Tips for a Simple Wedding

Wednesday 14 May 2014 by

So wedding season is now upon us so if you’re planning a wedding but are looking for a more simple, less costly (let’s face it, who has £18,000 to spare?) occasion, I’ve compiled some tips.

Guest List

One of the best tips around guest lists is to take a breath and wait before sending out invitations. Getting engaged is of course very exciting and you can’t wait to tell everyone and get the ball rolling on inviting guests but hold off for a couple of weeks or so. By all means announce your engagement but take the time to think hard about what kind of day you truly want. Do you want just family? Family and closest friends? Extended family? Plus ones? Intimate, private or a big celebration? Do you want to separate guests into ceremony and reception? These are things that do need serious thought, remember this isn’t like a birthday or other anniversary that will come round again and give you an opportunity to do it better, you just get one so make sure it’s what you want.

Secondly, don’t worry about offending anyone by not inviting them. People who truly know and care about you will understand your decisions, they love you and will want you to have the day you want. Also, don’t feel you have to explain why you have or haven’t invited certain people, this is akin to digging yourself into a hole and is more likely to lead to offence than no explanation. Remember, your friends and family want you to be happy and will support decisions you make. Weddings are deeply personal and people understand this.


Weddings don’t have to be expensive, if you don’t want something fancy that’s fine and there are many ways to still have a lovely day without spending too much. When it comes to your dress, hunt around as there are many cheaper options available if you do want the classic gown style. If you can track down a Monsoon outlet store you can find some lovely classic styles for under £200, they’ll be from the previous season but who’s going to know? I personally wanted a simple fifties style dress and found a beautiful one by Lady Vintage on eBay for just £55.

If you want a definite bouquet the best tip I can give is not to mention the word wedding. The second that word is mentioned prices can easily triple. For mine, I just went to the supermarket and bought some lilies to tie with ribbon. This only cost £10 compared to wedding bouquets of lilies I saw advertised at £55. You can easily pick up ribbon from craft shops or save them from Christmas or birthday presents (I took mine from around our Christmas cake).

If you want a wedding cake this can incur a huge cost, my partner and I saw one advertised at over £1000 which is crazy when you consider how little cakes actually cost to make. If you want a traditional fruit cake a great cheat is to buy two or three Christmas cakes of varying sizes and pile them on top of each other. They have a really long shelf life and if you buy them in the few days after Christmas you’ll get them far cheaper, you may just have to carefully remove any seasonal decorations. For my own cake, I made a simple white chocolate and raspberry muffin rather than sponge and decorated it with freeze dried raspberries which you can pick up from the supermarket although you get far more for your money if you buy it online as my mother in law did (although I was all prepared to cheat by crushing dried raspberries from breakfast cereal).

When it came to table decoration we opted just to get bunches of flowers, tied with string and spread across the table. We also wanted tealights so to save on buying lots of candle holders we simply saved and washed out condiments jars – some were inadvertently put out with the recycling so I emptied the contents into plastic tubs. Once they were ready I then got out my nail varnish collection and dabbed spots of every colour on to the glass to make them a little more special.

You may want to splash out on a photographer but these days most cameras you buy and cameras on people’s phones produce great quality photos.

For my hair, I had a French braid with ribbons worked through but rather than buy ribbon I simply cut them from items in my wardrobe – you know the ribbon tabs on the shoulder that go over the hangers in the shop which worked wonderfully.

While we wanted a little reception we didn’t want anything large or formal so opted to have a little garden party with simple homemade salads and pizzas and such. And when it came to alcohol we hit up Aldi as the cost is so much better – a few bottles of Pimms, a box of white wine and a box of red (cheaper than lots of bottles and more party friendly) and we were all set. We probably spent about £50 or so on alcohol and this covered 30 guests.

So basically there is always a cheaper way of doing things even if it means going a little outside the box. My in-laws kindly paid for the food so excluding that I’d say we did our day and our night away in a nearby holiday cottage (which was probably our biggest cost) for at most £600.

Traditions and Extras

It’s your wedding, so do it your way. There’s nothing that says it has to be a certain way. For instance, I opted for an engagement necklace as I’ve never been much of a ring wearer and didn’t want my partner to spend so much on one item. When it came to our wedding rings we decided to go non-traditional too, my husband picked out something he liked and I had a look on eBay for some older styles as I’m not really into modern styles. Bidding on a ring I liked went crazy at the last minute so I couldn’t get it but when I told my mother-in-law about it she pulled out a beautiful ring that had been handed down by a late relative and gave it to me which made me feel very honoured. So, ask your relatives, you never know what heirlooms might be hanging around waiting to be handed down.


Things will go wrong, there’s no way around it. It’s an overwhelming day with lots of running around and dividing your time between people. Just remember that while you may notice things, your guests won’t, they’re just happy to be there for you. It’s okay to freak out, emotions run high, so keep a loved one/best friend near to steady you. I felt fine until I was getting ready at which point I felt sick with nerves, we got married at a registry office and while you don’t have to, I had every intention of walking down the aisle but was so overwhelmed that I didn’t manage it. I also forgot my bouquet but we were thankfully close enough to a shop for a couple of friends to run in and pick up a lovely bunch of spring blooms for me. Most things are just details and like I say your guests won’t notice, my sister’s wedding seemed pretty perfect but she later confessed that there were things she didn’t like. In all honesty, I’m not sure anyone has a ‘perfect’ day so just relax and enjoy it as best you can. Most importantly, remember that while it’s a big moment in your life it’s the marriage itself that’s important.

Nerissa is a writer, mummy and rather proud geek living in the countryside. In between playtime, cuddles and fun times she loves to read, knit, bake and write Young Adult and children’s fiction.

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