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!

**This post is a brand collaboration**

Hey lovelies! I don't know about you but my home is my sanctuary, particularly my bedroom! For me, it has to be a place where I can relax and forget about the day. Bedrooms are supposed to be relaxing sanctuaries where one goes to rest and revitalize oneself, and there are few things more relaxing than nature, so why not combine the two to create a bedroom that is truly a sanctuary for you?

Here are some natural bedroom ideas that will help you relax and regain balance:

Image source

 

Natural Colours

If you do nothing else, taking out the overwhelming colours from your bedroom and replacing them with the colours, you’ll find in nature, like browns, greens, tans, rich reds and warm greys will have an instant calming effect that will help you wind down at the end of a busy day.

 

Natural Fabrics

Natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo not only look closer to nature than their man-made fabrics, but they also feel a lot more natural too. This is especially important when you’re choosing bed sheets because they will be in contact with your skin for at least 8 hours every night. However, you should also look at purchasing a mattress which has been made from natural materials. Vi-spring beds, for example, are stuffed with horsehair and wool, and that makes them a lot more comfortable. Combined with a natural wood or bamboo bed frame, they will give you a naturally comfy place to rest your head.

 

Plants and Flowers

What could be more natural than plants and flowers? Bringing some greenery into the bedroom will not only calm you down and put you at ease but if you choose the right plants, they will also filter the air, so that you aren’t breathing in so many pollutants. Having plants in my bedroom is one of my favourite ways to feel truly surrounded by nature – even in London!

As well as bringing live plants and flowers into the bedroom, choosing fabrics, bedding and wallpapers which feature botanical motifs is a  great way to get the natural look indoors.

 

Wool Rugs

Everyone hates that moment when they step onto a stone cold floor in the morning. It’s a real shock to the system, but it’s one that’s easily avoided by investing in a couple of natural rugs and placing them on either side of the bed.

 

Face the Window

If privacy isn’t an issue and you have a nice view, moving your bed so that it faces the window is the best way to bring nature into your bedroom. Waking up seeing the sun rising or the birds in the trees will give you a real boost, as will gazing at the stars as you drift off into slumber.

 

Natural Accessories

No bedroom is complete without a few choice accessories to add interest, but instead of heading to Ikea and picking up a few manmade pieces, why not head to the beach and collect rocks and shells instead? Arrange them on your dressing table for a taste of the beach in your bedroom.

If you can’t get to the beach, start collecting sticks, acorns and moss, which when delicately arranged and wrapped with fairy lights can make a unique centrepiece for the dressing table that will immediately trigger your relaxation response.


Image source

Once you’ve brought nature to the bedroom, I think you’ll notice that you feel a whole lot calmer at home. I hope you find these tips useful!

How do you make your bedroom a relaxing sanctuary?

***This post is a brand collaboration***

It was a good few months ago now that we went on our sneaky Easter minibreak escape to Montenegro and I’m ashamed that I haven’t had a chance to publish a travel post about it yet! So, before we go on our summer holiday (2 weeks and counting!) I thought it only fair to give our trip a little write up and share our photographs seeing as it was so stunning.

The first question most people asked us when we mentioned where we were going was.. well.. why Montenegro? It’s a fair question. Up to this point we are the only people we know out of all of our friends and extended family that have ever been! Scores of people seem to flood to Croatia these days, so I find the lack of the same enthusiasm for it’s neighbour odd, as Montenegro shares a similar vibe, climate and even looks similar! Plus, it’s still a pretty undiscovered gem, so perfect for a quiet, secret escape!

Our holiday

As it was a quick ‘let’s get out of here’ last minute holiday affair, we decided to go inexpensive and simple. Out of season (early April) the climate in Montenegro looked good and we found a great value all inclusive deal at a five star hotel in the holiday beach resort of Budva. All inclusive is not usually something we would go for our main holiday because we like to cook for ourselves and eat out in different places, but for the type of super relaxing short break we wanted we decided to go for it.

