How To Stay Within Your Wedding Budget – 10 Practical Budget Wedding Planning Tips

We share with you some easy tips for making decisions that will help you make the most of a meagre wedding budget.

The Hardest Part Of Planning Our Wedding

I’m loving wedding planning, but there’s one aspect of our wedding which has been extremely hard, and that’s down to our modest £7k budget…

Wedding Shaming – The Nasty Face Of Wedding Rivalry

That’s it I’m wedding shaming. The nasty face of competitive wedding planning.

WEDDING TRENDS | Geode Wedding Cakes Are Still A Popular Choice

Geoade wedding cakes first made an appearance a few years ago and have been steadily inreasing in popularity ever since. It’s easy to understand why, with their sparkly, somewhat other-worldly looks, geoade wedding cakes make a real statement and are a great way of giving a plain or more traditional looking cake a more exciting contemporary twist.

Etsy boho flower crowns

The geode cake trend is said to have been started by Rachael Teufel who created a stunning statement amethyst wedding cake, but bakers have been experiementing with a vast array of different colours and styles of geode cakes.

Read on for wedding cake inspiration!

1. Claire Owen bespoke Geode wedding cake

2. The London Baker water color Cake with lavender geode 

3. Whisk Cake Company Geode wedding cake

4. The Sweet Apron gold, slate and emerald geode wedding cake

5. Cake Life Geode Cake

6. Honey Bee Baker Geode Wedding Cake

7. Elysia Root Cakes geode gem Cake

8. piped dreams Geode Wedding Cake

9. Duchess Bakes Marble and geode Cake

Etsy boho flower crowns

Buying Your Bridal Dress From China? 7 Vital Tips When Buying A Wedding Dress Online

Buying a wedding dress from a bridal boutique isn’t always a viable option for every bride, especially if you’re looking for something non-traditional on a tight budget, in which case searching for a dress online makes sense.

However, if you’ve found the dress of your dreams on a website that looks like it’s based in the UK, at a truly affordable price, it’s possible that the wedding dress you’re looking at won’t be the dress you receive and if it’s coming from China, your consumer rights may not be protected.

Read on to wise up on how to avoid being ripped off when it comes to buying your bridal gown online.

Etsy boho flower crowns
Avoid the wedding dress scam
Photo Credit | Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Short on time?

Cut to the chase and jump straight to our tips on On How To Avoid Wedding Dress Scams.

We’ve all seen them, ads on Facebook for clothing and footwear that look hugely tempting. From gorgeous leather boots on sale for just £30 to stunning boho wedding gowns priced well below £200, and who doesn’t love a bargain?

For those that don’t have thousands of pounds to spend on a wedding dress, you’re probably doing exactly what I’ve been doing. You’ve found the gown of your dreams which has an absurd price tag, so you’ve spent hours if not days (or even weeks!) scouring the internet looking for something similar.

You come across a website full of beautiful wedding gowns, glowing reviews and your heart skips a beat as you finally think you might have found the right wedding dress for you.

Cheap Chinese Knock-Offs That Look Terrible & Don’t Fit

Please don’t rush to part with your cash though. There are a huge number of Chinese websites that have been set up over the last few years designed to look like UK businesses.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find head office addresses are often in Hong Kong and that independent review sites paint a damning picture, very different to the ‘reviews’ shown on their website.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every Chinese website is a scam and that every gown they sell is garbage – I’m a member of a few Facebook groups for budget brides, and some have happily purchased dresses from China.

During my own extensive wedding dress research though, I’ve found that every website I’ve looked at offering beautiful gowns at bargain prices, have shocking independent reviews.

Customers routinely complain of low-quality fabrics, garments that are ill-fitting (despite using made-to-measure options) and even worse, receiving dresses that look nothing like the photos on the website, then when trying to return items, they are finding they get no response from customer services or offers of a partial refund for a dress that is unfit to wear and definitely not as advertised.

Sites That Breach UK Consumer Law

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 here in the UK protects buyers and the Consumer Contracts Regulations act states that consumers have the right to cancel their order or return goods for 14 days after ordering, and a further 14 days from the date you notify the retailer that you’d like a refund.

You have a legal right to goods that are of satisfactory quality,including appearance and finish, that the description of products is accurate and fit for purpose. You have a legal right to a refund if you return anything that is faulty within 30 days of receiving it, regardless of the shop store’s return policy.

As most of these websites are based in China however, these laws do not apply, so you are not protected as a consumer in the same way you are when buying here in the UK.

To find out more, read is buying from China a good Idea?

How To Avoid The Big Wedding Dress Scam

The dress you see on the screen is not necessarily the dress you’ll receive. The sizing may turn out to be totally different (how is that 36 inches in China is so much tinier than 36 inches anywhere else in the world?!) and the materials could well be cheap and nasty. The reviews that you’ll see on the site, from ‘customers’ singing the praises of the website’s they’ve purchased from are most likely fake.

