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I keep meaning to post this little snippet of information and forgetting. As it’s something I wasn’t aware of until I started my small business, you might not know either – and there’s a big saving here for brides and grooms.

Wedding Exhibition

Photo credit: Wedding Link

The UK wedding industry is fragmented, made up of lots of small businesses. There are hundreds of dedicated craftsmen and women in the wedding industry making things like jewellery, stationery and providing services: photography, wedding planning and wedding accessories.

If you’re on the lookout for affordable wedding suppliers, a good tip is to find those who are small enough not to charge VAT.

Wedding exhibition

Photo Credit: Wedding Link

Businesses whose turnover is lower than £70,000 don’t have to charge VAT on their products and services (unless they’ve chosen to register). This is likely to be the case for sole traders, startup businesses and people providing an individual service – your wedding harpist, calligrapher or stationer.

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A very interesting letter landed on my doorstep this week*, and sparked an interesting – and helpful – little project on English Wedding.

In a blindingly spooky coincidence, following on from this week’s post about wedding industry response to the royal wedding, a bride** wrote in about just that very thing.

Cat Muddleton (hmmmm – sounds familiar) said she’d just got engaged and was thinking of a royal wedding theme for her own wedding day. It’s only natural – we’ll all be up to our necks in royal wedding news for the next few months and some of it’s bound to rub off.

Cat said she was on a budget and wanted her wedding to be special and personal to her. Could English Wedding offer any advice?

Funnily enough, yes I think we can! Watch this space to find out more…

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*I dropped it there. Cos I wrote it. But play along…

**That was also me. Setting the scene here.

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I’ve just read an intriguing blog post on Ask Dr. Bride, all about a ‘new’ species of bride called the Hy’bride.

Hy’brides are resourceful, internet-savvy brides who plan their own weddings, putting individuality, creativity and low costs above everything else.

It’s really made me think: the article sees the hy’bride as a threat to the wedding professional, even asking if wedding suppliers are going to become extinct!

Are you a hy’bride?

Hy'bride article on Ask Dr BrideThe hy’bride (I’m assuming a play on words here: hybrid) is a bride who has access to information and inspiration online so much so that she doesn’t need wedding professionals. She’s resourceful and independent, inventive and most importantly very budget conscious. Planners, stationers, wedding florists and specialists are – it would seem – no longer needed, as far as the hy’bride is concerned.

Dr. Bride writes a fascinating article, and I’d recommend you read it – it’s very thought provoking. I quote, “Most hy’brides think that doing things their own way will be less expensive and less of a hassle; but at what cost? When did Peace of mind become a luxury engaged couples think they can’t afford?

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A few key concerns come up again and again when I listen to brides… weddings on a budget, pressure to meet friends & family’s expectations, and the challenge of creating a unique and personal wedding.

All of these worries make sense to me, but I really think it’s possible to bypass them all if you can think creatively about your wedding. Creatively enough so that your friends and family have to throw all their preconceptions out of the window: then they can relax and enjoy your wedding.

How to have an alternative, affordable, family-friendly wedding

Make it different, first. Choose an unusual location, outdoor ceremony, colourful (non-wedding) dress, exotic buffet and unexpected timings for your day.

The less familiar the concept of your day, the easier it will be for guests to forget their preconceptions and enjoy your alternative wedding.

Read the articles on the English Wedding blog entitled Get Grounded. It’s all about starting from scratch: you need two people who want to get married, then you can pick and choose whichever other things you’d like to make your wedding day out of.

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Bunny delicious wedding invitation

fun, funky and fabulous wedding invitation by www.bunnydelicious.com

Believe it or not, while the shops are throwing tinsel and festive 3 for 2s at us and a few of us are looking at white-capped hills on the horizon (I can’t believe it, can you?!) it’s already time for summer 2011 brides and grooms to start thinking about booking wedding stationery.

When to order wedding invitations

When you should order depends where you’re buying your wedding invitations from. If you’re ordering luxury handcrafted wedding invites, November is a good time to get started.

