A World Full of Prettiness

Sunday 9 February 2020

A Budget Wedding - The Invitations

Invitations are the first 'indication' or hint that your guests are going to get in relation to your wedding theming, and this is something I really wanted to get right, however there is SO much choice out there that I found it a bit overwhelming. Along with the choice, the prices were absolutely ridiculous for what I was looking for (£200+ ), and I just couldn't justify spending this on a bit of card that most would probably end up eventually throwing away.

After a long hard search, I came across a seller on ebay that made invitations (username: invitations4u), and you could pick ones to match your colour scheme, and they also had add-ons to suit all styles of weddings (i.e if you needed a food menu to go with your invite, or a honeymoon gift request etc). Admittedly, the invitation wasn't exactly what I had dreamt of (I really wanted a lace effect envelope!), however I felt that it still had that elegant vibe to it and for a mere £40, I really couldn't grumble. They took the stress away and the customer service was fantastic, really making sure everything was perfect for me before they went to print. I was thinking if DIY'ing what I purchased from eBay would work out cheaper, and by the time you had purchased the different card, printer ink, envelopes etc, (and making sure you had the right software on your computer to do this!), as well as the added time and stress (that printers and formatting usually cause!), I think it would have definitely topped the £40 mark. I would definitely pay again for someone to do these for me! (I learnt this from doing the order of service myself... post coming later!)

Some tips that I would give in order to save money in this area - I had 55 day guests at my wedding, so without putting too much thought into it, it's easy to immediately think that you need 55 invitations, but of course with a little bit of logical thinking (which you sometimes lose with the stress of wedding planning!), you soon realise that if you're inviting couples, you could almost halve that number because they can share, which means less invites! Also, with some things, the options that I had in relation to quantity didn't really match with what I was after (i.e. I could either purchase 50 or 60, so I'd have either too little or too much of something and annoyingly have to pay more). If you've got a handful of kids at your reception, they don't need invites either (because I'm assuming their parents are there?! so something else to bare in mind). Purchasing stamps really bumped the cost up of both the day and evening invites - I think I spent approximately £40-£50 on stamps which is crazy. Obviously you can cut the costs by buying 2nd class stamps but to cut costs even more, I hand-delivered these where I could. Some people could argue about petrol costs, but if you make a conscious effort to post invites on your way to somewhere that you were going anyway, you're not technically going out of your way! I remember putting an afternoon aside one weekend and Mike and I went on a little roadtrip around town, popping invites through people's doors! It kind of added to the excitement!

With invitations, with relatives that you know aren't too bothered about having an invite as a keepsake, ask them if they'd like an invite, and if they really aren't bothered, give them the details via email, or on a bit of paper. I know a lot of people like to give invites out because it's tradition and feels special etc, but if you are well and truly trying to cut costs, this is a good option!

Evening Invitations

Just like day invites, there were so many options for evening invitations, but I refused to spend a lot on these. I bought a couple of packs of invites from Hobbycraft (£5 each!) - again, they weren't perfect, but they did the job. To jazz them up a little bit and to add a touch of 'my wedding' - I added a small silver sticky jewel to each of them in the centre of a flower that was already printed on the invite to give it a little sparkle. You could add ribbon/bows etc if you like getting creative - there's a tonne of stuff to choose from in the likes of The Range and Hobbycraft.

A lot of our evening guests were Mike's friends, and to be honest, boys being boys, there were some invites that he even did verbally/via Facebook. Men don't care about invites and the verbal invite still served its purpose - they turned up!

Thank-You Cards 

I nearly had these professionally made, but again, trying to keep costs down, I just went to a couple of different shops and found some really nice thank-you cards, and this enabled me to actually buy cards that were more personalised to the person I was giving it to. I found bridesmaid thank-you cards from The Card Factory for £1.49 each and they were so cute! The others I just purchased from a supermarket, but they were relatable for that person. I'll be honest (I feel such a bad bride for what I'm about to say) but we still haven't got round to sending thank you cards to all of our other guests. I think what happened was went went on honeymoon then no sooner had we come back, we booked another trip to Florida for 10 weeks later, so all of our money/focus went into that. During that time I also left my job so a lot was going on. It was always my intention to give thank you cards, and I was also waiting to receive our professional photos back because I wanted these on the cards, however not only did they take an age to arrive, but quotes that I was getting for the cards (£100+ & stamps on top), I deep down begrudged spending yet more money on a bit of paper. We're now 7 months since the wedding so I feel the time has now passed without feeling embarrassed about getting those cards out. We obviously did a written thank you on our socials the day after but I know its not the same. So to any of our guests that are reading this; sorry! 

