Credit Crunch Bride

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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

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

The clutch bag as bouquet

In Bridesmaids, flowergirls & pageboys, Dresses, Flowers, Uncategorized on April 9, 2009 at 11:43 pm
Clutch from Viabella at Etsy

Clutch from Viabella at Etsy

As a bride, it is very likely your duties will include walking down an impossibly long aisle very slowly. Meanwhile a hundred or so guest will scan you up and down. You will be nervous. All eyes will be on you. Your hands will be shaking. This is where the bouquet comes in. It gives you something to do with your hands, other than fidget or flap. In that way, it makes sense.

However, bouquets can be eye-wateringly expensive. So what on earth do you hold in your shaking hands instead? Well, what you normally would, of course. A clutch.

Boden floral clutch

Boden floral clutch - comes in 4 colours

Clutch from Etsy

Clutch from Viabella at Etsy

The clutch-instead-of-bouquet option has the distinct advantage of giving you a place to hide your lipstick etc.

From L to R: The Spring Fling; Pinch Puff Clutch; Satin Wedding Clutch with Flower; Georgia Navy; Olivia Ivory; Peacock Feathers Clutch

All from Etsy: From L to R: The Spring Fling; Pinch Puff Clutch; Satin Wedding Clutch with Flower; Georgia Navy; Olivia Ivory; Peacock Feathers Clutch

This clutch with a luxurious bow is a wonderful bouquet replacement (again, Viabella at Etsy)

And if you’re going to have a clutch, why not replace the bridesmaids bouquets with clutches too. No truly fashion-loving bridesmaid would prefer a bouquet to one of these Nelle clutches.

Nelle handbags

Nelle handbags

On buying DIY wedding flowers cheaply

In DIY, Flowers, Uncategorized on March 28, 2009 at 8:46 pm
Even the most DIY-allergic bride can manage putting a single rose in a vase

Even the most DIY-allergic bride can manage putting a single rose in a vase

The first rule of sourcing anything wedding-related is ‘never talk about weddings’. Mention the W word and suppliers eyes light up as dollar signs spin through their retinas. The same goes for sourcing your own wedding flowers. Avoid florists, especially bridal florists where possible. They’ll only charge you up the arse.

Here’s some thoughts on how to fulfil your DIY floristry needs:

2. Online bulk flowers – Post a rose does a dozen roses for £19, or even a potted white rose for £17.

Then there’s Tesco’s old flower supplier – Postal Bouquets – who do a hand tied bouquet of avalanche roses for £23.

£23 from Postal Bouquets

£23 from Postal Bouquets

Also DIY Flowers does 100 roses for £170.

2. Supermarket flowers – You could save yourself a load of hassle and get all your centrepieces delivered from Asda Flowers at about £22 a bouquet.

 A bunch of 10 roses and 10 freesias for £14 from Asda Flowers

A bunch of 10 roses and 10 freesias for £14 from Asda Flowers

2. Wholesale suppliers. If you happen to run your own company or know someone who does, you can register with your company number to order bulk flowers online at places like

And for the Yanks, Costco do online flowers at great prices, though they are known to be a little unreliable…

3. Flower markets – If you can deal with a very early morning a couple of days before your wedding, then this could be for you.

New Covent Garden Flower Market

New Covent Garden Flower Market

New Covent Garden Market, near Vauxhall, London is open early mornings every day but Sunday. Expect sneery looks, no advice but a huge range of boxes or big bunches of cheap flowers.

4. Buy silk flowers. They’ll pretty much never droop or wilt. Try Sarah’s Flowers.

5. Get bucketloads of water for when any delivered flowers arrive. They’ll be parched and on the verge of wilting, so make sure you top up the water as they drink it up.

6. Warmth opens. As a general rule to open flowers, give them warmth – so a steamy bathroom and buckets of warm water for closed buds; cold water and a cold room if they’re already ripe and open on arrival.

7. A drop of bleach in vases will keep them alive longer. Just a drop, mind.

8. The days before… For Saturday weddings, get the flowers delivered on a Thursday,make up the centrepieces on Friday, the bouquets later on Friday and buttonholes on Saturday morning.

The ancient art of bridal bartering

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm
wedding bartering

Used since the times of Neanderthal nuptials, bridal bartering is an ancient and oft-forgotten skill. However, in these times of fiscal hardship its making a swift come-back. Here’s a mini guide to becoming an Extreme Bridal Negotiator:

1. Work out your swappable skills. You’re skills don’t have to be wedding related; they just need to be something a wedding vendor might need. So if you’re an accountant, a builder or a hairdresser, you coudl be in luck.

