21 Ideas for a frugal (not cheap) wedding on a budget

Getting married but worried about your small(ish) budget? Want to cut costs without looking cheap? Here are Stripe’s tips for planning a wedding on a frugal budget:

21 Tips to plan your wedding on a budget

1. Keep your guest list small – intimate is better!

2. Use the expertise of the people close to you – it can be their wedding gift to you

3. Consider a ceremony at your own, your parents or another close friend/family’s house, or have it outdoors

4. Be smart with the food

5. Be creative with your flowers and decor

6. Have a small bridal party, and skip their gifts

7. Go digital

8. Dance from a playlist

9. Skip the cash bar

10. Where possible, hire trainees instead of professionals

11. Contact the local university

12. Buy pre-loved

13. Tap into your local community

14. Buy dresses off the rack – and on sale.

15. Rent tuxedos as a group, or simply wear matching suits.

16. Choose affordable wedding rings.

17. Plan a simple honeymoon, not an ostentatious one.

18. Involve your closest friends and family in the preparations.

19. Try not to mention the ‘w-word’ at first when hiring a vendor.

20. Plan, plan, plan.

21. Don’t stress.

Good luck (and congratulations)!

How to plan a zero waste kitchen tea

Someone close to you is getting married, and you have the honour of planning the bridal shower. Yeah! Or is it? You really want it to be special, but cringe at the idea of having to chuck bags and bags full of waste at the end of the day, never mind the single-use plastic utensils and décor that usually take centre stage at such events. We also cringe at the idea, so let us help you with a few suggestions so that you can attempt to host a zero waste bridal shower.

Here we go!

1. Go digital

If the crowd will allow, consider sending out digital invitations, as well as making use of digital channels to send out reminders, the gift registry and any other arrangements. There are numerous apps and programs that you can use for this if you are not deft enough to design and distribute by yourself. Look at evite.com, sendo and paperlesspost.com for digital solutions.

2. Recycled paper, or growing paper

If you have to use paper, use recycled or a product like Growing Paper – their paper is handmade and contain seeds so you plant the paper afterwards. At least it is not ending up on the landfill. For recycled paper, have a look at Papersmith. They have an extensive range of earth-friendly paper, including rock paper!

3. Have a mindful registry

Encourage the couple to list only items that they need, or really want. And even then, find the most earth-friendly option. Where possible, and if acceptable to the couple, you can suggest gentle pre-loved items, or even ask for digital gift cards, money, or even experiences to be gifted instead of things the couple will never use, end up having doubles (or more) or throw away. For more zero waste gift ideas, read my post on eco-friendly gifting here and zero waste kitchen ideas here. Also, zero waste easy swaps for incase you would like to gift some of these essentials.

4. Ask for unwrapped gifts, or give alternative solutions

If there are physical items on the registry, and if you know there will be guests who will insist on giving the bride something, ask them to rather not wrap the gifts. If that feels too impersonal, you can suggest alternatives, such as the Japanese art of cloth wrapping called Furoshiki – guests can wrap gifts in kitchen towels, blankets, handkerchiefs, serviettes or other pieces of material. Guests can also use containers such as baskets (just skip the cellophane), cast-iron pots etc.

DSC_0758.JPG

5. Skip re-usable, use the real deal or if not possible, go for compostable

For the cutlery, crockery, serving ware and glassware, as far as possible stick to actual plates, knives, glasses, etc. If you do not have enough, you can ask a few select guests to bring some with or even hire in. if none of these is an option, and you have to make use of disposables, then at least by disposables that are compostable. They are not that more expensive, and you get an amazing variety. Green Home started this particular movement in South Africa, go check them out.

6. Think about the décor, and use what you already have

You do not need tons of décor. Use what you have, and be smart about it. For the most part, you will need a table cloth or runner (depending on the type of table. For beautiful wooden tables nothing is necessary), a centrepiece and maybe something to complete each place setting. If you are using actual plates and cutlery and glasses, you are already 20 steps closer to making the event look stylish, chic and expensive, without any décor! Keep all your glass bottles and use them as vases, cut and paint the cardboard inner found in toilet rolls to make centrepieces or napkin rings, use framed photographs as part of the theme, basically, anything can work if you do it with flair, stick with a theme and have a bit of fun.

7. Go back to nature

If possible, have the event outdoors. Although not necessarily a cost-saving option, it does help to elevate the mood. People feel happier when outside. You can consider a picnic or a high tea under the trees. There can be a cost-saving element if you consider you do not have to have lighting, aircon or fans, and that if you have a picnic there is also no extra costs for tables and chairs. If you can’t have it outside, then bring outside in by including a lot of plants, natural light and a cool breeze.

8. Stick with a theme

Pick a theme, and then start asking around if people maybe have things that will fit into the theme, that you can borrow for the event. Great themes to consider include Gatsby (think feathers and pearls), breakfast at Tiffany’s (lots of baby blue and more feathers and pearls), Alice in Wonderland (miss-match teacups, funny signs, and bright colours), and rustic (tin cans, veld flowers, burlap and succulents).

9. Plant-based eats and treats

Although the jury is still out whether veganism or even vegetarianism is actually better for the planet or not, you can still do your part to decrease the consumption of meat. For the bridal shower, serve plant-based, or at least vegetarian eats and treats. Think quiche, gourmet salads, pasta bakes, or even sandwiches. For a more out-there shower, you can even do pizzas! Be creative and have fun when designing the menu.

10. Cloth is the answer

Do not even consider paper serviettes or those horrible vinyl/plastic table cloths. Not only do they look tacky, but they are also super wasteful. Use cloth table cloths, serviettes and runners. If you do not have your own, and you cannot borrow from someone you know, then hire them in. It costs a fraction of the cost (unless you can make it yourself) and you are helping to extend the useful life of these items.

11. The flower question

The environmentally-friendly option would be to choose bulbs, succulents or other clippings that will grow again if you place them in water or plant them. The next best thing would be to use branches and soft twigs to braid wreaths and other décor pieces such as napkin rings or even placemats. If you really want to have flowers, then gift them afterwards. Either the guests can take them home, or drop them off at your local nursing home, hospital or other institution where some happiness and sunshine will be much appreciated.

12. Drinks

For wines and sparkling wines, choose organic earth-friendly brands. In South Africa, we are blessed with a large selection of wonderful wines, made intentionally and ethically. For any other drinks, steer clear of anything in plastic – glass is best. And skip the straws! Even paper ones are wasteful.

Although none of these tips is ground-breaking, most people will not even consider that there might be an alternative to their habitual bad practices. Just remember, for some of the guests it might sound foreign – they either have no knowledge about how damaging their consumption patterns are or in some sad cases, they simply do not care. So approach the whole situation delicately and gently. Explain where necessary, but for the most part, do not make a scene. Give the arrangements through as if it is the most natural thing in the world, and hopefully, the guests will fall in line.

If you have any other ideas, tips or solutions, please share!

