Throwback Thursday….Track 13

I’m off on a hen weekend tomorrow, and this is my girlie night jam! I mistakenly once told my friends I used to sing and dance in front of the  mirror to this song, resulting in them demanding I dance to it every time we’re out. And of course, I oblige. Even played it at my wedding, and I did the full routine! 

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

Enjoy, Suzy xx

Wedding Wednesday – Suzy’s Budget

After making the decision to start planning the wedding of the century, reality hit! How are we gonna pay for it all? I always knew my parents would help out, but how much they could contribute was unknown. We also kind of knew how much we could afford to contribute, based on what we’d already got saved, plus what we could save between now and roughly when we wanted to get married. So it was important for us to have a very frank discussion with our parents, to broach the subject of financing the wedding. Without this, we couldn’t start even looking at venues, deciding on guest lists, or thinking about anything else!

We were over the moon when both our parents very generously came through with some funds to help us towards our wedding, and the way things worked out, we ended up putting the same amount in each, so it felt really fair, and also, really inclusive for both sets of parents.

So how did we work out how to allocate our budget to make sure everything was covered? We obviously did a bit of research online to get some rough ideas of where the money goes etc, using sites like The Knot, to guide us in the right direction, but we also wanted to factor in elements of the wedding that were important to us to get right. I have to say, the online tools you can find are really helpful, but remember to use them as a guide, and try not to get too swamped down. At this point, you only want to split the costs down as percentages of your total budget, always considering what you would be happy to pay for each expense, and of course, your own circumstances

For us, the venue was the biggest expense, and I think it’s fair to say that is the case for most couples. You should expect to spend 50% – 60% of your budget for this.  When planning a wedding, I think it’s best to keep all the venue costs together, which includes room hire, food costs, drinks etc.  We felt it helped doing it that way, rather than splitting each element down because eventually it would all be paid to the same supplier, and you’re in the right mindset for that when you get their bill! Even if you have a separate venue for the wedding and reception, keep them together at this stage of planning. You should also include your marriage licence fees in this.

We wanted to include the honeymoon, and depending on your circumstances, you can decide to include it in your budget or not.  We included it, because we knew that we would want to spend more on our honeymoon than a normal holiday, and also considered the gifts given from our guests as a contribution towards this. We allocated around 15% of the budget for this.

The next expense to consider was the outfits, including the wedding dress. This we knew would be a changeable cost, and was very dependent on how much ‘the dress’ was! We hadn’t properly decided how the wedding party was going to be made up, so we considered what we would be happy to spend as a guide. In the end, we spent around 10% of the budget on this.

We allocated the cost of the photographer (and videographer, should you choose one) next, and after doing a little research on the internet, we put down a further 10% to this. A married friend once told me, whatever you do, do not scrimp on the photographer! The photos really are the lasting memory of the day, and can be enjoyed by so many people, so it really is worth the money.

One of the important elements we both always wanted at our wedding was a live band. Music is so important to the both of us, and having a band at our wedding was key. We budgeted around 5% for this, just as a guide.

We decided to lump the costs such as stationery, flowers, cake & venue decoration all together at this point, just to give us a rough idea. For example, at this stage, we didn’t know what kind of flowers we wanted, how many guests were coming for the size of the cake etc. In the end, we found a supplier that did a package including all of these services, and we spent around another 7% on this. On the initial budget, we allocated 5%, so we weren’t too far off the mark.

The other important cost to consider is the unknown cost! After you’ve compiled your budget, you should add an extra 5% – 10% to cover all the unexpected things and overspends you are inevitably going to incur. I honestly can’t stress this enough…no matter how much you think you are going to spend, you will spend more, and you’ll do it because it’s your special day and you want everything to be perfect.

Obviously, there are some costs you may want that aren’t included here, such as transport, rings, gifts etc. Add them in to your budget at a price you would be happy to pay and adjust one of your other expenses accordingly.

Also, prioritise your wedding expenses from most to least important. If you need to make cuts in your budget, always start with the details and expenses that are least important to you both.

Communication is key when planning a wedding, and you will no doubt get into some disagreements with your partner on how much to spend, and on what. Argue your points calmly and clearly, and listen to your partners thoughts and responses. There will be things you need to compromise on, and trust me, on the day you won’t even care about any details you had to exclude!

