Author Archives: Paula Brown (Ollievision)

Paula is a professional wedding & event photographer based in Leeds, Yorkshire. She founded Ollievision Photography in 2002 and provides a friendly, high quality service to clients across the UK.

Save money on your wedding. Budget maximising ideas for brides & grooms!

save money on your wedding – getting married on a budget – cost saving ideas for brides

As I sit here at my desk I can see it’s a glorious day to get married.  The sky is an amazing blue and the sun is shining.  Yet there may be no weddings in the UK today… you see, it’s a Wednesday in March.  Who would get married on a Wednesday in March?  The most super savvy, money saving bride, that’s who!

This article is about how you can save money on your wedding budget.  I meet couples every day online who are seeking money saving ideas.  The problem is often that they set their wedding date for a peak summer Saturday without realising how that would impact on costs and availability of suppliers further down the line.  The more market demand there is to marry on a certain date the harder it is for you to negotiate discounts or get special offers.

I want to help you build in cost saving ideas at every stage of your planning process, not be left trying to save on the little things after you have committed to the main costs.

So where do we start?


1 Select your target month.  I’d suggest March because the weather is often pretty good and wedding prices are low.  Other months to consider are early April, October & November.  You need to avoid anything near the Easter holidays and any half term holidays that occur in your area.  Check for those on the local school websites.  Remember to check the private school holidays too as they may be different.  January and September are popular months for corporate conferences.  As a general guide, if you were looking at pre-Easter savings you’d marry about 3-4 weeks before Easter as that is guaranteed to be in school term time everywhere.

2 Select your target day. If you really want to save then go for a weekday.  I don’t mean a Friday because lots of weddings happen on Fridays.  Consider Tues/Weds/Thurs.  You might be wondering what’s wrong with Monday?  My reason for avoiding Monday is that you need to give suppliers like the chair cover hire business time to turn around the cleaning of the chair covers, table cloths etc from the weekend hire.  Your wedding is intended as a welcome extra “bonus” for the suppliers you choose, not something they have to rush to cover.  Monday is likely to be  day when hotel staff are exhausted from working weddings Fri, Sat & Sun!

3 Choose your ceremony time.  A few years ago I noticed some Yorkshire brides were booking ceremonies very late in the day, eg 4pm.  This was designed to save money on catering costs as guests would only need feeding once.  I believe there may be benefits to other costs, such as room decor, as the company has much more time to get ready in the morning.  Less stress for the supplier means a potential saving for you!

Caution: If you book a late ceremony in winter/spring then it’s essential you check your photographers portfolio for winter weddings.  You need an experienced photographer who knows how to capture the group shots and bridal portraits outside in the dark or in a spare room at the venue.  Read about how to choose a wedding photographer here.


4 Guest numbers.  Before you can book a venue you need some idea of how many guests you will have.  The advantage of a weekday wedding during term time is that there will be fewer children to pay for!  Also, guests who you are not particularly close to but felt obliged to invite may be unwilling to take a day off work.  A venue normally will look for two figures: a) Number of guests at wedding ceremony & reception  b) Number of guests for evening party.  You only need rough numbers, but it’s important to have an idea because some venues may have a maximum or minimum number of guests on a particular room or package.  For example, I know of one hotel that has a lovely ceremony room which only holds a maximum of 60 people.  I know of others that have a minimum requirement, eg you must have 50 guests to the sit down meal.  If you have fewer than 50 you still pay for 50!  These minimum guest numbers are much more flexible on off-peak dates.  A hotel that insists on a minimum of 50 guests on a summer saturday may have no restrictions at all on a wednesday.

5 Wedding insurance. This should be purchased BEFORE you book your venue or other suppliers, but after you have a fair idea of the date.  Read more about it here.  It’s recommended for all couples who can’t afford to pay twice for suppliers.

Now you’ve thought through the options above you are ready to start choosing and booking your venues.  There’s a whole host of other things to consider about what you need from your venue, but that’s for another article!

Church weddings – the Church of England has a central tariff for wedding fees.  These may be added to by the local church to cover things like heating, bell ringers etc.  The local church committee (PCC) set their own fees and collect the central tariff fees.  This can lead to a variation in price between churches.  One church may quote £750 and another £500, depending on what their own church council fees are, so it’s worth checking the rate with different churches if you haven’t got a particular family link to one.

save money on your wedding, wedding planning, advice for english weddingsCaution: If you would like photographs taking during the wedding ceremony (most people do!) it is vital that you ask the minister what the photography rules are for their church.  If the minister says photography is allowed by the official photographer get the rules in writing and make them a condition of your booking.  Most churches allow the minister to make up their own photography rules, so unless you check you could end up booking your wedding in a church where photography is not allowed during the ceremony!  The reason for getting them in writing at the time of booking is that the minister could change before your wedding and the new one might not want photography.  You need to ensure that your original agreement is honoured. The photography community is aware of many cases where nothing has been said about a photography ban until the photographer arrives at the church.  One photographer friend of mine had a church warden allocated to “guard” him during the ceremony to make sure he could not take any photographs!

