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.

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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!

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!

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.

22 things to trim from your wedding to streamline your budget

Stripes has seen her fair share of weddings, and the number one thing she will always comment on is the obscene amount that people are willing to spend on one single day. And although Laughing Chefs tries to see every budget as a guideline and not a target, some of the budgets that we have come into contact with have been sky high.

Why? She always wants to know. Why would people spend so much on one day, just so that they can start their lives together in debt? Or with parents who have to struggle because they spent everything on the wedding. Even if you have enough money, not even endless piles can justify spending money on those things that most people are not even aware of. Never mind the mindless forking out of cash, you are also contributing to a consumption-driven culture, waste, and unachievable expectations of every budget bride out there.

Every girl (and boys – they are not excluded) dreams of her big day. She wants everything to be perfect, from the dress right down to the serviette rings. And that costs money. If you do not have a lot to go around to start with, Stripes has compiled a list of 22 things that you can leave out, without your guests even noticing. Not only will this save you money, but also countless hours of research, sourcing, making, and worrying. Although there are a lot of things she can add, she decided it was too early in the year to write a lengthy article so she decided to stick to these 22 points.

Stripes says, the rule of thumb is to decide what you want to remember from your wedding day, together with what is the most important to you. Then allocate more budget to these things, taking away budget from things that are not that important to you. But, she says, remember that food is usually the measuring stick used by guests to label a wedding as having been good or bad, and in the end, you only have your photos to remember the day by. So spend more on your food and photographer, and less on those details that most guests never pay attention to, such as;

22 Things you can trim from your wedding, without your guests noticing:

  1. Go paperless

Lately, there has been a shift towards digital in every plane of life, so why not extend it to your invitations? Send out your save the dates, or pre-wedding invitations, via email or a chat service such as Whatsapp or WeChat. If you really want to go the printed route, stick to simple yet elegant designs, normal paper or cardstock, and no embellishments, foil work or other details that cost an arm and leg and usually end up in the trash afterwards. You can also invite everyone digitally, and then print a few elaborate and beautiful invitations for your grandparents, and one that you can keep as a memento.

  1. Skip the open bar

Instead of having an open bar, with a set limit or without, rather opt for a wine bar or pre-order a select amount of drinks that are then served throughout the night. If these drinks run out, or guests would like something else, they can buy for themselves from the cash bar. A wine bar is a wonderful option – a number of bottles are placed on a table, together with glasses. Guests then help themselves. What makes this option, even more, cost-effective is because guests are pouring from one central point you don’t end up with a bunch of open, half-drunk bottles of wine that you can do nothing with.

  1. Use what you already have

Incorporate items that you already own into your décor. Doing this saves money, but also ensures that your stamp of individuality is on your wedding. Items that you might already own: glass jars for flowers, beautiful shawls or pashminas for tablecloths, old books, etc. Also, get a list of décor items that are included in your venue hire, or if not included get the prices. It can work out cheaper hiring in from them since you avoid transport costs.

  1. Get married off-season, or on a weekday

For brilliant cost savings, consider getting married in the winter months, or if you want a summer wedding, on a Friday or even a Sunday. You can also look at a mid-week wedding. Some venues offer as much as 20% off for weekday or Sunday weddings, and usually 10% off for Friday weddings. Stripes know that Laughing Chefs has nice specials for the winter months.

  1. Learn how to wedding plan

If you really want to be hands-on, the best cost-saving advice that Stripes can give you would be to take a course in wedding planning. There are numerous workshops and courses out there, and although usually directed at individuals who would like to make wedding planning their career, you can learn a thing or two applicable to your own wedding. Stripes says she has heard rumours of exciting things to come at Laughing Chefs but will keep you updated.

  1. Bulk out your bouquet with cheaper options

With flowers, the biggest expense is not the physical blooms but rather the labour involved in buying, transporting, and arranging the blooms. Pick your flowers carefully, then add elements that are cheaper but that will add flair and drama, or make the bouquet softer/dreamy/etc. For example, berries, feathers, foliage, bulbs, etc.

  1. Serve a signature drink

Serve a custom-designed cocktail or signature drink instead of a full bar.

