A cheat sheet to a chic (and budget-friendly) wedding

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Kitty McGee
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Executive Fashion Director, Kitty McGee, shares her favourite bridal options for a summer ceremony that you wont have seen before. 

As a rare, low-key eldest child, I hadn’t given my wedding much thought until I got engaged last summer. Don’t get me wrong I’d thought about it, what girl hasn’t, but I hate being the centre of attention and all I knew was that I wanted something relaxed but that still felt special, and with all of my best friends and (pretty big) family there…. I didn’t want anything cookie-cutter, or out-of-this-world expensive. 

When I first searched for wedding inspiration I was underwhelmed with the same repetitive options for outfits, but when I dug a bit deeper I started noticing smaller, cooler brands that were much more inline with my ideas for me and my bridal party. 

Then when it came the venue, the opposite problem occurred and every venue on earth was an option - how do you begin to narrow that down? So from one bride to the next, here is my cheat sheet to get you through the long days of planning and hopefully give you some new ideas.

The venue: French farmhouse 

My boyfriend and I really wanted to get married in France, somewhere rural and fuss-free that could host around 100 people, but the crucial part of being easily accessible and with accommodation nearby. Enter Maison de la Vaure, not far from Bordeaux. 

Two English friends with impeccable taste have been renovating this former Cognac estate which dates back to the 16th Century, since early 2017. Not only is the view from the house incredible but there is room for 20+ guests to stay on site, a heated pool and a beautiful barn for dancing after dark. In addition massages, beauty treatments and yoga sessions can also be organised for you and your guests. 

Maison de la Vaure comes in at £8,000 for 5 nights (Bonus: no corkage charges) 

The venue: London…but rural 

Petersham Nurseries - the rustic oasis is a magical garden centre-cum Michelin star cafe near Richmond - has become a London institution. Whilst the weekend prices are high, there are more reasonable mid-week options and with an award-winning in-house florist, Michelin star restaurant and the most beautiful restaurant set-up, not only is almost everything there for you - but you can sleep easily knowing the standard of excellence cannot be beaten. It’s the perfect choice for a chic and civilised celebration. 

Petersham Nurseries has two options: daytime hire from £4,000 / Evening hire from £12,000 (Bonus: everything all in one place). 

The venue: central London chic 

One of the most iconic wedding venues in London and arguably the most picturesque, The Old Marylebone Town Hall recently reopened after a four year renovation. With seven ceremony rooms to choose from, capacities ranging from 15 - 96 people per room, and plenty of central hotel options, it’s a simple and elegant choice for a city wedding. 

Room hire and registrar for wedding ceremony at The Old Marylebone Town Hall starting from, £315 (Bonus: the beautiful backdrop makes for stellar pictures, see Paul McCartney and Liam Gallagher for inspo). 

The wedding dress: relaxed elegance 

I knew I wanted to feel like me on my wedding day, I like understated but it is still my wedding day so I wanted off-white, a little fitted and full length. I love the sun and France will be hot so I wanted something I would be comfortable in. Reformation’s seventies-inspired styles are perfect for summer weddings and low-key brides and this style, with a fitted top, low back and light fabric just ticked all the boxes.

Reformation’s bridal collection starts at, £305 + taxes and shipping (Bonus: you can shop your dress from the mainline too)

The wedding dress: the fashion forward 

Self-Portrait have been having a moment for the past couple of year with industry insiders, but the bridal collection was revolutionary. A contemporary looking dress that gave a big ‘designer wow’ moment but without the killer price tag. From laser cut outs to ruffle hems, Self-Portrait is the go to for any woman who wants to celebrate in style. 

Self-Portrait bridal collection starts from, £260, (Bonus: you can erase the age old myth and definitely wear this again)

The wedding dress: The high street hero 

The high street might not be your first port of call for a wedding dress but if you would prefer to spend your budget on other areas the high street has come really impressive choices at pocket-friendly prices. ASOS leads the way when it comes to design and variety of options - catering to Tall, Petite and Curve as well as offering up wedding guest options and all the trimmings for your big day. 

ASOS bridal dresses start from, £95 (Bonus: one stop shop for the bride and her bridesmaids) 

The wedding shoes: the classic 

I wasn’t sure I wanted classic shoes but when I started looking they appealed more and more. Bridal shoes are constructed in a much more considered fit than normal high street or designer footwear options, they are snug but comfortable. I went for an 85mm heel, the highest I could be really comfy in but that would also feel super special. 