Hotel weddings – Be straight with the wedding coordinator about your budget and expectations.  Ask if there is any other way of reducing the cost, eg by moving to another day or week? Check how minimum guest restrictions vary from date to date.  Ask about corkage fees should you decide to supply your own alcoholic drinks.  Check what their cancellation policy is, and whether you might be able to change your date if that became necessary.

Ollievision-479-I45B0092Case study: Michaela & Sam booked their wedding at Great Victoria Hotel in Bradford for 15th December 2013.  Sam is in the army and a change to his deployment dates meant the wedding had to be moved.  Great Victoria Hotel allowed a switch to 22nd December. Fortunately, myself and other suppliers were also able to accommodate the change in date so the couple didn’t lose any money.

Registrar costs – couples are often surprised to discover how much it costs to have the registrars attend a hotel wedding.  If you’re having a weekend wedding then bear in mind you have to pay double time for two registrars to attend the hotel.  It’s bound to be more than if you go to where they are (the register office) on a week day. One possible way of saving registrar costs is to have a minimal ceremony midweek.  Leeds Town Hall does a £75 legal ceremony on a Wednesday for the couple only.  Once the legal stuff is sorted you can book a celebrant to cover the formal wedding at a hotel or anywhere else you wish to marry.  Using a celebrant means you are no longer restricted to venues that have a marriage licence.  You can have the ceremony in a forest if you like!  The legal part of the ceremony will have already been carried out by a registrar in the days before the main ceremony. (Please note that if your legal wedding ceremony is on a different day to your reception you will need to insure both events separately.)

The colour scheme – This affects the price of your flowers so my advice is to start by looking at what flowers are in season and how much they are likely to cost. Silk flowers or even paper flowers may not save you money but could extend your colour choices.

The photographer – If you have chosen an off-peak wedding date then you should find it easy to obtain reliable suppliers. It’s still worth bringing the photographer on board fairly early in the planning process as you then have access to someone who can give you further guidance if required.  They will probably know several good florists, dj’s and venue decorators.  Your photographer may even be on good enough terms with certain suppliers to negotiate with them on your behalf! See this article for advice on how to choose your wedding photographer.


save money on your wedding, getting married on a budget, cost saving ideas for bridesThe florist – Select three florists who are relatively close to the wedding venue. Go see them in person and get a feel for whether they are the kind of person you can work with and trust. Ask the florist what they would recommend for a bride on a budget.  Give them the freedom to design something they can be proud of.  Suppliers like florists are creative people and they usually take a pride in their work.  If you give them the freedom to create you will get something better for your budget.

Check what date Mothering Sunday falls on.  Make sure your wedding is not within 3-4 days either side of it!  Valentines Day, Mothering Sunday and Easter are days when flowers are traditionally given as gifts.  Flower prices rise steeply at those times and the workload of florists is much higher than normal.

The make-up artist – To be honest, this is one supplier I would not attempt to save money on!  As with photographers, there is a huge variation in quality and expertise among the hair & makeup artists.  A good one can transform you beyond what you have ever imagined.  An OK one can do a decent job.  Choose this key supplier wisely and look carefully in their portfolio for before & after photographs of previous brides.

The dress – Many brides find that the designer dress they want is too expensive and it’s not long before someone suggests they can be obtained much more cheaply from Chinese suppliers on ebay.  Brides are tricked into thinking that they can “deal direct with the factory” and cut out the profits of the dress designer.  This is not the case.  The copy dresses sold are advertised using photographs of the real designer dresses that have been stolen from the manufacturers website.  The difference in price between the UK shop price and the “factory” price is accounted for by it being a completely different dress!  The special materials and skilled dressmaking staff used by the designer are not available to the copier.  See the site Brides Beware for more information about this.

There are many reputable Chinese factories selling online. Just be certain that you are buying their original design and not a high risk “designer copy.”

bride on a budget ideas, How to save money on your wedding, maximise wedding budget, money saving ideas for bridesThe cake – Go to a professional cake maker and be flexible.  Give them your colour scheme and look at samples of their previous work.  Pick something you like but don’t be too prescriptive.  Brides who want to control every aspect of everything may end up paying more as dealing with them and producing their exact specification takes longer.  Choose your cake maker wisely, pick someone who you can trust to do a great job and let them get creative with it.

