There are loads of wedding planning blogs out there, all ready and waiting to help you plan your 'special day'. Only, not so many wedding plannings blogs that tell you what it's really like; how you'll avoid doing anything because you don't want to face difficult decisions, or how you won't know where to start because you, well, can't afford start anywhere. So I thought I'd document my experiences, the good, the bad and the probably ugly and maybe someone else going through a similar experience can find some solace in my thoughts. And also because hopefully it will be cathartic to me and perhaps stop me dreaming about being trapped in a spreadsheet every other night.
Alex and I got engaged in July 2018. We'd talked about getting married for ages, and we'd always known it would be in our future somewhere. I honestly didn't expect him to propose to me when he did; a previous relationship had made rather bitter I suppose and I tried never to expect anything, so that I'm not disappointed. Don't judge me, I know I'm not the only one who does this. Alex's proposal was lovely, on a beach which means a lot to us, and we were able to involve my family in the celebrations. This often isn't the case as my family live in the north of Scotland and we're based in Yorkshire. I really valued having them around when we got engaged, and I could tell it meant a lot to my mum too. She misses a lot of life events - and I miss a lot of things too.
At this point, our budget was approximately the grand sum of zero. We both work for the same company in pretty much entry-level positions, having changed careers in early 2018. We can afford to rent a nice flat and run a car, but after bills and food and the very, very occasional treat, there isn't much left. Luckily, I was promoted in October and decided to set aside £250 of the extra salary per month. Alex adds between £100-150 to this per month and it builds up quite nicely.
We didn't spend hugely long on discussing where or when to hold the wedding which, in hindsight, was stupid. Somewhere along the line October 2019 was chosen and I emailed round a few venues in the Highlands to get an idea of prices. Alex didn't want anything huge - in fact, we both initially wanted to go and get married abroad - and I felt very conscious of not asking my 90 year old Grandmothers to travel too far. In fact, I felt certain that they wouldn't be able to travel anywhere and so the only way they could be involved would be if the wedding was near them. Luckily, Alex's family seemed excited by this prospect and even more so when we told them that the most affordable and suitable venue we had found was actually a castle, albeit a very small castle. So that was that; the castle was booked for 26th October 2019 and we had no idea how we were going to pay for it.
By Christmas I had summoned up the courage to approach my parents. We'd worked out that if we continued saving at the same rate, we could save £x by the wedding, but would still need £x. We asked my parents if they could lend us this come September, when the bill was due. We were so lucky that they agreed, and a huge weight was off our minds. It was now up to us to save up and pay things off along the way - the flowers, cake, suits, dress, car etc. It seemed much more doable.
But then, for some reason, everything just became stressful. Trying to get Alex to decide which of his friends he was inviting - and to finally ask his best man if he would be his best man - was getting me nowhere. People starting pestering me to provide room numbers at the hotel even though we didn't know who was coming yet. Alex and I fought, constantly, because he decided that he didn't actually want any of this and I was a horrible Bridezilla who was the most selfish woman he'd ever met. Apparently I should have taken his suggestion of a Church wedding somewhere with just the two of us, followed by a blessing in Scotland with my grandparents and a reception in England that my grandmothers then wouldn't have been able to attend. I can only imagine that the cost would have been dramatically less for these 3 events than everything else we've already sorted out.
Add to that, I managed to offend Alex with the flowers. Back in the Autumn, he suggested white roses (for Yorkshire) mixed with thistles (for Scotland). We decided on a deep green and heather purple theme as a result of this conversation, and when my mums's friend offered to do our flowers, this is what I put forward. I did invite Alex to the coffee chat I had with her, but he didn't want to come. Apparently now I should have consulted him. Even though I have asked for white roses and thistles. Perhaps I shouldn't have asked her to pad it out with gypsophelia and greenery... who knows.
One day, to help in firming up what our budget was and how much we needed to save, I took the audacious step of emailing a DJ after seeing a post in the Highland Weddings facebook group. We sent a few messages back and forth and I found out that it'd be about £300 for the evening. Having previously estimated £500, I was glad to report this to Alex but... oh no... I hadn't consulted him first. My findings were rendered useless and we were back in the dark with no idea of what the evening music would cost.
I think it's safe to say that my wedding planning experience thus far has made me wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life. I don't like being the centre of attention, and neither does Alex. I was under the impression that we had discussed every single decision before deciding anything, but during any argument I am informed that this is not actually the case - which is very confusing, when I have a frankly astonishing memory for conversations and can tell you when and where they took place, and probably what you said word for word too. It now seems that my previously keen fiance takes umbridge at the wedding being local to my grandparents and would perhaps prefer that they weren't invited at all, which seems a bit mean given they have both said how excited they are and how it has brightened up this year for them. We have no money to do nice things, not that we ever did nice things anyway, but now we can't do it because of the wedding so that's yet another sore point. Frankly, I wonder why we're bothering.
Church - booked
Reception venue - booked
Photographer - booked
Maid of Honour - asked and accepted
Bridesmaid #1 - asked and accepted
Bridesmaid #2 - Alex can't decide if I should ask his sister or not
Best man - Fuck knows
Flowers - Controversially arranged
Evening music - asked for price but got told off for doing so
Dress - praise the lord a decision I think I'm allowed to make on my own