Smaller companies are limited in the number of bookings they take on: this is because they generally concentrate on one order at a time, and because they sometimes have only one or two pairs of hands to work with!

Ordering wedding invitations before Christmas

Some of the popular wedding stationery suppliers get booked up very quickly. I saw on bunny delicious’s facebook page yesterday that Zoe is fully booked for August 2011! (Round of applause for Zoe, please!)

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The lovely Josie from Savoir Weddings sent me this guest blog post for English Wedding, and I’ve saved it for the beginning of the week because I think it’s a great reminder, and really sound advice to carry through the week with you. If you’ve had a busy weekend of wedding planning, or if your to do list is getting you down, this one’s for you.

Wedding venue styling by Savoir Weddings, photographed by Lisa Devlin

Source: Savoir Weddings. Credit: Lisa Devlin (devlinphotos.co.uk)

Wedding planning is notoriously stressful. Even people who haven’t got married before know that. It’s the place where the dreadful ‘bridezilla’ concept emerged from.

Even if you’re lucky enough to have a completely drama free planning process, you will still have to deal with many issues you may not have had to face before. How to divide your wedding budget, what type of dress to go for, how on earth to choose what kind of food to serve.

There are endless choices to face – and you’re well aware your decisions will be loud and proud on your big day – in front of all the people you care about no less. No pressure then.

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The average UK wedding budget has more than doubled in a decade. In 1999 (which doesn’t seem so long ago to me) we’d spend £9,400 on a wedding. Now it’s £23,000 – and yes, it’s ridiculous.

I can understand why: if all your friends are spending £20k and booking a mansion for the day, you don’t want to be the only one struggling to decorate the scout hut to the same standard. But there are more sinister reasons for the increase in wedding budgets, principally the influence of the wedding industry.

So whose fault is it that weddings are so expensive?

I have a list of culprits I’d like to introduce, and – sorry – you’re on it. If you’re reading this blog, it’s probably your fault, as well as mine! Here we go:

1. It’s wedding suppliers’ fault

This sketch from Man Stroke Woman says it all really – and it’s close to the truth!

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Pre-wedding engagement Manchester ARJ Photography 01

Pre-wedding engagement photo credit: ARJ Photography

I’d like to extend a virtual hug to Adam from ARJ Photography this week. He’s helped me out no end as I sit sulking with my broken wrist – first with gorgeous images from Liz and Jon’s pre-wedding photoshoot, and now with a brilliant guest post.

So while my wrist gets better, it’s over to Adam with everything you need to know about pre-wedding or engagement photography sessions. Should you? Yes!!!

Pre-wedding engagement Manchester ARJ Photography 04

Engagement photography credit: ARJ Photography

We don’t like having our photos taken, and we’re not photogenic.

It’s a strange thing to say to someone who you’re about to hand over a chunk of your wedding budget to, specifically so they’ll take photos of you for a whole day – and one of the most important, emotional and eventful days of your life at that.

But this is often one of the first things a couple will tell me when we meet to talk about me working with them for their wedding day.

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Making a wedding ring - celtic designI’m happy to welcome a guest blogger today: Leigh Maher is an expert on high quality jewellery and I asked for his advice on choosing the perfect wedding ring.

The idea of choosing a timelessly beautiful ring that you’ll wear for the rest of your life is a little daunting… but Leigh has some great advice to share.

How to choose the ideal wedding ring

You will wear your wedding ring every day of your life – in a sense, it will become a part of you, and it will always symbolize your love for your partner. Finding the perfect ring is worth a little time and effort!

Many brides-to-be spend a lot of time dreaming of the ultimate engagement ring or wedding band, but, sometimes, they can be unsure about exactly which ring to choose. Often, buying impulsively can lead to regrets.

Many brides and grooms end up “upgrading” years after their ceremonies, because their rings aren’t quite what they wanted them to be. For the smartest brides-to-be (or grooms-to-be!), research and planning are used to ensure that the first wedding ring purchased will be worn and loved forever.