Tips for a Relaxed Hen Party... for Any Budget

In this day and age, hen parties can go on for days! Some brides hold one hen party at home and another abroad. Some make ridiculously expensive requests of their guests, who find that they’re spending thousands of pounds a year on a few hen nights.

This writer, for example, spent around £2,000 on her friend’s hen party activities: which included a villa in Ibiza, salsa lessons and themed pool parties… ouch.

But hen parties shouldn’t feel like a competitive rush! We’ve put together some tips for having a relaxed, fun hen party that won’t break the bank.

Decide who you really want at your hen party

Don’t feel you have to invite every lady you’ve ever met. Just like your wedding day, you hen night should be a fun occasion with your loved ones - so don’t feel guilty if your guest list only consists of your mum, your sister, your best friend from school and your sister-in-law! Conversely, if you have a big group of good friends, consider what you could all do as a group. Perhaps a night out in a bar or a dinner, as opposed to a spa day or weekend trip?

Don’t expect your guests to have the same expectations as you

Cupcakes at a hen party

Remember that different guests are on different salaries, with different family lives. Some might have a lot of disposable income and expect to be swept off their feet by a fancy night out or weekend away. Others might consider a night in a bar with some funny props a big night out.

So with that in mind…

Decide on your budget early

It might be best to speak to your guests in person before deciding what you’re going to do or where. What seems cheap for you might not be for your friends! Estimate what the event or trip will cost and run it past your guests. Don’t forget to factor in drinks, food, etc!

If you’re really keen to do something a bit quirky, why not do a cupcake baking workshop or arts and crafts workshop?

Keep it local

Orange Cocktail.jpg

It might sound like fun to jet off on a city break, but do you really want to put yourself and your guests under that sort of stress and financial pressure? Why not spend an evening at your favourite restaurant after a day in a local spa, then head out to a party night? We get a lot of hen dos at our Club Classics nights, for example - some dress up in 1920s outfits, which we love! By keeping your hen party local, you’re ensuring everyone can get home easily and cheaply, without forking out for a hotel or flight tickets.

Common Wedding Mistakes - and How You Can Avoid Them

We've been hosting weddings at The Arlington Ballroom since 2013, and we’ve seen a lot of happy couples! Although the odd snag is perfectly normal (and nothing to worry about!) there are some mistakes people make during the planning process that make the whole day still stressful.

Food Mistakes: If You Don’t Cater for All Your Guests, They Won’t All Have Enough to Eat

Wedding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - Arlington Ballroom Blog

It sounds obvious, but if you only cater for 50% of your guests, there will only be enough food for 50% of your guests! We always recommend people cater for 75% of guests at an absolute minimum - there’s nothing worse than running out of food!

Budget Mistakes: Be Aware of Minimum Spends

Most venues have a minimum spend in place, especially on a weekend. Ensure you talk about the venue hire fee and food costs with the event staff early in the booking process. Find out if there is a separate bar spend in place. Once you’re aware of all the potential costs, do the maths to check if you can achieve the minimum spend with the number of guests you’re expecting.

Budget Mistakes: Mistaking Guest Numbers

Orange and Yellow Wedding Flowers

It can be a disappointing thought, but unfortunately not everyone you invite to your wedding will turn up on the day, even if they’ve RSVPd. Send out your save the date notes as early as possible and emphasise the importance of RSVPing, but prepare for some people to simply not turn up. Similarly, be mindful that an extra 20 or so guests might mean a bigger venue and higher costs - so ensure you’re inviting only the people you really want!

Communication Mistakes: Read the Notes

Many venues will send you notes prior to your event, detailing things like timings, menu choices and any extras you’ve chosen. Ensure you read through these notes carefully before signing off on them!

Planning to hold your wedding in Southend-on-Sea in 2019 or 2020? Get in touch with The Arlington Ballroom today!

Wedding Favour Ideas from Local British Businesses

Wedding favours are a tiny part of most weddings, but they’re a little detail that your guests will really appreciate, especially if they’re relevant to you as a couple. Read on a for a few inexpensive wedding favour ideas, all produced by UK-based small businesses!