Winter wedding trends 2019

The winter is upon us, and with the change of season, we always note a decline in weddings. Although we know it is because of the cold, we cannot help but wonder why more brides are not interested in a winter wedding. Even in South Africa, with our lack of snow, you can still create a magical wonderland. And in Stripe’s opinion, nothing is sexier than a form-fitting long sleeve dress with a faux-fur wrap or long cape. To prove her point, she has created a Pinterest board to give you some inspiration, visit the board here

For the colour palette, she would recommend you focus on warm colours – think berries, gems, and forest colours. Deep green, cherry red, sunshine yellow, and so forth. Focus on lots of candles in the venue, and serve soups with freshly baked loaves of bread.

For more inspiration, visit her Pinterest board for Winter wedding trends 2019 here

Winter weddings can be beautiful, romantic and memorable. So if you want to get married in the winter, go for it!

Wedding day emergency kit: Do not be caught without the following 15 things!

Wedding day emergency kit by Laughing Chefs caterers

Wedding day emergency kit: to make sure you can handle anything that is thrown at you

Although never planned, and hopefully not anticipated, anything can happen. For that reason, make sure you have a fully stocked wedding day emergency kit ready to go. In it should be all the needed tools to fix everything from smudged mascara to the apocalypse breaking out mid-ceremony. Here is our list of essentials you should rather not be caught without on your big day

The Wedding Day Emergency Kit:

  1. Needle and thread, or a small sewing kit
  2. Clear glue (super glue)
  3. Water
  4. Something salty to snack on
  5. Hair pins, hair ties, small comb or brush and hairspray
  6. Lipstick and gloss, plus extra makeup to fix smudges, chapstick
  7. Tissues
  8. Pain pills and something for heartburn or indigestion, allergy meds
  9. Perfume and deodorant
  10. Floss and mints
  11. Cash
  12. Feminine hygiene product of choice
  13. Nail file
  14. Lotion
  15. Sunscreen

Are there any supplies we missed that you wouldn’t be caught without on your wedding day? Share them with us in the comments below!

Wedding planning timeline: Your plan to get everything done on time! [free printable!]

Congratulations on your engagement! The days and weeks and months before your wedding is one of the most special times. The process should be exciting and shared between yourself and your partner since it ultimately ends in your happily ever after. Planning your wedding can be a daunting task, which is why most brides and industry experts would recommend you hire a wedding planner. But, should you wish not to, it is not impossible to plan your own successful wedding. Just use our handy list to keep track of all the different things you need to get done, and also by when.

We know the most beautiful wedding day is the one that speaks of the couple. So even though this is our example, we encourage you to move things around, leave things out or add things to the timeline. In the end, it is your day.

If you are more enthusiastic so planning your wedding in less than 12months, just move up the timeline. So instead of working in months, you work in weeks, or however long you have to plan. Just remember to get the big ticket and most important items (venue, dress, food, officiant and invitations) done first. It is possible to plan a fairy tale wedding (even within a small budget) in as little time as 2 weeks! You just need to be organized.

So to help, here is our suggested timeline for engagements of 12months or longer:

12 months before

  1. Set your budget

You need to know how much you need, how much you have, and then keep track of how much you spend. For more info on this, read our previous post here or see our video on budgeting here.

  1. Create a wedding website

There are various free sites that offer this service. You can even open a Wix account. Although not necessary, it is a nice to have, especially if you set it up in such a way that guests can RSVP on it, access your wedding registry, get all of the info regarding the accommodation, date, directions, transport arrangements, etc. in one place. Guests can even post photos, making it easier for you to get all of their snaps afterwards.

  1. Draw up your guest list

Determining how many people you would like to invite is crucial. Only after working out the estimate numbers, and seeing if it will fit in with your budget, can you start looking for a venue. For more info on drawing up your guest list, read our post here or see our video here.

  1. Start your wedding file

It is handy to have all of your gathered info in one place. If you attend trade-shows or go for viewings, you can place all of that information in your file. Keep your notes there, and also keep track of your progress.

  1. Create a mood board for the look and feel

Pinterest is going to become your best friend! Create a secret board where you can pin all of the ideas and colours and themes that you love. Should you wish to hire a wedding planner or consultant, you can add them to that board so that they can get a very accurate idea of the type of wedding you would like, and the type of bride that you want to be.

  1. Hire a wedding planner or consultant

Not a must-have, but definitely a nice-to-have. It will make your life easier, and although pricey in the beginning, the negotiation, experience and calm that planners normally bring are invaluable.

  1. Book your venue

Get to booking your venue as soon as possible. Especially the trendy and popular venues book up fast, with some already running a waiting list for 2 years down the line. A useful tip: book the venue before you pick your date. For more info on booking your perfect venue, read our post here or watch the video here.

  1. Set the theme, as well as the look and feel of the wedding

Decide how formal or informal it is going to be, your dominant colours, etc. Based on the theme, you will design your wedding stationery, décor, etc.

  1. Set the date

Once your venue has been confirmed you are ready to set the date (obviously the date that the venue is available J)

  1. Order your save the dates and invitations

Based on the theme and colour choices, you will now design your save the dates and invitations. Once happy, order them to ensure they have arrived before it is time to send them out.

  1. Start dress shopping

Decide if you would like to have a dress custom-made, would like to rent, or buy. And if you want to buy, will it be pre-loved or new? Know your budget, styles that work on your body shape, colour preferences and finishing touches. Then start making appointments to have fittings. Be open-minded, sometimes a dress that we would have never considered ends up being THE ONE.

  1. Start your special beauty regime

Looking good on your big day takes time, so start early. If you would like to lose weight before your wedding day, now is a good time to start changing your lifestyle to a healthier one. Incorporate exercise, drink more water, up the ante on your face cream, etc.

8 – 10 months before

  1. Ask your bridal party

If you are going to have a maid-of-honour, bride’s maids and flower girls, or any variation thereof, you need to ask these special people if they will do you the honour. Just a tip – you and your partner should have the same number of people in your bridal parties.

  1. Send out save the dates

This is especially important if you decide to get married on a date that falls on a long weekend, a public holiday, in the school holidays or around another big date or event. Also, if close family or friends live overseas, travel for work or have very small kids, they will need enough time to make arrangements to be there. It is important to note on the save the date whether or not guests are allowed a plus-one, and whether kids are invited or not.

  1. Hire band or DJ

Read reviews before hiring any entertainment. Meet with the service provider to ensure you get along, and that they understand your vision for the day. Music can make or break a party, even more so for a wedding. It sets the ambience and the mood, so choose wisely!

  1. Finalise the look and feel and theme

Think seriously about the aspects surrounding the look and feel – the décor, flowers, colour, table linen, favours, etc. and finalise your choices. Make sure all of these individual elements work together to form a beautiful whole.

  1. Decide on bridesmaids’ dresses

The theme, formality and season of your wedding will affect this. There are more choices than I can name, but the two biggest decisions would be do you want your entire bridal party in the same dress or each in a different (even just slightly) dress, and what colour will the dresses be.

  1. Sign up for a gift registry

Register a gift registry with your favourite home-ware shop, or do something entirely different like giving a list of charity organisations that guests can donate to instead of giving you a wedding present. If you rather want money, remember to mention it on the invitation, but give guests an idea of what you will be doing with the money, e.g. it will go towards your holiday fund, etc.

  1. Host an engagement party

Plan and host an engagement party to celebrate your engagement with your closest friends and family. Oh and show off your ring!

