Shontayne & Adam Ward

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Photo: Stills of Grace Photography

Meet Shontayne Ward; She married the love of her life, Adam in June 2014 in a magical, rustic wedding at Belgenny Farm, west of Sydney. The wedding looked like a winter fairytail fit with romantic lighting, baby’s breath florals and a classic Kombi filled with love. Their perfect day did face it’s challenges though, because half way through their planning, Shontayne and Adam needed to seriously reconsider their budget. They were blessed with the news that they were having a baby and just eight weeks before their wedding, Shontayne gave birth…. to twins!
 
Shontayne shares how she had to re-evaluate her wedding budget and make some difficult decisions about her dream day and gives us some tips on how to pull off an amazing wedding whist managing a tight budget.

You unexpectedly but joyously fell pregnant in the midst of planning your wedding, did you consider postponing?

Absolutely! I had not one, but 2 positive pregnancy tests in my hand (just to be sure!) when I woke Adam up to tell him I was pregnant. Of course, after months of trying, then not trying, we both cried with happiness. We were in complete shock and after doing quick calculations, we realised I would give birth close to our planned wedding date.
In November 2012, we fell in love with Belgenny Farm! We wanted our wedding to be in March 2014 but the first available Saturday was June 7th! So we booked it in. Thank goodness! Otherwise I would have been 8 months pregnant with twins, being rolled down the aisle in slippers.  We realised that by postponing, we would not be getting married for a really long time. So, in true Shontayne fashion, I went full steam ahead with our plans.

The news would have put a few things in perspective, what did you need to re-evaluate for the big day?

Our surprise pregnancy was a blessing but naturally, I started to stress. I was on a contract at work which meant I would have to take maternity leave without any pay, while having to pay bills and still save for our dream wedding.
We immediately had to look at what was important to us, then we started to cut our budget.

babies

Photo: Stills of Grace Photography

I love this photo. I think mine and Adam’s faces say it all really! So much love and admiration.
Scarlett Evelyn & Adeleine June were 8 weeks old.

How did you prioritise the bridal tasks given that your priorities had shifted?

Our number 1 priority was working out how much money we would need for me to be able to stay off work without pay with the girls. We didn’t want to be shoving them in childcare at 2 months old!
Once we had this figure, we focused on what was the most important aspects of the wedding.

We then looked at our big ticket items on the list and looked at where we could save.
 
My Dress: I found out I was pregnant, 4 days after I had paid a deposit on a $7000 Couture gown. That had to go. Funnily enough, I purchased the original dress that I wanted from Grace Loves Lace for $1500.

Flowers: I decided to make the bouquet, flowers for the church and reception myself. Yes, I hauled my sleep-deprived self to Sydney Flower markets at 5am the day before the wedding. We saved around $1800 by doing this.

The Reception:  We had to cull the guest list by about 25 people which saved us $3300. Yes, it was so very hard, but having to send the girls to childcare 2 months earlier than I wanted to would be harder.

Church & Reception Styling: I wanted a stylist to style the wedding but we were looking at about $5000. By designing it all myself, purchasing 80% of the items needed, purchasing the flowers and asking the stylist to come in and put it all together, we saved $2700!
 
So with those cut backs alone, we saved approximately $13,300!

black and white dress

Photo: Stills of Grace Photography

This was my original dream dress by the magical designers, Grace Loves Lace.
My head piece was actually my Mothers! I had it remade by Amy from Teeki Designs.

reception

Photo: Stills of Grace Photography

I wanted to create a warm, romantic, rustic feel for our wedding, which suited us and the reception venue. We filled the room with fairy lights, baby’s breathe and even sandalwood scented candles! It was magical.

What advice would you give to brides who face a challenge in the midst of planning their wedding and need to re-assess their plans?

Sit down.
Have a glass of wine (if you’re not pregnant of course!).
Re-evaluate your priorities with your husband-to-be.
Write a list.
Nothing is as bad as it seems at first.

If you could re-live the day, is there anything you would do differently?

No way! I was a sleep-deprived wreck leading up to it and on the day. Even had Adam asked me if I was going to remember to show up! I was a mess. But I enjoyed every single minute of it. I don’t remember not smiling during any part of the day. 

What is the biggest piece of advice you would give a bride to be planning their special day with a limited budget?

I have a few pieces of advice!
 
Prioritise what is important to you and your husband-to-be. And stick to it!
This is your wedding. Your one magical day that you have been waiting for your whole life.
 
Work out your budget.
If you can’t afford to invite your cousin’s, sister’s, brother’s, uncle, don’t! They will understand. If you can’t afford a couture gown, there are plenty of other amazing dresses you can wear and you WILL feel like a princess the moment you put your dress on. I promise.
 