So how can you tell if the site you’ve come across is legit enough to trust? Here’s what you need to do.

Avoid online wedding dress scams
Photo Credit | Photo by Freddy G on Unsplash

1. Use Tinyeye reverse image search to check website images

If the dress images have been lifted straight from other sites, using a tool like Tinyeye can help you identify other websites that use the same image.

This way you might find that the actual dress is indeed a designer gown being advertised at a fraction of the price of the original and what you’ll receive is likely to be a cheap and poorly made copy.

2. Check independent review websites

Don’t rely on reviews on the actual website! It’s all too easy to fake reviews to make it sound like customers are happy with their dresses, you need to check third-party review sites though.

You’ll find that most of the good reviews are from dubious reviewers who have only ever posted 1 review (these are likely fake!) whilst most of the negative reviews are from legitimate buyers with more than 1 review published.

Before you part with your money type the name of company/website into Google and then “reviews”. Places like TrustPilot, Feefo etc. are where you really want to look to get a more accurate picture of the business you’re considering buying from and you’ll often find there’s a stark difference to what customers are saying on these independent review sites compared to the usually faked, on-site reviews.

3. Check the location of the company

Websites will often have a domain name and will display prices in GBP and even show the British flag on the site – that doesn’t mean they are based in the UK though!

During our research, every single wedding dress and luxe evening dress website we looked at, turned out to either be based in China, or at least had their domain name registered in China, although they do such a good job of not putting a company address on these websites that it took a whoislookup to be able to determine that was the case!

4. Online market places like Amazon and Etsy aren’t immune to Chinese sellers

Lots of us turn to Etsy as a name we can trust and you’ll often find stunning dresses here, but be warned. Some sellers may look like they are British or U.S. businesses, when in fact they are based in China making copies of dresses and using cheap materials.

I should stress, I’m not saying that all Chinese websites are scams, far from it, I’ve ordered the odd thing from China without any trouble, but, when it comes to wedding dresses you may not be paying for the dress you think you are, it might end up being much lower quality than you were expecting and you may not have any ability to send it back or obtain a refund, so do be careful.

I adore Etsy and buy a LOT of stuff there, so please don’t let this put you off, but do make sure you check the location of sellers first, and again try to find independent reviews for individual stores/sellers.

5. Run a Whois Lookup on the domain

If you can’t find contact details or can’t definitely say that a business is based in the far east, a Whois lookup can prove highly illuminating. Simply use any Whois lookup tool and type in the domain name.

You’ll see exactly who registered the domain name and more importantly, the location of the registrar too. Again, any located in China should be a huge red flag.

6. Get in touch via customer services before buying

Make sure the business has legitimate working contact details on their website by getting in touch with them before ordering and testing out their customer service before you buy.

If they don’t publish their address or head office details on their website, perhaps ask yourself why any business would want to hide such important information from customers?

Of course, someone responding to the email of a potential customer is quite different to a scammer simply not bothering to get back to a customer who has already handed over money to them, but at least it will give you an idea of their level of customer service.

7. Consider customs duties

If you are determined to chance it and order your bridal dress from China, remember that for orders under £135 you won’t need to pay customs duties, anything above this can attract additional fee’s before the item will be released from customs however, so make sure you factor this in as it can bump up the total price you pay.

If In Any Doubt At All, Avoid!

Your wedding dress is too big a decision to take a risk with. Although in the world of wedding gowns £200 or so isn’t very much, if you’re on a tight budget like I am, £200 is still a fair chunk of money to potentially lose on a dress that doesn’t meet your exceptions or isn’t fit for purpose, so it’s just not worth the risk.

My advice is to avoid any of the ‘too good to be true’ ads that pop up on Facebook or the sites that proliferate Google search and Google ads pretending to be based in the UK, and instead opt for a name you know.

If you can’t afford to use a bricks and mortar bridal boutique, or if you can’t find what you’re looking for and need to turn to the internet, then there are some Inexpensive off-the-peg wedding and formal dress vendors you can trust.

Trusted UK websites include;

During our research (carried out on 11/08/2019) we found the below sites had totally missing contact details, no information about the location or address of the company and poor reviews on TrustPilot and similar independent review sites and were either located in China or at least had their domains registered in China.

Websites you might want to be wary of include;


…and lots, lots more!

Buying a cheap wedding dress from China is just not worth the risk.

Etsy boho flower crowns

Further reading

5 Fun Alternative Wedding Themes That Break With Tradition

When it comes to planning your big day there are so many decisions to make it can feel like an insurmountable task. If you don’t have the budget to be able to afford a wedding planner, then you’ll need to make a huge number of decisions and figuring out the theme of your wedding is probably the biggest single decision you’ll make as all other decisions, even your choice of dress will stem from this one.