You should regularly revisit your budget, particularly when you are getting quotes from suppliers. Check back to make sure they aren’t way off the mark, and of course, adjust it should you decide to change your mind on things! As you start to make bookings with suppliers, it’s best to make a note of what you’ve committed to spend and note down deposits and payments you’ve made so you can always keep track of where you are with things. Making a note of due dates is also handy.

Here’s a little infographic I did showing the breakdown of the budget. I hope if you’re planning a wedding you find this useful, and if you’ve already planned one, how does this budget compare to yours?

Suzy xx

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Oscars Style 2015

This gallery contains 15 photos.

Wow! What an Oscars! With empowering, inspirational acceptance speeches and the #askhermore movement, the focus was on the talent on the red carpet, but of course I LOVED the glam at this years awards. My top three dresses this year go … Continue reading

Trying to update my work wardrobe, post-baby!

As part of my Valentine’s treat from hubby, last weekend I went out alone! Not very romantic but the opportunity to have some me time – without a buggy, a bag full of nappies and a toddler (albeit a gorgeous one) was the equivalent of a mini-break!

I’ve been considering my work wardrobe. My post-baby body isn’t working my pre-baby office clothes quite as well as I would like and I needed a rethink. So, I took myself off down to Oasis in The Bullring Shopping Centre to attempt to reinvent myself.

My thoughts were to go for an outfit centering more around skinny-fit trousers rather than traditional pencil skirts and shift dresses as I’ve definitely retained some weight around the tummy and hips, whereas the legs have, thankfully, returned to pre-baby size. I feel comfortable on non-work days in skinny jeans and baggy tops so hoped to find a smarter version that would work for the office.

On arrival, I found it was the store’s grand opening after a refurb and so there were treats on offer – traditional lemonade and sweets! Yum! After browsing for only a couple of minutes, I was approached by a member of staff to see if I needed any help. After explaining what I was hoping to achieve, she introduced me to Dani, their Personal Shopper.

Dani was excellent, getting me to try on various outfits that I wouldn’t have even picked up off the rails. A particular favourite was this dress:

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A bargain at £55, fully lined and nicely structured. However, it was a little tight around the tummy so I sadly left it behind but it’s definitely on the wish list if ever I find some time to do some sit ups!

A daring outfit (for me anyway) was this one:

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Super cute I think you’ll agree but I’d never have thought to put that floral print and stripes together! The skirt (£32, lined) was really comfy and didn’t cling but it was too short for me to wear for work. I did end up with the mustard top (£25 – a real bargain!) even though it’s a colour I’d never normally wear. It hangs really nicely and the fabric makes it feel like a much more expensive top. I also bought the stripy jacket (only £45!). Now, I’ve not convinced myself to keep the jacket yet as I’m not sure how much use I’ll get from it or whether I’ll keep it clean (imagine tiny sticky hands cuddling me – lovely but it does mean I’m often covered in little handprints!). So, the jury is out on that one.

I also bought some black skinny jeans (£40) and a black textured cocoon jacket (£45). I’m hoping that this will be the start of the new work wardrobe. The cocoon jacket is quite cool I thought – a smarter choice than a black cardi but more relaxed than a blazer or suit jacket. I chose those four things as staple items to wear with other clothes I currently have and hope to be feeling a little younger, cooler and slimmer at work!!

I was pleasantly surprised when handing my money over that they were giving goody bags away and I got a lovely jute bag with a large candle and a nail polish inside! Now, the colour of the nail polish is not for me but I’ll certainly enjoy the candle. I really enjoyed my shopping experience and I’m feeling better already about going back to work next week!

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If ever you’re feeling a little lost and in need of some inspiration for your wardrobe, i would highly recommend a Personal Shopper. At first I wasn’t sure but Dani was excellent and took over 2 hours to listen, advise, encourage and support me to try on clothes that took me out of my comfort zone and now I have a wish-list of clothes to buy when I’m paid and they’re on offer. Roll on pay day!

Are you post-baby? How are you finding the new you? I would love to hear from you.

Clare xx