Customisable Miniatures

Whether you’re a gin fan or a Champagne connoisseur, a miniature at every place setting can be a memorable wedding favour, especially if it’s customised, like these pink gin miniatures from Hearth and Heritage, a Bingham-based small business. Your guests can enjoy a tipple at their leisure and keep the gorgeous bottles if they’d like to!


Eco-Friendly Seed Packets

Seed packets are a novel way of sharing your love for nature and the environment. Wildflower Favours is a Kent-based small business that specialises in customisable seed packet wedding favours. They offer a variety of packets in different colours and seed types, as well as charity seed packets - so you can support an important charity while you enjoy your big day!


Customisable Porcelain Favours

Porcelain is beautiful and can be kept long after your wedding is over. These customisable, lace porcelain wedding favours by Northamptonshire -based artisan Karen Turner Ceramics on Folksy will add a delicate detail to your special day.


Personalised Scented Candles

Scented candles are a popular gift, so why not use them as a wedding favour? If you opt for candles in an aluminium tin, like these from Serendipity Naturals in Chatham, your guests can reuse the tin once the candle runs out!


If you’re looking for an intimate wedding venue in the Southend-on-Sea area of Essex, please do not hesitate to get in touch with The Arlington Ballroom via our Weddings page. We look forward to hearing from you!

Christmas Weddings in Essex

We all know someone whose favourite time of year is Christmas. They have their decorations up the first week of December (or before). They go buy stockings for everyone they know, partake in 10 Secret Santas and share posts on Facebook informing you how many sleeps there are until The Big Day. If you’re that person and you’re engaged to be married, why not hold your wedding at Christmas?

Jodie and Nicole’s Christmas wedding on 22nd December 2018.  Photograph by Boutique Wedding Films & Photography

Jodie and Nicole’s Christmas wedding on 22nd December 2018. Photograph by Boutique Wedding Films & Photography

Holding a huge event so close to Christmas or New Year might sound like a nightmare, but It doesn’t have to be stressful - and your guests are going to love having something to think about that isn’t turkey and Christmas pud! Read on for our tips on holding a Christmas wedding.

Get Organised

More organised than you would for a non-Christmas wedding, we mean. Christmas is a busy enough time without a wedding to plan, so we recommend organising your wedding as much as possible earlier in the year. It might seem strange trying on winter wedding dresses in March, or planning white glittering decorations in August, but the more you do before December hits, the more you can relax on your big day! It might be an idea to do your Christmas shopping earlier in the year too…

Decide on Your Christmas Theme

Jodie and Nicole next to their Christmas tree.  Photograph by Boutique Wedding Films & Photography

Jodie and Nicole next to their Christmas tree. Photograph by Boutique Wedding Films & Photography

‘Christmas’ means different things to different people. For some, it’s all about the Father Christmas hats and multicoloured tinsel while for others, it’s about subtle gold or silver drapes and soft lighting. Talk with your partner about how you want to ‘theme’ your Christmas wedding - will it be a sparkling silver winter wonderland, or a bold red and gold grotto? Will you have carols and a Christmassy wedding cake? You could incorporate holly into your flower decorations, use Christmas crackers as wedding favours and even use gingerbread infusers to really get the Christmas theme going!

Are You Having a Christmas-Themed Wedding or Just a Winter Wedding?

How much Christmas is too much Christmas? Some couples want carols as part of their service, some want the Master of Ceremonies to dress up as Father Christmas, some want a choir. Others just want, well, a winter theme for their winter wedding.

Mulled Wine at a Winter Wedding

Plan Your Winter Wedding Breakfast Menu

Winter is the perfect time to be adventurous with your menu. Think mulled wine, Baileys or eggnog as a welcome drink or hearty hot chocolate as a dessert. You could have roast turkey for your mains, as it’s Christmas - or go with something more traditional like venison or pheasant.

Make Plans for Bad Weather

Andrea and Paul’s snowy wedding in winter 2018.  Photos by RM1 Photography.

Andrea and Paul’s snowy wedding in winter 2018. Photos by RM1 Photography.

Winter weather can be unpredictable, so make plans for putting guests up in hotels should it snow. Consider your outfits too - will your bridesmaids want to walk around in strapless dresses in December? Consider adding a wrap to their outfits, or choose a high-necked dress. Remember that guests may not want to hang around in the cold, so consider investing in a marquee.

