weddings

WEDDING OF THE WEEK: Budget style blogger Tina used these tricks to save on her huge family wedding.

Welcome to Wedding of the Week, the five-part series lifting back the veil (see what we did there?) on real weddings from our Mamamia readers.

Each week, we’ll deep dive into one Aussie couple’s wedding day to bring you all the details about the important stuff – the dress, venue, food, flowers, photography and words of wisdom.

Oh, there are lots of beautiful photos too.

This week’s Wedding of the Week is Tina and Paul’s huge family wedding, done on a budget. Enjoy!

The basics.

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Who: Tina, 33, from affordable style blog Trash To Treasured and Paul, 29, from NSW.

Wedding date: 12th January, 2019.

Number of guests: 187.

Photography: Shyani and Simon from Moments Photography.

Tina and Paul's love story.

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"Paul and I met by chance in an Optus Store! He was working in-store and I’d dropped in for the day from the head office. We ended up going to lunch at the food court that day (he had pasta, just a coffee for me because I was nervous for some reason?!). Sounds corny but by the end of that day, I knew he’d be part of my life in some way."

"Since we’d been together so long (nine years!) and always had mutual support and respect for each other, we weren't expecting much to change between us after the wedding. We knew we’d get married one day, but approached the wedding almost casually at first and as a bit of fun, a chance to have a big party while ticking some important boxes (actually getting married!) for my traditional family.

"Post-wedding, however, I really feel the experience has brought us closer. Seeing our wedding bands, or being referred to as husband or wife strengthens that awareness of the team we’ve become within our communities, and the partner we’ve promised to be for each other."

The wedding dress.

Wedding dress: Gather and Stitch.

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"I wore a Sri Lankan bridal sari for the wedding ceremony. The hand-beaded Swarovski crystal fabric (weighing 7kg!) was sourced from Sarita Emporium in Colombo, Sri Lanka (approx $600). While the overall style of the sari was traditional, the talented Helani from Gather and Stitch tweaked some elements to give it a modern finish."

"I’m so used to shopping alone for my blog Trash To Treasured, I didn’t think to take anyone with me wedding dress shopping at first! I only tried on three off-the-rack dresses before deciding I’d need to have one made. I took my mum along to the fittings after that.

"During the process, I kept asking myself: Why was the dress I picked THE dress? What made this one stand out from all the others? Where was my ‘aha’ moment? Then, I realised all those hours watching Say Yes To The Dress and the idea that there must be an ‘aha’ moment was messing with me. In short, I was overthinking it. So I cut out the noise and went back to basics and looked at whether the dress fit my non-negotiables: Comfortable, timeless and the style suiting my body shape."

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Tina's bridal hair, makeup and final touches.

Wedding hair and makeup: Nikki Arora.

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"I wanted to look feminine and timeless on the day, those were the words I kept coming back to when planning the wedding. For the ceremony, I wore my hair simple in a neat bun to hold my headpiece jewellery, and for the reception, an undone, messy bun. We opted for up-styles to show off my dress details and to keep frizzy hair to a minimum on the hot summer day (great advice from my hair and makeup artist Nikki!)."

"I had a couple of hair and makeup trials before the wedding so I knew exactly what the looks would be. We also had an engagement shoot to get comfortable in front of the camera. I’m so happy we took the time to do the trial and shoot. It made for no surprises on the day."

Wedding shoes: Target pumps.

"My wedding shoes were $39 heels from Target! I’d bought them for a wedding guest outfit a few months earlier and they passed the comfort test."

Wedding jewellery: Traditional Sri Lankan jewellery.

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"Traditionally, a Sri Lankan bride wears 25 pieces of jewellery (including seven necklaces!), each piece with its own meaning and purpose. Due to the heavy embroidery of my sari fabric, I opted for just three necklaces and a headpiece, all sourced from Sri Lanka costing approx. $150."

"During the wedding ceremony, the groom places a necklace on the bride, which is chosen by the groom's mother. My mother-in-law gifted me a beautiful jade and gold necklace that had been given to her by her own mother-in-law (groom's grandmother). Priceless!"

Reception dress: Gather and Stitch.

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"I knew from the start I’d need a different dress for the reception- 7kg saris are not very comfortable! I struggled to find something that fit my taste and budget ($2000) in bridal shops so, again, worked with Gather and Stitch to come up with my dream dress: something light, feminine and timeless."

"I sketched out some ideas on a post-it (the sleeves were inspired by a dress my mum had in the 80s), went shopping with Helani for materials at Tessuti in Surry Hills, and a few fittings later we were done! The material cost around $500, plus labour cost on top of that. What started as a stressful dress hunt ended in a very cool experience seeing the dress come to life."

Reception accessories: $40 pearl earrings from Lovisa, $70 blush pink heels from Forever New.

The bridal party.

Groom's outfit details: Sri Lankan formal outfit, custom-made tuxedo by Belance Tailoring.

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"Paul wore a Sri Lankan formal outfit called a National, a long coat worn over a sarong, custom-made in Sri Lanka. We swapped out the usual white coat for blue to match my sapphire engagement ring. For the reception, he wore a custom-made tuxedo made by a friend."

"We didn’t have a bridal party, partly because we didn’t want to go through a selection process. In hindsight, it also freed up the budget for other parts of the day. Also, in a Sri Lankan wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are individually led to the alter (the ‘poruwa’) by a procession of drummers and dancers. A bridal party isn’t traditionally a part of the ceremony. We had a Kings table in the reception hall instead with 12 friends."

The ceremony and reception.

