandinavia trip (June 2017, fingers crossed!)

All in all, life is looking pretty fantastic.

On a personal note I’ve been working on being more positive and focusing on all the times I feel good.  CBT has taught me to take stock of all the ways my anxiety can manifest itself physically.  I’m supposed to focus on symptoms like tingling fingertips, shortness of breath, or feeling lightheaded, and remind myself that these sensations aren’t anything serious, but rather my nervous system misfiring.

I haven’t felt any of these things for a while now, which feels like a really big step, but it’s got me thinking, why am I not channeling that same focus on all the lovely ways my body responds to happiness?

Like the way laughter rises up through my stomach in little uncontrollable bubbles, or the tingle of goosebumps down my arms when I listen to a beautiful song.  The warmth that spreads through me when someone pays me a compliment, or the way I felt so overwhelmed with joy at my best friends’ wedding that my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest, but in the best way possible.

We all lead such busy lives and get so wrapped up with the stresses of adulthood that I think we sometimes forget to slow down and take stock of all the times we feel good.

So next time you feel butterflies of excitement, or the uncontrollable urge to smile, take a moment to really enjoy the sensation.  Focus on all the other things you’re feeling, and truly savour them.  These are the moments that we take for granted.  When we look back on this time in our lives we’ll remember the big things that made us happy, but we’ll forget all the tiny little snapshots that helped to make up the big picture.  I feel like I’m ready to stop dwelling on my anxiety and start cherishing my own happiness, however small and insignificant it might seem from the outside.

Picking a wedding venue can be a daunting experience.  Your venue sets the tone for your entire wedding, and it’s a huge commitment in terms of cost.  Speaking as someone who booked a venue then had a complete change of heart, the best advice I can give is to really do your research.  What are you prepared to spend?  What’s important to you in a venue?  Have all of this in mind before you start looking, but be open to new suggestions as well.

Here are a few helpful things to bear in mind when making your decision:

  1. Are there any restrictions in terms of timing?  What time can your evening reception run to?  Does the music need to be turned down by a certain time?  What time will you have the function room from in the morning?
  2. When you’re close to picking your venue and booking a date, make sure you speak to your local registrars first. Check availability and cost before you sign anything, and I would recommend that you book them before the venue.
  3. Find out exactly what’s included in the package. Be sure to ask about extra costs, such as a price per head for extra guests etc.
  4. If you want something quirky, like your cat to walk you down the aisle (believe it or not, a genuine request I had when I was a wedding coordinator!), make sure you discuss this before signing a contract.  Make sure any special requests that the venue agrees to are written into your contract, in case your wedding coordinator leaves, or the management team changes.
  5. Maximum capacities. There’s no point falling in love with a small, cozy venue, if you want a huge wedding for 300 people.
  6. Don’t book anything without seeing the venue first. Pictures can look a lot different, and a good wedding coordinator will not press you to pay a deposit before you’ve had a face-to-face meeting.
  7. Do you like the staff? You will work closely with your wedding coordinator for several months, and the overall feel of the place will play a very big part in your enjoyment on the day.  If you’re torn between two venues, why not book a meal at both and compare your experiences?  Trust your gut with this one.
  8. Ask about the flow and layout of the day. For example, will the whole day take place in one function room?  If so, how much time will be needed to transform the room between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast?  This will influence how long (and where) your drinks reception will be, and it’s important to be realistic about this.  Is there a private bar in your function room, or will guests have to go to the main bar?  If any part of the day takes place outside, what is the contingency plan for rain?
  9. The best advice I can offer is to see as many venues as possible. Chances are you’ll find that they all offer similar things in terms of packages and prices, but seeing all your options will give you a very clear idea of what you want (and what you don’t).
  10. If you’re flexible on your date look into midweek and off-season discounts. Bear in mind that big dates (Valentine’s Day and NYE for example) will be a lot more expensive.
  11. Ask about fun little extras that will personalise your day, like having signature his ‘n’ hers cocktails on sale at the bar.  Chances are the venue will be excited to try something new.
  12. Accommodation is an important one to think about.  If your venue is a hotel, can they offer a group discount for some of your wedding guests?  Is the bridal suite included in the package?  Make sure you ask to see it as well.  If your venue is not a hotel, look into nearby accommodation and check out prices.
  13. Make sure you factor transport into your budget if your wedding is taking place in more than one location.  To travel from the ceremony to our reception we hired a coach for our guests, and asked a family member to drive us in his vintage VW camper van (which we decorated with bunting, and poly ribbon).

bunting inside camper van

Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything I haven’t covered.  I’m happy to answer any questions!