Are you looking to hold a winter wedding at The Arlington Ballroom? Have a look at what we offer for weddings on our page, and get in touch via info@thearlingtonballroom.co.uk or 01702 711 350 (10am-4pm weekdays).

Say Yes to the Wedding Dress… on a Budget

Weddings can quickly become eye-wateringly expensive. With the venue hire, photography, catering and flowers, plus insurance and transport, it’s no surprise that the average wedding in Britain now costs around £30,000. One aspect that’s sure to be talked about for years to come is the wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses - but there’s no need to spend a fortune! Here are our tips on on getting fabulous dresses at an affordable price!

Shop on the High Street

The high street can be a treasure trove for beautiful wedding and bridesmaids dresses - without the eye-watering price tag. All of these Debenhams dresses are £60 or under, as are all of these Next dresses.

Go Vintage on eBay or at Local Fairs

What’s better than a new dress? A vintage dress! No one else will have one, after all.

If you’re in Essex, we recommend checking out Hotties Vintage Village fairs, or The Bearded Gypsy Vintage.

Online, eBay is a must-visit for two reasons. One, eBay has a plethora of vintage dresses on offer that won’t be available anywhere else. Two, a lot of people buy new dresses from big brands, but end up changing their plans. As long as you’re willing to take a risk with the sizing, you can’t go wrong!

Visit Brides Do Good

Have you always wanted a luxury label wedding dress? Visit Brides Do Good, a wonderful organisation that resells pre-owned luxury wedding dresses at up to 70% off, then donates up to two thirds of sales to charities working to end child marriage.

Ask Your Friends

The best way to find a bargain: ask your mates! If you know anyone who’s recently had their wedding, been in a wedding party or even works in the events industry, pick their brain for ideas. They might know a good local warehouse offering clothes at trade prices, or have the inside line to a cute local boutique. You won’t know unless you ask!

5 Benefits of Holding a Midweek Wedding

Midweek weddings are becoming increasingly popular due to a rise in couples choosing quieter, cheaper wedding ceremonies and receptions than they have in years gone by. It’s easy to see why - the average cost of a wedding is around £27,000! So why have a midweek wedding?

Keep Your Costs Down

As we said, weddings are expensive - so why not save your cash and put it toward a house, your family or your honeymoon? Midweek weddings are cheaper than midweek weddings as venue hire is so much cheaper during the week. For example, at The Arlington our Friday venue hire is £450, and Saturday is £600 - but midweek is just £350. That’s £250 you could put elsewhere!

Small Midweek Wedding at The Arlington Ballroom Southend-on-Sea

Be Selective With Your Guests… Which Keeps Costs Down!

You don’t really want your great aunt’s son-in-law and his children at your wedding, do you? A midweek wedding is the perfect excuse to trim your guest list down to those who really matter - the people you know will make the effort to be there. Oh, and a smaller guest list will mean fewer mouths to feed at the wedding reception, fewer complimentary drinks, a smaller cake and possibly even a smaller venue! So you’ll be saving money as well!

That being said, if you send out your save the dates early enough, your guests will have more than enough time to book a day or two'’s holiday!

Have Your Pick of Suppliers… and Pay a Bit Less for Them!

All good suppliers, from photographers to make up artists to venue stylists, will be booked up every weekend for months in advance. But their Wednesdays or their Thursdays are probably free - and cheaper than the weekends! Why not use the money you saved on your venue hire to get in the very best venue stylist, or to splash out on the dress or cake of your dreams?

Save Your Guests Money

B&B, hotel and often travel costs are cheaper during the week than at the weekend. Your guests might not feel as ‘festive’ during the week as they might on a weekend, but they’ll be grateful for the reduced costs associated with your big day!

Marry On a Special Day

It’s not all about saving money! Did you get engaged on an anniversary, or meet on a special day? With a midweek wedding, you have greater choice of wedding dates, so you can take advantage and get married on a date that really means something to you!

Have we persuaded you that a midweek wedding is a good idea? Get in touch with us on 01702 711 350 or email info@thearlingtonballroom.co.uk to book a consultation. Browse our wedding page and options here.

