Lucy Tobin is a reporter, self-confessed money-saving nerd, and personal finance editor of the Evening Standard (where she wrote a piece about us recently). She’s also the author of ‘From Yes to I Do’ – a new wedding planning guide for brides-to-be. It’s jam packed with ideas and tips that will help you get the wedding you want, your way, whatever your budget. We’ve read it. It’s brilliant.
We loved the book so much we decided to have a little chat to Lucy about her own wedding, her experiences with planning her big day, and why she decided to write ‘From Yes to I Do’.
When did you get married?
We married in Offley Place, Hitchin, in summer 2012, just after the end of the Olympics. It was an amazing summer!
How did you go about planning your wedding?
My mum and I did most of the planning for the big day – my fiance Howard and I got engaged in Portugal in September 2011, so had just under a year to plan. After making the big decisions – venue, music, catering, dress – it was amazing to have lots of months to think about the little details that make weddings so memorable. I was obsessed with having the ceremony outside, as our venue was a beautiful country house hotel. This meant months of pressing ‘refresh’ on the BBC’s local weather forecast. And every other forecasting site too. The morning of the big day, the first thing I did whilst lying in bed was check out the weather forecast. It still said there was a risk of showers but we gambled and got married outside in beautiful sunshine, and clear blue skies.
What were the most enjoyable and the most stressful things about planning a wedding?
On both accounts, the extra details. For example, I decided to grow individual lavender plants for all of our guests – all 200+ of them. I grew them in recycled tin cans, scavenged from my roads’ recycling bins for months, and they looked beautiful until about February, when it started raining for five months so the tins were covered in rust. Luckily a very helpful chopped tomato company offered to send me 200 more, so I spent a few days before the wedding re-potting 200 plants! I also made a huge scrapbook with pictures of my husband and I growing up (we were together for ten years before getting married), and put in tiny envelopes to make a guest book. These things all took a really long time, but they were worth it on the day.
Looking back is there anything you would do differently?
Worry less about the weather, there’s nothing you can do.
What was your overall experience of the wedding industry?
Some of it was really big headed! I wrote about it here. Equally, many suppliers were almost as excited as me ahead of the big day.
What were the things that surprised/shocked you most?
That suppliers think it’s OK to treat brides like dirty elephants that want to try on dresses, and slap a zero on prices just because you’ve mentioned the ‘w’ word. That’s why I decided to write my book, From Yes to I Do – I took all my experiences and made a guide that’s on the side of brides, showing you can avoid getting ripped off and enjoy all the wedding planning.
Why is it different from other guides?
It’s packed with advice from suppliers – caterers to photographers, venues to videographers – who reveal, sometimes secretly, how to cut wedding bills, what you need and what’s a rip off, and how to have a smooth wedding planning adventure. It’s also chock-full of “I wish I’d known…” experiences from recent brides and grooms, and hopefully the tone is down-to-earth, and maybe even funny!
What are your five top tips planning a wedding?
1. Go off-peak – It could be a midweek wedding or just opting for a morning ceremony and afternoon tea but booking your big day in an ‘off-peak’ slot could help you make big savings on your venue costs.
2. Pick a clever location – A savvy venue choice can save you a fortune – think outside-city location.
3. Consider all-inclusive – Opting for a hotel or restaurant package that offers the reception, wedding breakfast, booze and entertainment all in one often works out cheaper than organising each individually.
4. Ditch the invite – Yes it’s non-traditional, but setting up your own wedding website and emailing out the link means you can be much more imaginative, share more plans with guests and really make a splash.
5. Something borrowed – Think about who you know and how they could get involved – nine times out of ten, they’ll be delighted to help! For example, your venue could be a family friend’s garden, your wedding gown could be that gorgeous vintage dress belonging to your BFF and your uncle’s posh car could pick you up.
If you want to win your very own copy of Lucy’s book ‘From Yes to I Do’, just tweet @PatchworkP telling us about the one wedding gift you would most like to receive. Tag it #onethingwewant and we will pick a winner on Wednesday the 14th of May.