Spending on Weddings-How to Reduce it.


The first principle here is for a couple to assess their values, needs and wants and to decide what is most important to them and how they wish to expend the budget. Is it the food, is it the music, is it the clothes/dresses, is it the honeymoon? In order for the wedding to be really memorable it is probably best to do one of these areas extremely well – put most of the eggs into one basket, so to speak.


Reflect on the wedding conversations that you have been part of – what are the questions that people are curious about. Frequently the first question is about the food, often they are told that the band was great – they never wonder about the favours on the table though. Here at Barnabrow Country House we have seen a lot – sometimes a Sweet Cart is a major attraction and not just for the under-twelves, yet very often the couple create their own and have fun doing it. Frequently elaborate photo-booths are constructed, necessitating substantial rearranging of furniture, yet other times just the props are provided: beards, moustaches and glasses.


Flowers do make a difference in my opinion. They create a theme be it vintage or rustic or just pure simplicity. While the wedding connoisseurs at One Fab Day long for the dearth of the ubiquitous jam jars, adorned with lace and filled with wild flowers, that grace many many wedding tables, there is as yet no sign of this trend abating. These experts have predicted the end of Vintage, which they say is to be replaced with Ballroom – crystal and glass, glitter and bling – but it seems they are before their time, as rustic remains ever present. And rustic is simple and inexpensive. While a professional florist can seemingly wave a wand and create great beauty, many families attempt their own arrangements and save the expense. Be warned in advance though, flower arranging is very time consuming on a day when time is everything.


Wedding cakes have become ever more creative – cake tables are the new thing. Instead of a large cake, in the best of post-modernism, cakes are now deconstructed into their constituent possibilities: medium sized cakes- naked or dressed, cup-cakes, macaroons and marshmallows. Many of these are made at home, and with a touch of artistry, can be arranged to look charming if not quite the same as the magic of the professionals – but utterly acceptable and interesting. Cheese too, is gaining its market share, particularly with the accessibility of the range at the English Market here in Cork. It is often less expensive as an option and used as sophisticated platters to supplement the evening buffet.


Drink and weddings go glove in hand, in Irish culture at least. To supply at least 100 Irish people with alcohol over a period of at least twelve hours of merry making is potentially a daunting and expensive task. At Barnabrow, we recommend a glass and a top-up at the pre-reception. Couple often want the Champagne/Prosecco to flow but this is not a good idea. Guests are hungry, excited and struggling to pace themselves – it is best not to be too encouraging and it is less expensive too. We believe that a half bottle of wine per person with dinner is generous and if this does not seem like a lot to you be assured that it balances itself out – not everybody drinks equal amounts – spare a thought for the designated drivers and there are always a few. Younger guests usually drink more than older guests.


In recent years with the return of the emigrants, if only for the duration of the wedding, we have borne witness to a plethora of international weddings. It seems that Ireland is one of the few countries that does not provide an open or free bar (with good reason, you might argue) and this is often a dilemma for couples whose guests may be anticipating a free flow, literally. Our advice is that in Ireland, do as the Irish do and send the guests to the bar and to buy their own beer. We should not let our traditional inferiority complex interfere with what makes good sense. The guests even enjoy the experience – they get to talk to the local staff who are serving them!

Sometimes a free bar is inhibiting for guests who do not feel comfortable encroaching any further on the family’s hospitality. The more paranoid of your guests fear that their trips to the bar are being watched and counted. Those without conscience at all, abuse the hospitality and treat themselves to a series of doubles, triples and shots. Beware.


On average a wedding costs twenty thousand euros – that is a lot of money. But perhaps, because you feel honoured by the attendance of your guests, you should show your appreciation by providing well for them in the line of food and entertainment and cut back on other trimmings as the budget dictates.