  1. Book a photographer

A big ticket item, having the right photographer is one of our crucial must-haves for a successful wedding. Your photos are all that you will have left, so make sure they are of good quality, and that the photographer captures all of the memories and moments you want and need.

  1. Book your caterer

If the venue has their own caterer, meet them now and start discussing your wedding menu. If the venue does not have a caterer or allows outside catering, then you need to find a caterer now. When comparing quotes, just remember to compare apples with apples in order to book the best caterer at the price you can afford.

  1. Order your wedding cake

This is one of the fun things! Identify a baker and book a cake tasting. Once decided, give them the inspiration for your cake design and order the cake when you are happy with the design. Tip: serve the cake as the dessert to cut menu costs as well as waste.

  1. Get an officiant

Book the person who will legally marry you. If you have a close friend or family member whom you would love to guide the ceremony, but they cannot legally marry you, then make a booking to either get married the previous day in court or by a registered officiant before the time. The family member or friend can then go through the ceremony as if they are marrying you, without any legal implications.

  1. Begin shopping for shoes, accessories and lingerie

You will need to have the shoes that you will wear with you when you go for your final dress fitting, so get going in shopping for them as well as any accessories and lingerie that you will need.

4 – 7 months

  1. Arrange accommodation for yourself on the night of the wedding (if not included in your venue) and for out of town guests

If you are not paying for all of the accommodation, make sure your guests have the relevant info to book and pay for themselves. Same with any transport arrangements – make sure your guests have the right information.

  1. Begin preparation for honeymoon

Most of the time the bride will have no idea where they are going for their honeymoon. Even so, now is the time to put some pressure on your partner to book the honeymoon, especially if you are planning on taking it in the busy season.

  1. Decide on and book a florist. Confirm flower selection

Take your Pinterest board to your short list of florists, get quotes and pick one. Finalise your flower choices, arrangement designs and any other flowers that you will need on the day.

  1. Shop for wedding bands

Decide beforehand how much you are spending, the material of the bands, whether they will be engraved, etc.

  1. Visit physician

Ensure you are in tip-top shape. If you are not planning on starting with a family directly after your wedding, put everything in place for birth control. If you are going to a country or place that required certain shots or vaccinations, get them now to ensure they are out of your system by the time of the wedding.

3 months

  1. Send out your invitations

Send out your invitations! Make sure you have a clear RSVP date, and also give guests the needed info regarding your gift registry, accommodation and transport arrangements, etc. If they can choose their own main course, or you would like them to contribute song choices, mention that on the invitations as well.

  1. Select the groom’s wedding attire

Sort out what your partner will wear, as well as the groomsmen. Doing it now ensures there is enough time for fitting and altering.

  1. Shop for bridal party gifts

If you decide you want to give each of your bridal party members something special, then start shopping for it now.

  1. Begin counselling sessions with the officiant

If you are attending pre-marital counselling, start with the sessions now.

  1. Go for the menu tasting and decide on your final menu selections

Make sure you are 100% happy with the menu, the offering, the tastes, the portion sizes, etc. Communicate clearly with your caterer regarding all of your requirements.

  1. Confirm your order of all rental furniture/décor

  2. Book your mock table with the venue and florist

  3. Confirm your wedding day transport

Book the wedding car, as well as any other transport that will be necessary to get you, your bridal party and your close family to the ceremony and the reception.

2 months

  1. Write your vows

Make it heartfelt, sincere and loving. Learn it by heart, but have cards with you on the day just in case the emotion gets you down.

  1. Confirm order with the florist

Confirm everything with your florist and ensure all of it is in writing. Confirm what time they will deliver on the day, as well as if there are any hired goods that you will have to return afterwards.

  1. Confirm order of stationery

Menus, name cards, church programs, anything that you had designed and now need printing for. Make sure it is done in the right colour, on the right cardstock, etc.

1 month

  1. Apply for marriage license

Usually, your officiant will help you with this, but you need to confirm that he/she will. Otherwise, follow the guidelines on the department’s website.

  1. Have the final gown fitting. Remember to take your wedding shoes with!

  2. Have your hair & makeup trails

Take a few photos after the trails to make sure your face is not shiny, your hair looks good from all angles, etc.

  1. Collate the final RSVP list

If you are still waiting for a few RSVPs, follow up and get their final answers.

  1. Prepare shot list for your photographer and videographer

  2. Deliver a list of songs to your DJ or band

  3. Draw up a seating plan

  4. Contact all of your wedding suppliers and confirm the schedule for the day

2 weeks

  1. Pick up the marriage license

  2. Obtain any legal information, approvals or licenses

  3. Check parking arrangements

  4. Rehearsal dinner

If you are having one, this is when you practice the processional.

  1. Confirm your final guest numbers with the venue and caterer

  2. Book in for Bride and Groom relaxing spa treatments

  3. Cut and die hair if needed

  4. Kitchen tea

The get-together where the guests give the bride things she will need to set up her home. Usually kitchen appliances or utensils, but can also be towels, linen, or even gardening equipment. The attending ladies can also partake in the tradition of giving her recipes so that she can start her own family recipe book.

  1. Bachelors and bachelorettes

The get-togethers for the young guests, planned by the bridal parties. Usually held separate, it can be anything from playing paintball to sipping cocktails, cake decorating or watching rugby.

  1. Get your spray tan done – if you are planning on getting it done

1 week

  1. Confirm honeymoon bookings and plans

  2. Confirm accommodation arrangements

  3. Pack for honeymoon

  4. Confirm wedding day attire

  5. Gather all necessary documents for travel

  6. Pick up formalwear

  7. Have one final phone call with each of your suppliers

  8. Have your dress steamed

  9. Pre-wedding relaxing pampering

1 day

  1. Go through the list of things to do and make sure all bases are covered

If you are entrusting a friend or family member to assist with the coordination on the day, you should have a “training” meeting with them now. Give them all of the info, the timelines, etc.

  1. Pack wedding day emergency kit

In short, a small kit that contains essentials that you might need if an emergency happens on your wedding day. This kit usually contains things like lipstick, hairpins, pain pills, water, mints, etc. For a complete list of what should be in your emergency kit, look out for next week’s post!

  1. Get manicure and pedicure

  2. Take a steamy and relaxing bath

  3. Put wedding attire and accessories together

  4. Give rings to best man

  5. Try to get a good night’s sleep

On the day

  1. Have a good breakfast, and make sure you eat something while getting ready. Avoid carb-rich foods, sugars, and caffeine

  2. Get hair and makeup done

  3. Have someone check reception site, or check it yourself if time and rules permit

  4. Get dressed for the wedding

  5. Have candid photos taken with family

We hope that you can use this list of things to do to give you a clear plan of action. We wish you and your partner a beautiful, calm and magical wedding which will be the perfect starting point of your life together.

Want the planner? Then get it here

How to get the most out of your wedding budget (and yes you do need a budget!)

Stripes has noted that planning a wedding can be stressful. Not only are you attempting to combine the taste and preferences of two individuals and their families, but you need to do it within a budget. Or for us mere mortals that seems to be the case. She notes that the pressure is increased as weddings have become more personalised and extravagant due to the rise of the Pinterest bride, budgets have seemingly shrunk in direct correlation. Brides of today want a fairytale showcase of a wedding but have barely enough money to cover a simple elopement. So what are you to do?

