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Sydney wedding stylist Kimberley Burrell (pictured) has revealed how to make an event look luxe on a budget and the craziest nuptials she ever planned
A wedding stylist has revealed her top tips for making any event look luxurious on a budget, the craziest ceremony she’s planned and the one thing couple’s should never spend their money on.
After 10 years in the job, Sydneysider Kimberley Burrell has seen it all – from events getting rained out, to re-planning an entire reception after all the venue staff contracted Covid and even putting together an elopement ceremony in less than 24 hours thanks to an impending lockdown hours later.
Kimberley has an eye for making affordable buys from Kmart, Bunnings and IKEA look high-end but said splashing out on favours for guests is most often than not a waste of money.
The savvy stylist’s keen eye was of great use last year when she had just hours to pull together \couple Sarah and Jacob’s (pictured) ceremony before a lockdown was enforced at 6pm
She bought tables, serving ware, a cake stand, throw pillows and a champagne bucket from Kmart and a rug from IKEA and decked the site out with red and white roses and lush foliage
‘I pulled apart flower arrangements and re-did them into a luxe ceremony set up, grabbed last minute goodies from the shops before we got locked down,’ she said
The savvy stylist’s keen eye was of great use last year when she had just hours to pull together couple Sarah and Jacob’s ceremony before a lockdown was enforced at 6pm.
‘It was the 26th June 2021 – the day before Sydney went back into a snap lockdown including the CBD… exactly where my couple were supposed to get married,’ she told FEMAIL.
‘This was their third attempt at getting married due to Covid, and when the news broke their response was “F**k it! We’re getting married even if its just the two of us!”
Kimberley and the couple’s photographer raced around Sydney to find a park for the couple to have their ceremony and found an ideal spot in Balmain with views of the Harbour Bridge.
Kimberley recommends splurging on fresh flowers which she said are a simple way to take the styling to the next level and make the space feel ‘luxe and special’
IKEA Rattan placemats – $4 each
Big W set of three white candle sticks – $22
Kmart sable dinner plate – $3.50 each
Kmart set of six bond tumblers – $12
Kmart set of six bond wine glasses – $12
Kmart set of three bud vases – $10
Kmart 16-piece fusion gold cutlery set – $21
Kimberley bought tables, serving ware, a cake stand, throw pillows and a champagne bucket from Kmart, a Turkish style rug from IKEA and decked the site out with red and white roses and lush foliage.
‘I pulled apart flower arrangements and re-did them into a luxe ceremony set up, grabbed last minute goodies from the shops before we got locked down, and whipped up an intimate elopement for this incredible couple,’ Kimberley recalled.
The pair acted as witnesses and the only other attendees were the couple’s celebrant and their dog.
‘After inhaling a wedding cake (designed for 120 guests) and a bunch of champagne between the seven of us, we were all home just before the 6pm lockdown officially started. No laws were broken in the making of this wedding!’ she said.
‘At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what styling you do, so long as you get to marry your person, nothing else matters.’
Kimberley said Sarah and Jacob’s nuptials were one of many to be affected by Covid with one cancelled the day before after all the venue staff contracted the virus.
Styling a wedding doesn’t have to be as costly as one may think as Kimberley buys many of her accessories from wholesalers, Bunnings, IKEA and Kmart
‘After a crazy 24 hours coming up with plan b, the couple ended up having a mini elopement style ceremony with their immediate family at their celebrant’s office, while our team headed down the road to a local brewery who thankfully were able to accommodate 120 guests,’ Kimberley said.
‘We re-worked their entire ceremony and reception into an outdoor tepee so the couple could at least have a massive party with all their mates and family. It actually worked out perfect and totally suited the couple.’
Styling a wedding doesn’t have to be as costly as many think as Kimberley buys many of her accessories from wholesalers, Bunnings, IKEA and Kmart and said there’s one thing brides and grooms shouldn’t bother spending their money on – bonbonnieres.
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Kimberley said a common mistake couples make is to try copy trends off Pinterest and that it’s important to add your own personal touch to your event
‘Those little gifts couples put on every place setting at a wedding: aka landfill. When I come back at the end of the night to pack down a wedding, the bonbonnieres are always sitting on the table completely discarded,’ she told FEMAIL.
‘Most people don’t want another piece of $2 junk or a generic love heart bottle stopper with inedible Jordan almonds attached.’
