Wedding: Planning a Wedding in Spain (Part 2)

by - Friday, November 13, 2015

Planning a wedding is hard. Possibly one of the most stressful, time consuming and mind boggling things ever. It’s even worse planning a wedding abroad, especially on your own - as let’s face it, Grooms are useless - but as I have a personality like Monica Gellar I absolutely loved the experience (ish) which is why I wanted to share with you the tricks of the trade and a few tips which I hope will help planning a wedding abroad (or even in the UK).
In my first Planning a Wedding in Spain post, I mainly went through all the boring but equally exciting parts of the legalities, picking venues and choosing your date. So I hope that this post will be a little more exciting as this will cover the pretty things like invitations, favours, flowers and most importantly CAKE! Cos let’s face it, we all loveeee da cake! – Except my fiancé because he’s weird and doesn’t like sponge. But that’s a whole different argument. Okay let’s get back on topic., now I am far (far) away from being anywhere near an expert on wedding planning but I have a few more tips which I hope you will find helpful in planning your wedding.

Invitations are a key part to your wedding. They not only tell guests that you love them enough to include them in your day, but they also are the setting stone to your day! It will give (or should give) the guests an idea of your wedding theme, location, season and what they could expect. The key thing to picking the right invites is research into costs, styles and what theme of invitation you are looking for. Ordering samples is important to making sure it’s what you want, sadly though, they cost money. Before spending money on samples make sure you have a look at how much the real invitations will cost as there will be nothing more disappointing ordering a sample that you fall in love with, and when you come to order them you find out its £200 over your budget. 

I’d recommend heading over to Pinterest to get some ideas on what themed invite you want and then browse the web and narrow it down to about 4/5 favourites to order samples. You don’t want too many as it just makes your decision A LOT harder. My favourite websites to order invitations are EtsyNot on the Highstreet, and eBay. Remember invitations are also expensive, like realllyyyy expensive. Especially if you’re a bit of a numpty like me and order them from outside the EU, yup you guessed it CUSTOMS charges! Damn sods. So try to stay with a UK seller to avoid the whopping £98 customs charge like I received (I KNOW!) and to keep you within your invitation budget. I kinda learnt from experience on invitations as we went completely over budget as I didn’t check how much they would cost before falling in love with them, not mentioning the additional customs charge we had received, but they looked pretty and we got them sent out on time which is the main thing.
If you are money bags and happy to pay for all your family, friends, friends of family, friends of friends and their dogs then this tip isn’t really for you BUT if you on a strict budget and want to know how to potentially save some pennies then keep reading. On average at least 40% of guests invited won’t attend, and it is even more for weddings abroad. However don’t over invite just to build up your numbers, if anything planning a wedding abroad will allow you to only invite the people who you genuinely want to be there. We must have wrote our guest list numerous times, many people were on our list but got removed by the time we were sending invitations. Mostly because when we first wrote our list it was around 9 months before sending our invitations or booking our venue and within that time we had lost contact with many people, and all I was thinking was “why am I paying a lot for them to come when they haven’t bothered with us?” so their names got crossed off. Same goes for family, don’t think that just because you are related that they need to be given an invitation. If you've not spoken in years and never plan to visit them, then cross them off the list! Key thing is to be realistic. When you look at guest list’s people forget that the more people not only means the bigger the dinner bill, but more for cake, favours, drinks, chair rentals and room size. It’s your wedding, and especially as its abroad it’s an even better excuse to keep your wedding intimate with the people you love. There’s no stopping you going overboard inviting people to a party in the UK when you return, that way your friends or family aren’t missing out completely.

Ah wedding favours. In the UK, favours are traditionally sugared almonds in little organza bags or those tacky but oh so fun bubbles in little champagne bottles. Nowadays they are a little more exciting and are usually bags of yummy sweets, cake pops or something a little more unique. For a wedding abroad, favours are a little more difficult. Not only will shipping 50-100 bags of sweets or cakes abroad but difficult (and I think illegal?) but it’s pointless if you’ve got a sweet cart (which is a popular feature) and it’s also expensive. Try thinking about favours that will be more suited to your wedding, venue or guests. If you are getting married in Spain like moi, have a browse about what could make a good wedding favour without costing an arm and a leg. We thought about the heat, the sun and what guests would appreciate more than the bag of sweets? Our answer was a pretty hand fan, not only has it got the cute little Spanish theme going on but it’s also practical to cool people down, the kids will enjoy them and they are not very expensive as they averaged about £1 per guest. WIN!
Flowers are one of the most traditional features of your wedding, and also a key part of your day. I mean, how can you through a bouquet into a group of screaming bridesmaids if you don’t have flowers? Exactly. Flowers are also a key feature for decorating your venue, aisle and centre pieces. Apparently, its common in Spain for the venue to include the flowers (excluding bridal party flowers) within the budget. Don’t worry, you usually get to meet with their ‘in house’ florist and pick which ones you would like. We were very lucky as when we met with our florist, our ideas were covered within our venue costs so there was no need to pay anything extra. This means all the centre pieces, indoor decoration and ceremony decoration is all covered, the only thing we needed to add on was the cost for our bridal party as we have asked them to make these so they are the exact same flowers. If the flowers aren’t including in the venue costs, I’d still recommend speaking to your venue or planner as I imagine they would have some connections of who you can speak to. Only thing to be cautious of, is that if you want a particular flower which is seasonal and you are getting married out of that season then it will be either extremely expensive or completely impossible to get hold of, so have a few ideas in mind or a backup plan to avoid any disappointment.

