When one of my BFF’s, Tamara, handed me a plump envelope with mine and John’s name on the front, my tummy did a little flip! Having first worked with Tamara (who is a talented Marketing Manager) and very quickly becoming firm friends, I was absolutely delighted to find out that John and I would be able to share hers and Lawrence’s special day.
Working in Marketing meant that Tamara had a very trained eye for what would look good and she pulled out all of the stops in making her wedding budget work as hard as it could for her.
So Tamara, you and Lawrence have been together for almost 9 years now - how did he pop the question?
After nine years, I had began to wonder if he would ever ask me to be his wife! We met in 2004 when I was a ‘penniless student’ and he had just graduated from Birmingham University. By the time September 2011 came around and Lawrence got down on one knee, it really did feel like the perfect time in our lives to be getting married.
He had apparently been planning for over a year, saving his pennies for an engagement ring and he took me to a beautiful spot in the Lake District looking over Lake Windermere. I wondered why he was so adamant to take this long walk in the pouring rain, but he still got down on one knee (in a big puddle)!
I was so stunned, I didn’t speak (and anyone who knows me knows that is highly unusual) and Lawrence eventually had to ask ‘is that a yes then?!’.
We celebrated with a bottle of a bottle of champagne, taking in the views and met a lovely couple who took our photo. He had even booked us into a gorgeous five star hotel to go back to once I had said ‘Yes’!
What was the main aim for the wedding day (apart from saying ‘I Do’!)?
Obviously my main objective was to become Mrs Holland, Lawrence and I were always meant to be! But for the day itself, I really wanted to make sure our guests had the most epic time and would reflect on the day as not only being so wonderful for us, but that they had the best time ever.
Having been a guest at several weddings, I would always look back and pick out all the best bits that I loved and I wanted our whole day to feel like that for our guests too.
Weddings are rightly about the bride and groom, but if your guests aren’t happy, then you don’t have a wedding. I am a massive believer that your guests can really make a wedding and our friends and family proved us right on the day.
Lawrence would say his original objective was to keep things on a shoe-string budget. Typical husband to be!
What did you enjoy most about planning your wedding?
My friends know I LOVE planning, organising and general list making, so a wedding was my dream to plan. Having organised a few events in my time working in Marketing, it was great to finally have something personal to us for me to plan.
If I had to pick one thing, I would honestly say that friends and family really made planning the wedding so much fun. I was lucky enough to have seven bridesmaids and a very organised mother! It really bought us closer together in such a positive way. They did so, so much for me and were always there when I needed them for random chats about the positives and negatives. I will always value those times.
One of my favourite times was sat with my family with random production lines of making save the date cards, my button bouquet and lots and lots of paper pinwheels . It was such a personal touch that I can keep forever and it was great to get everyone involved in the big day, even my one year old nephew got involved!
What was your best budget find?
Despite the fact that our venue and food costs were more expensive than we originally anticipated (but totally worth it!) we managed to reign in the budget with everything else for the big day.
I have so many examples of where we made our budget work for us, including our stationary designed by our wonderful friend Lucy, of Lucy Hills Design who is a super talented graphic designer, favours made by my parents who run a company that make chocolate lollipops called Oh Lolly Lollipop and a cake produced by our friend who runs Capells Cakes. I also found many bits and piece found in vintage shops, charity shops and good old Ebay!
But the best budget find came when I had a vision for vintage lemonade bottles with cute stripey staws. I knew the cost of purchasing bottles would be expensive and I happened to be at a local garden centre when I noticed they sold bottles of vintage lemonade and ginger beer in their café. I sent an email to the manager and asked whether I may be able to take away some of their bottles if they happened to throw them away (and would have happily given him some money) and he called me straight away to say I could have them for free! In the same store they were throwing away some vintage wooden crates which I pinched for display on the day and served cloudy lemonade from glass drinks dispensers which our guests could serve into their bottles. It looked brilliant!
How did you maximise your budget to make sure you had what you wanted?
I think my main tip would be to be realistic about what you can and cannot have on a budget. I would argue that if you have something that is your dream then you should always try and have it. You may want a £1k wedding dress, but it just means you have to rein it in when it comes to the areas that aren’t as important to you.
Luckily Lawrence loves a good spread sheet and happily got organised right from the very beginning by comparing venue costs and prices for other expensive parts of the day.
You generally know the things you have to have, so make sure they are planned out first.
And make sure you ask around - everyone seems to know someone who makes cakes, is a photographer or has other great skills that you can bring into your day and often on a budget.
What is your favourite moment of the day?
It is so difficult to pick my favourite part of the day. It was just brilliant from start to finish. Some highlights include a great moment my brilliant photographer – Sharon Cooper captured - she decided I should get into my dress but make my dad come into the room to put on my jewellery for me. She made him come into the room with his eyes shut and I was surrounded by my bridesmaids and mum, we all burst into tears as his first words were ‘wow’. She captured the moment beautifully in the photos and it will be a moment I will always treasure.
Another was the speeches. Not only was I treated to a brilliant speech from my husband, best man and dad but I also had a ‘best girl’. She treated us and our wedding party to the most amazing speech I have ever heard, with so much thought and love put into a hilarious and touching rhyme about our friendship.
Wow - you had seven bridesmaids. Was it difficult to find dresses within budget that suited them all and made them feel great?
Lots of people ask me about having such a big bridal party. I absolutely loved having some of my ‘best girls’ as such a big part of our day. It was an interesting shopping trip when we started looking on the high street to find dresses to fit all of the different shapes, sizes and ages.
It was also difficult as I didn’t really have a colour theme in my mind and had the age old problem of knowing in my head my ‘vision’ but not being able to locate it.
I then managed to find a local dress maker called Grace Face who makes beautiful handmade clothes, who managed to create my 1950s style dress vision from some fabric I found online and even created matching petticoats to go underneath. The girls looked INCREDIBLE and it was fabulous to have something unique and the girls felt like a million dollars.
It was also so much cheaper than anything we could have got from a bridal shop or the high street and Emma at GraceFace was brilliant, especially when we had to make a dress for my heavily pregnant sister.
What is your single biggest tip that you would pass onto other brides to be?
My biggest tip would be to take time to breathe, reflect and do what you and you partner really want to do. Everyone will have an opinion - it’s unavoidable. But you have to really do what your head, heart and budget tells you.
There will be brilliant times, and times when you wonder why you bothered, but honestly it all pays off in the end!
I felt so relaxed and excited on our big day and I do think that was because I had been so organised. I knew I had every box ticked and had faith in the suppliers we used, so I really enjoyed the whole day from start to finish.
I honestly have no regrets about our day - it was PERFECT to us and our guests had a great day too, which is all I could have hoped for.
Having said that, if the opportunity had arised for me to eat and drink more, I certainly would have! We had an amazing sweetie buffet which our guests adored, but I didn’t get a look in and nor did I get a piece of the wedding cake! So make sure one of your wedding party or the venue do that for you!
Wow Tamara, thank you SO much for sharing your day and all of your amazing tips with us! Every amazing sparkly wish from The Budget Bride Company for an incredible married life together 🙂
All Photography by Sharon Cooper