All in all, looking back over our invitations, although they weren't my 'dream' design, I was more than happy with them, and very satisfied with the price too. 

Total - Approx £100 (inc stamps)


Sunday 10 February 2019

A Budget Wedding

I've decided to do a short wedding series on how I'm saving money whilst planning our wedding. Arguably, for some this wont be a 'budget' wedding, as my total value aim is for £12,000, and I've seen many articles over time where brides have managed create their big day on just a few grand. However I'd like to think of mine as not noticeably being done on a shoestring. We have one of the classiest venues in our local town, which is where the bulk of the money has gone, and something we definitely haven't scrimped on. Other things, I definitely could have splashed out double, triple the price, but I chose wisely. I think the key to making a wedding look like you haven't scrimped is to mix budget purchases with higher quality items.

When I first got engaged, I didn't have a clue on what the average value of each area of a wedding was, so I did lots of research and took 5 'average' prices of any one thing. This guide then helped me to see if I was paying over the odds. I referred back to this guide a few days ago and realised there were only two areas that I hit the average price for (and they were the venue & honeymoon - no surprise there!). So far, everything else I'm under budget for.

I've been planning for almost 13 months now, so I've managed to learn a few tips and tricks in order to keep costs down.

  • Amazon/Ebay is your friend! Anything you think about buying, ask yourself 'can I find it on Amazon/Ebay for cheaper?' The answer is probably yes. 
  • Don't always go to official bridal shops for suits, bridesmaids dresses etc. Because they are dedicated to weddings, so you will pay the price. So many shops now stock maxi dresses (which seem to be the common length now for bridesmaids).
  • Browse your local marketplace on facebook for wedding bargains. A lot of items being sold are decorative ones for your venue which you will probably never use again, so why pay the earth? I managed to pick up a vintage cream suitcase which I have since decorated, and turned it into a card box. 
  • Sign up to survey sites. Sometimes, its the little things that add up, and before you know it, you've spent £100 on essential but cheap items. I cashed out £100 just before Christmas and spent the lot on Amazon on numerous essential items, including flower girl gifts. It gives you such a buzz knowing that in a way, you got these things for 'free'.
  • Talk to your friends. I've got so many recommendations from friends, some I may have listened to, others, not so much. But some of my friends have been a great source of information throughout this planning stage.
When I first started planning, I had all these grand (but yet fairly unrealistic) ideas (I blame Pinterest!). However as the months have ticked by, my standards have definitely decreased and things that I was almost going to spend £100+ on, I 'downgraded' the item and spent just a mere £20. I ask myself if my guests will even notice that I've spent a large amount of money on something, and chances are, they won't. 

I'm obviously going to have to be selective on the content I produce because I'm still yet to have my wedding, and don't want to be revealing too many details, just in case any guests are reading, but over the next few months, I will show you how I kept costs down for our wedding, in the hope of saving you some pennies too!


Thursday 19 July 2018

24hrs in The Peak District

I knew that I wanted a quick getaway right before the kids broke up for school, I also knew that this getaway would be in the country somewhere, so after hours and hours of scrawling through Airbnb, I finally found a gem of a place in the cute village of Storrs (complete with hot tub - a review on this will be coming soon!).

Arriving at 2pm, we were slightly early for our check-in, so we stopped off at the nearby village of Bradfield and had a leisurely stroll. I had previously found a nice 1 mile route on the internet which I had printed off - it had snippets of history and we learnt about the floods that happened years ago as we made our way round. I've never really been one for history but found this really interesting - I definitely know I'm getting older! After this we headed back to the car and onto our Airbnb. After dumping our bags and having a quick rest, we freshened up and drove 10 minutes to a local pub, The Old Horns Inn, which had the best views of the countryside.. the photos really don't do it justice. Unfortunately there were grey clouds looming, so I didn't want to risk dining alfresco so we opted to eat inside.

After devouring 2 gorgeous courses I couldn't wait to get back so I could get in the hot tub. It was so peaceful and the views of the rolling hills were stunning. It was away from our cottage and was private, so there was not a soul in sight.. absolute bliss. We watched the sun set then made our way to the summer house. Damp from the hot tub, we got a little chilly so popped the fire on in there and it was so cosy, completely disconnected from technology and social media. We chatted - something that we don't do often because our heads are always into something, whether it be the TV or our phones. It was lovely to just switch off for an hour, recharge and connect.

