our blogging bride | budget and venue searching

As a supplier I really do understand that some things come way down the list of priorities when you’re planning your wedding. I get brides who love flowers and want flowers to play a big part in their day: I equally get brides who book their bridal flowers but decide to do something else for their tables. (Footnote – brides, please remember your bouquets are part of your get-up for many of your photographs so these are, in my opinion, well worth leaving to the professionals.) 

I am an avid bargain hunter. I search for voucher codes for everything I buy online and I get an incredible amount of satisfaction from getting something on sale AND finding a voucher code to save even more money. If I want to buy something branded from the supermarket I check to see which supermarket has it on offer. Day-to-day I am a very loyal Lidl shopper. You might call me a tight arse; I prefer the term economical. However, I do appreciate paying for quality and I’m still using the same Marc by Marc Jacobs handbag that I bought myself when I got my first full-time job everyday. When it comes to your wedding you need to apply the same principles. 

“Bride on a budget” is the most frustrating phrase; 99% of brides are on a freaking budget. Whether you’re spending £5000 or £15000, you’re still working to a budget. It’s up to you to determine how much you can afford to spend on each area of your wedding, then be upfront with suppliers and give them a ballpark figure of how much you’re hoping to spend. It’s very frustrating when you spend time preparing a quote then don’t get a reply, likely because it’s higher than hoped or expected. Give us a chance! We do want to work with you and we would like to secure your booking; this is our livelihood. 

However, you can’t have everything for nothing. Your wedding day is too important a day to be disappointed; if you’re booking a professional you’re paying for their experience and expertise. I don’t recommend hunting out the cheapest available supplier and exploiting Groupon. Surely you have to question how a professional photographer can maintain a standard of work, pay their overheads and afford to eat when their package has been slashed from £1500 to £300, and you’re getting a free photo booth. 

So, wedding planning. Where do you start? To have a wedding you only need three things – someone to marry, somewhere to get married and someone to marry you. Everything else is optional fluff. Some will be valuable fluff, and some will be fluff you don’t care about. To my dear industry pals, yes you are all fluff but it’s ok because I’m fluff too. 

Robert and I met on the 4th April 2009. Because we met in the Spring I always thought we’d have a Spring wedding but when we chatted about logistics we decided on Autumn instead. We had September weekend in mind - I liked the idea of a Sunday wedding so a bank holiday weekend is as ideal as Sunday weddings come - but before we even spoke to the venue we checked the availability of our photographers. (Another footnote - if you’ve got any suppliers you can’t imagine your day without, check their availability before you secure your date.) The best Sundays are spent feeling chilled in the company of loved ones eating all the food and drinking all the wine. I’m sure we’ll party with the best of the Saturdays, but Sundays are an ‘us’ kind of day.  

Here’s my biggest piece of wedding planning advice – draw up your guest list before you even think about viewing venues. There’s no point in falling in love with a venue that can seat 100 max if you’re going to have 140 guests for dinner. Equally a room that can seat 200 could look very spacious with half a dozen tables in it. I’ve helped plan and worked at weddings in barns, stables, tipis, marquees, country houses, warehouses and 5* hotels. As much as DIY weddings have been some of the best weddings I’ve ever seen, I’ve helped couples organise the power supply, kitchen equipment, furniture, linen, crockery, cutlery, glassware and bar units necessary, and I’ve worked the 20-hour days to make it happen. Don’t assume that a DIY wedding is a budget-friendly option; there’s a lot to think about.

We knew we wanted city centre: no need for buses and if guests are looking to book into a hotel there’s plenty of options around to suit various budgets. I had my heart set on a laid-back, pub wedding to suit my Sunday philosophy so it didn’t take us long to draw up a venue shortlist. They were whittled down quickly for various reasons – size, someone we know has been/is getting married there, over budget – but for Glasgow City Centre easy-going weddings you could consider Cottiers, Oran Mor, Ubiquitous Chip, West Brewery, Drygate, St Andrews in the Square or Arta, amongst others. 

Our winner was Sloans; but to be honest for me us it was probably the only real contender. I can’t remember the first time I stepped into the Grand Ballroom; I just know I fell in love. It looks swish yet it’s totally acceptable to serve pub grub for your wedding breakfast, and I was surprised at how many people didn’t realise what was above the pub. The ballroom seats 100 maximum for dinner and it doesn’t have a high ceiling so the room feels cosy and intimate. We’d like to keep the feel of a ‘small wedding’, but when my mum is the youngest of 6 and I’m one of 14 grandkids, my family take up a considerable amount of space. 

We’ve hired out all of the function space so we’ve got a separate room for the reception drinks and turnaround with a snug bar, and a small private dining room to use for group photographs. I’ve always loved the romance in the history that traditionally couples would choose engagement rings in the Argyll Arcade and celebrate in Sloans. My engagement ring came from a jeweller in the arcade so I like to think its fate pulling me a favour! As well as the venue being such a hidden gem, their wedding prices are very reasonable and the assistant manager Becky couldn’t be more helpful when we enquired. To top it off pup Ted can come too and is even welcome to stay for his dinner, so that sold it to Robert. 

Until next time, have a very Merry Christmas and I’ll see you in the year I get married. Aaaaah!

E x

Above images of Sloans by the fab Jo Donaldson Photography with second shooter on the day Gail from Rooftop Mosaic.