Broke-Ass Author: Emma Watkins


Affiliate Disclaimer NewHi all,

So we totally got married!

Real Bride Emma is Married!
Us, being all married and weird. Image credit: Matthew Haydn Jeanes

And it was just the most brilliant day ever. I’m awaiting the official photographs from our photographer Stewart McPherson (who was an utter trooper and worked phenomenally hard all day long), but a few friends and family also snapped a bit on the day so I can share some of those with you, along with the hints and tips of how we did stuff. I’ll do a fuller summary when the photos come through, as I know they’ll be epic.

Here is Stewart, being all sexy and photographer-y. Image credit Matthew Haydn Jeanes

1. Time is definitely of the essence

We were really lucky that our venue was not being used the day before our wedding, so we could go in and set up in advance. Since we were doing all the decor ourselves this was a life-saver.

We spent very little on decor, and some of my favourite bits were also the cheapest. Number one being the ivy staircase.

Real Bride Emma's DIY-Decorated Ivy Staircase
Image: My Own

Mike’s dad brought with him a load of, ahem, harvested wild ivy which he delicately threaded through the stairs. I then added a few of the paper flowers which my maid of honour had made (she was 100% the best at making these, although mine weren’t too shabby either!). And voila! One statement staircase for the entrance of the venue, absolutely no cost. And the venue liked it so much they kept it for the next bride!

Detailed Shot of Real Bride Emma's Staircase
Image credit: Matthew Haydn Jeanes

2. Everything looks chic when it’s wrapped in hessian

We re-potted lots of plants into little terra cotta pots which belonged to my grandad, but for the bigger ones we just decided to wrap their existing plastic in hessian. Saved time and looked cute.

Also, the major plus in decorating with potted plants is that there’s no arranging required, you just shove them wherever you need colour and they look great. Here’s one of our fireplaces to demonstrate:
Already-existing potted plants make for simple, chic wedding decoration
Image: My own

3. Cut flowers from your garden can look fabulous

This may be slightly controversial, and I’m sure I’ll get struck down by florists who deservedly find lots of employment in supplying flowers for weddings, BUT it is possible to provide your own flowers for a fraction of the cost.

But here’s the dea:l It’s money-cheap, but time-expensive. So you have to really want to do it. You also definitely need a back-up plan, just in case it doesn’t come off. And finally, prepare to have a house full of earwigs. Just saying, that’s totally a thing. Luckily they never made an appearance at the venue!

Michael grew a mixture of flowers to be potted and others to be cut, and we weren’t particularly picky about colours or types of flower — just whatever was likely to be in bloom in October. That gave us an incredible amount of variety on the day, and so much colour in every room. So it is doable, if you have the time and inclination.

Real Bride Emma's Decor Detail
Image: My Own
Real Bride Emma's Seating Chart
Image credit: Harriet de Winton
Real Bride Emma's Tablescape
Image: My own

4. Embrace the crafting

There were a few other things we made ourselves, either in the run up to the wedding or on the day, and I am so glad we did. They were:

  • Paper bouquets.
    I had my ‘maids over for an evening where we sacrificed awful rom-com books to the greater good and made a bunch (sorry) of paper roses. Afterwards I arranged these into bouquets and added the pearl spray. Simples. And I loved them — they were so personal (I am a huge bookworm), so free, and so indestructible!
Real Bride Emma carried a paper bouquet
Me and my bouquet, with some random dude…
Image credit: Matthew Haydn Jeanes

My maid of honour and all-round medal-winning crafty person, also made the button holes for the men using the same flowers. In about five minutes. She is a witch, but luckily a good one.

Paper boutonnieres
Image: My own
  • Statement pieces using more paper flowers.
    On our prep day we shoved eucalyptus leaves into florists oasis blocks and then attached spare paper roses to the spray to make it look nice. Again, super inexpensive — top tip, if you need loads of foliage to beef up your arrangements, eucalyptus is your best friend. Really cheap and really pretty. You’re welcome.
Eucalyptus and paper flowers make for an inexpensive but gorgeous statement piece
Arrangement created by Michael and my dad. Image: My own.
  • I “made” my belt for the day myself by hastily stitching an embellished piece of fabric to some more fabric. The jewelled bit cost me £7 on eBay, and the other material was a few quid in a crafting store. Was it brilliantly sewn? No, of course not, I am terrible at that sort of thing. But no one notices details like that, they just see the shiny stuff. You can totes get away with it too — don’t be afraid to have things not be absolutely perfect.

