Credit Crunch Bride

Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

The ultimate wedding cake bake-off

In cake on June 28, 2009 at 9:33 pm
Homemade wedding Cake from 2000dollarwedding

Homemade wedding Cake from 2000dollarwedding

The wedding cake. Expensive and often not that tasty. Certainly not as tasty as my mum’s cherry cake or my friend Suzy’s lemon drizzle cake. So why pay some baker to create you some white marzipan encrusted monstrosity? No, this is your chance to have (drum roll)… THE ULTIMATE WEDDING CAKE BAKE OFF.

Bring on the bake-off

Bring on the bake-off

Not only do you avoid astronomic wedding cake costs, but you create something totally individual, collaborative and a mini-event in itself. Ask close friends and family to bake and bring along their favourite cake.For extra competitiveness pitch the bride’s family against the groom’s family. May the best bakers win.

Finally, instead of a cake cutting ceremony have The Bake Off Awards. Award prizes to all the bakers (Best Carrot Cake Award, Best Coconut Cake with Lime Buttercream Award etc.) Appropriate prizes could be a silver cake fork or an apron.

Decorate cakes with flowers

Decorate cakes with flowers

One final advantage is Cake Diversity – you end up with lots of different cakes, so guests are likely to at least like something. Here’s the top ten most requested cakes according to the New York magazine:

10. Chocolate-almond cake, chocolate ganache, and mocha buttercream

9. Banana cake and chocolate buttercream

8. Coconut cake and lime buttercream

7. Hazelnut-almond cake, chocolate ganache, and raspberries

6. White cake, lemon buttercream, and raspberries

5. Chocolate devil’s food cake, chocolate ganache, and praline buttercream

4. Lemon cake, lemon curd, and vanilla buttercream

3. Yellow butter cake and chocolate buttercream and/or chocolate ganache

2. Chocolate devil’s food cake, vanilla buttercream, and raspberries

1. Chocolate devil’s food cake and vanilla buttercream

And to avoid last minute panics, encourage your trusty bakers to bake in advance. Once the cakes are cooled wrap them in clingfilm super tight, then wrap in foil just in case, then pop them in the freezer. Then the night before just defrost, add fillings and decorate.

Bake your cakes in advance, wrap tightly in clingfilm then defrost the night before

Bake your cakes in advance, wrap tightly in clingfilm then defrost the night before

Keep decoration simple. – There’s no need to get OTT about decorations. Some whipped cream for fillings, a little icing sugar on top, followed by a handful of berries or a flower can look marvelous.


Alternative wedding readings (no Corinthians, promise) Part I

In Readings on June 27, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Hoping to avoid identi-kit wedding readings? Here are a few less obvious selections, courtesy of my marvelously well read sister-in-law-to-be. And no, 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 is not included. Hopefully they avoid patronising lecturing on how to have a good marriage, and don’t mention that sickening word ‘joy’ too much.
First, up is a twentieth century American poet, Ogden Nash.

The versifier extraordinaire, Ogden Nash

The versifier extraordinaire, Ogden Nash

My Dream by Ogden Nash

This is my dream,
It is my own dream,
I dreamt it.
I dreamt that my hair was kempt.
Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it.

The next extract is by an American contemporary novelist, Richard Bausch and it positions love as all about the little moments and domestic trivia.

Richard Bausch

Richard Bausch

The Last Good Time by Richard Bausch

There was a lovely time, long ago, too private to tell anyone, or too ordinary. It had nothing to do with anything, really: it was almost embarrassingly humble. One December night, unable to sleep, he had glanced out the bedroom window to discover that it had snowed. He woke his wife and made her come to the window, and the surprise of it delighted her as it had delighted him.

They dressed and bundled the baby up and took a walk, and watched the dawn arrive, and when they returned to the house, he took the day off. They played with the baby, cooked dinner, and baked bread. They listened to the baby playing in his playpen, and they talked idly about anything that came into their minds, and that evening, late, they lay whispering to each other about what a beautiful day it had been.

He thought about all this on his way down to the grocery store. The memory of it came through him like a breath, and then he was savoring it, basking in its warmth. And he thought that this is what love really meant: this very ordinary memory. That love was easy and plentiful as grass, and as still, as calm somehow.