2. Be cheeky. No asky, no getty. This couple managed to get a £12,000 wedding for £3,000…

The wedding car Dan and Gemma bartered for

The wedding car Dan and Gemma bartered their way to

3. Offer exposure on your blog if you have one. There are plenty of photographers who are willing to do free photos in exchange for online exposure.

4. Share flowers – if someone’s getting married earlier in the day in the same registry office, or if there’s a Friday wedding at your venue, maybe you should go halves on flowers? Fingers crossed your floral tastes will align.

5. Use swap sites – There’s Big Day Barter in the States, with the quite unique tagline “You’ve bought the garter, now’s time to barter”. Over here in middlingly grey England there’s Swapcycle for general swapping, and Freecycle for getting rid of stuff you don’t need.

Wedding catering for the frugal bride

In Food and Drink, Uncategorized on March 15, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Catering is the main cost of a wedding. Ironically, most wedding food is bland and disappointing. Perhaps it’s the difficulty of serving over a hundred guests something that none of them will hate or be allergic to, perhaps it’s a lack of imagination. Here’s some ideas on creating the gourmet effect on a Lidl’s budget:

1. Go ironic. Kate Winslet served fish and chips at her wedding, and somehow managed to still seem elegant and cool, on account of it being Ironic Fish ‘n’ Chips. You could also serve Ironic Bangers & Mash or even (for the very Ironic) Children’s Party Food.

Michelle & Noah's picnic wedding

Michelle & Noah's picnic wedding

2. Have a picnic. This is ultimately the same as a cold buffet, but everyone gets their meal pre-packaged in a little wicker basket, and you sit on blankets on a sunny lawn.

Everyone loves a good wedding spit roast.

Everyone loves a good wedding spit roast. Sorry, did I just make that joke? Yes, yes, it appears I did. Apologies.

3. The hog roast, or indeed a BBQ. A whole roast lamb feeds about 40 whilst a whole roast pig feeds more like 100. There’s also a certain drama in seeing a huge skewered animal being roasted.

4. Choose a theme. Like Italian or Mexican. Even the most gourmet pizzas or burritos will be cheap in comparison to your standard 3 course affair.

5. Go for a fork buffet. A cold one is cheapest. If you have lots of interesting salads, a delicately poached salmon and a joint of gammon can be amazing.

6. Choose less expensive cuts. Fillet of beef is more expensive than sirloin.

7. Don’t have a sit down meal. A shorter wedding with canapes and drinks can work as a lower key affair. Indeed canapes can be tiny works of art. Just make sure they’re suitable for ladies wearing lots of lipgloss and trying to remain elegant.

Here’s a guide to how many canapes you’ll need per person.

Wedding canapes often outclass the main meal

Wedding canapes often outclass the main meal

8. Do your own catering (ok, get your mum to do it). This pair actually did it, at their $2,00 wedding, so it is possible. Inevitably though, it would be a Big Stress, unless you are actually Nigella Lawson. However, there is no doubt it will save a great deal of money, plus there’s something sweet about having food cooked by the bride. If this sounds too ambitious, you could just cook the wedding cake or the puddings yourself…

9. Sweat your caterers. Get comparative quotes and make sure they’re not going to hit you for surprise extras, like charging you for providing the dishes in which the food is served or similar nonsense. If they think you’re a besotted bride whose brain has turned to financially-illerate mush, they’ll hoik up their prices.

Other posts you may like:

Wedding reception drinks on a budget

Wedding reception drinks on a budget

In Food and Drink, Uncategorized on March 6, 2009 at 9:54 am

With 40% of an average wedding budget disappearing into food and booze, it’s worth thinking about how to cut corners without looking a cheapskate. Here’s how:

1. Make it look pretty. A raspberry on the side of a glass of champagne or edible flowers frozen in icecubes will be remembered more than whether your wine was from a vintage year or not.

Strawberries with your  bubbly, sir?

Strawberries with your bubbly, ma'am?

2. Bring a bottle. Instead of a gift list, encourage guests to bring a bottle of their favourite tipple. It’ll probably work out cheaper for them present-wise, and will mean everyone gets to drink what they like.

3. Cava not champagne. Champagne is a marvelous invention, but its Italian cousin Prosecco is a fraction of the price and just as nice. Cava also results in the same bubble-fuelled hilarity as champagne. You could even try a dry pink New World sparkling wine or a pink cava for your toast.