Breathe and have FUN!
Not just on the day, but leading up to it. Wedding planning will be stressful, if you let it be! Don’t forget to nurture your relationship with you husband-to-be while planning it. Not all conversations have to be about the wedding. Enjoy each other, every day!

Shon & Adam

Photo: Stills of Grace Photography

People have always said they can see the love that Adam and I have for each other and I think on our wedding day, our love exploded.

Shontayne is not only a devoted mother and wife, she carries a career and continues to dream big. She has her own blog http://www.beingshontayne.com where she candidly documents her experiences as a new mum to two adorable little girls as well as a cheeky little cat called Ziggy!

Good luck and happy planning!
Purple Orchid Brides

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Where to splurge & where to save

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Weddings are getting fancier, quirkier, larger and more glamorous. Just because you want to keep your costs low, doesn’t mean that it needs to look like a budget wedding. There will be things that will gobble up the bulk of your cash however, there are also some areas you can save money; the key is to shop around but know where to splurge and where to be frugal. Here are my top 5 splurges and top 5 saves… I’ve also thrown in a couple of don’t even bother’s, just for good measure!

Where to splurge:

5. The rings  – The rings will be one of the few things from your wedding, apart from the vows, that will last forever. Shop around but search for quality; we were quoted $5,000 for both our rings but shopped around until we got the same thing for the budget we had set. Stick to your guns, persistence will pay off.

4. Hair and makeup – Your hair and makeup need to last ALL DAY no matter the weather and you will have a gazillion photos of you and the wedding party. Make sure you seek several quotes but always ask to see a portfolio and get trials included in your package.

3. Wedding party attire – Like number 4, all eyes will be on your wedding party for the entire day. There’s a reason why the term “cheap suit” is used and not in a good way, you can see it a mile away and same goes for the dress. No need to go overboard, you can find gorgeous wedding gowns for around $2,000 to $3,000 and remember my last post? A smaller bridal party means you can have your bridesmaids and groomsmen in some nice quality attire too (assuming you’re fitting the bill of course).

 2. Music & entertainment – You want your wedding to look beautiful but you don’t want your guests yawning at their tables from boredom. Make sure that after the formalities are done, your guests can let their hair down on the dance floor and really celebrate the special occasion. You’ll also have a chance to catch up with people when you’re all dancing and having fun, everyone will talk about how great your wedding was so make sure your entertainment is quality and discuss the set list too.

1. Food & alcohol – This is number one because it’s the first question people ask when you’ve been to a wedding… how was the food? Make sure when visiting potential reception houses that they offer a tasting session. Also consider the portions in proportion to the alcohol served. You want your guests to be jolly but not plastered where there is potential for disaster. You don’t want to run out of alcohol either so consider the different packages the reception house offers and don’t be afraid to haggle; I did and got a good deal!

Where to save:

5.  Cars – Do you have a friend or family member with a nice car? They might be happy to drive you around for the day. Alternatively, check out gumtree.com.au for self-drive classic cars that are cheaper than having chauffeur driven cars. You can also contact specialised car clubs to find out if they would be happy to drive you for a small fee. We went half/half, one self-drive and one classic car with a driver.

 4. Flowers – This one can be a little tricky but you need to make sure you shop around. Have a good idea of what you like so that your quotes don’t end up being huge because they’ve included 14 different types of flowers and foliage. Pick about three of each and see how you go. Gumtree.com.au also has many “at-home” local florists that do weddings at a fraction of the cost of the mainstream bridal florists, worth looking into.

 3. Photographer and/or videographer – Your photos and video will be one of the most important parts of your day however you’ll need to consider what you would like to capture. If shots of you getting ready and artsy shots of dresses hanging on chairs are really important to you then shop around for a professional photographer; however if you really just want to capture the moments during the ceremony and reception, think about whether you have any friends or family who are avid photographers with good equipment… if you think about it, we all know at least one! Many people opt to have their friends take all the photos and then send them the snaps afterwards. With all the technology available these days you can get your IT nerd friend to touch them up for you.

 2. Cake – Think about the last 3 weddings you went to and describe each cake in detail……. Exactly. The honest truth is that no one cares! You’ll have 3 photos of the both of you cutting it and then it’ll be chopped up and thrown in bags. 2 tiered wedding cakes serve about 50 people and they can start at $500! If you know someone who can make a decent cake, ask them if they can help. Pinterest has some great inspiration for wedding cakes too.

