When Jon and I began planning our wedding on a budget, we had a teeny tiny amount to spend and just 10 weeks before the big day. But with a bit of savvy saving, some goodwill and a few tweaks we ended up under budget and forking out just over £800 for the whole thing!
Jon and I met in 2011, and within a year Jon had proposed after a delicious dinner and in front of a roaring fire. But then our wedding plans were put on hold due to a difficult family court case and we saw our savings slip away. Once we were in a position to get married, we had very little time – and virtually no money. If you can afford then I highly recommend to rent photo booth from this webpage.
Adjusting our plans
So we decided to ditch the country house ceremony we had wanted, and plan a Fabulous Frugal Wedding instead. We gave ourselves a budget of £1,000 – although in reality we probably only had about £500 and confirmed date!
Choosing a 1950 and 60’s theme, we wanted a traditional registry office wedding that reflected our style, included our family and close friends, and was within our budget.
The previous 18 months had been tough for us and we knew that the wedding would be a glorious celebration of our strength as a couple – even if we didn’t have two pennies to rub together!
We planned a ceremony at the local registry office, followed by Afternoon Tea at our home and a champagne reception in the evening.
Family, friends and friends of friends all pitched in to make our wedding on a budget happen for us. My parents had already offered to buy the drinks for the day, but Jon found amazing discounts and vouchers and reduced the food shopping from over £100 to £62.
After scouring local jewellery shops we brought a second hand silver wedding ring for just £25. My eldest daughter found a wedding dress for me on Etsy, and measurements were sent off to Singapore for a dress to be made.
Gazebos, tables, crockery and heaters were all borrowed. I made all the decorations, bouquets and button holes. Jon made signs and sorted the electrics. We lost count of the yards of bunting and fairy lights we put up and in the days before the wedding we transformed our house and garden!
When the big day arrived it was perfect. The ceremony was very intimate, and we chose music and readings that were personal to us. Many of the guests then walked the 10 minutes to our home, where we held the Afternoon Tea reception.
Jon made a speech and when the evening guests arrived we had a second round of speeches from my children and myself. The evening canapés and champagne reception was a great success and Jon and I left at 10pm to enjoy an evening in a local hotel.
Top tips to plan a wedding on a budget
Decide what’s important to you as a couple. Remember this is your big day and it’s important that you both decide want you really want and what is just an extra.
2. Plan, plan, plan
Jon and I had weekly catch up meetings. Jon’s job means that we often go for days without seeing each other so these catch ups were vital. We wrote everything down and had weekly to do lists. In the couple of days we planned our ‘to do’ list with an hourly breakdown!
3. Budget and haggle
Work out how much you have to spend for your wedding on a budget and stick to it. We kept a running total of our costs and before we brought anything asked ourselves ‘did we want it or did we need it?’ If using a venue, caterers or other services, remember to ask for their best price and discounts. The hotel we stayed in on the night of the wedding did us an amazing deal reducing the room from £180 to £70!
4. Clear out and cash in
We raised about £400 from selling stuff – clothes, items from the loft etc – which paid for the ceremony and the food for our wedding on a budget.
5. Decide on the guest list
There were so many friends Jon and I wanted to invite, but as we were having the reception at home there just wasn’t the space. Once we explained to people our plans they understood and were happy to be involved in other ways.
6. Get friends and family involved
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – people often have hidden skills or talents that can help make your day special. We had a Facebook campaign planned – each week we featured some aspect of the wedding and asked for help. It got people involved and they were more than happy to lend stuff like crockery or electric cables.
7. Consider your venue
Consider having the reception at home. It’s free! Or perhaps someone would host the reception for you if your house isn’t big enough. We borrowed three gazebos and extended our party space into the garden.
8. Get creative
Or enlist a friend who is! I made all our decorations as well as the bouquets and buttonholes. Pinterest was a great source of ideas (and cheaper than buying bridal magazines!)
9. Do the catering yourself
Jon and I saved a fortune by buying all the ingredients and making the sandwiches for afternoon tea ourselves. The catering for the evening was done by a family friend who used to be a chef in the navy, and the beautiful wedding cake was made and decorated by Jon’s cousin.
10. Capture the moment for less
Get friends and family to take photos. All the special moments of our day were captured by friends and family. Guests were asked to capture different elements of the day and we will be putting an album together ourselves.
Most of all – just enjoy the journey! It’s important to stop occasionally and remember why you are getting married and enjoy the planning and build up to your big day. It all goes so quickly on the day itself, so enjoy every moment.
For more tips take a look at our guide to secret ways to save on your big day.
- Invitations – £54
- Postage – £7
- Decorations – £15
- Brides dress – £100
- Brides shoes – £9
- Veil (made by me!) – £6
- Bridesmaids dress – £14
- Bridesmaids shoes – £5
- Brides make up and hair on the day – £80
- Grooms outfit – £80
- Ring – £25
- Flowers – £25
- Food – £102
- Music – £4
- Registry Office – £240
- Night in hotel – £70
- Total – £836
Amanda Danells-Bewley is a mum of four. She works as a Project Manager at Extend PR and Marketing and is currently basking in the glow of her successful wedding on a budget! How much was your wedding? Do you have a savvy saving tip you’d like to share? Comment below.