Broke-Ass Tag: Real Bride Emma


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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
  • 3/24

    You may remember my telling you that English weddings tend to be boozy affairs. And by that I mean that most people measure the success of a wedding on just how trollied they were by the end of the night.


    Trollied” is English slang, meaning “very drunk.” It does not necessarily require a “trolley” (for US readers, we mean “cart”), although this does sometimes happen as well.

    For our evening guests there is a bar, so they can take care of their own inebriation.

    However we will be responsible for the boozy wishes of our day guests for several hours. And we want to get it right.

    Our venue had perfectly lovely wine options, but we knew that we would get a lot more for our money if we supplied our own. Especially after we managed to negotiate down the corkage charge (top tip for success on this — don’t be afraid to be persistent. I had the same conversation with our venue manager over and over again for several days. Eventually one of us had to give ground, and it sure as hell wasn’t gonna be me).

    This week I started looking seriously at different wine options. And there are SO MANY. Supermarkets, independent vineyards, wine clubs and many more.

    If you’re going to supply your own wine the best thing to do first is figure out just how much you’re going to need. There are loads of wine calculators out there, but I used this one from Majestic Wine as it seemed most comprehensive.

    Once you’ve done that you can start to shop around. We have narrowed ourselves down to two options:

    1) Naked Wines (available in the US, UK and Australia)

    Since last year I have been paying into an account for Naked Wines, a company who funds independent winemakers in order to secure the best prices on really great wine. They support small businesses and are all-round good guys. What’s great about having an account with them is:

    1. I put a small amount of money away each month (£20.00, although you can change this if you like) and I don’t notice it.
    2. They do loads of great offers on wines, including adding free ones after you order so many.
    3. They have a wedding service you can take advantage of.
    4. If you decide not to buy their stuff you can get all your money back, no questions asked.

    Pretty darn tasty.

    2) Majestic Wine Calais 

    Wine in France is much less expensive than in the UK, and there are huge superstores over there who are entirely set up to just sell Brits cheap plonk. One such is Majestic Wine, who offer a fab service. You can pop over there on the ferry, try a load of wines in store and then head home, safe in the knowledge that you got your tipples for a tidy price. You can even pre-order online, if you know exactly what you are looking for, which offers you even more savings.

    But how will we decide? Well, I am awaiting a quote from Naked Wines. If it’s not too much more expensive than Calais then I shall go with them, as I really support what they do. But at the end of the day, I am a Broke-Ass Bride, and if the savings on the continent are just too good to pass up … I shan’t.

    So there you have it, alternatives to just going with your venue’s offering. There are deals to be had, my dear BABs – you just gotta go out there and Google for them!

    Am dram Bride out!


    Emma Watkins
  • 3/11

    Credit: Jon Black Photography Hey guys! Today's post is more about saving your mind, instead of your pennies. Life in am dram world has been incredibly busy -- my fiancé and I have been in three musicals in the last six months, and so time to do wedding-y stuff has been limited. And guess what? That's fine. When you start planning your wedding, it can be easy to…

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    Michael and I decided at the outset of our wedding plans that we wouldn't include anything in the wedding that wasn't: There for the guest's comfort or delight Totally awesome and "us" Necessary for us to actually legally get married It struck me pretty early on that flowers, or specifically professionally arranged flowers, did not fit into any of those categories. In fact, in my…

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    Hello! Sorry I've been a little quiet, am-dram life took over for a while and wedding stuff just had to go on hold! But, now I'm back and starting to pick things again. Time is flying...eek! With just under a year to go to our wedding, we've now handed out (most of) our Save The Dates! This is one thing that brides can go ker-azzzy…

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    OK, a ridiculously amazing thing happened. Remember how I fell in love with a dress, but couldn't afford it, so went to San Diego to buy another one? Remember how it seemed like that was the end of the story? It wasn't. I know, I was as shocked as you. As much as I really liked the dress I bought in San Diego, I still…

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    Let's talk about booze. Because over here in the continuously tipsy British Isles, weddings and booze go together like birds of an inebriated feather. Weddings are often judged on just how much free-flowing alcohol there was, and whether anyone got so drunk as to not be able to remember the entire day. via  Just your average booze-filled English wedding. When we booked our wedding venue,…

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    I am a very lucky girl. Earlier this year my fiancé came top in the UK in a competition for Kinect Sports Rivals (an XBOX game that requires you to throw yourself around as if you were climbing, jet-skiing, bowling etc. ). This meant that we were given an all-expenses-paid trip to San Diego Comic Con, where he would be competing in the World final.…

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