The next morning we drove 30 minutes to Treak Cliff Cavern where we went underground to learn about stalagmites/stalactites etc. We then headed another 30 minutes to check out Bakewell - somewhere that I've always wanted to go! We had lunch in the famous Bakewell Pudding shop, then took a walk to the love-lock bridge and ate our Bakewell slices (I couldn't not buy one!).

We popped in a few shops before tiredness got the better of Mike (he had a rough nights sleep with his hayfever!) so began our 2hr drive back home.
We were only away just over 24hrs but managed to cram so much in and feel relaxed at the same time. We said we'd come back in September for a day trip which I'm already looking forward to!

Have you ever been to the Peak District?

Monday 11 June 2018

Father's Day with Cheerz

Wow, I can't believe its Father's Day already! I find myself saying this more and more but time really does go too fast!

When it comes to present buying, men are renown for being more difficult to buy for, however this year I've got it sorted. My dad was talking about not really having many recent memories of us round his house - he and my mum divorced years ago, so he doesn't have a woman's touch in the house to help him out! My brother and (now) sister-in-law got married a few years ago, so he has fairly recent ones of them, but the ones of me are from when I was a kid, and lets be honest, they're always really cringe-worthy, and something you definitely would rather not have on show! So I came up with the bright idea of having a more recent photo of me and my other half to make up for the others!

Cheerz have some great Fathers day ideas that are a little more sentimental and something that will last instead of the usual beer and chocolate. I opted for this 20cm x 20cm photo frame that is small enough to fit anywhere, or even stand freely on a shelf, but big enough not to be missed. There are 3 different coloured frames to choose from which will help to fit nicely into the necessary decor, and really give the illusion that your dad knows what he's doing with that interior design! I opted for a photo of me and my fiance (wow, still seems strange saying that!) for my dad to hang proudly on his wall... I might even encourage him to start a collage wall! And hopefully the next photo I give him after this will be of my wedding day! This is currently on offer alongside the retro prints for a mere £15, but grab them quickly before Father's day!

If you prefer something a little more unusual, but still a good keepsake, how about this hardcover photo book? I have something similar to this and I love it... its the perfect coffee table book that guests can flick through whilst your dad is in the kitchen making that cuppa! You could fill it with a journey of your life and make it into a story almost...

If your dad likes his magnets then these retro magnets is the perfect thing for him.. and at £15 a pop for 12 magnets (that you can personalise as well with a caption) I think that's a steal!

source - cheerz
I've ordered from Cheerz before and their print quality is always on top form and I've always been happy with my order.. so much so that I'm using a lot of their prints as part of my wedding day.

As we all know, Father's Day is a matter of days away, and I know so many people who leave present buying to the last minute, purely because they are out of ideas. Take the stress away and let Cheerz do the hard work for you.. it takes a matter of minutes to design your order, and that print will be arriving on your doorstep in no time! Hurry though, because standard shipping times for Father's Day is 11th June, and express is 13th... so don't put it off any longer! And to help you even more, I have a discount code for you to give you another 10% off! Enter the code 10PRETTY at checkout (offer expires 17th June).

If making orders via apps is your jam, for apple users you will need this link and if you're in the Android club like me, you will want this link.

Now all there is to say is... have a wonderful Father's Day with those close.. enjoy!


Thursday 24 May 2018

Top 5 Tips when visiting Corfu

So I've just come back from a week in Corfu, Greece. I actually visited there many years ago when I was 15, but can't remember a thing. Low and behold this time round, we ended up staying in exactly the same village as last time, or so my Dad tells me.

After an amazing visit to Skiathos last year, I was so excited to explore another Greek island and tick it off my list!

Here are my top 5 tips when visiting Corfu....

1. Visit Corfu old Town
So there's a difference between Corfu town, and Corfu old town. I was worried that I wouldn't know the difference once I was there, but after a quick google, I knew I was in the right place. Corfu old town is where the real traditional quaint Greek streets are, full of little shops, selling an array of items from jewellery to handbags and soaps. Some of the streets are really narrow but add so much character to the place - I could have photographed every street if I had the chance! There's a slightly different vibe there to the actual new town - it feels less cosmopolitan and more laid back and a slower-paced vibe.