4. Don’t follow tradition, because tradition = expense. Try champagne cocktails like bellinis or Kir Royal (with sparkling wine, natch). Alternatively provide beer, or to give your event a whiff of Henley, serve Pimms and lemonade.

5. Limit happy hour. The more hours of boozing involved, the more will be drunk, the more your overdraft will shudder. What about a shorter wedding, say just afternoon tea or drinks and canapes. Or how about a cash bar later on.

6. Go wild on soft drinks. It’s worth having lots available, and making them look like attractive classy options. How about elderflower presse, or home made lemonade.

Lemonade sir?

Lemonade sir?

7. Start expensive, then go cheap. After afew glasses, your guests palates will be much more accepting of vinegary wine.

8. The booze cruise to Calais has been made a little less financially exciting, due to the pound’s demise. However it’s still worth doing.

9. Buy wine on a sale or return basis. Ooh, and if you’re using a catering company, count the empty bottles to check the swines don’t over-charge you.

10. A drinks fountain is cheaper than someone serving drinks, and more memorable.

drinks fountain

The drinks fountain

Other posts you may like:

Credit crunch wedding cakes

Real life recessionista brides

In Themes, Uncategorized on March 3, 2009 at 11:54 am

Here’s some real life recessionista brides and a few of their stories of stealing not splurging.

The back garden wedding: Nicola and Stuart.

Nicola and Stuarts back garden wedding

Nicola and Stuart's back garden wedding

This pair tied the knot for under £5,000. Here is their cunning plan:

They had a service at their local church then walked to a marquee reception in their garden. There they served cava (at £3.50 a bottle thanks to a French booze cruise)and a sit-down home-made buffet of poached salmon, salads and strawberries and cream. They got everyone to help out in some way, from giving patio heaters to doing the photography to making the wedding cake for them.

The eBay wedding: Chris and Odette

The eBay wedding

The eBay wedding

This marital union was constructed for the princely sum of £600. It was thanks to eBay that Odette bought her dress for £52, her stiletto black boots for £21 and the bridesmaid’s earrings and necklace for £5.99. They have purchased second hand rings for £19 each and asked guests to bring their own food and wine. The local radio station provided the wedding car and the local paper did the photography.

The 5p dress wedding: Heather and Mark

The 5p dress wedding

The 5p dress wedding

This clever young lady bought this antique dress on eBay for 5p. at £40 the postage cost 800 times the price of the dress.

The Friday wedding: Steve and Zoe

The Friday wedding

The Friday wedding

This frugal pair paid £460 for the hire of a Bentley and a Daimler, which would have cost an extra £100 on a Saturday. A further £50 was saved on catering, and the wedding photographs, which could have cost up to £700 on a Saturday, came in at half that. It cost £4500 in all about 25% cheaper than it might have been on a Saturday.

Please do write in with your stories and photos of being a real life bride of the recession.

The Great Hunt for the cheap, slinky wedding dress

In Dresses, Uncategorized on February 20, 2009 at 11:54 am

The hunt for an affordable wedding dress is a long and arduous one. The hunt for an affordable, slinky, 1930s inspired wedding dress not made of polyester or covered in stains, is a long, arduous, grueling and time-consuming one. Here’s a load of general tips for finding a cheap wedding dress that I blogged about earlier. Here’s where the hunt has taken me so far:

1. Personal shopper at Selfridges – Great service with two assistants running around the designer floor looking for non-bridal designer dresses. I found this amazing blue Balenciaga dress. Unfortunately it was £1300. Oh.

2. Oxfam Brides – see my earlier post on this.

3. Ritva Westenius Despite being outrageously posh, they were very nice here. I found two beautiful dresses, ‘Eleanor’ and ‘Gilda’, which I’m now scouring the net for second hand versions in size 10. Anyone?

Ritva Westenius Gilda

Ritva Westenius 'Gilda'

4. Caroline Castigliano. Here I was asked by a very frightening Miss Haversham type what sort of wedding I was going to have, as she eyed me up, trying to work out how rich I was.

“A nice one?” I replied. It went downhill from there. The only slinky, non-meringue dress was by Sharon Hoey. Again, I’m now on the hunt online for a second hand one (size 10, bias cut, cowl back,no cleavage anyone?)

This lady is selling hers for £1000, which is sadly little steep

This lady is selling hers for 1000 euros, size 8

5. Etsy seller Miss Bombshell ticked my fancy with this silk charmeuse number.

Miss Bombshell's 1930s dress. Found by etsywedding.

Miss Bombshell's 1930s dress. Found by etsywedding. $500