Traditional wedding cake is slowly going out of fashion as there are so many different ideas now including cupcakes, cake pops or even using cheese to look like a cake. If you are wanting to stick to tradition then there are a few tricks that can either suit more guests or save some pennies. To save pennies when having a traditional tiered cake, if the bottom layer will serve the number of guests why not have the top two tiers as a false cake? Basically they are made of polystyrene but covered in your frosting to blend with the rest – just make sure you don’t use the top layers for the iconic cutting of the cake. Or if you want to have all tiers to be edible, why not have a variety of flavours on each tier as if there is more choice, there’s a higher chance there won’t be as much wasted.
If wanting something a little different, a combination of cupcakes and a single tiered cake always look lovely. The cupcakes are never usually wasted as it’s just enough for people and of course, they look pretty! Or rather than splashing out on a wedding cake, why not do what we've done and opt for a selection of single cakes or cheese cakes? My fiancé doesn’t eat sponge (I know, it’s completely wrong!) and there is always someone who doesn’t fancy eating any type of cake at all. Instead we had bizarrely chose seven – yes, SEVEN – cakes which actually includes a variety of sponge cakes, cheesecakes, tarts and savoury options. Surprisingly enough, as these are all single tiered-average sized cakes this wasn’t really expensive, in fact I think its excellent value for what we have. Another option, if you don’t fancy having cake at all and want to do something a little more quirky, then why not opt for a cheese board or blocks of cheese decorated and styled to look like a cake? This way you can still doing the cutting the cake scene but it’s something a little more unique? And then serve with a selection of grapes, biscuits and chutneys? Yum yum! - I do love a good cheese board.
Decoration can be kept minimal nowadays as less is more. Especially seems all the simple, chic and vintage décor is currently the favourite style. Being honest, decorating our venue in Spain has been pretty easy as we have just ordered everything in the UK. Our venue is very pretty to look at anyway so we don’t really need much decoration. The ceremony on the outside is being decorated by the florist as well as the centre pieces so the only thing we really need to add are a few buntings here and there and a few little cute signs. But overall nothing major is needed, I love the simple décor so try not to overdo it with decorations and think about things that you could reuse again to try make it more cost effective. Now comes the expensive part, shipping. Shipping all your lovely decorations, wedding favours and little bits and bobs would be extremely expensive. You would probably need to check in at least another suit case just to take all of your add on’s. Luckily, we had a lot of family travelling which meant we could sneak some decorations in their cases too. Or you could look at alternative costs, do you have a family or a friend that lives near to your venue that you can post the items to before you travel? Or will your venue allow you to send them over a parcel with all your décor in? 

Weddings are extremely expensive. Not only for the couple but also for the guests. My fiancé and I must have went to 6 or 7 weddings alone last year, although we are always thrilled to be part of the couples big day, you end up forgetting about the travel costs, the cost of a gift and the end of the night bar tab after participating in the Jaeger Train and several rounds of your favourite mixer(s). On top of that, if most of the weddings are all of friends like ours were, you also end up splurging on a new outfit as god forbid would you be seen wearing the same outfit to two of your friend’s weddings. As our wedding is abroad, the last thing we would want is our family and friends spending an arm and a leg at our wedding on top of paying for flights, accommodation and spending money just to be there for our day. So we used these weddings to give us a few ideas about how we could help out our guests, first things first, our family and friends can drink - and I mean DRINK – so after a lot of negotiating and budget planning we were able to offer our guests a free bar. Possibly could be a bad decision?
Other alternatives to help your guests is can you provide transport? If your guests can all fly to the same airport on the same date, could you arrange a mini bus or coach to bring them to your destination? Can you negotiation discounts at hotels or restaurants locally to help make your guests stay that little bit cheaper? So our guests know we have been thinking about them during our planning, we had made our guests know that children are welcome and we have hired a bouncy castle and a children’s entertainer slash babysitter to keep the kiddies entertained and will keep an eye on them whilst their parents can enjoy the party. It doesn’t have to be a big financial gesture like paying for all your guests accommodation, but something little or thoughtful to show the guests that you care and thought of them will go a long way!
I really hope some of these tips have helped you in the preparation of planning your big day. If you have any tips that may help then please leave a comment as both my readers and I would certainly appreciate them. Don’t forget to subscribe and follow me to keep up to date with my future wedding posts :-)

*Disclaimer, Images used in this post have been sourced by Pinterest for the purpose of this article. 

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