The budget. The b-word that nightmares are made off. Every bride dreads the talk, but it is more important than you think. Without a budget rampant spending will be on the order of the day, and with that debt and despair. You don’t want that as the start of your happy life together, so allow us to help. Stripes is convinced we have all the answers!

Naturally, you would want to get started with the more fun aspects of planning a wedding, such as venue hunting, choosing your dress or deciding on a theme, colour scheme and feel. Often, Brides get ahead of themselves, focusing on these aspects before figuring out what the facts and figures are. If you do not have a clear idea of what you have to spend, you are going to run into trouble later on. If you work out your budget first you are giving yourself the freedom to dream and choose, knowing that you can actually afford it. To work out that budget is actually much easier than you would think.

Why it is important to have a budget from the start:
• It gives you a solid starting point, giving you direction and a framework to work within
• It gives you a realistic idea to bring your expectations and the amount of detail that you can afford in line
• It will help you sift through quotes to create a short list of suppliers and to choose your final supplier
• It will make suppliers’ life easier as they will be able to suggest options they know will be affordable

So how do you work out your budget?

Of course, it would be nice to think about the things you would like to have and then attach a value to them, and that total is your budget. Unfortunately, in the real world it works the other way around (or should work the other way around). Here, you determine how much money your parents, your partner’s parents (if the parents can help at all) and you yourselves have to spend on a wedding. That total is what you have to budget with, and all of the services and items needed for the wedding needs to come out of that pool of money. This can be a very awkward conversation to have, but it is necessary and vitally important. If you don’t have the money now, is there any way that you can save money? Then you need to work out a timeline so that you know at which dates you are looking at.

After you have the round number that you can spend on your wedding, you need to consider a few things that have an impact on the prices and value of different services and products:

1. The season and time of year
Winter weddings are more affordable than summer weddings, weekday weddings more than weekend weddings, and Fridays more than Saturdays. There is also a marked difference in costs between a March and an October wedding, even though both technically fall in summer. If you have a tight budget, consider getting married on a Friday in May, or a Sunday in September, or a combination of a “cheaper” season with a “cheaper” day and a “cheaper” time of year. Before you even start to look at venues, know how adaptable you are willing to be, and have a few dates that you can give to get a comparative quote for the different dates.

2. Location
If we look at South Africa, getting married in the Western Cape is a lot more expensive than getting married in Gauteng. Having your nuptials in the Drakensberg will be more expensive than having it in a barn in the Freestate. Also take into consideration that you will have to pay suppliers to come out to remote locations, not even to mention the extra things you might have to hire in. And lastly, your guests – will your wedding cost them an arm and a leg in transport and accommodation?

3. Guests
Speaking of guests, the size of your dream wedding will have a direct impact on your budget. So if you have a small budget, to begin with, then plan to have a more intimate wedding. But a word of caution: just because you might have enough money in your budget to have a 300-guest wedding doesn’t mean you have to. Invite who you want to share the day with, your budget is a guideline, not a target.

Of course, you can only spend what you have (if you are being practical and smart about this), but determining how much you need is sometimes more difficult than finding options that fit in with the final budget. As a guideline, experts recommend the following percentages:
• Venue 10-15%
• Catering 20%
• Photographer 10-15%
• Flowers, décor and lighting 10-15%
• Bar 5%
• Stationery 2.5%
• Bridal couple and bridal party (clothes, presents, hair and makeup, accessories, etc.) 10-20%
• Entertainment or music 5%
• Wedding cake 2.5%
• 10-20% buffer for those last-minute forgotten details

The average wedding in South Africa costs about R80 000, so if we take that as our budget, the division would be as follows:


For all of those extra “luxuries”, you will have to work it into your budget either by spending less on certain categories or by increasing your budget in total. If you want a nicer venue, then you need a bigger budget. There is no sense in taking money away from another category unless you are 100% certain it won’t make a difference. If you really cannot increase your budget, then you need to work smart so that you need less money to attain the look and feel you want.

A few tips to make your budget stretch further:

1. Date and time
As mentioned before, opt for a winter or weekday wedding, or as another cost-saving option, have a morning wedding instead of an afternoon wedding.

2. Cut costs on your dress.
Look into renting instead of buying, or buying pre-loved. You could even consider buying an evening or ball gown instead of a traditional wedding dress.


3. Be smart when planning the menu.
Never skimp on the catering. Pay as much as you can afford to ensure your guests get good food – that is one of the 3 cornerstones that a successful wedding is built on (food, venue and photographer). If you have to cut costs, go for the buffet instead of plated, have a bread table instead of canapes, serve only 1 meat for the mains and leave out dessert if you have a wedding cake. But make sure that everything you do serve is out of this world, tasting great and looking perfect.

4. Choose your venue wisely.
Opt for a venue that includes as much as possible, from the furniture to décor, lightning, etc. Another great tip – choose a venue that allows you to bring in your own suppliers. Then you also have the option of doing a few things yourself or asking family and friends to help. If you really want an outdoor wedding, think of settling for either just the ceremony outside and the reception inside, or for a venue that has a roofed area as a plan B. If you have to all of a sudden hire in a marque you are looking at a major budget-killer, since you also have to think about flooring, lighting, and maybe even heating. For more tips on choosing your venue, read our post here.


5. Bar
Do not have an open bar. If you want to give the guests something more than just a glass of sparkling wine for the toasts, buy wine for on a wine table and have water or juice put on the tables. By having a wine table instead of placing individual bottles of wines on the tables themselves you guard against all those half-drunk bottles of wine that you end up throwing away. If you are bringing in your own sparkling wine, ask the venue to pour the toast at the bar and then bring the glasses out to the guests. This makes the bottles stretch that much further.

6. Guests
Invite only adults, except in the case of close family. Invite only those people whom you really really really want there. For more tips on your guest list, see our post here

7. Favours and those small details that nobody except you notices
Skip wedding favours, they cost money and very few guests actually take them home. The venue sweeps up branded keychains the next day. Keep your décor simple and elegant, all those small details you want to add just eats up your budget, and nobody really notices.


8. Get as many quotes as you possibly can
Get quotes from many different suppliers to compare, just remember to compare apples with apples. If for instance one caterer is a lot more expensive than another but as part of their price they include staff, the hiring of the crockery and cutlery, as well as delivery and setup they might not be that expensive after taking all the individual services into account. When looking at the prices and different suppliers, try to identify when are you paying for quality, and when are you paying for a name. For smaller budgets, I would recommend paying for quality and skipping the name.

9. Flowers
Choose local and seasonal blooms, and if possible opt for more greenery than actual flowers. The hottest new trend is foliage, so tap into that to make your flower budget go that much further.


10. Cake
If you are very concerned about your budget, there are a few options that you can consider, such as omitting the cake and serving dessert instead (usually already included in your wedding menu), having only a small dummy cake for the cake cutting ceremony and then giving the guests sheet cake cut into squares, having a cupcake cake that can also serve as the favours, or going for a non-traditional cake. If you choose a non-traditional cake, you can be as creative as you choose. Go for a cheese tower cake and serve it as part of your starter, or a brownie pile cake as part of dessert. We have done a wedding were the “cake” was made out of savoury pies, and that served as the starter. Another one where the cake was made out of rice crispy treat squares.