As you’re reading this article we’re going to assume it’s not a traditional church or registry office wedding you’ve got in mind, so we thought we’d put some ideas together to help inspire your alternative wedding plans.

Etsy wedding
Village fete wedding
Photo Credit: Emmanuel Mwape on Unsplash

Village Fete Weddings

For a relaxed vibe a village fete style wedding held outdoors is hard to beat. High on fun and nostalgia, this is a truly lovely option to go for. Think outdoor games and even bouncy castles, perhaps throw in an ice cream van for good measure and go for a relaxed seating plan with simple, but tasty nostalgic food such as pie and mash or fish and chips.

If you want a really personal and unique wedding this could be the way to do it, but you’ll have lots of different elements to organise and you will somewhat be at the mercy of the weather, so you’ll need a contingency plan in case the day turns out to be cold and wet, so this is a risky option.

Festival wedding
Photo Credit: Ryan Everton on Unsplash

Festival Weddings

Think smoke bombs, glitter, street food, tipi tents and of course music! Festival style weddings are hugely popular right now as people seek a more fun way to celebrate with friends and family. A festival themed wedding however does take an awful lot of planning, form securing the right location to the hire of tents and PA systems, there’s a lot to think about.

Festival weddings are certainly not for the faint-hearted, but they are a great way to get friends and family involved and can result in an unforgettable wedding that scores high on the fun and individuality factor.

Pulling off a festival style wedding, complete with street-food vendors, bars, marquees or tents, performers and of course festival-style props and decorations can end up being an expensive affair and there’s lots to consider, from hiring portable loos and generators to contingency measures should the weather be cold or wet, so you’ll need to plan and cost every single component.

Wedding Barn. Photo by Mel Durham on Unsplash
Photo Credit: Mel Durham on Unsplash

Rustic Barn Weddings

Barn weddings are hugely on-trend right now and it’s not hard to understand why. Rurally located weddings that take place in converted farm buildings, typically known as wedding barns naturally lend themselves to a more relaxed feel with a quirky vibe and for anyone who’s a nature lover, this makes a good and far safer choice than opting for an outside wedding. One of the big benefits of this style of wedding is that there are purpose built venues, and farms all over the country that have diversified into weddings and they will typically provide different packages to suit most budgets.

From bare-bones hire of the barn and site facilities which allow you to have full control over your wedding, to all-inclusive wedding packages akin to more traditional hotel and country house weddings, rustic barn weddings are ideal for pretty much every budget and they also give you the opportunity to celebrate your special day in a more relaxed way.

For the bohemian spirited, this is a great option to go for and provides a happy medium between a riskier, more expensive and complex outdoor wedding and something a little more traditional.

Tea Party Wedding
Photo Credit: Evelyn Cosplay on Unsplash

Tea Party Weddings

Taking inspiration from afternoon tea and Alice in Wonderland, a tea party wedding will generally score highly on the quirkiness factor.

One of the biggest benefits of opting for afternoon tea is that it opens up many different options for the location of your wedding breakfast and of course there’s a big cost saving too! You can arrange a really lovely afternoon tea for around £25 per head as opposed to the usual £50 or more per head for a 3-course traditional meal.

If you’re on a super tight budget, afternoon tea allows you to do something different, whilst still ensuring your guests get fed! Why not save on catering costs yet further and get friends and family bake cakes and make the food?

Glamping weddings
Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Glamping Weddings

Many glamping sites also provide space to camp and will of course have their own quirky glamping accommodation on site. If you’re a lover of the great outdoors, then a glamping wedding provides you with a way of spending time with special people in a beautiful rural setting, making for a chilled, fun weekend in the great outdoors.

If you have friends who like camping, you may have the option of allowing guests to bring their own tents (a great way to save money, as attending a wedding as a guest usually ends up being quite expensive), which adds to the flexibility of this option.

A glamping wedding will depend very much on weather conditions, so you’ll need to make sure there’s a covered area big enough to accommodate everyone for the ceremony and for the wedding breakfast and of course you’ll probably need to bring outside caterers and services in.

You’ll find glamping and even campsites all over the country that can hire out the entire site for the weekend and some are even licensed for ceremonies, but glamping weddings tend to be best suited if you’re going down the Humanist or Hand fasting route, as many won’t be licensed wedding venues, so you’ll just need to do the legal bit before or afterwards at the registry office.