  1. Candles instead of flowers

Using large pillar candles as your centrepiece not only increases the elegance and flair, it also decreases the costs. You can hire refillable candles at a fraction of the cost of flowers, and candlelight creates the most beautiful ambience.

  1. Change the serving style of the food

French service or plated is your most expensive options, followed closely by waiter service of finger foods or canapes. The most cost-effective serving style is family-style, where the waiters’ place bowls of food on the tables and guests help themselves. The misconception is that buffet is cheap, but if you do a nice buffet and you do it well, it can work out more than plated food! Be honest and upfront with your caterer to ensure you stay within budget.

  1. Limit your guest list

Invite only people who play a part in your life. Skip the plus-ones, and forget the guilt-invites. Decide on the number of guests that your budget will comfortably cover and stick to that number. If you have a lot of friends or even family that didn’t make the cut but with whom you still want to celebrate consider throwing an after-the-fact party and invite them all.

  1. Champagne is for toasts only

Get only enough bottles to allow for one glass per person. Ask the venue or caterer to pour the champagne at the bar or in the kitchen then serve to the guests. This way you ensure everyone gets, with little wastage.

  1. Consider a Wedding Breakfast or Brunch

Breakfasts, brunches, and afternoon teas are usually more affordable than evening receptions: They’re shorter, the fare is lighter, and guests tend to consume less alcohol early in the day.

  1. Go all-inclusive

Find a venue that includes a list of things in their packages. Some listed items might seem pointless to you, such as specifying that they have toilets for men and women, but once there you will be grateful. If the venue includes décor, see where you can tweak your theme to incorporate those items, even if it might mean having to change your colour palette slightly.

  1. Change the style of the wedding

The less formal the party, the more affordable it will be. Instead of a full, sit-down dinner, opt for a brunch reception or more laid-back cocktail-style meal. Choose a venue with a low-key vibe, like a barn or farm, which lends itself perfectly to a simpler, more relaxed celebration with fewer bells and whistles.

  1. Bouton-ette your bridesmaids

Instead of costly and elaborate bouquets for your bridesmaids, rather opt for a single bloom pinned to their dresses boutonniere style. Not only will you save money, but you will also allow your wedding party to make a statement.

  1. Elaborate decor and expensive place settings

Don’t feel guilty about skipping things like place cards, fancy aisle runners, chair covers, or little handwritten menus or signs. Guests will either not notice that you went with the plain or basic instead of the more expensive option, or they will notice but not care. Instead, choose a venue that is beautiful as it is, and lends itself well to the chosen look.

  1. Make cake the dessert course

Stripes has seen scary things, such as almost an entire wedding cake being thrown away because guests just never got round to eating it. They were too busy nibbling on the dessert buffet. To stop this from happening, or at least minimise your risk, serve your wedding cake either as the sole dessert course, or paired with one other dessert. This kind of forces guests to have cake, and eat it too. Just make sure your wedding cake is actually nice and edible!

  1. Wedding coordinator

Hire a wedding coordinator to save you time and money. Most brides think that hiring a wedding coordinator will break their budget, but it’s a little-known fact that wedding coordinators can actually save you money after you get all the discounts and perks they have arranged with partner vendors. But use caution when selecting a planner: Anyone can call herself a “wedding planner.” Look for someone who is certified or have a proven track record. Phone past clients if you want 100% peace of mind.

  1. Order two cakes instead of one

Cake one – the beautiful one decorated according to your theme and colour palette. Cake two – a simple sheet cake in the same flavour as the main cake, which is cut up and served from the kitchens. Guests will never know, and you save pockets of money! If you want to be adventurous or have a large guest list, you can even do a few flavours of sheet cake.

  1. Decrease the hours that you need a photographer for

Speed up the traditional or symbolic acts that you want to be filmed. Move the cake cutting, first dance, and bouquet toss to early in the night. Guests won’t necessarily work out why, but you will – by getting these things out of the way the photographer can leave early, thus cutting down on the per-hour costs.