Next up, Charles Darwin‘s memorandum on marriage. Used to jotting down daily notes on animal breeding, he scrawled rambling thoughts about career and prospects on two scraps of paper, one with columns headed “Marry” and “Not Marry”. Brilliantly practical.

Darwins two columns: Not marry? Marry?

Darwin's two columns: Not marry? Marry?

Notes on Marriage by Charles Darwin

Not Marry?
Freedom to go where one liked
choice of Society and little of it.
Conversation of clever men at clubs
Not forced to visit relatives, and to bend in every trifle
to have the expense and anxiety of children –
perhaps quarrelling –
Loss of time –
cannot read in the Evenings –
fatness and idleness –
anxiety and responsibility –
less money for books
if many children forced to gain one’s bread (But then it is very bad for one’s health to work too much).
Perhaps my wife won’t like London, then the sentence is banishment and degradation with indolent, idle fool.

Children – (if it please God) –
constant companion, who will feel interested in one
(a friend in old age) –
object to be beloved and played with – better than a dog anyhow
Home, and someone to take care of house
Charms of Music and female Chit Chat –
These things good for ones health but terrible loss of time
My God, it is unthinkable to think of spending
one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all
No, no won’t do
Imagine living all one’s days solitarily in smoky
dirty London House –
Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa
with good fire, and books and music perhaps – compare this vision with
dingy reality.
Marry! Marry! Marry!

How to cut your guest list and not alienate people

In guest list on June 22, 2009 at 9:05 pm
The biggest wedding headache; the guest list

Cutting your guest list is the single easiest way of cutting down wedding costs. It means a smaller venue and a leaner food and drink bill. And you could even get to fuss the people you invite more.

On the downside, you could end up alienating friends and creating family feuds which last for generations if you cut the guest list without being sensitive. Here’s how not to offend everyone you know…

Find a natural cut off point. Not every guest list finishes at an exact multiple of 50. If you’ve got 43 family and 23 close friends, then go for a guest list of either 43 or 66 rather than a round 50. Realsimple call it ‘creating tiers’.

Create blanket policies and stick to them. No one cousin will be offended at not being invited if you have a no cousins policy.

Bin anyone you haven’t seen for a year (unless they live abroad).

Scratch any would-be friends i.e. people you’re thinking of inviting because you’d like to be friends with them in the future.

If they didn’t invite you don’t invite them. If they didn’t invite you to their wedding you are totally off the hook. Unless their wedding was before you met them.

Don’t invite any work colleagues. It’s just not professional anyway to let them hear your Dad’s story about the big poo you did in public when you were a toddler. It won’t advance your career.

The biggest wedding headache – the guest list

Always refer to your wedding as “a small family affair”. This is a perfect white lie, and prevents either side from embarrassment.

A very small family affair

A very small family affair

Do block un-invites. If you don’t invite anyone from a whole social group, then there’ll be less awkward conversations.

Only invite people you’ve met. This means no ‘plus ones’ and if you haven’t met someone’s partner there’s no need to invite them. People you don’t know yet cant get offended about not being invited, surely.

Don’t invite people you don’t like. This rule isn’t really about not alienating people, it’s about making sure you and your guests enjoy themselves. If you wouldn’t want to sit next to them at dinner, probably none of the rest of your guests will.

Limit parents’ friends. Even if they’re paying for the wedding, their friends list needs to be kept in check.

Shrink the kids. NFI anyone under 18.

Stagger the invites. Naughty, but efficient.

Smaller weddings mean no wedding crashers. Yay.

Smaller weddings mean no wedding crashers. Yay.

Guest-generated wedding photography

In Photography on June 15, 2009 at 10:04 pm

If formal wedding line ups make you want to hurl and paying a couple of grand for a wedding photographer seems just a little too much, then there are other ways to create fabulous wedding photography…

Bring on the DIY photo booth – it’s like the disposable camera thing, but with an upgrade.

Hang up a back drop with a drape and a piece of cord, and there you have your very own photo booth for guests.