Table plan

Spreadsheets.  The side of wedding planning you don’t see on Pinterest, but they will be your new best friend!

If you have found this post, the chances are you’re planning your wedding.  Congratulations!  Everyone’s experience of planning a wedding will be different, but I wanted this post go into some of the minutiae of the process.

As a former wedding co-ordinator for several well-known hotel chains, I can guarantee these tips will make everyone’s life so much easier.  Please bear in mind however, that my experience is limited only to hotel weddings, and every wedding co-ordinator does things differently, so not all of these points will apply to you.

This will be the first of many wedding-related posts, and I will share some details about the experience of planning my own wedding as well.  I hope you find them useful, and please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.  Most importantly, please remember that planning a wedding should be a joyful time, so as hard as it may seem, try not to sweat the small stuff.

Know that you have a team of people supporting you (the staff at your venue, as well as your loved ones), and make sure you take a step back if it all gets a bit much.  If things start getting a bit intense, take your other half out for a date night, and make it a wedding-talk free evening.  It will do you both the world of good, I promise.

Know that everything will come together, and enjoy every minute!  Without further ado, here are my top tips to minimise stress:

  1. Please, please, for the love of everything be consistent with your names. Your wedding co-ordinator will most likely do your place cards and table plan for you (subject to the package you choose), but she will not know that your Grandmother’s name is Flo, or that your best man’s nickname is Spuds.  Please stick to one name on any lists you provide, or in correspondence, otherwise a frantic process of elimination will ensue.
  2. When you give your co-ordinator your guest list, my recommended format is a spreadsheet (please not handwritten!). It will be so much easier for you to put together as you can cut and paste people to move them around, plus spreadsheets are basically porn to events co-ordinators.  Trust me.  Divide your list into each table, and ideally write down the names in the order you’d like them to be sat.  Put a note by the person’s name if they are a wheelchair user, or need a highchair as this will help with the overall layout of the room and make sure your guests are as comfortable as possible.  From that the place cards and table plan will be a piece of cake for them to make, and it eliminates any risk of error.
  3. Maximum capacities are there for a reason. No you cannot sneak just one more person in.  No, you cannot put a child on someone’s lap, and yes, babies count as people too.  They may be small, but they have to sit somewhere.  So count everyone, and don’t think you can smuggle extras in on the day.
  4. If you have the choice between picking one food option for everyone, or collecting pre-orders from your guests, definitely do the former. Ask your guests to specify meat or veggie, and to make you aware of any special dietary requirements when they RSVP, but keep it simple.  Believe me, it will make your life so much easier.  For some reason people find it impossible to choose what they’re going to eat 6 months ahead of time, and chasing last minute menus is more of a headache than it’s worth.
  5. Your wedding co-ordinator and the staff at the hotel will do a lot for you, so try not to get stressed over small details as you get close to the wedding. With centerpieces and decorations, as hard as it may be to hand over, you will not have the time to do setup yourself on the day, and you don’t want your bridal party distracted with it in the morning.  You will have a ‘final details’ meeting with your co-ordinator near the wedding, when you will be able to hand over all your decorations etc. and go through, in detail how you want the room to look.
  6. Your wedding co-ordinator will create a function sheet for your big day, which is essentially all the information about your wedding, and a full timeline, including instructions for the waiting staff. A good function sheet will cover all bases, so give as much information as you can, as well as contact information for all the key people (suppliers, best man etc.).
  7. Be honest about any concerns or questions you have. That’s what your wedding co-ordinator is there for, and chances are they will have dealt with it all before.
  8. Buy them a thank-you card. They will have spent hours working behind the scenes to make your vision come to life and will think of almost nothing else in the week leading up to it.  If they’re anything like me they will come to feel personally invested, so it will mean the world to them if you give them a small gesture of your thanks.