  1. Change expensive bubbly for less expensive options

What is in a name? A few 00 after the R, that is what. The sad reality is that most wedding guests cannot tell a sparkling wine from an MCC, let alone a glass of champagne. And I can assure you, most of the time up to 80% of all guests do not drink dry bubbly. To stop them from wasting your expensive stuff, rather opt for less expensive sparkling wine, and choose the sweeter varieties instead of the dry.

  1. Wedding favours

While precious mason jars filled with homemade pastries and jams are now in vogue, they’re unnecessary expenses that your guests probably won’t even remember in the first place. If you want to send something home with them, get a few paper boxes and place them at the wedding cake. Guests can then take a slice home to enjoy later.

These are the 22 things that Stripes wishes she could say to almost every bride that comes through the door. Remember it is about your marriage, not your wedding. Oh, and money doesn’t grow on trees, spend it wisely.

Anything that you can add?

Easy Ways to Manage to Manage your Health During Wedding Planning

It’s no secret that wedding planning can be one of the most stressful times in a bride’s life. Between finding a venue, a caterer, and trying to decide on details as simple as what chairs to have at the reception, it can get very overwhelming. Being that there is no “maternity-leave” for wedding planning, lots of brides-to-be have plenty of other things to do and places to be in the months leading up to the wedding. It can be so difficult to manage all the things left to settle while living your life at the same time. Days seem to fly by and as you get closer to the wedding, and all the chaos can put a huge amount of stress on your health. With all the stuff that needs to be taken care of, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. The last thing you need when you’re trying to be the most healthy and productive you can be is to get sick or exhausted. These tips are simple little reminders to support your physical and mental health during the stress of wedding planning.

Make a List

The wedding planning process usually starts as early as possible because there is such a long list of things to decide on and ultimately arrange. One of the worst things you can do is to wait too long and end up bombarding yourself with an overwhelming amount of errands in the months before the wedding. This can add a crazy amount of unnecessary stress on top of the existing anxiety you’ve already built up. All this stress and anxiety can cause a lack of sleep, decreasing your energy levels and make you sick. One of the best ways to sustain your health and effectively manage your time and energy is to make a list. If you know nothing about wedding planning, do some research and create your list of things that need to get done before the big day. Find out what needs to be done now and what can be done later on. If you don’t know, talk to someone who knows, whether that be a friend who’s recently gotten married or a wedding planner. Look online and find out what’s going to work best for you. Even when you feel defeated, take a deep breath and remember that it will all get done eventually.

Budget

High on the list of stress-causers is money. Weddings are very expensive and there are clearly a lot of different things that need to be paid for. Preparing yourself for the amount of money you’re going to spend can decrease the amount of stress you feel when it comes time to pay the bill. Again, do your research and decide what you’re willing and able to spend, based on what things can potentially cost. Deciding what you can and will spend before you spend it can give you more comfort in knowing that running out of money is avoidable. Another good tip is to put a little money away in a jar or container every day so that you accumulate a bit of a safety net. Even if you don’t end up using the backup fund, you can easily use that money to get something a little more expensive than you weren’t able to afford before!

Sleep!

Though this might be a lot of people’s favourite thing to do, it seems to get pushed to the back burner when there are so many things going on. Don’t let sleep get bumped to the bottom of your list. When you don’t get enough sleep, you lose focus and concentration which will no doubt make running wedding errands even more difficult than it was before. It can also have a lot of physical effects on the bride-to-be like illness, dry skin, and cold sores. While lotion and cold sore medication are good solutions, avoid getting these by planning your activities throughout the day so you’re done with them at a decent hour and you can get a good night’s sleep. Set a goal every day for a time that you should settle down and sleep so that you’re fully energized the next morning.

Moderate Exercise

Working out can be an important part of a bride-to-be’s routine in the months leading up to her wedding. Every bride wants to look and feel their best for the big day. Finding time to meet wedding planners and explore venues along with going to the gym can get extremely difficult. Making a daily schedule in a planner along with the list of things you need to be done for the wedding will help you organize your thoughts and keep you from scrambling at the last second. Keep in mind also that it’s perfectly fine to exercise a bit less if you’re feeling burned out. Perform some low-intensity workouts so that when you get home from the gym you still have enough energy left to do some planning. Take a walk, do some yoga or any other of your favourite activities that won’t keep you from being productive the rest of the day. That way when you’re done, you can take on more of that to-do list.