Guests at Nathalie and Corey's wedding wrote messages on a little chalkboard

Guests at Nathalie and Corey's wedding wrote messages on a little chalkboard

With the aid of a digital camera on a tripod and a piece of string you can create your very own Helmut Newton style photo machine, in which guests trigger the shutter and flash with either a camera radio remote or a camera remote control cable.

For the ultimate wedding snaps

For the ultimate wedding snaps

Encourage curtseys and bows at your home made photobooth

Encourage curtseys and bows at your home made photo booth

To encourage true silliness with the guests, set up a laptop so they can review their shots. This does get a little more complicated, but luckily here’s a tutorial on setting up your own photo booth. And here‘s how another couple did it.

wedding photo booth DIY candid speech bubbles

And for ultimate dumb guest behaviour create speech bubbles for guests to write messages on.

And finally, once you’ve got millions of amazing user-generated shots, print your own album by uploading it to a digital photo book maker like Bob books.

Upload your own photos to create your own photo book at Bob Books

Upload your own photos to create your own photo book at Bob Books

Supersize your wedding flowers

In Flowers on June 6, 2009 at 8:10 pm
Supersize your wedding flowers

Supersize your wedding flowers

Your budget may be sorrowfully paltry, but you flowers don’t have to be. Avoid your centre pieces looking sparse and your bouquets looking sad by choosing the right flowers.

Use Hydrangeas for bulk. They can be a little tricky in bouquets as the stems need to be kept short to stop them wilting, but for centre pieces they really work. A single stem is the size of about four roses, so despite being about £4 a stem they can work out fairly cheaply. They come in pink, blue, green, purple, aqua and white mainly, are in season from spring to autumn, and can even be dried if you really need them in your bouquet. Plus, there’s half a chance you’ll know someone who has an enormous bush of them, so you might even be able to snip them for free.

Add hydrangeas for bulk.

Use hydrangeas for bulk.

Fill with baby’s breath. Florists everywhere use baby’s breath (gypsophilia) to bulk up bouquets.

Forget the other flowers and just go with Baby's Breath

Forget the other flowers and just go with Baby's Breath

Shrink your vases. It’s the same principle as dieters use when they eat off smaller plates – the smaller the vase, the bigger the flowers look. Go Lilliputian if you so wish.

Apothecary bottles make ranunculus look giant

Apothecary bottles make ranunculus look giant

Big up the foliage. Bear grass, pittosporum, eucalyptus or even ivy can help supersize your flowers.

Weddings Save Or Splurge

Ivy only displays in wine bottles

Dos and don’ts for a practical wedding gift list

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2009 at 7:24 pm

The irony of the broke-ass bride is that at a time when what she really needs is cash, cash and more cash, instead she will be putting together a gift list full of presents that she couldn’t normally afford, even in less stretched times. It’s like doing Supermarket Spree when you know you’re off to the Debtor’s Prison next week.

Considering you wont be able to afford to buy anything for months/ years/ decades after your wedding, you’d best get your wedding gift list right. Here’s the Credit Crunch Bride’s dos and don’ts…

Do a tour of your home. Look what items you’re missing or really need an upgrade. This is the time to replace that nasty studenty cutlery and that cheapo Ikea laundry basket you never liked.

Do keep it practical. Bed linen, towels, wine glasses, crockery, bakeware, cutlery, cushions, vases, jugs, frames, photo albums, lamps, clocks and rugs will always get used.

Even something as absurdly practical as a tea towel can be pleasurable with Emma Bridewater

Even something as absurdly practical as a tea towel can be pleasurable with Emma Bridgewater

Do keep it classic. Don’t buy things you’ll go off or want to upgrade after a year or two. Get the best version of the smaller items, rather than stretching to cheap versions of big items. This is your moment to get that toaster of your dreams.

Let someone treat you to the best toaster in the world

Let someone treat you to the best toaster in the world

Don’t ask for gifts you’ll never use. Ask for gifts for who you are, not who you plan to be. If you never normally use a decanter, you’re not going to magically start, just because you’re a Mrs.

Unless you have previously owned the following items, you probably wont start using them regularly, just because you’re married:

The ice cream maker. Just as surely as eggs should come from chickens, ice cream should come from shops, not from badly-designed home ice-cream makers.

