Good morning lovely readers!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! XFactor UK has finally finished and I cannot believe that for the first time ever I’ve allowed myself to be roped in and follow it from beginning to end! I’ve never really liked XFactor, with exception of the hilarious auditions stages, but I think the fact that everyone on Twitter was talking about it every Saturday and Sunday evening has made me feel slightly out of touch. Inevitably I started to follow XFactor too and became hooked. Shame on me!

Anyway, today I want to share with you some of the lessons I have learnt when organising my own wedding nearly four years ago. If you have followed my blog for a while, you will know that I organised my wedding in Italy while I was in the UK. I had to rely greatly on the internet and on my mum to execute my wishes. Boy, was it hard! As an aspiring wedding planner, I felt that I was in total control of the whole affair, but the thought of organising a wedding 1000 miles from the location, thinking that we had little money, proved to be rather difficult.

Luckily for us, my parents decided to step in and offered to increment our limited budget to a really substantial one. However, as I had just come out of university and my income was just enough to paid the basics, I was still very conscious of spending my parents’ money liberally and constantly tried to look for ways to cut costs. I did, however, let my parents decide how the largest part of the budget should be spent on, and as I break it down for you below, please do bear in mind that I come from a culturally different background. Also, I’ve been debating whether to quote the actual budget or not because I don’t want to set unrealistic expectations for my readers who might not have the same type of budget. In the end, I’ve decided to leave the amounts in, but please, please don’t take this as a representation of what you should be spending for your wedding, but just an indication of how to split your budget. You will see that clearly, food and venue take the largest chunk, while hair and make up were my smallest expenses.

Photographer: £1,100 Getting a good photographer was one of the top priorities for me. I chose not to have a videographer because I felt that if pictures are good they sometimes document the wedding better than a video. Would I recommend spending the money for a good photographer? 100% yes. However, I ended up having problems with my photographer because at the last minute he sent me a different photographer whose portfolio I hadn’t seen. What a big, big mistake on my part was to say yes and not insist that he should come himself.

Wedding dress: £2,400. Now, let me make something clear. This was dad’s present… really, the whole wedding was daddy’s present, but this was his special present. I had no intention of spending this much. In fact, I didn’t even want to go to Le Spose di Gió to try it on because I knew it was going to be a mind boggling amount. So I went to a local shop and nearly bought a very different dress for less than £1,000. But it wasn’t me. Dad then asked to go to Le Spose di Gió and when he saw the dress he simply said: “We’ll take it”. No ifs or buts. It’s easy for me to say that I’d do it again, but if I had a limited budget I would honestly say that spending £2.5k on a dress is not wise. However, I would definitely recommend you to buy the best quality dress your money can buy, no synthetic fabrics. Don’t let the shop owner make you try the dress on with a veil, tiara and a fake bouquet. If your dress doesn’t look great on its own, it is not the one. Veil, tiara and all those other accessories can sometimes appeal to your emotional side and make you fall in love with the idea of wearing a wedding dress, but not with the dress itself.

Make up: £140 I chose to do my own make up, so I spent the money to buy professional brushes and MAC cosmetics. Having checked the cost of MUAs in Italy I knew I couldn’t afford having one, so doing my own was the best solution for me. If you are planning to hire a make up artist, ensure that not only she is a professional, but that she also knows and understands your requirements and is prepared in every way to meet them.

Wedding Makeup

Hair: drum roll pleeeeaaase… £35! No more no less. I was going to go to my usual hairdresser who wanted to charge £70 for a trial and about £200 for hair on the day. Instead I decided to try my mother’s hairdresser who told me she would charge £10 for hair up, regardless of whether it was a trial or hair on the day. I had nothing to lose. I went for my first trial, loved it, and so I decided to hire them. I had one more trial the day before the wedding and then went back on the morning of the wedding. Total £30, plus £5 for hair accessories. Looking back, I would not in a million years spend any more than what I have. If you find a hairdresser that doesn’t charge much for trials, then you have nothing to lose – try him/her and if you like her, then don’t feel compelled to have to spend a lot of money just because everyone else does. However, for peace of mind, it is always advisable to go for someone who is recommended. Even if it costs a little more. 

Wedding HairVenue: £2,300 In Italy you generally either hire a villa and separate caterer, or you go to a restaurant. Because of the number of guests we had, hiring a villa was the easiest and most practical way for us. £2,300 is admittedly a lot of money, and yes, we could have saved a little bit if we got married on a Friday or Sunday, but the inconvenience it would have caused to our friends and family travelling from far was definitely not worth the £500. We also had the option of going for a cheaper venue (equally as beautiful), but they imposed a suppliers that we weren’t comfortable with. The villa we went for, instead, was highly recommended and having been there for a friend’s wedding, I knew it offered a lot of flexibility, so the choice was easy to make.Wedding venue

Catering: £75 per head I know it sounds like a lot of money, but as a good Italian, food is very important to us and we would never economise on it. I also firmly believe that we got a lot for it, including starters buffet, five course meal, the wedding cake, fruit & desert canape, coffee, and ALL drinks (water, wine, coke, and open bar including strong alcohol). When I talk to some venues for my clients I often struggle to see the value in their offering. They might charge £45/£50 ph, but they include the bare minimum. So, one word of advice is negotiate, negotiate and negotiate. Show that you value their reputation, and that’s why you are considering them as your suppliers, but be confident to ask for added value (not discounts).

Wedding CakeFlowers: £400 I wanted something less weddingy, something that was more structured and modern. So I opted for bright pink tulips and green chrysanthemum. I asked a florist friend to do it for me and he advised to choose a flower that was in season so as to keep the cost down.

Wedding flowersMusic: £500 We chose to hire a DJ instead of a live band. He perfectly understood our needs and had a good knowledge not only of Italian music, but also of English music, R&B and raggae (my hubby is West Indian), which was fundamental to us since we had a mixed crowd. The only advise I would give you is that you go for someone that you’ve either already heard playing at a wedding, or someone who comes highly recommended – particularly if they are a band. How many times you’ve been to a wedding where the band murdered some of the best wedding songs? Yep, you know exactly what I’m talking about. So make sure you choose your wisely, because the worst feeling you could ever get at your wedding is that people are being put off by the music and no one wants to dance.

Stationery: ??? I honestly don’t know how much it costed because my brother being a designer designed the invitations and maps himself as a present for us. And they were so beautiful. The only issue? We pushed it to the last and didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do, like a song book and coordinated menus. So if you are DIY’ing your stationery ensure you setting aside enough time to search the right paper, envelopes and accessories, correct mistakes, and create all the stationery assets you need. 

I am conscious that not everyone has the kind of budget we had, but I hope this breakdown helps you get an idea of how to proportionally split the budget, and you have picked up some useful tips from the lessons I myself have learnt along the way.

So, if you are approaching your wedding, how have you split your wedding budget? Have you decided to break the rules and splurge on one supplier rather than another? Do you struggle to decide how to allocate the budget? If you’ve already got married, what tips do you have for brides to be?

I’d love to hear from you!

x Betta