The hotel was called the Iberostar Bellevue and it was absolutely stunning. I was blown away when we first got there. Mainly because I’ve never seen a beachfront hotel over looking the sea which is also surrounded by spectacular mountains on the other side! The landscape was just something that you would never see in your normal Spain/ Portugal holidays and I couldn’t get over it! I was super happy to take loads of gorgeous photos with the stunning backdrop. Our room was fine, perfectly comfortable and functional with a lovely big balcony and a sea view which we weren’t expecting and was a lovely surprise. We could actually hear the sound of the waves at night which was amazing.

The Iberostar Belleview hotel

The weather we had was mixed. A bit of rain on the first two days so we took the opportunity to explore the local historic town of Budva and the montain city of Kotor to get some culture and sightseeing in. Due to it being out of season, Budva was a bit dead with a lot of shops and restaurants closed, but Kotor was much more lively and seemed to have a lot of tourists visiting despite the weather. Budva would definitely be worth a day trip particularly the old town to see the historic architecture, and the harbour which had some pretty pricey looking sun seekers! There were also some nice craft shops and cute restaurants.

Budva harbour

Budva old town

The city of Kotor was about an hour bus ride away and it was a whole other level of beautiful! If I had visualised a perfect, quaint Eastern European town then this was it. You can climb up some mountains at the back towards a church and get a load of this crazy stunning view.

The holiday was perfect for what we wanted, a ‘do-nothing’, relaxing break with a bit of sunshine.

 

I would thoroughly recommend considering Montenegro for your next holiday. It’s got great summer weather, beautiful safe beaches and stunning landscapes. Kotor is a stunning historic city and well worth a visit, as it’s a pretty small country most of it is accessible with a short car or bus journey. Although it was a bit quiet when we were there, you could tell that they were gearing up for a busy summer season so there would be no shortage of things to do there.

Have you been to Montenegro? Would you consider it?

 

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We all know that being a millennial in the current economic climate is tough. It’s all over the news, anyone in their late teens, twenties or thirties now will not have it like our parents had it. We spend all our income on rent, everything costs more, the salaries haven’t caught up and the chances of us actually being able to do something ‘adult-like’, buy a house for instance, are basically zero. If, like me, you live in London, you can times all these issues by a thousand and you’ve got an idea of where your salary disappears to 10 days after pay day.

But, here’s the thing. I like spending money.  I’m all about experiences and I like to live life to the full, packing my evenings and weekends with going out any doing stuff. It’s important to me. I’m sure I’m not alone here. I can’t stand it when my money just seems to disappear and I’ve got no idea of what I spent it on!  So, with that in mind I’ve come up with a few ways to save pennies on the ‘boring stuff’, which adds up to saving a wholeeee lot of money in the long run. Money to spend on having fun – yay!

So, for those likeminded people who find themselves straight up broke but still don’t want to sacrifice having a life then give these ideas a go and save the money for a rainy day.

Coffee.

I agree, there is nothing quite like the smell of a barista style coffee shop when you’re on the way to work at some ungodly hour. HOWEVER, did you know that if you buy one medium latte a day you are probably spending in excess of £50 per month on coffee? No, I didn’t either. Buying a flask and taking coffee from home will save a small fortune.

Greetings Cards.

Sorry mum, but I’m just not okay with spending £100+ a year on cards alone which are only heading to the recycling bin eventually. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, Valentine’s day cards – we have gone for a total, blanket ban. This will not only save us money but also it’s our way of doing our bit for the environment too. If you feel super bad for not sending cards try these Lost Ocean postcards which you can colour in beautifully yourself and send for a fraction of the cost.

Couponing.

It may sound lame, but who doesn’t get a kick out of using money off vouchers?! It’s free money! I used to chuck the vouchers they give you in Sainsbury’s, Boots and so on but actually if you get organised, keep them and use them you can save money on your day-to-day shopping.

Points cards.

Remembering to take your points/membership cards to the relevant shops can pay off big time further done the line! We do all our food shopping at Sainsbury’s so our Nectar points add up fast. I’ve also been really impressed with the new Co Op membership card which is free to join and not only gives you 5% back on all your purchases in store but also 1% of what you buy goes to worthwhile causes in your local community! I love that.