The cocktail shaker. Enjoying drinking cocktails is not the same as being good at making them. This requires sobriety, the correct ingredients, impeccable mixing skills and the correct recipe. This present is likely to sit in its packaging for years.

The bread maker. There’s a reason eBay is full of bread-makers ‘used once’.

Don’t ask for presents you wouldn’t buy yourself. If you wouldn’t buy this present for yourself or someone else, it probably isn’t meant to be.

Don’t ask for things you already have. If you already have lots of lovely bed linen, don’t ask for more, just because it’s what people put on gift lists. Ask for what you don’t have, be it things for the garden, boardgames, tools, meals on your honeymoon or a firegrate.

Don’t take the fun out of giving. No one wants to give a boring present, like a sixteenth of a sofa or a fifth of a pair of curtains. Each gift should be an object which the giver feels is their personal blessing of your marriage.

Sophie Conran low casserole dish from The conran Shop

'With this Sophie Conran low casserole dish from The Conran Shop, I bless this marriage.'

Distract them with details

In Decoration, Photography, Uncategorized on May 27, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Wedding guests are a little like small children who ignore their birthday present and spend hours playing with the cardboard box it came in – their interest is often not in what you’d expect. It’s the little, often inexpensive things that are remembered. You spend thousands on an expensive venue, and then people just remember that sweet thing you did with the hat clips or the seating plan board. Damn them. Unless, of course, you’re flat broke, have a cheap venue, cheap dress and cheap eats, in which case you’ll be happy they’re so easily pleased.

Here’s five ways to distract them with details:

1. Crazy table naming – do something special with your table names. Be it giant numbers, the names of your favourite films or, perhaps, all the places you had your best shags (“So daughter, why is our table called The Back of The Nissan Micra?”)

Giant table numbers

Giant table numbers

2. Giant balloons.

Giant white balloons fade any bouquet into paltry insignificance.

Giant white balloons fade any bouquet into paltry insignificance.

3. Chinese paper lanterns – each guest lets their off at the end of the evening. Watch them float away over the countryside (and hopefully not land in a tree, start a fire and land you in the dock on arson charges).

Fly me to the moon

Fly me to the moon

4. Windmills, masks and fake moustaches. All are amusing when discovered at table settings, after a couple of glasses of bubbly. Then again, most things are amusing after a couple of glasses of bubbly.


5. Guest-generated photography. Disposable cameras on tables or a photo booth will create equal amounts of genius and terrible shots as well as the occasion rude photo of genitalia.

6. Sparklers – Even adults go gooey-eyed over sparklers

How to honeymoon on a shoestring

In Honeymoon on May 20, 2009 at 5:24 am
The classic Caribbean honeymoon with the classic honeymoon pricetag.

The classic Caribbean honeymoon with the classic honeymoon pricetag.

Ah the honeymoon – a chance to relax post-wedding, and drink in your new-found coupledom in total peace and solitude. Oh no, what’s that knocking? Oh yes, it’s the Back Of Your Mind reminding you how much the honeymoon is costing you per minute.

There’s nothing fun about a holiday so ludicrously lavish that you spend it worrying about how you’ll ever clear your overdraft. So here’s how to honeymoon on a shoestring:

1. Keep it short. You don’t need to be a Nobel Prize winner to work out that a 3 day mini-break will be cheaper than 3 weeks away. A mini-break is long enough to breath out slowly, gossip about the wedding with your beloved and write your thank-yous.

2. Don’t be a lemming. If you choose popular honeymoon destinations and stay in honeymoon suites in honeymoon type hotels you’ll pay honeymoon prices. Try the Finnish Lakes rather than the Bahamas, Java rather than Barbados or Damascus rather than Marrakech. Anything that makes the Top Ten Honeymoon Destinations is likely to cost you.

3. Go out of season. If you insist on going to Hawaii, go May – June and September – December (before Christmas). Otherwise the Caribbean is off season (and hotter) from Spring – July.

White sand beaches can only truly be idyllic when they're as empty as this.

White sand beaches can only truly be idyllic when they're as empty as this.