4am – wake up to get to the Sydney flower market and select florals for the weekend’s weddings
7am – duck home for a coffee then head to the studio which is only two block away
8am – Uunload the van of the flowers to get them ready to prep and condition and strip all the thorns off
11am – another coffee because I’ve been up since 4am
12pm – Get the studio ready for a client meeting – vacuum, tidy and set up a bowl of chocolates to snack on
2pm – Catch up on some admin and have a sneaky chocolate snack
3pm – Client meeting
6pm – home time for dinner made by my boyfriend aka my personal chef
7pm – lounge time to watch a bit of TV with the dog
She said if a couple is set on giving guests a present, she recommends letting people take home some flowers or food.
‘We set up a ‘wrap station’ for guests to take home all the flowers at the end of the night (there’s tissues paper and nice ribbons so guests can make their own little posy), which can act as your bonbonnieres,’ she said.
‘Food is always a good option too. Provide little boxes so guests can make up a takeaway pack of wedding cake or a dessert buffet.. nothing better than a few snacks to smash in the taxi on the way home!’
Kimberley recommends putting money saved on bonbonnieres towards fresh flowers which she said are a simple way to take the styling to the next level and make the space feel ‘luxe and special’.
‘Flowers don’t have to be just for the one day, your guests can enjoy them for days later,’ she said.
‘If you don’t have the budget to have flowers dripping off every surface at your wedding, then pick a key focal area where the majority of your photos will be taken (usually at the ceremony) and splurge there. That way you’ll have photos of the incredible flowers to look back on forever.’
Kimberley said another mistake wedding-planning couples make is to try to recreate everything they see trending on Pinterest, and suggested picking a venue to match the intended style and look.
‘It’s your day so it should be a reflection of your love story, not a copy of someone else’s,’ she said.
‘This can also cause problems, because if you’re trying to copy a style off Pinterest and it doesn’t gel with your venue, then you’re going to have to spend more money and waste more resources trying to bring the venue into your style.’
She said picking a venue that matches your desired aesthetic can save big bucks in the long run and won’t need as much styling.
‘I once had a couple who hired an incredible venue just because they liked the view but the walls in the space were royal blue and they only wanted whites and creams in their styling,’ she said.
‘So they wanted to built a fake wall to cover the blue!! And then they were shocked to find out that their budget blew way over their initial request.’
✅Do: splurge on fresh flowers
Flowers don’t have to be just for the one day, your guests can enjoy them for days later.
Fresh flowers are such a simple element to add into your styling, and they make any event feel luxe and special.
If you don’t have the budget to have flowers dripping off every surface at your wedding, then pick a key focal area where the majority of your photos will be taken (usually at the ceremony) and splurge there.
That way you’ll have photos of the incredible flowers to look back on forever
❌Don’t: waste money on wedding favours
Those little gifts couples put on every place setting at a wedding. Aka landfill.
When I come back at the end of the night to pack down a wedding, the bonbonnieres are always sitting on the table completely discarded.
Most people ‘want another piece of $2 junk or a generic love heart bottle stopper with inedible Jordan almonds attached.
✅Do: look a venue that matches your aesthetic
Always pick a venue that suits your style and aesthetic. You’ll only need to bring in a few key elements this way to match the existing style and will result in a lot less work, and will be easier on your budget.
❌Don’t: try and to style every nook and cranny
Some people think they have to do everything when it comes to styling, when in reality, you just need to pick a couple of elements and do them well.
If you try to spread your budget too thin, you’re just going to dilute the overall design.
Instead, pick a key focal area and put all your budget and effort towards this, like a big hanging flower install, a big personalised neon sign and hire a sexy velvet lounge to create a photo op or hire nothing but super luxe tableware and forget the flowers.
✅Do: focus on lighting
Lighting is an important element to styling any event and it can be really easy and cost.
Candles provide a really romantic ambiance, and can help soften dark areas in the space. Kmart always have great candle holders, that are really affordable.
You can pick a bunch of varied height or colour candles and put them en-mass in the middle of the table for an easy and affordable centrepiece.
Just make sure you buy candles that have a burn time of more than four hours otherwise your guests could be sitting in darkness, depending on how long the event goes for.
❌Don’t: forget a wild weather Plan B
We are constantly working on plan B.
I would say almost 30-40 per cent of our weddings that are planned for outside usually end up somewhere inside at the last minute due to windy or rainy weather.
✅Do: design your own invites online
Canva is a godsend for the DIY bride or groom. It’s so easy to use!
Use it to design and create your own invitations and stationary. And then get them printed via Vistaprint.
Sure, they may not be the luxe, thick paper stock or foil pressed options you can get from some amazing creatives out there but they are a great money saver if stationary isn’t a priority for you.
You can even buy simple pre-made wedding Canva templates on Etsy and tweak them yourself, saving you a buttload of cash.