And that’s it for now. As I said, a fuller roundup of the day to come with a bit more bridal advice, but hopefully that’ll keep ya going for now! And if not, here’s a pic of my adorable flower girl and page boy … one, two, three … awwwww …

Real Bride Emma's flower girl and page boy
Image credit: Matthew Haydn Jeanes

Am Dram Wife – out!

What did you do that made a big impact but cost very little to decorate for your wedding? Share in the comments!

Emma Watkins
  • 10/21

    Heads up to all the South West of England BAB’s out there: I have found one amazing seamstress.

    I don’t know about you, but I had intense fear over handing my beloved dress over to someone I didn’t know, knowing I was paying them to hack it to pieces to make it fit me better. Having fallen completely head over heels for this dress I was absolutely terrified that I would get it back and it would be ruined. Or just a bit less perfect. Which is the same thing.

    So I left it until pretty much the last minute (two weeks before the “I Do” date) to hand it over to someone. Specifically Abigail Westrup.

    And, bless her faultlessly-stitched cotton socks, she did a marvellous job. When the time came to zip up in her shop it fit like a freakin GLOVE. I also took the time to wander about looking at her wares (mostly because I didn’t want to take my dress off again just yet) and let me tell you, they are adorable.

    Here’s a few pics I snapped of some of her own designs (that’s right, she’s also a dressmaker).




    Images by me (hence them being rubbish). All work contained is by Abigail Westrup 

    So there you have it, one trustworthy woman with a pair of shears. And the price was pretty darn good too.

    Did you find an independent seamstress / tailor or did you leave your dress in the hands of the bridal salon?

    Till next time, Am Dram Bride out!

    Emma Watkins
  • 10/8

    Hi BABs! The big day is almost here, and I am super excited! Over the last few weeks I have been surrounded by awesome generosity: El Fiance truly stepping up and doing more than his fair share of wedding prep; a fantastic, hilarious, Hobbit-themed hen party organised by my wonderful 'Maids with 22 absolutely incredible women; and so many random messages of support that it…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    A little daily caffeine-filled reminder never hurt. From Etsy seller MagicCityDesigns Big revelation this week for me: I'm not the only person getting married! After all the stress of the last few weeks, I finally managed to download all my pondering, worries, and tasks to El Fiance. BABs: Top Tip for a stress-free wedding is INVOLVE YOUR PARTNER! I know it can be tempting to…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    Hey BABs! I've gotta level with ya. I'm struggling to pen something today, and it's not because I'm filled with ennui. Source It's because my brain is whirling around with too much stuff to concentrate on one topic for more than five seconds! So today's post will be a reflection of the mayhem in my brain, and will simply be a random assortment of musings…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    It's less than two months to go 'til the wedding, and in my waking hours I am nothing but serene. Everything is progressing nicely, budget looks tight but good, and Mr Fiance and I are getting more and more excited about the big day. So why are my nights plagued by stress dreams? I know BAB has talked about wedding nightmares before (wedmares, anyone?), but I…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    Fellow BAB's, I have some awful news. Pretty soon, I have to start crafting. Yikes. No BAB wedding would be complete without a certain amount of DIY-mania, and ours is no different. There are three main things we are DIY-ing: 1) My bouquet and the button holes for the menfolk. 2) All the table decorations. 3) The flowers. That's right, we're growing and then arranging…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    'Sup BABs! I'm back once again with a bibbity, boobbity blog, and this time I am super excited to be able to give a massive shout out to Miss Harriet de Winton. I am very lucky to have this lady in my life, and even more lucky to have so much help from her with wedding stuff. She's been super supportive from day one, and…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!


    Hey brides! I've been pretty busy the last few weeks with everything BUT wedding planning. So, instead I'm gonna hit you up with a terrible listicle. Mmm'Kay? Five reasons why planning a wedding is awesome/terrible: 1. You get to go through all your lists of friends and family and choose which ones you like the most! THEN halve that number and play the game I…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!