11. Hire a wedding planner
Although the upfront fee might seem steep, in the end, it is really worth it. Wedding planners know where to start looking for affordable options, they can negotiate better prices or add-ons. Make use of their connections and expertise.

Mistakes to avoid:

1. Forgetting to keep track of your spending
You need to record EVERY SINGLE THING that you spend money on. That means every single amount, no matter how small. Especially the small amounts – they quickly add up! Devise an easy to use system to keep track. Also, keep track of payment dates as late payments can be penalized.

2. Not asking enough questions
You need to make 100% sure that you are aware of all of the fees and charges, especially those that are hidden under the “if this then that” category of the quote, e.g. if it rains and we need to move the ceremony or reception, there is a surcharge; if you invite children then you need to pay for a babysitter; if you stay after 00h00 (even just to pack up) there are overtime charges for the staff as well as the venue. Ask about service fees, extra charges and other things you might be billed for. Trails are very seldom free, and all of those meetings you demand? They can also be charged.

3. Forgetting the small things
Underwear that works with your dress, special hairspray, straws for the welcome drinks, ribbon for the serviette rings, all of these seemingly small things can, in the end, break the bank. Remember that in some cases, tips and gratuities are expected, and must be budgeted for. Make sure that such expenses are part of one of your categories, and that you do not spend more than the allotted amount.

4. Not deciding what is most important to you
Identify three things that are non-negotiable to you. Maybe you love flowers, music and great food. Then you know those are the 3 things you do not want to skimp on. Also, identify the three things you are not at all bothered with, e.g. cake, invitations and draping. Those are the things that you can decrease the allocated budgets for, rather moving that “extra” money to your top 3 things.


By following these tips and avoiding the last few mistakes it is possible to stick to your budget, no matter how small, and still have the wedding of your dreams. If you have a very small budget, then read the post here for ideas on what to leave out to make your budget go that much further. And if you are really worried, get a professional to help.

How to create your guest list for your dream wedding: 10 must-have tips

How to create your guest list for your dream wedding: 10 must-have tips

The guest list. Many a happy couple have had their first, and biggest, wedding-related fight as a result of the dreaded guest list. Stripes has seen it all before, and she can guess it is not going to stop any time soon. Never in your life did you think that aunt Ellie whom you have not seen for 10 years will all of a sudden be the most popular family member, or that all of a sudden your uncle is persona non grata after pointing out that certain double standards are always set when it comes to who to invite, and who not to. And you kind of agree with him.

As couples’ budgets grow smaller, so have the wedding guest list also followed suit. In days gone past it was not unusual to have a wedding with 300 to 500 guests (I cannot imagine…) Everyone was invited, and everyone came. These days a big wedding is considered 100 to 150 guests, with smaller more intimate weddings being the flavour of the decade.

Stripes would strongly recommend that you work out your guest list before starting to search for a wedding venue. Can you imagine finding the venue of your dreams only to realise they can only accommodate 40 guests and you are inviting 120, or their minimum guest count is 100 and you only have 40 guests on the list? So first the list, then the venue. Remember you also need to keep in mind your budget, and the type of wedding you and your partner wants. Are you dreaming about a low key, intimate affair or more of a lavish party?
And she says there are a few other helpful tips that she will gladly give you!

So which groups are you considering when deciding whom to invite?
• Immediate family
Start with your parents, grandparents, siblings, their partners and their children. Then move down a step to add your aunts, uncles and cousins that you see regularly.
• Distant family
Family members that you keep in touch with, and would like to share the day with. But, if a friend trumps that family member, rather go with the friend.
• Friends
Start with your closest friends and then think about friends you speak to regularly, friends from your school years, university or college, neighbours that you are friends with or friends that you feel could be a great addition to your wedding guest list, i.e. that one friend who can get anyone on the dance floor, or who makes the best speeches.
• Work colleagues
Depending on how long you have worked for the company, how long you are still planning on working for them, as well as the relationship between yourself and them. You may want to invite your boss and a colleague or two, but that wholly depends on the situation and context.
• Plus ones
In certain cases adding plus ones can almost double your initial guest count. Practice how to be ruthless. You can even try the American phrase “no ring? No bring!” to imply that only friends who are engaged or married are allowed plus ones.
• Family friends/friends of the parents
This should be a very open and honest discussion between your partner and yourself and your sets of parents. Be upfront about what you can afford, as well as your vision for the day, and hope that they will understand.
• Children
Sometimes you have no option but to invite them. This should be one of the first things you and your partner decide on as it can dramatically change the planning and dynamics of the day. If you do choose to not invite kids, just remember there is a chance that some guests will not be able to make it because they do not have a babysitter.

Here are Stripes top tips for creating a wedding guest list:
Tip #1:
Don’t verbally invite guests. It often happens that you forget whether the specific person was on the A or B list, or actually invited at all. But now you have invited them, wrongly. This may cause disappointment, embarrassment or even resentment. Also, careful how you talk during this time. Saying things like “you will see at the wedding” might sound very innocent to you, but to an interested person that might sound like a confirmation that they will in actual fact be invited. On the other hand, guests might also try to invite themselves by saying this like “I cannot wait to be at the wedding”. For these situations, work out a firm yet friendly reply to make sure they understand that they are not invited. Something like “we would have loved to have a big wedding, but unfortunately budget and venue constraints are not allowing it”.

Tip #2:
Try and keep the division of guest numbers between the two families fair and equal. Or you can try the traditional split of 50% for the couple, and 25% for each set of parents. So for an 80 guest venue you get to invite 40, and each set of parents 20 each.

Tip #3:
Don’t forget to include children in your guest list numbers, if you are inviting them. Although some venues give discounts or special prices for kids younger than certain ages, you will only know that once you have chosen a venue so until then they are part of the numbers. If you choose to not invite kids, make sure your guests are made aware of this on the invitations.

Tip #4:
The wedding couple counts as guests too, so must be included in the guest count.

Tip #5:
When you have your short list of possible venues, remember to check for minimum numbers for specific venue and packages. This can have a major impact on your final budget.

Tip #6:
Your service providers must also be catered for, so they are also included in your guest list. That means your DJ, photographer, videographer, entertainment, etc. must all have a seat, and you pay for them as guests.

Tip #7:
Make sure that there is absolute clarity regarding who pays for what, and if the fact that they are contributing financially gives them say over the guest list. If this is going to be a problem you would rather want to know about it and sort it out in the beginning than later on when you have already paid deposits or made other arrangements.

