x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

My budget getaway at a Polish palace

How I planned for my wedding day.

Alasdair Murray and Jade Thaden, who are getting married in November, have a budget of Dh60,000.
Alasdair Murray and Jade Thaden, who are getting married in November, have a budget of Dh60,000.

My fiancé and I are budgeting for a summer 2011 wedding in Poland. The 100-strong event will take place in a 19th-century palace outside Krakow. As well as extending the big day into an impromptu group holiday, getting more bang for our buck has played a huge part in deciding to get married abroad. If the average wedding in the UK costs about £22,000 (Dh114,643), then we're aiming to spend around half of that. Using an Excel spreadsheet, my finace and I are keeping track of costs and hoping the exchange rate remains favourable while we sign off on things such as a photographer and car hire. Unlike UK venues, we've not been charged an upfront cost. Instead, we negotiated the price at about £25 a head.

The only drawback is the distance. While it's great to know we're keeping within budget - even while ordering fireworks, a classic car and a procession of meals throughout the day - the distance means we're reliant on my parents, who have a holiday home in Krakow, to be unpaid wedding planners. My mum has arranged a friend's son to do the photography for a reasonable £250, and she has found a florist for just £100.

My cousin, a superb home chef, is making the cake for around £100, compared to £700 we were quoted by one company in the UK. A graphic designer friend is designing our invitations for free, and printing those should be £100. I'll be printing the place names and menus at home. And to save on guides and maps for the guests, I'm putting all the information about the trip online, at a free do-it-yourself web site maker called www.wix.com.

Of course, we haven't remained completely immune to wedding fever blowouts. I spent double my initial budget on a designer dress, but I'm going to sell it once I've worn it. My fiancé bought me a stunning, custom-made ring from Baho Jewellery (www.bahojewellery.com), a start-up jeweller in Dubai. This saved around 40 per cent from buying the same diamond and platinum in a jewellery store. Meanwhile, we're dividing the wedding cost three ways - between both sets of parents and ourselves.

Flights to Poland from the UAE aren't too expensive at around Dh3,000. Good friends generally don't begrudge the added expense, especially as they end up having a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. And we won't be asking for gifts -we've not lived with our parents for years, so we've had plenty of time to buy a toaster and fridge. @Email:pf@thenational.ae