Corfu Old Town

2. Choose wisely on where you stay
We ended up staying in a cute village called Moraitika. It had enough taverna's and supermarkets to meet your needs, with a handful of shops amongst them, and a beach to go with it, but there wasn't much more going on. To get to Corfu town was approx 30 minutes on the bus each way, which after a few trips got a little tedious. Although our hotel was amazing, I would definitely look at staying closer to the town if I was to return.

Hotel Grounds

3. If you are into culture, avoid Kavos!
On our last day we spontaneously decided to take a trip to Kavos on the bus, mostly because Mike had visited here on an 18-30 holiday when he was 18, so he wanted to reminisce and see what had changed. I envisioned a rather cosmopolitan place with lots of swanky beach bars (I was thinking Ibiza style), white sands, and lots going on. I couldn't have been more wrong. It was a complete let down and just reminded me of an English seaside resort that just couldn't quite get it right. There was no atmosphere, it lacked the traditional Greek touches such as the tavernas and all the lovely bright flowers they have everywhere. The main 'stretch' of Kavos just looked so tacky and cheap, and I'm so glad I've never chosen to go there as a holiday destination. Luckily though, Mike found his old hotel he stayed at, and even spotted the kebab guy that served him all those 17 years ago after all those drunken nights out! All was not lost!

4. Avoid going all inclusive/half board.
I feel that Greece is a place that has to be explored on all levels, including their restaurants/food. It's not often that we go half board/all inclusive, but I found a really good deal at the time, so on this particular trip we had our breakfast and tea included, which is something I regret. On the night of my birthday we ventured away from the hotel and visited a taverna in the mountains that had really good reviews. When we sat down and had our food brought to us it was then that I realised how much I've missed this side of things. Being able to sample different restaurants is a big thing for me when I'm on holiday, so being half board can get quite repetitive. Greek food is to die for, and their meats literally fall off the bone, and I really missed the excitement of knowing I was dining out every night.

Birthday meal with a view

5. Book a boat trip!
Because we were away for my birthday, I wanted to do something a little different, so we booked a boat trip. These enable you to visit gorgeous lagoons and caves that you wouldn't have been able to get to otherwise. The colours of the water are mesmerising and we had the opportunity to sample another Greek cafe up in the hills with a great view over the ocean. These little nooks and crannies you wouldn't have known about if not for the boat trip. It's a really good way of seeing more of the island and I always make a point of doing at least 1 boat trip on our Greek holidays now. There are of course lots of different boat trips to book, itineraries varying slightly, so you have the opportunity to pick whatever suits you. 

Blue Lagoon

Have you been to Corfu before?


Friday 2 March 2018

Mother's Day Cake, by BakerDays

As the years pass by, there's more and more items that you can order from the internet to have delivered to your door, through your letterbox, so no annoying red 'sorry you were out' cards are needed (bain of my life!).

Baker Days offer a service to have cake posted through your day.... Cake! Amazing right?

They kindly sent me one in aid of Mothers Day, so I had the joys of customising my own cake. There were so many gorgeous designs and colours to choose from, with the option of having a photograph on the icing too. I couldn't find a good enough photo of both me and my mum so I opted for a bright floral design as I felt that fitted perfectly with the theme of Mothers Day. After about half an hour of deciding which design to go for, I finally settled on the vintage Mother's Day cake. The next step was to personalise it with writing. Again, I'm not one for soppy words so I kept this nice and simple, but you can be as extravagant as you want with this, just have a play around on their website.

The cake arrived in a circular tin (which is perfect for keeping afterwards for storage!). The only negative I have about this is I didn't feel the colours of my tin fitted very well with the theming of Mothers Day, because of how harsh they were in comparison to my pretty floral coloured cake.

The cake itself isn't that thick (it does have to fit through the letterbox after all!) but its the perfect size to have with a cup of tea on Mothers Day. The cake serves approximately 4 people (if you was to all get a good-sized portion!). However if you prefer a larger size, there are others to pick from (however this might effect the 'letterbox' cake!). The cake was placed in a sealed air-tight bag inside the tin to maintain freshness, which I felt it did perfectly. There are various flavours to choose from, from traditional sponge, to red velvet and lemon drizzle etc. There are also options for those intolerant to gluten and dairy.
The cake itself is light and fluffy, with buttercream at the bottom of the cake to add moisture. In the package also came a few balloons, a party blower and 2 candles to make it extra special.