Take a Break

This may be tough to swallow being that you already feel like you have so much to do with so little time. You might be feeling like you should be using any last dark hour of the night to be arranging any last detail that you can, but one of the best things you can do when all the tasks life throws at us happen at the same time is to take a break. Take a deep breath, sit for a minute, and do nothing but give your mind and body a rest. Take a day off from work, enjoy some personal time in which you have nowhere to be and nothing to do. You most likely need a recharge to give yourself a burst of energy that will make the next day productive.  

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy this time. Despite all the stress, planning a wedding should be a time to be creative, have fun, and spend time with your loved ones. Don’t hesitate to ask for help because there’s always someone around who’s been through it. And if you start to feel burned out, take a break and take care of yourself before you take care of anything else.

Stripes’ special wishes for you for 2019

2018 might have treated you well. It might have thrown you around a bit. Or you might have emerged (thankfully intact) on the other side battered and bruised. No matter how 2018 was, 2019 can always be better. Of course, that would be a good wish, but Stripes knows you expect more of her. And so her wishes for you for 2019 must be a bit more elaborate.

1. A year of celebrations
May 2019 be filled with victories, accomplishments and love that needs to be celebrated. Of course, reaching the weekend, or surviving a Monday, or not crying after a very difficult day are also successes, and we need to celebrate our successes. So open that bottle, pop the cork, prepare that special dish, or even better yet get someone else in to do it for you. Celebrate in style, and in comfort, in 2019. Stripes says “remember that Laughing Chefs does the best private cheffing around! Get them to do the work so you can enjoy the celebration”.


2. The knowledge that happiness comes from within
May 2019 be the year that you accomplish inner peace. Stripes wish that you will realise that only you can make yourself happy and that you do not need a lot to be happy. It is a feeling, not a thing. And if you find it difficult to reach inner peace and the happiness that comes from really knowing yourself and being in balance, she says you are welcome to come and spend some quiet time on De Oude Deck, overlooking the bushveld, or staring up at the mountain. Outer peace might just help you with your inner peace. Bring the family with, Laughing Chefs will cook for them and according to them, no dishes is as close to happiness as can be!


3. Rosy cheeks, and tables decorated in living coral
May 2019 exceed your expectations. Stripes predict that this year will be the year for growth and for strengthening. She says there is a reason that the colour of the year is Living Coral – this is the year for living! And if you are alive, you need to move to stay alive. If you don’t know where to go with your rosy cheeks and all, book a picnic with Laughing Chefs, sit under the trees and when you are really quiet, you might even hear them grow. And if pinkish-orange is your colour, remember to incorporate the colour of the year into your décor! Of course, when in doubt get the experts to do it for you. Again, Laughing Chefs.


4. Loving friends and family
May 2019 be the year where you add to your friends and family. May your house be filled with joy and laughter, with sorrow and despair never crossing the threshold. Stripes says to watch out for Laughing Chef’s wedding packages at Oudehout Mountain Lodge – adding to a family can mean so many things. They also do baby showers, kitchen teas, christenings and engagement parties, making it easier than ever before to welcome and enlarge. She also wants to remind us of all the loyal customers who have become friends. There is something about celebrating life’s accomplishments that just brings you together, forging new bonds and giving new meaning to our lives. Stripes love seeing people enter as strangers and leave as friends.


5. More chocolate cake, less guilt
May 2019 allow you to realise that health and wealth cannot be measured by a bathroom scale, and you are worth much more than the numbers on that scale. Being a bit on the heavy side herself, Stripes knows that sometimes a big personality needs a bit more room to breathe. This year, do you. If you are happy then great! If you are not, do something about it. Stripes hope that Laughing Chefs, in collaboration with Oudehout Mountain Lodge and a few selected other people, will start their retreats so that she can also book in, relax, and breathe out. Maybe detox or stretch a bit too.