Couples usually order much larger cakes than they need based on the number of guests attending the wedding.  I find that as the cake cutting is often not done until around 8pm, by the time the guests get a chance to eat cake they are usually full!  I have seen wedding cakes go almost un-eaten. So if your dream cake in the size you think you need is out of your budget, just downsize and it’s likely it will still be more than enough.

Another good money saving tip for more complicated cakes is to discuss having a polystyrene tier.  These are iced and appear as an exact match with the rest of the cake.  The advantage of polystyrene is the reduction of weight at the top of the cake.  You save a little due to no cake ingredients being required and you get to keep the top tier of your cake forever!

If you can’t afford a professional cake maker, then of course it’s something you could get a friend to do.  However, be realistic!  Don’t ask your friend to make a 4 tier wedding cake, choose something that does not require internal supports.  For example, you could get a 3 tier cake stand and place the tiers onto that separately.  That way, the stand supports the cake rather than the cake requiring a more complicated internal support structure.  I have seen wedding cakes at risk of collapse and it’s just not worth taking the risk of suffering this embarrassment at your wedding.

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Stationery – The best wedding invitation & stationery makers will charge for samples so expect to pay up to £5 for a custom sample making and posting to you.  This amount is often deducted should you decide to place your order with the supplier.  A way to trim your stationery budget is to avoid Save the Date cards.  These are an American tradition that has crept into the UK market in recent years.  If your guests already know about your wedding you don’t need save the dates at all! If your wedding is already booked and you have confirmed the venues then you can issue the wedding invitations at any time of your choosing.

Avoiding wedding scammers – Part of saving money is making the right decisions as to where you can save and where it’s “too good to be true.”  Please read this article about how to buy wedding services safely on Facebook.

Good luck with planning your wedding.  Take time out to relax regularly and ENJOY the process!  See my wedding planning advice page here for more helpful articles.

Article By Paula Brown of Ollievision.  Paula is Chair of The Adel Association, a Leeds residents and consumer rights group.  She is also a full time professional wedding & event photographer in Leeds.

This article is strictly copyright.  Breach of copyright fees apply.  Feel free to share the article using links to this page.

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Avoid Wedding Stress! How to avoid the 10 biggest mistakes couples make when planning their wedding.

Avoid wedding stress by reading up on the top disaster inducing mistakes!

As a full time wedding photographer I live and breathe weddings, just as many couples do in the run up to their wedding.  I’m on hand to give advice and support to my couples when necessary and have noticed that the same problems occur over and over again.  This article is about how to avoid the stress and distress that certain behaviours may bring you.  These are real scenarios that I have discussed when brides have requested advice.

avoid wedding stress, how to deal with wedding problemsPaying the venue a deposit before the venue has issued a contract.  Many couples are so keen to “reserve the date” at their venue that they pay a deposit without even getting prices in writing.  With all your suppliers, a contract should be issued before you pay the deposit.  In the case of venues I see a lot of brides complaining that prices have risen, or that there are some previously unmentioned fees to pay on top of what they originally expected.  Your venue contract should contain all the prices you are paying.  For example, how much is a day guest?  How much are canapes?  Is there a corkage fee?  Is there a fee for hiring a supplier that is not on their recommended suppliers list?  (Some venues get back handers from the recommended suppliers so if a couple chooses a non-recommended supplier the venue may try to recover the lost payment by issuing an extra fee.  This is quite rare but it comes up from time to time.)  Bear in mind that due to the time between booking and your wedding hotel staff may have changed.  It is not enough to simply trust your wedding coordinator – they may work for a different hotel by the time your wedding comes around.

Forgetting to book wedding insurance.  Wedding insurance should be booked before the suppliers.  Don’t wait until after you have booked the venue as most policies only cover a certain amount, eg £1000 of what is paid before the policy is booked.  All the info you need about wedding insurance is here.

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Making a cake like this took years of practice and training.

Booking “friends” or “friends of friends” instead of experienced wedding suppliers.  It might seem like a gift when someone who is an “aspiring” cake maker or wedding photographer offers to help you for a reduced rate.  However, I have seen the results of some of these gifts and they are not pretty!  I have seen collapsing cakes and photographs that broke the brides heart.  On the other hand, I have seen amazing cakes made by the grooms mother. It’s important to apply the same criteria and checks to all suppliers, whether you know them or not.  If you are told that your friend’s friend is a wedding photographer then insist on seeing their portfolio.  Compare their work to that of people you know to be wedding photographers.  There’s more advice on booking a wedding photographer here.  Another point to take into account is that if you have wedding insurance it will not cover you for amateur suppliers.  I regularly find that couples who have been let down by a friend have no budget left to book a genuine supplier with.