Bakerday cakes offer next day delivery if ordered before 2pm. This is perfect for all you late-shoppers, and whats even better is if you don't want to mess around with wrapping, just get it delivered to your mums house, a hassle-free gift!

Bakerdays creates cakes for all occasions, from birthday, to christenings, to good luck and halloween cakes, to 'just because' cakes that involve humour and emoji's, the list really is endless. They even do personalised cupcakes which look super cute too! They've even branched out and now do personalised balloons.. I'm looking for some wedding balloons for our venue so these might be on my list!

So if you're still stuck for ideas on what to get your mum, or maybe for another occasion that's upcoming in your diary, bakerdays are perfect for that person who has a sweet tooth!


Monday 26 February 2018

Asian Afternoon Tea at Australasia, Manchester

During December I was lucky enough to win Asian afternoon tea in Manchester at Australasia. It's definitely not something I would have gone for normally, because I do like my traditional afternoon tea, however I'm so glad I gave this a chance!

Firstly, the interior of Australasia was stunning. From the iconic glass pyramid entrance on The Avenue in Spinningfields, to the beautuful restaurant downstairs with its white interior (I swear I need to revisit just so I can sit in those booths!) to the terrace and bar area upstairs with its unique shell theming and statement pieces, everywhere oozed luxurious and the interior definitely ticked all boxes for me.

We decided to sit in the terrace area outside - it had vibes of being abroad out there, with its mint green cushioned seats, and leafy walls, adorned with fairy lights. The terrace was heated, however with it still being a blustery February day, it did get a little chilly towards the end, but I can imagine this area to be divine on a warmer day, and even prettier by dusk.

The Asian afternoon tea came in 2 'waves' - savoury, followed by dessert on a different tier. The service was impeccable; both friendly and informative, and each item was explained to us so we knew what we were eating! Fresh wasabi was made in front of us which I liked. The afternoon tea usually comes with Chardonnay, however because Mike was driving later on, we both passed on the alcohol, and went for mocktails instead. I had a coconut and mango cocktail, whereas Mike had an Apple, Kiwi and Lime cocktail. They were both so refreshing and tasty.

The top tier consisted of 'salad' and pork. The pork was full of flavour and reminded me of something from a Chinese dish.

I couldn't tell you what the second tier was, but there was something on there that reminded me of the battered dumplings from Wagamamas, however this one had avocado in.. I'm not normally a fan of this but it worked perfectly with this concoction. This was teamed with a small salad and edamane beans which I'm a huge fan of. I think the cracker was a take on prawn crackers, however this had a slightly different taste to it, but was still just as nice.

The fresh sushi was on the bottom tier, and the one I was least looking forward to, simply because I don't eat raw fish, however I was pleasantly surprised. I will admit, there were a couple I slid across to Mike but for any fish/sushi fans out there, you'd appreciate this tier! There was a range of prawn, tuna and salmon, each on a bed of rice. The soya sauce really complimented these and definitely got that palette going!

After taking a moment, we then went in for the second tier - desserts! The majority of each one is bite-size, and were really tasty!

On the top tier lay 2 good-sized chocolate brownie type cakes. These were quite rich for me (but I managed to eat it all, obviously!). The chocolate was smooth and it was topped with a fresh blackberry and cream. 

The second tier came with these little glass pots of can only be described as a contrast between vanilla yogurt and blancmange. They werent my favourite but were definitely asthetically pleasing! The cute pink merringues that sat next to them were nice and crunchy, topped with a blueberry.

The third tier came with these 3 little beauties. The one on the left bizarrely reminded me a little of a bakewell tart, even though the colour doesn't resemble this! The middle was pastry with what tasted like lemon curd inside (my favourite!), topped off with a blueberry. The final one reminded me of an almond slice, and this too was lovely.

After our desserts, the wind had really upped its game, so we moved inside to the bar area to wrap up the last of our afternoon tea. Here we were presented with tea - we were given a small selection of teas to choose from; English Breakfast, Earl Grey or a few fruit/herbal flavours. I opted for the English Grey and it was presented on a small wooden tray and everything was made from glass which really pleased me!

Overall, an absolutely lovely experience and a place that I'm definitely going to revisit on our next trip to Manchester, this time to sit in the restaurant and experience their food menu and more of their cocktails!
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