Etsy wedding

5 Things You Realise When You Start Planning A Budget Wedding

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Vintage, High Street, Designer or Boutique? Tips For Making The Right Wedding Dress Choice

When it comes to wedding dresses, it’s probably one of, if not the most important clothing decision you’ll ever make becuase let’s face it, you want to look and feel beautiful and you’ll have photographs and videos from your big day to look back on hopefully for the rest of your life. So whilst planning an alternative wedding means you might not want a traditional wedding dress, how do you make the right choice?

Choosing a wedding dress

The style of dress you want will dictate where you source it from

If you’ve got your heart set on something very specific and can perfectly visualise it in your heard, starting off with online searches is a good bet. Does what you’ve dreamed of already exist?

If it does, then that’s good news as you might be able to actually buy it, or if not, at least you’ll have something visual to give to a dressmaker if you choose to go down the bespoke route. If budget is no issue, then the dresses at Lucy Can’t Dance are simply stunning and well worth a look.

If you only have a vague idea of the dress you want, but know you want it to be “different” then it’s likely that you won’t find what you want in a traditional bridal boutique. That’s not to say they won’t stock a variety of different styles, but remember boutiques are largely set up to cater to the mainstream wedding industry and you’ll find dresses that remain largely traditional in their styling.

It could still worth visiting your local bridal boutique though even if you don’t think they’ll have what you’re looking for. If you know what you want, they may be able to source it for you, or suggest a designer or range you might want to look at.

Your dress needs to be comfortable …and practical

Although you might not want to admit it, your dress choice needs to be practical. Practical for you to wear comfortably all day and for the location you’ll be wearing it in. If like me you’re a larger lass with big boobs, a slinky backless number that requires you to go bra-less probably isn’t going to be a practical (or flattering) option!

Likewise, if you’re planning to get married on the coast or in a rural location, the last thing you want is to be tottering on heels with an enormous train dragging on the ground behind you getting wet, muddy or snagged on things.

How to choose a wedding dress

A full skirted ostentatious traditional gown will look ridiculous on a beach, which is much better suited to a soft, floaty and pared-down look. That said, there is something rather charming and whimsical about choosing a dress that is completely incongruous, as long as you’re prepared to own and totally rock the look!

Do be super realistic about the comfort of any dress you fall for though. You really don’t wnat to spend your special day distracted by unsuitable clothing that causes discomfort or leads to you endlessly having to pull up straps or readjust yourself to hide your modesty.

Consider what works for your body

Whilst there’s a lot to be said for not giving a damn about what you look like most of the time and dressing in whatever the hell you choose because you want to; opting for a dress in a style and with a fit that works with your body will not only lead to greater comfort, but it can also give your confidence a nice little boost on your big day.

Whether you want to accentuate or distract, or whether you just want something that feels comfortable, it’s a great idea to shop with an awareness of what works for you personally rather than letting a dress you fall in love with lull you into making a poor decision.

What’s your budget?

Your budget is going to play a big part in the kind of wedding dress you choose. If you’ve got a generous dress budget, then opting for something bespoke or from a high-end specialist bridal boutique or well-known designer becomes a viable option.

During summer most high street shops and online fashion stores carry extensive festival lines, packed full of alternative, funky fashion, including dresses and accessories. You’ll be amazed at what you can pick up!

Whatever you do, be realistic with the budget for your dress and don’t feel pressure to spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds if you can’t afford to do that. The value of the dress is irrelevant. If you love it and you love how you look in it, it doesn’t matter if it cost £100 or £1,000.

Choosing a wedding dress

If like the rest of us you don’t have hundreds of pounds to sink into a dress, then you’ll need to get savvy. Vintage dresses, dresses from high-street shops and quirkier clothing boutiques are likely to be where it’s at for you. But don’t forget, you can customise and accessorise your dress. So if you’re keen for your dress to look more like a one-off, you can get creative and either get the dress altered or add your own flourishes and accessories.

Make sure you love it

Don’t rush your decision, but at the same time, if you know exactly what you want and find it, act quickly and decisively to snap it up and perhaps just hang on to the receipt. That way if uncertainty does creep in, you’ve got the option of returning it and choosing something else.

If you’ve found a readily available dress from a boutique or online shop and you know it’s not a one-off or likely to sell out, then you might want to take a day or two to mull things over. If it’s from a physical shop, try it on, take photos on your phone and then spend the next few days referring to the photos to ensure you’re still happy with your choice before taking the plunge and buying it.

Bought your dress? Stop looking!

Once you buy your dress, stop looking. If you keep looking after you’ve purchased it, it’s highly likely that something else beautiful that you’ll equally love will pop up. The last thing you want is for doubt to creep in and make you feel like you made the wrong decision. So, once you’ve bought your dress, it’s time to stop looking. Cross it off your list, pop it away in the wardrobe and move your thoughts on to planning the next thing rather than getting hung up on whether you made the right dress decision.

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