What is a Humanist Wedding? A Guide for Secular Couples


Humanist weddings are increasingly popular, as non-religious or multi-faith couples wish to celebrate their wedding somewhere other than a religious building or a simple registry office. But what exactly is a humanist wedding? Simply put, humanist weddings are non-religious, or secular. There aren’t any rules per se, so couples can tailor their wedding to their exact specifications!

Are Humanist Weddings Legally Binding?

As of 2018, humanist weddings are not legally binding in England and Wales and couples require a civil ceremony as well as or alongside their humanist ceremony. Humanist weddings are legally binding in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and activists are pressing the UK government for change in England and Wales.

Are Wedding Vows Allowed? Is Music Allowed? What is Allowed at a Humanist Wedding?

Anything is allowed! You can have poetry readings, live music, a speech from a friend or loved one. You can write your own vows, incorporating your favourite music or poetry, or even incorporating something from a religious text that you do like. You can include elements of ‘traditional’ weddings - the white dress, bridesmaids, a bouquet… or not! It’s really up to you and what you want: a big appeal of humanist weddings is the bespoke element. Whether you’re an LGBT couple, a multi-faith couple or simply looking for something that isn’t ‘a church wedding’ or ‘a ceremony at a registry office’, you can tailor your wedding to you, as a couple.

What is a Celebrant?

Although popular in countries like Australia, the term ‘celebrant’ isn’t very well known in the UK. A celebrant is the person who conducts the ceremony, often writing or creating the ceremony. You can find a celebrant using Humanist.org.uk’s interactive map. You can also learn more about what celebrants are with Humanist.org.uk’s guide.

Can a Humanist Wedding Take Place Outside?

Yes! As we said, humanist weddings are not legally binding in England so you will have to have a civil ceremony as well.

Where Can I Have a Humanist Wedding in Essex?

Pretty much anywhere! Some people choose the beach, some choose their front room, some choose a traditional wedding venue. At the Arlington Ballroom, we’re always happy to host a humanist wedding! We’re also licensed for civil ceremonies, so you can always have a registrar conduct your legally-binding ceremony alongside all your preferred ‘humanist’ elements. We also host wedding receptions, so you can hold your wedding underneath one roof! You can learn about our wedding packages and what we offer on our Weddings page.

Humanist Wedding Ceremony at The Arlington Ballroom, Southend-on-Sea

LGBT Weddings for Essex at The Arlington Ballroom, Southend-on-Sea

You’ve just got engaged. Congratulations! Now you’ve got to start planning a wedding… At the Arlington Ballroom, we do a lot of weddings, from huge parties to intimate ceremonies, for a diverse range of couples. We know your wedding is one of the most special days of your life, and our team works hard to ensure everything runs smoothly and to your plan. So why hold your wedding at The Arlington?

Jodie and Nicole’s wedding, December 2018.  Photograph by Boutique Wedding Films & Photography.

Jodie and Nicole’s wedding, December 2018. Photograph by Boutique Wedding Films & Photography.

Hold Your Wedding Ceremony & Evening Reception Under One Roof

We’re fully licensed, so you can hold your civil ceremony and your evening reception here! No faffing about with cars or moving your guests and less stress for you and your guests!

LGBT Wedding Reception Southend-on-Sea

Fabulous Art Deco Wedding Venue in the Heart of Southend

Completely renovated in 2012, our Art Deco ballroom is an elegant, sophisticated venue perfect for the discerning couple! It fits between 80-250 people and we can arrange a live band, a DJ, sweet carts, a dance floor and literally roll out a red carpet! We offer buffets and sit-down meals, and have two bars - so you can allocate one as a cocktail, Champagne or gin bar! We can also help organise professional cocktail demonstrations - just ask.

Small Weddings & Midweek Weddings Welcome

We know that not everyone wants a blowout Gatsby-style wedding (although we can do those!). Our venue has a maximum capacity of 250 people, so your day will be intimate. We also offer midweek weddings, as we’re mindful that many couples plan a wedding on a budget or would prefer a quiet ceremony.

LGBT Wedding Ceremony in Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Wedding Breakfast at The Arlington Ballroom, Southend-on-Sea

Interested in looking around our ballroom to discuss wedding options? Give us a call on 01702 711 350 (10am-4pm), or email info@thearlingtonballroom.co.uk. Learn more about our wedding packages on our Weddings page. You can view our cocktail menu here.