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If you are currently looking at wedding venue options then I may just have the...
For those of you who are regular readers of the blog you will know all about the Older Wiser Married feature. The idea of the feature is for couples who are married to share with you their wedding story and experiences and also the things they would do differently if they could go back and do it again. We also focus on the positives and the things they think really worked, what they have learnt and how their marriage has changed their reparations.
We live in Beverley in East Yorkshire so were originally looking to get married locally however couldn’t find a venue that we liked. We didn’t want a hotel or to have to have an off the shelf package, we wanted a blank canvas that we could put our own stamp on.
As we are both from Leeds, with lots of family and friends still living in the area, we started to look for venues there. That was when we came across the Sun Pavilion located not too far away in Harrogate.
The Sun Pavilion is a gorgeous venue located in the Valley Gardens. Unique and historic, the building is reflective of the Art Deco period – an era that I love.
When we went to look around I instantly fell in love with the building, especially the stained glass domed ceiling and as it is a Council owned property we were allowed to have more of a say in our suppliers and were able to bring in our own caterers.
Once we had decided on the venue we looked into nearby churches as didn’t want guests to have to travel far between the church and the venue. Trinity Church is an elegant gothic looking church situated on the Stray, just a ten minute walk from the venue.
We both love our food so splashed out on getting our favourite restaurant in Beverley, Cerutti’s (www.ceruttis.co.uk) to cater the wedding breakfast. As we weren’t tied to a set menu, we were able to work with the caterers to design our own menu incorporating the foods we love. Canapés were free flowing as the guests arrived and as it was a December wedding we opted for a hearty meal consisting of spicy parsnip soup, Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding, Chocolate Wedding Cake and winter berries, followed by cheese and biscuits.
We spent about £60 a head on the wedding breakfast (not including the drink), however think it was definitely worth it as our friends still talk about it being the best wedding meal they have had.
Take time to enjoy
We also made sure that we got to sit down to enjoy the meal ourselves. You don’t want to spend all that time and money coming up with a menu you love and not get to enjoy it yourself.
No traditional top table
As my parents are separated we didn’t want to have a traditional top table so we kept it more informal. Our table was in the centre of the room and we got to sit down to dinner with our best friends!
The Sun Pavilion was the perfect venue, as it was just one large room it meant that the ballroom was always full, both when we were sat down and in the evening when people were up dancing. It didn’t empty out when guests headed to the bar. It was great to be permanently surrounded by friends and family – we didn’t feel that we were missing out on anything.
As it was a December wedding, the venue was beautifully decorated with fairy lights and Christmas trees so we didn’t need to add much to the decor – our centrepieces were simple candelabras with ivy.
Although we got married over five years ago, I still love my dress. I like that fact that it doesn’t look dated and it is still the dress that I would choose if I was getting married today. It was a sample bought from the Abbey Wedding Warehouse in Kirkstall in Leeds. I paid just £600 but later saw the dress is a magazine and found out that its full cost was £3,000. Don’t be put off buying sample or preloved dresses; it is a great way to get the dress you love for less. As there is no way that I would have been able to afford £3k.
I would recommend any bride to enlist the services of a professional makeup artist. It was something that I arranged just at the last minute and I am so glad that I did. My makeup was flawless even at midnight and it made me feel like a celeb.
Think carefully about the timings of your day to coordinate with the time of year. For example we timed our meal to be served just as it was getting dark at 4pm, so the candles were lit just as we sat down to eat which was perfect and added to the Christmassy atmosphere.
Lots of Bridesmaids
I had five bridesmaids and at the time of asking my friends I didn’t really take into consideration the price of five times dresses, hair, makeup, jewellery etc. The dresses alone cost £1,000. More recently brides seem to be opting for mismatched bridesmaids dresses or asking bridesmaids to choose and buy their own dress which would have made having five more affordable.
Our evening buffet was a Yorkshire Fayre buffet with lots of cheese, pies and meats. We catered for 100 people and it cost £1,000 however there was so much food left over and it just ended up going to waste. In hindsight we should have just catered for half that number as most of the day guests were not that hungry.
Traditional Wedding Car
We paid for a traditional wedding car, more because we thought it was something that we should and needed, however at the time we drove a cute little Smart Car Roadster and I wish that we had just used that. Although I am not sure of the practicality of actually getting into the car, but it would have looked great in the pictures as well as saving us a few hundred quid!
Florist – more research needed
The only disappointment in terms of the suppliers that we used was our florist who provided the buttonholes and venue flowers. We had asked for large Yorkshire roses for the buttonholes however when they turned up on the day they were small and didn’t really last the distance. I wish that I had done more research – the florist has since gone under!
Wedding Car / Transport
Gifts – Do you really need to buy all the ushers a bottle of whiskey? It’s all the little things that mount up.
Our best bargain was the church choir who cost just £20!
My favourite part of the whole day was the actual vows, my husband was quite emotional and I think that you can get so caught up in all the detail of the day that you lose sight of what it is actually about.
I instantly loved being married – it felt like we were a little family just the two of us.
However, we have since had two children (two boys one 4 years and one 6 weeks old) which is what really puts your marriage to the test.
It’s hard sometimes amongst mundane routine and day-to-day life to remember that you are a couple and the reasons why you love each other. I think it is really important to take time out just the two of you, so that you can remember.
Three years on, many of the items from my wedding (10 sets of candelabras, 10 glass bowls, 10 mirrored plates, veil, dress shoes etc etc) were still in bags and boxes. It seemed such a shame and waste to banish these items to the loft, never to be used again.
On investigation, I couldn’t find a UK-based website that specialised in selling second hand wedding items. Although there were websites for selling second hand wedding dresses, there was nothing out there where you could sell everything to do with your big day.
Whilst there is Ebay and Preloved, I thought that a dedicated secondhand marketplace would not only help make a wedding more affordable but it would also enable brides-to-be to gain inspiration from newlyweds, who had already done the hard work by trawling websites, blogs, magazines and shops to find the perfect items.
The concept is simple. Sellers simply pay a one-off fee of £20 (although it’s currently half price just £10) to list an unlimited number of wedding items. There are no individual listing fees, no sales commission, and sellers can also manage and update their own page. Buyers then register for a free account which enables them to contact the seller directly! It’s as simple as that.
However it’s more than just a classified site as sellers can add further detail and photos about their wedding to help inspire and tell the story of their wedding.