Tip #8:
Create your dream list, with everyone you would really want to invite on it. Add everyone your partner would want to invite, as well as the parents. Doesn’t matter if this list is super long, you will use it as a reference later on. From here, start to trim your guest list down to the desired number. This dream list helps with 2 things: 1. If you have cancellations and need to fill seats, you have a quick reference list to help determine your B list and 2. If you, later on, feel like you want to invite someone, check if they were on the dream list, to begin with. If not, then why would you want to add them now? Reality check! Don’t know where to start to cut the dream list? Devise some rules and use them to determine the final guest list. A few examples of rules you can use:
• Rule 1: If neither of you has spoken to or met them or heard their name before, don’t invite them.
• Rule 2: Not crazy about inviting children to your party? Don’t feel bad about having an adults-only wedding.
• Rule 3: If neither of you has spoken to them in three years and they’re not related to you, don’t invite them.
• Rule 4: If there’s anyone who’s on the list because you feel guilty about leaving them off (maybe because you were invited to their wedding or they’re friends with lots of people who are invited), don’t invite them.

Tip #9:
And on that note – have an A and a B list. The A list is those people you cannot imagine not sharing your wedding with. They receive the first round of invitations. As the RSVPs come in if you have “regrets” you can invite people from the B list to full up space. A very handy tip here – send out your A list invites 10 weeks in advance as opposed to the usual 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. That gives you enough time to still send out the B list invites at a respectable date, so those guests will never know that they were “second best”.

Tip #10:
Remember your budget! The easiest way to decide on the number of guests to invite is to work out how much you can afford to invite. The more people you invite, the more expensive it becomes. To work out your budget available for the guests, your venue should take up roughly 10% of your total budget, and the catering roughly 25%. But remember, other factors will also increase in price if the guest list goes up; things like hiring, décor, flowers, serving staff, etc.

Who should you not invite?
1. Friends you have not spoken to in years
You might have been besties in primary school, but since then have not had any meaningful contact. Don’t invite them.

2. Estranged or MIA family members
If you have no bond, then do not feel bad not inviting them.

3. Work friends
Unless they are true heart friends, don’t feel obliged.

4. Returning-the-favour wedding invites
Just because they invited you doesn’t mean you have to invite them. Full stop.

5. Neighbours
Again, if they aren’t heart friends, don’t invite them.

6. Friends who always misbehave
That one friend who is banned from a long list of places, who always end up passed out somewhere or leaves without paying their bill. Don’t invite them. If you have to invite them, then have a serious talk with them before the big day.

7. The offspring of family and friends
Unless they are a part of your life, then don’t feel pressured to invite them.

8. Plus-ones you have never met
Remember – no ring, no bring?

Stripes says you must just remember that it is your big day and that you should have the last say. Only invite people who will share your joy and love. If they will not, then don’t allow them to be there. She also says good luck…

Secrets, tips and must-haves to make your next picnic the most magical one yet

Is there anything more romantic than a picnic? I will venture a guess – not really. Stripes agrees, she has seen the number of picnics booked in the name of love and romance.

I don’t know what it is, but the whole idea of taking a basket full of delicious things to eat, out into the great outdoors, where you battle the elements in order to eat in relative peace, seems to rank somewhere at the top of the “most romantic things to do” list. I myself am a lover of picnics, not because of the food or the idea, but because when you do attempt a picnic with your loved one the settings and surroundings automatically force you to connect. There is nothing else to do except eat and talk. You can lie on your back and watch the clouds, or listen to the birds. Then eat and talk. Glorious. For most, the fun starts there – with the unveiling and unpacking of the goodies. But for us, the picnic-planners and picnic-packers, there is a lot of work to be done before this special event can take place. The success of your picnic rests on the panache with which you pack, and two undisputed tips – steer clear of any store-bought food, and be well prepared.

Picnics should be about comfort, ease, and joy. Nobody wants to use all of their energy carrying heavy baskets full of china and silverware, to a site that is km far, to sit on chairs (that you also had to carry) passing around cucumber sandwiches as a first course. Or worse, take out the carefully prepared food only to find everything is wilted, limp, or spoilt. For any picnic, there are a few must-have items, without which you will struggle, or even simply fail.

Something to pack the food in

A basket, or a dedicated picnic rucksack, works the best. You do not need anything special, whatever you choose must simply meet the following requirements:

  • Light enough to carry, even when packed full of goodies
  • Keep your cutlery and crockery safe, and clean
  • Keep the food and beverages cold and safe
  • Be able to house the dirty and empty things once you are done, without leaking juices onto the car seat

If you need 2 pieces in order to meet these requirements, then so be it. Maybe you will use a basket or rucksack to carry the cutlery, crockery and glassware, and a cool box for the food and drinks. Or you have a basket that is big enough for everything, plus insulated so it will keep the food cold. Just find something that will be practical and useful.  A few tips: a full cooler stays colder for longer, so ensure that it’s filled with about 75% food and the rest ice. If you don’t have enough food to fill it to ¾, then add more ice. Place ice at the bottom, followed by the heavier foods. Fill in with the lighter items. Pack the cooler directly from the refrigerator, and preferably use ice packs or slabs of ice. Another hack – freeze water in empty milk bottles and use instead of ice packs. And of course, once there always place the cooler in shade and not in direct sun. When packing your basket or another container, start with the items you will need last. Place them in first, e.g. the cutlery and crockery, the condiments, insect repellent, etc. Then follow with the perishable items and things you need as part of the setup. The last thing you place in your basket is your picnic blanket since that is the first thing you will need once you reach the picnic site.

Equipment

Make a list of the food that you are planning to serve, as well as the drinks, and determine what you will need in order to serve this menu. E.g. if you are drinking wine, ensure you pack a wine opener for the corkscrew. Bread, then pack a breadknife and breadboard. Cheese, you will most probably need a sharp knife, so pack one carefully. Don’t forget a cloth (you can pack a wet cloth in a lunch box or glass jar, making cleaning up a breeze) or napkins, and salt and pepper. If you will make use of a table, covered with a table cloth, remember to pack in weighted clips to hold the table cloth down. And remember something that you can use to collect all the trash. You must leave the picnic spot in a better condition than what you found it in – trash free.

For cutlery and crockery, we would recommend going the low waste, single-use-plastic-free route. Opt for bamboo or paper plates, bamboo or compostable knives and forks, and glasses that can be re-used. Avoid anything that is made from plastic or polystyrene that you will have to throw away after use. Metal is another option. For napkins, we recommend cloth, and empty containers and rubbish can be placed in the (hopefully) empty cool box for sorting and disposing of at home.

Food safety

A cool box, or ice packs, are essential to make sure that your food remains cold and safe for eating. Keep your cool box or insulated basket closed, only opening once you want to eat, and eat immediately once you have reached your destination in order to keep the food out of the temperature danger zone. Keep sauces separately, only adding them once you want to eat. Pack hand sanitizer or have another way of cleaning hands before eating.  If you are travelling or walking particularly far and don’t have adequate cooling options, avoid using mayonnaise or dairy products in your food.

Special touches

A blanket, cushions if you can carry them, an umbrella for shade if you won’t be under trees, and insect repellent are just a few of those things that you might not think of, but that is needed to make the picnic special. To ensure there is something cold to drink, freeze water in bottles. The frozen bottles can be used as ice packs, and once defrosted you have cold water to refresh yourself and your company.