Don’t pay over the odds.

A prime example of this is going to the cinema, a regular pastime of ours. Aside from the extortionate ticket prices, a couple can easily blow £10-£15 on drinks, sweets and treats. We have recently started buying a bag of popcorn and bottles of cola on the way there from Co Op (whilst using our membership card to collect points boom) and I’m not exaggerating, we have saved a small fortune. This is the same for gigs, theatre shows, football matches, the lot. Be prepared!

Food prep.

I’m guilty of forgetting this one because it takes a fair bit of forward planning and organisation on my part but when I am on it with the food prep I have notice a huge difference in my weekly bank balance! We try to cook up a batch of meals on Sunday night to take to work for the rest of the week. With the average meal deal costing £3 that is £60 per month on lunches alone which is just too much in my opinion. When you add it up it’s easy to see where that pay check is escaping to each month! Being organised can save you a great deal.

I know how tricky it can be to budget, believe me, so I don’t do it. But by following these few easy tricks I have found my money seems to be going a little bit further, without really sacrificing too much! I hope that you might find these helpful.

What are your fail-safe ways to save cash? Are you a budgeter?

I have suffered from sleep problems on and off throughout my adult life, but the worst episode I had started 3 years ago and went on until last year. It is so debilitating and exhausting when you can’t sleep and trying to explain that weird ‘trapped’ feeling when your staring at the ceiling at 4am waiting for the sun to come up is impossible. 

Personally, I have decided to stay away from medication and try self care remedies.  I have managed to overcome my sleeping issues myself and although I know these steps won’t work for everyone they really helped me and now I can get off to sleep quickly almost every night. Here are a few simple tips and lifestyle changes that I have made which have really worked for me.

Go to bed earlier.

This may sound strange but this is the thing which has helped me the most I think. My acupuncturist told me that at 11pm we (humans) get a burst of energy and endorphins (this is where the phrase ‘burning the midnight oil’ comes from and why many artists and writers insist they do their best work in the middle of the night!).  We can avoid getting this burst if we are already asleep by 11pm! It might sound like the opposite of what you want to do if you have trouble dropping off but simply changing my regular bedtime to 10.30pm has made a really big difference to my routine.

Sorry, no lie ins!

Everyone’s insomnia is different and I know a lot of people can’t sleep in at all, but with me if I had a day off or late shift the next day I would often lie in until 10 or even 11am trying to ‘catch up’ on sleep. By forcing myself to get up at 6am every weekday for a workout and 8am on the weekends I have established a kick ass routine and by the time the evening comes around I’m shattered from getting up so early so fall asleep easier! You know when parents pack their kids’ weekends full of activities to ‘wear them out’ – well it works for us adults too!

A little bit of exercise every day.

I know it’s so easy to say but doing some exercise everyday has helped me to become a fitter, more active person and has definitely improved my sleeping, and my well being in general.

Stop trying too hard.

On the occasions I do go to bed and I can’t drop off I don’t stress about it like I used to. I leave the room (nothing worse than a deep-sleeping partner’s heavy breathing when you can’t drop off!) and usually have a bath or read a book. It doesn’t take long to start getting heavy eyelids.

ASMR.

This is a new one for me, but in someways has made the biggest difference. Sometimes there are some nights when I just can’t shut my brain off and when I close my eyes my head is buzzing with thoughts and stresses. This is when I get out my Ipad (on low brightness), plug in and listen to some ASMR videos on Youtube. I won’t go into too much detail as I’m no expert but ASMR ‘artists’ create videos using special microphones and sounds to create a sense of deep relaxation, and it really works! It’s sooooo relaxing. These videos have really helped me when all else fails and they have me drifting off in no time.

You can read more about ASMR here.

I do understand that these won’t work for everyone but I really hope that this might help someone – because I know how frustrating it can be! In our busy lives sleep is often the first thing to go and more and more doctors and researchers are proving just how important it is to our physical and mental health. If you are really struggling make sure you ease the burden by chatting it through with someone you are close to or your doctor.

Have you guys found any self-help methods for sleeping that really help you?