Want your home to have the wow factor? Maybe you want to impress guests, or perhaps you just want a stunning, opulent space to enjoy in your own time. Most of us would love to live in a huge mansion, kitted out with the most beautiful decor if we had the choice, but that’s not to say you can’t have a lovely home if you’re not a millionaire. You can bring a touch of luxury to any space, and if you go about it in the right way, you’ll spend far less than you might think. Even if you live in a small city apartment like me, it is possible to get the home you love without it costing the earth. Here are some ideas to consider:


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Shop Sales
One of the best ways to snag great quality items at discounted prices is wait until sales are being run. End of line furniture is often massively reduced meaning you can save hundreds if you buy at the right time. This chesterfield leather sofa sale for example has up to thirty percent off which can mean over £500 savings on some pieces. If you know you’re in the market for a new piece of furniture, don’t just run out and buy the first thing that catches your eye. Follow your favourite furniture shops on social media, so you’ll be the first to hear about any sales, and keep an eye out for discounts. This allows you to fill your home with beautiful things but spending a fraction of what they originally cost.


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Scour Second Hand Finds
Furniture tends to be sturdily built, and a lot of pieces can last many lifetimes especially those made from solid wood. But people of course replace them far sooner than this. For this reason, it means you can often get hold of fantastic second hand pieces for next to nothing. Sure, some might need updating with a coat of paint and some new handles, but up-cycling can be good fun! Charity shops and car boot fairs are amazing for finding furniture and household decor gems. You might even get lucky and find someone selling designer or high-end furniture that’s nearly new for reduced costs; perhaps due to moving house and no longer having the space, or just because they fancied a change. Either way, it’s far cheaper than buying new. Plus recycling like this is good for the environment, and you get a beautiful piece for your home without breaking the bank.


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Mix and Match High and Low End
You can still achieve a luxurious looking home without spending a fortune on every item. You could buy an expensive sofa and accessorise with inexpensive cushions and rugs- that way they could be replaced easily later down the line if you want to switch up your room. You could buy an expensive dining table but with inexpensive, on- trend chairs. You could save on your bed frame but invest in a great mattress and beautiful bedding. There is literally so much choice on the high street in terms of home accessories, decor and bedding. Don’t be afraid to search places like Etsy and eBay for unique yet inexpensive items. You will find that sometimes you can find pieces that look like they cost far more than they did if you search carefully. Price is not always a reflection of good quality.


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How would you go about adding a touch of luxury to your home without breaking the bank?

**Please note this post is a brand collaboration**

I'm a firm believer that a beautiful wedding can be achieved even with a tight budget. And no, you don’t have to sacrifice important features to make it work. Shopping around and taking more calculated approaches to everything could help to keep you out of debt and still have a gorgeous day. Here are a few tips and tricks for keeping your wedding spectacular when strapped for cash.

The Venue

Church weddings are expensive, but other venues aren’t far behind. You can save costs in all cases by timing your wedding right – particularly the ceremony. The summer is when prices for venues are highest. An off-season wedding could save you a lot of money. September and May are usually classed as off-season and you could still get amazing weather. Mid-week weddings, especially a morning wedding, meanwhile can save you thousands compared to weekend weddings.

Another solution could be to get married outdoors like we did! In most cases, a beach wedding or a forest wedding may only need permission from a local landowner. Some may charge a fee, but it’s unlikely to be a lot. You’ll be able to get married in the height of summer to up the chance of good weather. That said, it’s still worth hiring a marquee or two just in case the heavens do decide to open. Getting married abroad can tends to be cheaper too, so if you're happy to have a smaller guest list, it may be worth consideration.

Food and drink

A big chunk of your catering cost will go towards paying for staff. However, you may be able to cut out a lot of this.  Have drinks already put on the tables in ice buckets (you could have a spare table in case drinks run low). Meanwhile, consider hiring chefs to cook at the table. This could add extra entertainment whilst cutting out the need for waiting staff. Of course, there’s also the option of a buffet which saves on staff and also tends to have lower costs per head. It also gives the wedding a more casual, 'family feel' which we loved.

Photography

It’s worth having a professional photographer to take those memorable snaps that will stay with you for the rest of your life. That said you may know a friend or family member that’s into photography that could shoot your wedding for a cheaper rate. There’s also the option to hire photographers for a set period instead of the entire day. A wedding shoot just after the ceremony could be all you need – you may then be able to get guest to take snaps throughout the rest of the evening, which was fine for us.

Wedding Invites

Invites and other wedding stationary can be surprisingly pricey. There are companies out there that do budget wedding invitations ,many of which still look professional and stylish. Consider whether you need to send an invite to everyone or just the close guests going to your ceremony. A free digital invite could be all you need to invite those reception guests, of which there may be hundreds in some cases. It's also super tempting to go overboard with other stationary; menus, thank you card, order of service, the choice is endless! Think about whether it's all really necessary for your big day before shelling out.

Decorations

It’s easy to go overboard on the décor and blow your budget. Getting creative and knowing a few of the tricks of the trade might allow you to save costs. Lots of electric lights outdoors could be expensive. We made a lot of our decorations ourselves. Candles, or indeed Chinese lanterns, could give a more ambient and warm feel whilst costing less.