Ceremony and reception venue: Sergeants Mess, Mosman, NSW.

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"We chose Sergeants Mess for the ceremony and reception because wanted a seaside venue that could host both ceremony and reception - I liked the idea of guests arriving at one spot and kicking back for the evening."

"In a practical sense, the venue is purpose-built for functions of this size, offered an extensive food package, had the option of BYO spirits (my dad had been collecting top shelf whisky for years to serve one day at my wedding!), and a scenic locations for easy photo opportunity before and during the wedding. Also, Paul grew up in Mosman and we had our first date around the corner at Balmoral Beach, so it was a fitting area for us."

Stylist/Decor: Melissa from Ashdown and Bee.

Flowers: Floreat Floral.

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"We used a wedding stylist, Melissa from Ashdown and Bee's styling has such a gorgeous aesthetic, we brought in gold cutlery, cut crystal glassware, candlesticks and linen napkins for the place settings."

"For the flowers, I wanted a structural element for our table arrangements and had seen a circular frame option on Instagram. Jane from Floreat Floral suggested we repurpose the metal frame from wine barrels to create the look. Really happy we could up-cycle a part of the wedding! We also set up a wrapping station for guests to take the flowers home. Paul’s aunty made some potpourri from the roses she took home and gave it to me in little satchels to keep with my wedding outfits."

Stationary:

  • Invitations: Made in Sri Lanka.
  • Ceremony programs: Designed and printed own through Etsy and Officeworks.
  • Menus: Designed and printed own on Canva.
  • Name cards: Kmart, handwritten.
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"The stationary was where we were able to save a considerable amount of the budget. We had the wedding invitations made in Sri Lanka, they ended up being 50 cents each! I downloaded a $14 Etsy template for our ceremony programs and had them printed at Officeworks for $80 (tip: choose a black and white template to save on printing).

"I also designed our menus on Canva - I originally wanted round menus to fit on the plates but the quotes were around the $1000 mark... DIY was $122. Good old Kmart also came to the rescue for our name cards - $3 for a pack of 20 cards ($30 all up) and I hand wrote them for a personal touch."

Wedding cake: Made by a friend.

Entertainment: Band, Volki K.

Photo booth: In An Instant Photo Booth.

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"A dear friend made our wedding cake, a simple two-tier cake with fresh orchids to match my bouquet. Since we had so much food on the night, we saved the cake and served it the following day at a recovery lunch for family and friends. We found our band because we'd danced the night away to Voli K at a wedding years ago, and our stylist suggested the photo booth, which was lively and fun."

The moments that made Tina and Paul's wedding day special.

"In the end, it’s all the little moments that you remember as the day on a whole is such a whirlwind. Our pre-ceremony wedding photo shoot was a lovely chance to spend time with Paul and ease into the festivities before the whole thing started."

"Paul playing his late father's guitar as a surprise performance was also a highlight, as was seeing his family embrace my Sri Lankan culture and traditions so wholeheartedly. My late grandma used to crochet/knit little flowers garlands. My dad had saved them and placed them around the ceremony alter, which was a beautiful surprise.

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"A few things went wrong on the day: a big gust of wind blew over our arbour at the altar just before our big entrance... I had no idea it had happened and was wondering why my family had just left me all alone at the start of the aisle (they were fixing the arbour). Also, the meticulously planned run sheet ended up being nearly two hours behind mostly because it takes time to move 187 guests around a wedding. Something to factor into the run sheet if you’re planning a big wedding!

"Finally, the after party was a great decision! We hired a bus to take anyone keen for a nightcap to The Foxtrot in Crows Nest. It was a great chance to have a proper conversation with our out of town guests as well."

Would Tina and Paul do anything about their wedding differently?

"This is a hard one! Fewer guests would've made logistics of the day easier (and cheaper!) but with such big families, it’s very hard to do, and in the end, the guests made the day what it was. Something that kept me up at night was our decision to have a child-free reception (except babes in arms)."

"Paul and I both knew from the start that it just wouldn't be practical to have 40 kids under 10 there on the day, but also knew it would mean some guests wouldn’t be able to make it. There’s no easy solution, just one of those wedding things. We made up in part by doing a big family lunch the next day with everyone.

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"As for whether we'd spend the same amount of money again - in a nutshell, yes. Our priority was plenty of food and drinks, so from the start, we were looking at a good chunk of money just on that for 187 people.

"We cut costs in other areas such as no bridal party, no wedding cars (we arrived early for photos), no wedding favours, sourcing outfits and rings from Sri Lanka and DIY-ing the stationery elements. Flowers and decorations are also costly, but we moved our floral arbour from the ceremony inside to serve as a backdrop for group photos so it felt like we got more use out of an expensive element, plus the wrapping station at the end of the night was well received.

"My advice to future brides is: weddings can mean very different things to different people so don’t make assumptions and get ready to have open conversations early on to (hopefully) manage expectations. Also watch out for getting stuck in Instagram/Pinterest holes, I lost many, many hours in there!"

Vendor recap: Photography: Moments PhotographyWedding dresses: Gather and StitchHair and makeup: Nikki Arora, Groom's tuxedo: Belance TailoringCeremony and reception venue: Sergeants Mess, Stylist: Ashdown and BeeFlowers: Floreat FloralBand: Volki KPhoto booth: In An Instant Photo Booth.

All images supplied by the couple and Moments Photography. You can follow Tina's affordable style blog Trash To Treasured on Instagram at @trashtotreasured.

Planning a wedding? Our Hitched wedding planning podcast can help with that, listen to all the episodes below:

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