I learned a valuable lesson...about value

A wedding is an absolutely magical thing. It’s ONE DAY (or so) to spend celebrating your love, to surround yourself with all your favourite people and create a moment in time that reflects you and your partner perfectly. It’s something that most of us will only experience once and therefore we place a lot of importance on what we create, both visually and emotionally. So when you start planning, shopping, booking and organising all those parts of your day that are important to you, how do you justify it? How do you decide if it's 'good value'?

Value is pretty subjective, and it’s a topic that comes up a lot in the wedding industry because clients are spending out on a lot of things they wouldn’t normally buy, and which are often used for only a day.

For some, spending out on the things that bring them joy for their big day is a no brainer. They see the value, regardless of price, because it makes them happy. But for others this can be more difficult. Pressures of finances and opinions of others can create a need to be getting (and showing) value for money. In some cases this can mean couples pair back their plans, not wanting to seem frivolous. But in other cases it can be easy to fall into the trap of creating something showy and bold, simply for the purposes of demonstrating that you’ve spent the money and gotten something for it.

I describe this as ‘chasing value’, and it’s a trap I’ve fallen into quite often in my life.

In fact, I recently had an experience which helped me realise my value-chasing ways…

I’ve been preparing for the new season by having a little ‘me’ time - it’s not something I often do but after a busy few months it seemed like a good time to relax a little. Have you been doing this? I hope so. It’s important.

One of the things I’ve done was have my hair cut. It’s only the second time in 18 months which made it seem like an extra treat.

When I book a haircut I have to admit I spend a LOT of time ahead of the appointment over on Pinterest, looking for the perfect images to show my hairdresser what I do (and more importantly what I absolutely do not) want my new hair to look like.

I’m a bit of a hair chameleon (I think that’s the reason nobody recognises me…but that’s a story for another time) and my locks have been every colour under the sun - black, brown, blond, blue, orange, pink…

And style too, I’ve gone from pixie crop to wavy lengths and back again more times than I can recount since I first took charge of my hair aesthetic at the age of 9 (ie. the first time I was allowed to visit a salon rather than my mum chopping it with the kitchen scissors).

To start with, I really enjoyed the dramatic change you could create - I wanted to experiment, just like I did with my clothes, and create something new. Every time I went to the hairdresser I’d ask for a different style, it was never the same twice. And if I didn’t like what they did, I just tried something else.

Slowly, as I got older I learned what did (and didn’t!) suit me (shaved undercut? Maybe not so much…). And yet, I still spent hours looking for something new to do with my locks before every appointment. I’d trawl and trawl, seeing what might work this time that I hadn’t tried before, even though the last haircut I’d had worked well and suited me. Why?

Maybe there’s a back story (there’s always a back story…).

When I was little, we didn’t have a lot of money - we were fine but there just wasn’t a lot to spare. Our clothes were inexpensive, nothing branded or even high street really. We went on lovely, simple holidays in the uk that my parents saved hard for. If we wanted a toy, we needed to save our pocket money.

I guess from an early age I learned the value of money and that what you had was precious and not to be wasted. I thought and thought about what I could spend my little pot of cash on - I didn’t want to spend it carelessly and live to regret it because I knew that pot wouldn’t be magically refilled. I weighed up the options - I could get 1 barbie or 2 craft sets - which did I need more? How would the money best stretch?

Eventually I’d make my decision and we’d head to the shop. I’d have one more think, check for any other options, think again, then when I could no longer put up with my mum’s impatient sighs I’d make my choice and hand over the cash.

Basically, I wanted to ensure I was getting the best value possible.

So back to my haircut. This time, I did my usual thing - trawled Pinterest, considered all the options, then headed out for my appointment with lots of ideas in my head.

Stepping into the tropical climes of the salon and handing over my coat I felt ready for my restyle. I sat down, whipped out my carefully prepped Pinterest boards, and prepared to explain the new choppy bob I’d settled on. But as I looked in the mirror at the longer-than-usual locks I’d managed to grow during my break from the salon, I thought…no. Don’t do it. I put away my phone and as the hairdresser approached I found myself asking for a trim and a little refinement on my shaggy, lockdown fringe. That was it.

I’d suddenly realised that I actually quite liked my look, and the only reason I was planning to change it was because I wanted to get the most value possible out of the money I was spending.

Instead, I spent the money and came out looking like a sleeker, tidier version of the girl that went in (with less split ends and a good plan of action for achieving my long hair goals).

I’d had a bit of an epiphany whilst sitting in that salon chair, and that’s the bit I wanted to share with you.

I realised that value isn’t about the difference you can see - it’s not about finding the most showy, obvious thing to spend your pot of cash on (big or small), it’s about making sure the thing you are buying is actually what you want.

So I thought I’d share with you a few tips that might help you avoid ‘value-chasing’ when planning your wedding:

Remember that others might not understand or see the value in your choices - especially those of a different generation. Maybe you’d prefer a rustic-looking naked chocolate cake with fresh floral decor - but would your great auntie Doris understand that that paired down look might cost the same (or more) than the traditional, intricately iced 3 tier fruit cake she’d expect you to go for?

Your venue should fit your vision - there is often a perceived value in swanky, shiny places with a luxurious vibe. But if an industrial warehouse is what floats your boat then that’s where the value lies for you.

Deals don’t always equal good value - be mindful when it comes to discounts and offers. It can be really tempting to go for the ‘deal’ because it seems like better value, but if it’s not really what you want…is that good value after all? To be honest, this is how I’ve shopped for clothes and interior goods for a long, long time - sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. But when it comes to your wedding is it worth that risk?

Having worked in the wedding industry for over 15 years, I’ve seen couples with a huge range of budgets and ideas. And in my opinion, value has nothing to do with how much cash you have. It’s all about how it makes you feel. It really doesn’t matter if something costs £2 or £2000, whether it’s handmade or haute couture - if you can afford it and it brings you joy, I think you’ll find that’s good value.

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B x

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