Jimmy Choo’s classic bridal options start from, £450, (Bonus: you will actually last the whole night, promise)

The wedding shoes: cool and quirky 

Bridal shoes are not cool. They’re beautiful and elegant, yes, but not cool. But if you want something more modern there are some amazing options from contemporary designers. Haim favourite, ‘By Far’, have just launched the most excellent sandals with a square toe, chunky-ish heel and they come in four shades, one of which is soft pink. Perfect for the non-traditionalist.

By Far ‘Carrie’ style, £305 at (Bonus: can we re-worn to all summer occasions)

The wedding shoe: the Middleton effect 

The ultimate Kate Middleton shoe; a collaboration between two of her favourite British labels Jenny Packham and LK Bennett. The result is pleasingly in line with the bridal stalwart’s own-label handbags and shoes, but toned-down in both style and price. The perfect choice if your dress blew the budget.

Jenny Packham x LK Bennett collection starts from, £195, (Bonus: the collaboration also boasts super chic flats)

The wedding bag: the low-cost luxury 

Lots of people have an opinion on whether you should have a handbag on your wedding day but I’m a control-freak so was sure I wanted something - no matter how small - to make sure I had my key make-up items in there at least. Maison M do the most adorable velvet pouches in different colours; they feel current and are the perfect size, no mean feat. So I ordered the silver.

Maison M Bracelet Pouch Bag, £65, (Bonus: Be a street-style hero beyond your wedding).

The wedding bag: the evening option

If you aren’t into low-key, or want one statement accessory, this Clare V. pouch is perfect. The big fear with wedding bags is that they will look clunky or casual but this style is really smart, playful and big enough for all your wedding necessities. 

Clare V. Glittered Suede Pouch Bag, £210, (Bonus: perfect for black tie occasions beyond your big day)

The wedding bag: the updated classic

The pouch is the new clutch and this style is the perfect mix of classic and modern. The soft ivory tone, chic shape and soft embellishment makes it a fail safe choice for the indecisive bride. 

LK Bennett x Jenny Packham satin puch bag, £195, (Bonus: Get a designer name without blowing the budget).

The bridesmaid dresses: the failsafe

I found looking for bridesmaid dress options really fun and easy… until I shared them with my bridesmaids. I’m a different body shape to them and so my favourite dress styles were just not that practical for them. I fell at the first hurdle, so went to Ghost. I thought Ghost’s beautifully classic and elegant dresses would be too traditional for my wedding, but their dresses are actually really versatile, practical and, depending on the hair and make-up brief, can actually look really fresh and modern. 

Ghost Taylor Dress, £225, (Bonus: With plenty of colours and styles, in similar fits, your bridesmaids can wear different styles but still look like a cohesive collective).

The bridesmaid dresses: the cool-girl choice

French label Les Héroïnes is the ultimate cool-girl choice. Think laid-back camisoles, culottes, jumpsuits, slip dresses and wrap-skirts  in off-white, champagne and soft turquoise. Their soft tailoring vibe is the perfect choice for a relaxed city wedding. 

Les Héroïnes, from £168, (Bonus: Machine washable at 30 degrees).

The bridesmaid dresses: modern classic

A new British label Rewritten, founded by a former Net-a-Porter staffer offers up the ultimate non-bridesmaidy bridesmaid dresses. There are classic options, as well as off-the-shoulder styles and plenty of choice in colour palette; from oyster and bluebell to chianti and concrete. 

Rewritten dresses, from £140, (Bonus: The non-traditional colour palette makes them great for summer parties too).

The wedding stationary: understated elegance

Clerkenwell-based Lucy Edmonds runs this inspired stationary business. Her taste levels are off the scale and her designs are the ultimate understated chic - whether it’s unique bespoke invitations you are after, or ‘express’ wedding stationary - chic templates that come in three neutral shades with a super speedy turnaround.

Quill London Wedding Invitations, from £128 for 50, (Bonus: Maximum chic with minimum effort).

The wedding stationary: super modern

Strawberry Sorbet have an amazing selection of really clean, graphic invites if you’re looking for something minimal but powerful. My favourite styles are the embossed monochrome invites but they have lots of more colourful options too.  

Strawberry Sorbet wedding invitations, from £159.75 for 50 invitations & plain envelopes (Bonus: Order them online for a fuss free way to tick off a major item from your to-do list).

The wedding stationary: decorative

If minimal isn’t your thing but you don’t want something too pretty or traditional Pale Press London have some beautiful, decorative and illustrated invitation options. 

Pale Press London bespoke wedding stationary, from £200 for 50, (Bonus: the range of options is so vast that even if you change your mind you will be able to find something else you love).

Images: courtesy of the individual brands / Unsplash