Florists meanwhile will often try to persuade you to buy the most expensive flowers. Don’t be pressured into doing this. Also consider how many flowers you realistically need. A big fancy flower feature may cost less than having flowers all over the place and is likely to stand out more.

Your cake can also be used decoratively. Consider having only a top layer of cake and lots of fake tiers beneath. It will still make a visual impact whilst costing less.

Wedding vehicle

Hiring a chauffeur and a vintage car won’t be cheap (a carriage will be even more expensive). Consider whether this needs to be a big spectacle – often dressing up your own car and getting someone else to drive it can have a cute and charming factor. You may even know a friend with an antique car who may be willing to let you borrow theirs for the day.

The dress

Every bride should be able to have a beautiful dress for their special day. If your dream dress is too much to purchase, consider hiring options. This will allow you to have a more extravagant dress for a fraction of the cost. Yes, owning the dress can sometimes feel better, but consider the fact that most people who buy dresses simply let them gather dust for years to come.

Of course, an alternative could be to buy a dress and then sell it after. There are lots of sites where you can sell your wedding dress. Photographs will provide all the memories you need.

 

A beautiful wedding doesn't need to cost the earth and, from someone who has been married just over a year, the main thing is that you are getting married to the one you love. Of course, it will be a wonderful and memorable day, but remember it's only one day out of the rest of your lives!

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London is a great place to date! Here are a few ideas for all budgets:

Thrifty Dates (students, it’s almost pay-dayers and frugal folk alike)

  1. Visit a park. Hyde, Green, Greenwich, Crystal Palace – the choice is endless.
  2. Visit a museum. Science, Natural History and Tate Modern are all free!
  3. Get breakfast and the Breakfast Club.
  4. Sample some street food at Camden or Borough Market.
  5. Grab some 2-4-1 happy hour cocktails at Be At One bars (most venues until 7pm).
  6. Get a gig for free at an open mic night – Camden Lock 17 on a Monday night is excellent.
  7. Laugh until you cry! Sunday nights at the Up the Creek comedy club, Greenwich are cheap tickets with newly discovered comedians.
  8. Go for a walk. The southbank makes a lovely stroll and theirs always something to see.
  9. Watch street artists in Covent Garden. You can get lucky and see some really good acrobats and magicians doing their thing in the square.
  10. Sit and watch the world go by. There are some lovely cafes tucked away in some busy parts of London where you can sit and people watch – it’s the best! My favourite places are London Bridge, Canary Wharf and Westminister.

Middle of the road dates (also known as pay check is in, want to impress, something a bit different dates)

11. Watch a movie in style. The Electric Cinemas charge £30 for a ‘double bed’ for two at the front of their vintage movie theatres. They show the latest films and also some more off beat ones so something for all tastes.

12. Lady and the Tramp style share a MASSIVE PIZZA between 2 in the Italian restaurant district near Notting Hill.

13.  Go boating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. It will set you back 20 odd quid but it’s hella romantic.

14. Like cheese?? Who doesn’t. Gordon’s Wine Bar in Charing Cross like cheese and wine. You can’t book so get their early – it’s tiny.

15. Ronnie Scott’s jazz bar is pretty famous for its jazz music and buzzy vibe. Booking is essential but you can find other jazz clubs in the area for varying prices.

16. I maybe biased because I went here recently for my birthday treat but if you, like me, resent the fact that you can’t keep a cat of your own in a tiny flat, then visit Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, Shoreditch and borrow someone’s else’s cat for a bit! You can get a yummy afternoon tea for around £35 per head and it’s so worth it for the amazing cakes and cute kitties!

17. Visit the London Aquarium! I don’t usually go for the overly touristy things in London but I do love fishies. The London aquarium is great for big kids.

18. Go salsa dancing. Impress with your best moves at one of London’s many salsa clubs – I like Tito’s London Bridge.

19. Eat authentic Chinese food in Chinatown. You can’t beat it.

20. Eat, drink and play darts! The flight club Shoreditch allows you to have fun and concentrate on your date while the computers take care of the scoring! I would recommend this for a double date as it’s more fun with a group.

Push-the-boat-out Dates (date with Prince Harry/Taylor Swift?? Look no further)

21. See a west end show. There are SO MANY amazing shows in London if you’ve got a big budget. My favourites are Aladdin the Musical, Mamma Mia and Wicked.

22. Sample the best steak in London at Hawksmoor restaurant.

23. Get high at the View at the Shard. It will set you back 40 odd quid but the view is stunning.

24. Go to a concert at the biggest venue in London – the o2 arena hosts all the best tours and music stars.

25. This one is kind of seasonal but Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is a super cute date. It may be free to get in but TRUST ME you need disposable cash for the stalls, food and rides.

26. Drink champagne and try oysters at J Sheekey! Because your classy like that.

27. What could be more quintessentially British than afternoon tea at the Savoy?? £50 per person, but maybe worth it for he experience.

28. Book a treatment or spa day at the Champney’s city spa, Enfield. Mmmm.

29. Go to a ballet at the London Coliseum. We actually did this and it was brilliant! Even if you find it a bit boring you sound super cultured.

30. And finally – see the evening out in style on a dinner/ party Thames boat cruise. How fab is that??

What’s your favourite date night in London?

xox