Snapping up cheap special offers before booking key suppliers.   If you’re on a tight budget book suppliers in order of your priority.  So if getting the best florist you can afford is more important than getting the best photographer book the florist first.  I have met brides who book suppliers on “special offers” early on then regret it.

wedding planning & advice articles indexLosing money to wedding scammers. It’s understandable when you find a great deal that you don’t want another couple to step in and snap it up.  Wedding scammers take advantage of a sense of urgency.  I deal with many brides who have lost money, sometimes they even purchased items that did not exist or were sold to multiple buyers.  Please read more about how to avoid wedding scammers here.

Talking about the table plan & menu.  You’re probably thinking “How on earth can that be a big mistake?”  Honestly, the number of brides who are in distress about the table plan in the weeks before the wedding is astonishing!  My advice is to keep the seating arrangements secret from everyone else.  Don’t enter into discussions about who is sitting at the top table or who is sitting with who.  Once you go down that route there will be so many suggestions as to why granny can’t sit near Aunt Mary and why Uncle Bob must be next to so-and-so.  The menu can be equally problematic as one relative after another puts their views forward and insists on what they can and can’t eat!

Appointing a maid of honour and bridesmaids immediately.  
Many brides have quite long engagements and appoint various key roles in an excited rush at the start of the planning process.  Maid of honour is an American tradition that is creeping in over here as a result of so many of us seeing US films and reading US wedding blogs.  My advice is to keep all bridesmaids on an equal footing, at least for the first few months of planning.  A very common theme in wedding forums is “My maid of honour doesn’t seem interested in my wedding, should I get rid of her?”  Life will be less stressful if you keep the bridesmaids on the same level so that no one person has a greater responsibility.

avoid wedding stress, wedding problems how to solve them, wedding planningBooking a wedding venue that is too small.  When this occurs I usually see it in relation to the ceremony room.  If a room can’t accommodate your guests it is going to cause problems!  I have come across couples telling friends who have travelled that their children can’t attend the ceremony as there is no space for them.  What are they supposed to do with their children?!!

Trying to be “clever” with the guest list so someone can be excluded.  I’ll give you a real life example:  One bride asked her fiance to agree that there would be no children invited to the wedding.  Later on, this agreement was used to exclude the groom’s own grandchildren from attending!  The bride was surprised when this caused a family feud as the groom’s son complained and said he would not attend if his kids couldn’t come.  If you’re marrying someone who has children or grandchildren then trying to exclude them from the wedding will cause a dispute!

Expecting the wedding guests to cover the cost of the wedding.  The married couple are pretty much guaranteed to be showered with gifts, including cash.  “Money poems” have become more popular in recent years as so many couples already have their homes and everything they need.  It’s quite acceptable to ask for cash or vouchers as gifts… but some couples take this to a whole new level.  **In the interests of your well-being I advise you to put down any food or hot drink before reading on!**

Carrie has recently suffered illness and is currently unemployed.  Money is tight, so when she was invited to a friend’s wedding Carrie bought some nice Champagne glasses as a gift instead of giving cash.  There had been a money poem issued with the invitations.

The day after her friend’s wedding Carrie received a text….

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Mary is marrying for the second time and offers some useful insights….

“First time round (2002) I was much too soft, I got married in a church because his family were religious, I listened to others far too much, I let my sister in law at that time change my mind on colours because red was “too popular” even though I wanted it.  I picked a style of wedding dress to look respectable (was beautiful though), I was made to pick bridesmaids I didn’t really want, I let one of the bridesmaids (a sister) talk me into having straps on all the BM dresses, I let everyone control me in fear of upsetting anyone.  I had to invite people I didn’t want there… yes, we had a lovely day and I went overboard in a lot of ways to put my own stamp on it. We ended up with a lot of debt with having to get loans to pay for it all.

This time – I share very little with anyone, I have decided who is in my wedding party, I stand up for myself, I have the dress of my dreams, I have the venue of my dreams and have a man who respects me. We are only inviting those who are close to us and I’m not going overboard, yet having everything I want for way less than half of what was spent first time around.  Very importantly we can afford it without loans or credit cards.  I’m so glad I grew a backbone!”