The food

As important as the setting might be, the highlight of the show remains the food. When planning your picnic menu, you need to keep in mind it needs to be food that can be transported, that can be served at room temperature, won’t spoil in a cool box with only ice packs, can keep (so you don’t have to make it and serve it immediately), fall in the taste of your company, and provide a balanced meal. Here you have the choice of either going for finger food – smaller dishes and bites that don’t require cutlery and crockery to eat, or more traditional dishes, where you do need a plate and knife and fork in order to enjoy. A few dishes are iconically associated with picnics, such as Scotch eggs, chicken drumsticks, sandwiches, potato salad and quiche. Guaranteed crowd-pleasers, but definitely not the only options out there.

Pasta salad is perfect for picnics – usually hearty, they hold up well. If you want to pack a leafy salad, don’t dress the salad until you are going to eat it. For layered salads, always start with the heaviest ingredients at the bottom, working up towards the lighter ones like the lettuce. Other salad ideas include Middle Eastern couscous salad, a Greek orzo salad, or even a lighter-carb sweet potato salad. Adding vegetable dishes or bites can be a bit trickier as they usually do not handle the heat and transport that well. But there are options, such as zucchini fritters with minted tzatziki dip, pumpkin fritters, or chargrilled veg skewers.

Our favourite menu for a picnic? A selection of cheeses, cold meats, pates and spreads, olives, roasted peppers, gherkins, hummus, crudites and other meze bites, with fresh bread and real butter. Nothing fancy, just good produce that you can pair and add to make a wonderful meal. Social food.

A nice tip? Pack fruit, nuts and biltong for extra snacks along the way, especially if you are travelling with kids and the journey might take longer than you planned.

To end, chocolate brownies are always a winner. Other ideas: cheesecake in a jar, cookies, traditional scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, or a coconut loaf cake.

For drinks, anything that can successfully be kept cold can work. Ice tea is super refreshing on a hot summer’s day, lemonade or ginger beer (both homemade of course) being another stellar option. And for the grownups, sparkling wine or a chilled white or rose wine is wonderful. Just remember your glasses, and pack enough ice! You can also pack in sangria or spritzers, or pre-mixed G&Ts with the cucumber or lemon slices packed separately. Whatever says sun, outside, and great company. Our best hack to ensure your drinks remain cold (other than freezing them) is: chill as usual, then decant into a flask. That same flask to keep your coffee hot on road trips will keep your drinks nice and cold.

When packing the food, ensure the containers that you are using are leak proof. Place everything in the fridge to chill, and only pack them into your cool box at the last minute. Top with ice packs to ensure safe transportation.

The entertainment

  • Make getting to the picnic a scavenger hunt. Leave clues or a “treasure” map for your family to find their way to the picnic destination.
  • Bring along a board game, boules, a rugby ball, or a Frisbee for some outdoor fun. If kids will be joining you, try to pick a spot with a playground nearby.
  • Plan a hike and bring the picnic with you. Stop when you get hungry or find a scenic spot to eat.
  • Set the mood with a sunset picnic. If it’s allowed, bring a few votive candles and a small bouquet of flowers to add to the ambience.

Those are our top tips for making a magical picnic. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we hope you implement them for a romantic night out. And if you are worried about your skill in the kitchen, or simply do not have the time to cook and plan, you can always order your picnic from us!

Stripes is wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day, but even more, that you will feel the love the whole year round!

How do you choose a wedding venue that is just right, and budget friendly?

Stripes has noticed how time seems to fly – she said almost desperately the other day that we are already halfway through engagement season! Engagement season normally kicks off as the last corporate year-end party finishes and runs through up until Ester. 3 months of loving bliss, hearts and chirping birds everywhere. She just loves this time. Directly after engagement season, we get the second busiest time of the year – hunting season. That time when all newly engaged couples start looking for a venue, just to realise one of 4 things:

  1. Budget – either they have not thought of the costs at all, or they realise that their budget will never stretch far enough to cover their dream wedding
  2. Time – all of the popular venues are already fully booked, or only have less desirable dates available. Or they do have a date available, at a good price, but it’s in 3 weeks’ time and that is simply not enough time to pull together all your plans.
  3. Family – either they are too far away, so you know you will most likely have to celebrate your special day without all of them there or they are too close, sticking their noses in everywhere.
  4. Dreams – you dreamt too big, or you never even thought of your wedding and now you need to answer all these difficult questions like the feel and colour and cake flavours

Planning a wedding is tough, and takes many hours and days of hard work. We always say that the first wedding you plan is seldom a 100% success, so why practice on your own. But if you have the guts, patience and support to attempt to plan your own wedding, at least allow us to help in this small way.

We believe that the success of a wedding lies in 3 things:

  1. The food. Guests will always judge a wedding according to the food. Good food = good wedding. Bad food = disaster. Spend as much as you can on the food, and ensure you get a reputable caterer with enough experience. If the venue does the food, insist on a tasting to ensure you are happy with the quality. Ask the tough questions regarding quantity, ingredients, serving style, and more.
  2. The photos. In the end, they are all that you will have left to remember the day. Spend on your photographer.
  3. Happy guests. We know it is your special day, and should theoretically revolve around you and your partner, but unfortunately, that is not completely how it works. If you wanted to celebrate it alone you would have eloped, and sharing your joy comes with a bit of responsibility. You have to ensure your guests are comfortable, and that includes being warm (or cool in summer), dry, fed, hydrated and entertained. That is where your venue comes in. Choosing the right venue can help you ensure the happiness of your guests, which in turn will contribute to your enjoyment of the day.

The venue is a big deal. So how do you chose the right one? That is a difficult question, and almost everybody (especially the “experts” such as us 😉 has their own opinion. More than half of them will most likely not agree with us. But according to us, your venue needs to meet the following requirements:

  1. It needs to be affordable.

You cannot spend your entire budget, or even most of it, on the venue. The “experts” recommend spending only 10% of your budget on your venue. Of course, there are exceptions, and we will discuss one such an exception a bit later on.

  1. It needs to be accessible.

That includes transport and accommodation. If you plan on having a destination wedding you need to ensure that there is enough accommodation available for your guests. Assist in arranging transport by giving guests the relevant booking information, or ask the venue if they can negotiate a special price with a transport company.

  1. It needs to be flexible.

Do they only allow certain service providers, or are you only allowed certain themes? How adaptable are they to changes in for instance the weather, or guest list. If they are doing the food, can they provide special dietary requirements if needed? Also, life happens and things change – how will they handle changes such as postponements, or even cancellations. Before you book, always first read their policies on handling these and other situations.

  1. How customisable is the venue?

How much of the venue can you change to ensure your guests feel as if they are at your wedding, and not at just another generic one? Things you might want to customize: the menu, the seating plan, the program, service providers, colours, décor, drinks, etc. And will there be costs associated with these changes?

  1. They need to be transparent and upfront about all costs.

You don’t want any surprises. Before deciding on a final venue, make 100% sure you know what is included and exactly what the specifications are. Sometimes it is even more important to find out what is not included or allowed since these restrictions usually have a monetary “punishment” attached to breaking the rules. Ask as many questions as you need, and if they become iffy or funny about answering I would seriously reconsider booking them.

  1. It needs to be suitable.

Can the venue accommodate your probable group size, do they have a minimum and maximum guest count, will the venue be comfortable in the season that you which to get married in, is there a plan B if plan A fails. Also, are they available on the dates that you are considering?