6. Less daydreaming, more hustling to make them come true
May 2019 be the year that you work smarter, not harder, to reach your dreams. If you can think it, you can do it. Stripes love daydreaming, but also realise that if she doesn’t do something about it she will never wake up in a better world. She loves seeing how Laughing Chefs grows and prospers, and wishes that 2019 will also be the year in which their wildest dreams come true. And Stripes’ biggest wish? A partner in crime, someone to share her day with, and hopefully her nights. She loves seeing the weddings that Laughing Chefs do, but it also makes her a bit sad. Hopefully, this will be the year that she gets to meet her Prince charming!

And those are the things that Stripes wishes for you for the year ahead. She also says that if you ever need reminding of how awesome you are, you know where to find her!

May 2019 be the most blessed year yet!

Money saving tips for weddings and other special functions

Money saving tips for weddings, www.laughingchefs.co.za

Money saving tips for weddings, www.laughingchefs.co.za

  1. Have a weekday wedding, or at least a Friday instead of a Saturday
  2. Get married in the winter months instead of the summer
  3. Go digital with your save the dates
  4. Go digital with your invitations, doing printed invites only for your parents, grandparents and yourself as a keepsake
  5. Use a printable invite
  6. For your printed invitations, stay with one colour design
  7. Go for a buffet meal to cut down on the cost of waiting staff
  8. Cut down on your guest list
  9. Favours are unnecessary. Want to give something? Give something edible
  10. Opt for more candles instead of more flowers
  11. Go for fairy lights to help create mood and effect
  12. Choosing rectangular tables means you can have smaller centrepieces
  13. Don’t skimp on your food or the photographer
  14. Have a wine table instead of wine on each table
  15. Don’t have an open bar – rather buy a number of drinks that guests can help themselves to
  16. Rent a house in an exotic location, use it as the venue and double it as accommodation as well as your honeymoon!
  17. Use a venue that does not force you to make use of their suppliers or vendors
  18. Have your reception in a restaurant
  19. Do your own flowers
  20. Use paper or cloth flower alternatives
  21. Instead of posies have bridesmaids carry something different e.g. a lantern or small handbag
  22. Have the maid of honour carry a small handbag instead of a flower posie; she can then carry all the items needed in your emergency kit
  23. Buy your decor instead of hiring, then sell it afterwards
  24. Go for wooden tables so that no tablecloths are needed
  25. If you have to cover your tables, only use a tablecloth and skip a runner or overlay
  26. Don’t do printed programs
  27. Skip the wedding car
  28. Don’t spend too much on your chapel flowers and decor
  29. Food served family style means you cut down on centrepieces and table decor
  30. Weigh up hiring a wedding planner versus doing it yourself
  31. Have a budget and stick to it!
  32. Choose a venue that already includes some things e.g. the tables
  33. Do a menu board instead of individually printed menus
  34. Have more guests per table, meaning fewer tables in total
  35. Go for a morning or brunch wedding
  36. Use what the venue already have
  37. Make it personal so you can use things you already have
  38. Reduce the “plus ones”
  39. DIY as much as you can, from the table numbers to the signs
  40. Use seasonal flowers
  41. Go green! Foilage instead of flowers
  42. Borrow your jewellery
  43. Let bridesmaids pick (and pay) for their own dresses
  44. Maybe skip the champagne for a toast – guests will already have a drink to toast with
  45. Don’t pay for something that most guests won’t even notice
  46. Skip the 2nd bouquet for the tossing, rather use the bridesmaid’s posy or a single flower
  47. Skip the carpet down the aisle, rather go for flower petals
  48. Combine the post-ceremony snacks and starters, or choose one and make it great
  49. Don’t do destination or out of town
  50. Outside ceremony can mean more money – keep it inside
  51. Don’t invite kids
  52. Make sure kids are charged differently
  53. Don’t go over time – most venues charge per hour after 00h
  54. Make your own cake or order a dummy cake and make the rest yourself
  55. Skip dessert and just serve cake
  56. Skip cake and do a dessert bar
  57. Make your own photobooth
  58. Skip the crazy lights and smoke machine
  59. Skip signature cocktails
  60. Don’t do pairings
  61. Go with 1 white and 1 red wine, that is enough choice