I will leave the final words of wisdom to Helen.  My fiance and I have just gone through our wedding plans to ensure we are having what we want rather than trying to please everybody else in our families. We were starting to lose sight of whose day it was and it was making us both unhappy. We’re now much happier and feel much more in control of our day.”wedding planning advice, Avoid Wedding Stress

Many thanks to the members of the Facebook group Wedding Advice & Chat for their help with content for this article.


Article By Paula Brown of Ollievision – Strictly copyright, breach of copyright fees apply

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Healds Hall Hotel Weddings – Wedding fayre at Healds Hall Hotel

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The early part of the year is a favourite time for wedding fayres!  I only do a couple of fayres a year and this year my first was at the lovely Healds Hall Hotel near Liversedge. Healds Hall is a small privately owned venue with 24 bedrooms.

Their annual wedding fayre is organised by local wedding planner Pamella Dunn.  It gives brides a chance to see the venue and speak to relevant suppliers.  Local wedding dress shop Prestige Bridal supplied dresses for the catwalk bridal fashion show.  After the fayre closed Yorkshire wedding magician Mark Waddington treated the other exhibitors to a short private performance!

If you’re looking for a wedding photographer in Yorkshire you can view some of my featured weddings here.  Please get in touch to find out how I can help you enjoy your wedding forever!

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Wedding Photography Met Hotel Leeds

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The Metropole Hotel is one of Leeds finest old venues that originally opened in 1898.  It’s a well known city landmark thanks to it’s beautiful terracotta exterior.  To be found just a short walk from the railway station, City Square and Park Square… it’s perfectly placed in central Leeds.

Myself and Kathryn the videographer started coverage in the spacious bedroom where Emma was getting ready with her bridesmaids, mum & grandmother.  The ceremony ended with guests throwing confetti at the bride & groom as they walked back down the aisle.

There was rain after Emma & Chris’ ceremony so I photographed the groups inside.  The weather improved after a while and we walked to Park Square for some outside photos among the rose bushes.  Before the evening reception we headed out again in the opposite direction to City Square for some night time images.  I had wanted to do evening photos at City Square for a long time but at every previous wedding nearby it had rained!

If you’re looking for a wedding photographer for The Met Hotel please get in touch!  I’m a local Leeds photographer and know the venue and the city centre very well.

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How to use iSmartPhoto – a guide for couples and their friends

How to use iSmartPhoto – wedding photography Leeds – iSmartPhotos Yorkshire

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iSmartPhoto QR code

Ollievision Photography is an approved supplier of the new iSmartPhoto technology.  This provides a photo and/ or video fusion experience for still images.

iSmartPhoto video fusion, How to use iSmartPhotoYou need a suitable device to use iSmartPhoto, eg an iphone, ipad or android phone.

1 Download the free iSmartPhoto app from Apple store or Google Play.   (You need to go to the app store and type ismartphoto into the search box.)

2 Go to an iSmartPhoto activated photograph in a wedding album or online.  For this example I’ll use one of Irene & Roger’s ceremony photographs.  Please note that iSmartPhoto is intended for printed items but you can test the function by holding a mobile phone over the screen here.  It will not work if you try to view the photo and use the app on the same phone!

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Video by Kathryn Hall at View from the North Productions. Photos by Ollievision. Thanks to Kathryn for her production of this video.

3 Open the iSmartPhoto app on your phone then point your mobile phone camera at this image, as though you are going to take a photo of it.  iSmartPhoto will recognise the image and ask you for an 8-digit passcode.  Each couple have a unique code. Enter 13572468 for Roger & Irene to test this image.  (If you are trying to view images belonging to a different couple then enter the code they give you!)

4 Hold the phone in place over the photo and the download will commence.  The video will start to play automatically.

5 You can move the phone closer or further away from the photo to enlarge/ reduce the size of the video on your display.  It looks better if you hold the phone parallel to the image during viewing and don’t tilt it.

6 To stop the video move your phone away from the photo or exit the iSmartPhoto app.

Ollievision can provide iSmartPhoto as as add-on to wedding, event and portrait photography services whether a videographer is present or not.  If you require a videographer for your event I recommend Kathryn Hall at View From The North Productions who is also based in Leeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to enter the 8 digit code every time I want to view the iSmartPhoto?

No.  Your device will remember it and you will probably find the video automatically starts when held in front of the target image again.

How does the technology work ?

iSmartPhoto have developed a unique and hybrid type of image recognition. The invisible code in the target image that is read by the App is based on almost 1000 points of recognition.

What type of devices can I use the iSmartPhoto App on?

Apple iPhone 4s and later, Apple iPad, Android smart phones.

Another example… this image will be the first dance page in Irene & Roger’s wedding album….

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