  1. What is included.

This is, in our opinion, the most important point to consider when weighing up the pros and cons of venues. Remember we said your venue should be no more than 10% of your entire budget? Well, that percentage can change depending on how big the venue’s package is. E.g. if only the venue, stick to the 10% “rule”, but if the package includes the food, or drinks such as the welcoming drink or even sparkling wine for a toast, or a bridal suite, the percentage changes.

The best advice that Stripes can give? Pick a venue that includes as much as possible, because getting all of those items and paying for them individually not only adds up but also leaves a lot of boxes for you to tick. If the venue offers these things, it becomes their responsibility to deliver. You also have the peace of mind knowing that the suppliers that the venue has chosen as part of the package most likely have worked there before, making them knowledgeable and reliable.

I don’t know if you have noticed but we have not mentioned style or look or feel as one of the recommended considerations for choosing the right venue. The reason for this is sometimes we stare ourselves blind against what we think we need and ignore everything else. Meanwhile, there might be something better out there. Also, the venue is only the backdrop and even though you want something spectacular, you should also want to avoid debt and discomfort. So by keeping our 7 points front of mind, you will be able to choose the most beautiful venue that meets those requirements. No breaking the bank. Remember, you can make almost any venue look magical, and bring in your own look and feel with a few smart touches. Themes can be changed or slightly adapted to suit the venue. A good photographer can make your venue look amazing. Pair that with good food and happy guests and you have the makings of the perfect wedding, regardless of the venue.

Those are our top tips for choosing the right venue. If you have something to add, or a question, please feel free to comment!

And to all the newly-engaged couples, Stripes says, happy hunting.

Bridal shower games

Bridal showers, also known as kitchen teas, is that one get-together that Stripes really dislike. She says if you want to start a war, put ladies from 2 different families and friends who all feel they are the BEST friend together in a room, armed with mimosas and toilet paper. Sooner rather than later something ugly starts to rear its head, and if not contained it will break free and take over. Her solution? Play games. But not the run of the mill, same old same old games. Be creative to get the guests interacting. That way they will be too busy to nitpick and pick fights.

Here are Stripes’ suggestions for actual-fun games to play at a bridal shower:

  1. Bingo gift game

Download and print our blank bingo cards. Give one to each guest, then have them fill in the blank blocks with the wedding gifts they think the bride will receive. Then when the bride starts to open her gifts, guests mark off their bingo card as gifts are opened. The centre block with a heart is a free space. The first guest to get five in a row wins the game.

Bingo gift game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Romantic movie quotes

Download and print the game worksheet. On it, there are quotes from popular romantic movies. Give each guest a worksheet and have them fill out as many movie titles as they recognize and know. The highest number of correct answers wins. If this is too difficult, you can make 2 columns – one with the quote and in random order, the other one with movie titles. Guests then have to match column 1 with column 2. (On our sheet, the answers are: Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally, Moulin Rouge, Notting Hill, Casablanca, in that order)

Romantic movie quote game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Name that tune

Create a playlist of 12 love songs. Hand out a game page to each guest, then play a snippet of each song. The guests must guess who sang it. To make it even more difficult, they can give the title of the song as well. Guest with the most correct answers wins.

Name that tune game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Bride and groom trivia

Print the trivia page, then give the guests a set amount of time to write down their answers. As easy as that!

Bride and groom trivia game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Hitched or not

Download and print the list of celebrity couples. Give each guest one, and ask them to guess whether the couple is married or not. Guest with the most correct answers wins.

Hithed or not game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Wedding catchphrases

In this Charade-like game, guests must divide into teams, each team getting a pack of catch-phrase cards. The teams take turns to draw a card and then act out the word or catchphrase on the card. The rest of the team must guess. Normal charade rules apply. Download our catch-phrase cards here.

Catch phrase game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Favourite memories

Guests write their favourite memory with the bride on the memory card, which the bride then reads out loud to see if she can guess who wrote the memory.

Favourite memory game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. What’s in the bag – pay attention

Take a bag and fill it with items that the bride might need to pack for her honeymoon. You need 15 to 20 items to make it work. Give each guest a piece of paper. In front of the guests, take out each item one at a time and show it to the guests, replacing it bag into the bag once shown. After all the items have been shown, give the guests one minute to write down as many items as they can remember. Most correct answers win. Give the bag to the bride as your gift to her.

  1. Drawing game

This is a twist on Pictionary. Download and print the game board and word cards. You will need whiteboards or poster boards, something to stand them on, markers and dice. Follow the instructions on the game board, and enjoy!

Drawing game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. He said/she said

Interview the bride and groom in advance, asking them a series of questions in order to generate the quotes needed for the list. Download and print the game card, writing in your quotes of choice. Copy as many as you need, then hand them out to guests. They must decide whether the bride or groom said the applicable quote. Most correct answers win.

He said she said game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Who did what

Similar to the game above, this time you make a list of random, generic or very specific statements or acts and guests simply decide who did the specific thing. From who said “I love you” first to who is a better cook. Most correct answers wins.

  1. Bridal details

For this fun game, ask the bride to leave the room, then pass out the game sheets. Guests must try to answer the questions to the best of their abilities, most correct answers wins.

Bridal details game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Find the guest

A great icebreaker, this game is sure to get the guests interacting. Basically, you give guests a few prompts and they must find a guest who fits the scenario or description. A few examples:

Find the guest who:

  • Has been married ten years or longer
  • Speaks a foreign language
  • Has won $50 or more in the last 12 months
  • Has more than three kids
  • Is wearing blue shoes
  • Has more than three pets
  • Vacationed within the last three months
  1. Celebrity wives

Make a list of famous celebrity wives, then write each name on a single card. As guests arrive they must pick a card from the pile, then tape that card to their forehead without peeking. Other guests must then describe who she is until she guesses her celeb – and act like that celeb for the rest of the party.

  1. What’s in your cell phone: the wedding edition

For this game, the guests will whip out their phones for a cellular scavenger hunt. The ladies will search their phones and get points for each item that they can find. For example, one to five points for things like:

  • A selfie
  • A video
  • A text from the bride-to-be
  • Having a screen saver of a person
  • A photo of the bride-to-be

Or even more points for:

  • A battery life of more than 50%
  • Having zero unread emails
  • Having the wedding date saved in your calendar
  • A photo of the bridal shower

What’s on your phone game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Pen a poem

Grab a blank sheet of paper and ask a guest to write a single line of a romantic poem dedicated to the couple. Then fold the paper over, hiding the guest’s phrase, and pass the paper to another guest with the same instructions. Make your way through all the guests, then, in your best dramatic stage voice, read the (disjointed) poem the brides’ guests have dedicated to her great love.

  1. Bridal scattergories

With cute wedding-related prompts like “honeymoon locations” and “something blue,” it’s a clever way to entertain guests during party gaps. There are four lettered rounds (“L,” “O,” “V,” and “E”) with points awarded for creativity, originality and length — the winner has to earn the most points!

  1. Cake decorating contest

Give each guest a mini cake or a cupcake, with all the needed supplies, and ask them to decorate it in the style and colour that they think the wedding will be. The bride judges who win.

Any fun games that you would like to add?