October 28, 2019

Wedding Diaries: Budgets, Venue Hunting & Setting the Date

When Darryl and I got engaged back in July, the first thing we said was “there’s no rush, we’ll make plans in the new year after we’ve moved house.” But within one week conversations were getting serious and we were throwing ideas around left right and centre.

I’m a pretty impulsive person anyway, but when you’re newly engaged you want to plan even just one thing to remain in that happy bubble for as long as possible. And having some sort of an answer to the *endless* question of “have you set the date yet?” is a more relaxing state-of-mind to be in.

But if you’re not the kind of girl who grew up with a box full of wedding stuff and a dream venue in mind, how on earth do you begin to plan the most important day of your life?

Setting a wedding budget

First things first, the all-important wedding budget. Without this you could end up going wildly into debt, so setting ours before doing anything else was key.

But do you know how much a UK wedding costs? I didn’t, until I recently read that the average cost of a UK wedding in 2019 is £32,000. Are they serious? Spending that amount of money on one day seems insane. Our budget isn’t tiny, but it’s clear I’m definitely more of a budget bride (to be) after reading that article.

So with our budget set, next up was the search for the wedding venue.

Destination weddings vs UK weddings

This is question that I imagine a lot of newly engaged couples ask. For us it was always going to be a destination wedding. It’s probably a case of ‘I want what I don’t have’, so I wanted golden beachy vibes instead of dreary old building vibes. I know there are some beautiful places in England, but I’ve just never been a fan of it here.

I spent a couple of weeks researching destinations and venues, alongside an appointment at Kuoni, before finding a venue in the Algarve that looked perfect. Italy had been the original goal, but we wanted to get married with views of the ocean and that wasn’t possible unless we did the ‘official’ bit another time, which we didn’t really like the idea of.

We made rough plans to go and visit this venue (plus a few others) the following spring, but the longer we thought about having a destination wedding, the less sense it seemed to make. Our main concerns included family and friends making it out there, the endless paperwork, flights getting cancelled, the heat, the ceremony being in another language, etc.

Reality hit when I attended The Wedding Show with my mum in September. I spent a good chunk of the day speaking to destination wedding companies, but everyone we spoke to told us information that contradicted the others.

They also told us about all the rules, such as how long you have to be out there before saying “I do”, where’s legal and where isn’t, and how you might have to share your special day with other brides. Do your research guys, it’s a complicated process!

So a destination wedding was now looking less favourable.

Looking at venues closer to home

At this point I started feeling really deflated, so Darryl and I decided to look at few venues here in England. We visited four in total, and by the third I realised I shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss a quaint English wedding.

We looked at gorgeous rustic venues in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and I could suddenly envisage every element of our wedding day. Even in rainy weather. In fact by the end of it all, I found I had a whole new appreciation for the old villages and rolling countrywide that we had been road-tripping through all weekend.

The final venue we visited was a real game changer, and left us feeling like we’d just found the place where we were going to marry one another.

But could we afford our dream venue?

But there was one issue, none of the venues we saw came cheap, and when we added the wedding venue cost on top of all the other costs, things got expensive very quickly.

I felt like putting the whole thing on hold at this point. The wedding budget had now been exceeded by a few thousand and it would mean making cut backs every day until the big day.

The trouble is, once we’d since this 10/10 venue we couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else. So for one final attempt at keeping to our budget, we looked at a much cheaper venue.

Wishful thinking! From the minute we arrived I couldn’t picture myself walking down the aisle to Darryl, and I was pretty unexcited at the thought of booking it. Put simply it was worlds apart from our dream venue, and that was all the clarity we needed to realise that the one we loved was worth sacrificing a couple of holidays for.

Saying “yes” to our wedding venue & setting the date

In the end we rejigged the budget, looked at areas we could make savings, worked out a savings plan and bit the bullet. So I’m over the moon to say that Darryl and I are getting married in October 2021!

I cannot stop thinking about the venue, and when suppliers say “it’s such a beautiful place to get married”, you know you’ve picked a good’un. They have a wedding show there soon and I can’t wait to go back knowing that that is the place that we’ll say our vows, and party the night away with our friends and family right by our side.  

And the date is a dream. I’m so over the moon that I’m able to have an autumn wedding, because after seeing a few seasonal features in Brides magazine and getting lost in Pinterest for (many) hours, I realised how beautiful an October wedding would be. And it makes DIY decorations a piece of cake – yes I’m thinking baby pumpkins!

So that’s volume one of our wedding diaries! I’d love to share more on what it’s like planning a wedding, so let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to cover in a future post.

Shop my wedding planner HERE!

Are you planning a wedding? Please let me know if you have any wedding planning tips!

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