 1. Invitations and/or save the dates – Traditionally, wedding invitations are sent 3 months in advance however many people are opting for mid-week weddings these days so a save the date would make life easy for your guests if they have to organise an annual leave day or day off school. Even if you are making your own invitations, you could save on paper and postage by sending your invitations 4 months in advance instead. Search online for invitation templates and wording; there are a plethora of options on wording from really traditional to fun and modern.

Don’t bother:

3. Bonbonniere / wedding favours – Many couples opt not to give wedding favours these days but it you do feel the pressure of doing something, a donation to an organisation that has special meaning is also a popular option.

 2. Gifts for the bridal party – If you’ve paid for their attire for the day, there is no need to get them a gift. Re-consider if you have asked them to purchase their own attire for the day.

1. Outfit change – Some couples like to have a “leaving outfit”, although that isn’t as popular anymore it’s better left for the old days. Getting changed will eat into your time celebrating and saying your goodbyes and besides, you only get to wear your gown for one day… keep it on for as long as you can.

These are my top 5’s however they may not be yours. Take a look at what’s important to you and apply the same principle, guaranteed you’ll be pleased with what you can save.

Good luck and happy planning!

Purple Orchid Brides

You’re engaged! Now what?

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Congratulations! You are about to embark on an amazing journey; planning your wedding day is going to be amazing.

Preparing for your future with your one and only is an incredible time of your life and planning your special day will be exciting but also a little overwhelming. For most of us, we only plan on getting married once so we’re all rookies at planning the most important day of our lives. Brace yourself for A LOT of opinions from the “experts”; some advice will be really helpful, others, not so much but it’s up to you to make sure what you take on board and don’t. The number one thing you need to remember is that it is your day…. So plan it how you want it.

I’m in the middle of planning my own wedding and I’ve found that by setting up a clear game plan from the very start, I’ve been able to have a really organised and stress-free lead up to my big day … so far…

To help my fellow bride’s to be, I’ve decided to start a blog about what I’ve found has worked in my favour and what I’ve found challenging. I plan to guide and assist in every way possible so that you can all have an amazing wedding day for everyone involved. At the end of the day you want your guests to say how wonderful it was, and not thank the heavens that it’s over!

To start you off, here are my top 3 tips to commence the planning process, ready, set, Go!!

1. Crunch your numbers: And I don’t mean budget, not yet. Many blogs will tell you that you’ll need to set your budget first but until you know a rough size of the guest list and size of your bridal party, you won’t be able to effectively plan your budget. I would also recommend discussing the guest list with your parents and in-laws to be; many of us face the burden of having to invite distant cousins and relatives because our parents say we need to. This is where you may need to have the discussion about whether your parents pay for their guests; having these discussions early will help you plan your budget and make decisions on other areas of the wedding. Another thing to consider is whether you will be inviting children or not; this will help you plan your reception budget as well.

Agree on your bridal party. These days many are opting for smaller bridal parties but if you come from a large family and each have a handful of nieces and nephews, you will need to agree with your fiancé as to who will be asked to be involved in your big day. Remember, you can have people involved in other ways like reading at the ceremony or helping set up.

Decide on the time of year you’ll have your special day; deciding on a date will also help with the budget as you will know how long you have to pay everything off. Winter weddings are generally cheaper with many reception houses offering winter packages whereas Spring is “wedding season” so you’ll be expected to see prices go up around this time of year. It might also be worth discussing with your fiancé whether you want to have your wedding locally or have a destination wedding. You would need to consider travelling and accommodation costs as part of your budget; on the flip-side though, you could be saving on the number of guests attending if you choose to have your wedding out of town as some people may need to decline their attendance… food for thought.

 2. Plan your budget: Once you’ve agreed on the approx. number of guests and the total number in your bridal party, sit down with your partner and start crunching numbers being as detailed as possible. You know how many guests you’re expecting so this will allow you to think about how much the reception will cost.

Once you’ve agreed on a budget, add $5,000 to $10,000 to it… seriously.

3. Pick a theme: This part is my (and most bride’s) favourite part and where Pinterest will be your best friend. If you don’t have a Pinterest account, I suggest creating one and start searching for inspiration. If you want to keep your inspiration private, don’t worry, you can make your boards private as to not give away your plans for the big day.

It’s also best to pick and theme and stick to it as much as possible; indecision will turn you into Bridezilla!

You now have your approximate guest list, your bridal party, your budget and the time of year for your wedding. Having a clear outline of what you’re able to work with will help you make firmer decisions on reception locations, your suppliers and allow you to isolate those businesses that cater for your needs.

I hope that these tips help you get started on your wedding plans and helps you feel like you have some control. In my next post, I’ll share how I chose to allocate my budget and where I think it’s important to splurge vs. tighten the grip.

Good luck and happy planning!

Purple Orchid Brides