Look for low season discounts:

Asha Cottages is a tiny family-run boutique eco-hotel in Kenya with just five guest rooms During low season (now) B&B goes down to 50 euros per night per person. You can really easily just spend a week chilling there, getting massages, eating great food and lolling on the beach without it costing and arm and a leg. Yippee!

Asha Cottages, on Diani Beach on the South Coast of Kenya near Mombasa.

Asha Cottages, on Diani Beach on the South Coast of Kenya near Mombasa

5. Play the ethical card. Volunteering could be your way of affording a tropical destination. Oh, and yes, it might help you both be better people. Help out at orphanages, painting, cleaning, washing and preparing meals in Thailand, South Africa, Kenya and Fiji through Hands Up Holidays.

at least 10% of profits made are given back to community partners that you are involved with on your honeymoon.

At least 10% of profits made are given back to community partners that you are involved with on your honeymoon. Sweet.

6. Lie. Pretend to your friends you’re going on honeymoon and then switch off the phones and create a holiday from life in your very own backyard. Bring on the take aways, roll out the DVDs.

Mismatched: the most recession-friendly wedding theme

In Themes, Uncategorized on May 17, 2009 at 10:32 pm
Love the mismatch. Reject the matchy matchy.

Love the mismatch. Reject the matchy matchy.

It’s one of life’s great answered questions. How come most women before getting engaged are fans of many contrasting and clashing colours in their lives, and then moments after The Proposal go all matchy-matchy? Before The Proposal they were happy with wearing co-ordinating separates, painting accent colours on their walls and not owning a single twin set, and then suddenly After The Proposal everything must must match. Weird, but unquestionably true.

Matchy-matchy weddings, where the chair bows must match the favours, the save the date cards and the mother-of-the-bride’s corsage are both stressful and expensive. Luckily, with a mismatched theme to your wedding, all these problems seem to melt away. Here’s how to do it:

1. Mismatch the bridal party. This means they can just wear an outfit of their own with zero cost to you.

Bridesmaids wearing their own dresse

2. Mix up your outfit. Having a white dress doesn’t mean you also have to have all your accessories in white. Avoid forking out for accessories you’ll only ever wear once by jazzing up your outfit with bright accessories.

This bride has take mismatching to a whole new level

This bride has taken mismatching to a whole new level

3. Mismatch your flowers. Who said every table has to have the same flowers? OK, some people do, but you don’t have to. And if you’re DIYing it, it means you have much more freedom with the flowers you get.

4. Mismatch your table settings. A different table cloth for every table. Yay.

tea-party-table-country-living mismatched wedding

5. Mismatch your husband. Not really. However, you could post-rationalise your mismatched theme by claiming that you already have the perfect match. Aah.

If you liked this post you may also like:

Rainbow: the cunning new theme for the cash-strapped

Another theme for the flat broke: country vintage

Make it ethical

Poetry-free wedding readings

In Readings on May 10, 2009 at 10:04 pm

If you’re more prosaic than poetic, or find that poetry makes your head swim, maybe a wedding reading from a novel might work out better for you. Plus, if you have a burly chap doing a reading, prose might prove less emasculating for him.

Here’s a selection of the finest wedding readings from novels:

1. From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

For those who go slack jawed for some period drama romance, try Mr. Darcy’s response, when asked by Elizabeth how he came to fall in love with her…

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.

2. From A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

3. From Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

4. From The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take…It is indeed a fearful gamble…Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation…It takes a lifetime to learn another person…When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.

5. From The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Chapter 21, The Little Prince Befriends the Fox

It’s all about the little prince learning to value a rose because it is his particular rose, the one he watered and looked after. Kooky, with just a touch of the hallucinogenic about it.

“Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret.”

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses…

6. From The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

Here’s a profundity, the best I can do: sometimes you just know… You just know when two people belong together. I had never really experienced that odd happenstance before, but this time, with her, I did. Before, I was always trying to make my relationships work by means of willpower and forced affability. This time I didn’t have to strive for anything. A quality of ease spread over us. Whatever I was, well, that was apparently what she wanted… To this day I don’t know exactly what she loves about me and that’s because I don’t have to know. She just does. It was the entire menu of myself. She ordered all of it.

 The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter