I always get really excited to feature a super-budget wedding because I love to show you that, with a bit of clever engineering, a beautiful wedding doesn’t have to cost £20,000. Ruth & Steve spent just £700 on their day and it was perfect. They also planned the entire thing in just two months – sheesh, why can’t we all be such overachievers?!
This thrifty couple were very clever with how they spent the money that they did have to spend. Firstly the opted for an East London pub for the reception venue. Without extortionate rental rates, The Water Poet in Spitalfields was just the ticket. “The wedding took about two months to organise”, the bride began. “We booked the reception first, as I thought that would be the trickiest part of the operation. Then we booked our ceremony at Islington Town Hall and gave our Notice of Intent to Marry about four weeks before the ceremony.”
“Choosing a reception venue was probably the most challenging part of the wedding! I wasn’t too particular, but knew that I didn’t have the budget to hire a private venue. I started searching around for pubs with free room hire – most places could only reserve a couple tables at most. As the ceremony took place on a Friday, I knew most pubs would be rammed, which would have been too much for our parents to handle! We decided on holding the reception at The Water Poet in Spitalfields. It wasn’t too far from Islington Town Hall and they had a private room where we could set up the food, cake and decorations. My hens and I handmade all the paper flowers on the tables from a fab tutorial that I found on Rock n Roll Bride! The best thing about the room was its own sound-system – we plugged in our iPhone with our wedding playlist and just let it run all night!”
Ruth wore a dress from Topshop, and her shoes, also Topshop were an eBay bargain at just £10. Her headpiece was, amazingly, from Primark and her jewellery was a gift from Steve’s sister. The cake and flowers were both DIY efforts from helpful friends and family, the venue provided a buffet spread and they forgoed a DJ for a Spotify playlist.
Bryce & Josie were hitched in October at As You Like It restaurant and bar in Newcastle. They budgeted £5000 for the wedding but ended up over-spending a little with the whole day coming in for a still very impressive £8000.
Wearing a vintage dress from eBay and a Topshop mini lace dress in the evening, Josie carried a vintage feather bouquet that had belonged to her mother. Her bridesmaid wore dresses from Hobbs and carried homemade crepe paper bouquet. Her groom was decked out in an Oliver Spencer suit.
“We met in 2005 in a bar in London, my last night out in Kew before moving to Islington”, began Josie. “A few weeks later Bryce followed my lead and moved down the road to Highbury. What can I say, his persistence paid off, 7 years, 3 cities and 2 kiddies down the road we got married!”
“This wasn’t the original wedding we planned,” she continued. “At first it was going to be a country village, marquee in the garden affair in May 2011. But various life events cropped up and meant that that was no longer to be. Never mind, who’d want a smooth running wedding plan anyway..!? Where are the stories to tell in that?! So we began to construct a plan for the North East.”
Ciaran & Ellen’s wedding was a far removed from a traditional wedding as possible. The bride didn’t wear a white dress, she wore a tweed suit; they didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen, they had their dogs; they didn’t have a fancy vintage car, the went for a hike. The ceremony was held at The Woolpack Inn in Cumbria in February and was followed by a low key and intimate meal for their few attendees. A few months later they had a larger gathering in their own back garden for the rest of their friends and family.
“Just keep it really, really simple!” Ellen began. “We’d stayed at The Woolpack before and nearly all the other people we used were recommended by friends so we knew we could trust them. For example, I showed Chrissie at Hat Therapy my Liberty Freedom outfit and my favourite hat and let her work her magic on the design. It was great because the design was completely different to what I might have chosen. Chrissie interpreted the tweed brilliantly and the hat exceeded my expectations.”
I’m not an expert of the history of weddings, but when you think about it, many wedding traditions are really quite odd. A tiered cake, putting your best friends in ill-fitting in matching dresses, an awkward dance in front of everyone you know, throwing a bouquet of flowers at people’s heads… odd.
So I was presently surprised to receive Kelly & Toby’s wedding from their photographer Joanna Millington and see that it had none of that. In fact isn’t this the perfect example of what weddings should really be about? A ceremony declaring your intention to be together forever followed by a celebratory gathering with your nearest and dearest? So so awesome.
The day started with a ceremony at Islington town hall, followed by a stroll and casual drinks at the Drapers Arms, and concluded with an intimate dinner for 14 at The Wapping Project.
“We didn’t want to spend a fortune on the wedding and really tried to keep costs a minimum without spending a lot on unnecessary paraphernalia”, began the bride. “We kept it intimate and stripped it way back and put more money into different areas – namely a big bar tab and really great food. We also split the event into two days (we had a party on the second day for 70 people which wasn’t photographed) which helped reduce costs as it meant we didn’t have to put on dinner for 70 people (which would inevitably have ended up a bit naff on that scale).”
Karolina & Juan’s London wedding was informal and laid back but also reflected their multicultural heritage. The ceremony was held at Camden Town Hall, with the reception taking place at The Prince Albert pub, also in Camden. Karolina wore her Mother’s wedding dress from the 1970s and a floral wreath in her hair.
“We tried to keep everything very personal, making all the invites and art work ourselves,” began the bride. “We decorated the pub ourselves and we also tried to make it as relaxed as possible. The pub was the perfect cosy environment. We wanted to wedding to be near where we live in Camden, and for it to be true to the way we live our lives.”
“Our family is quite multicultural (Swedes, Germans, Colombians, Africans, Egyptians) so we had a few traditions from all the different cultures incorporated into the wedding. All the Swedish people from my side of the family sang a traditions Swedish drinking songs to the wedding party. My husband is Colombian so all the favours were traditional Colombian hats and there were many bottles of the traditional Colombian Spirit called Aguardiente being passed around all day. The DJ played a mixture of funk, soul and Salsa. We didn’t really have that many speeches planned, just my step dad and my husband then on the night it was open to other people who wanted to a few words. There was definitely little too much champagne flying around all morning and at breakfast. My sister also sang us down the aisle which was amazing.”
Ian & Chrissie were married in October in London. Their ceremony was held at Islington Town Hall and their reception took place at The Britannia pub in Victoria Park, Hackney. The two venues helped to set the tone for their quirky, quintessentially ’London’ and vintage-inspired day.
“We knew we wanted to have our wedding in London where we live and met and the town hall was perfect”, began the bride. “The room we chose for our ceremony was circular which made it feel really inclusive. We have since found out the room in which we got hitched was used as the court room in the video for Culture Club ‘Do you really want to hurt me’ – which in our minds only adds to his awesomeness! Having a good old knees up in a pub was what we really wanted for our reception. The Britannia ticked all our boxes of being a lovely old victorian building with a lot of quirky details and also doing fab food. The landlord Andrew was very flexible in terms of how we decorated the pub which was music to my ears.”
Chrissie wore a 1950s vintage inspired dress from Dolly Couture with Rachel Simpson shoes and a hair comb which was made from a 1960s blue rhinestone brooch. “I would describe myself as a fully card carrying vintage dress enthusiast!” Chrissie explained. “I knew I definitely wanted to go down the 1950s route for my bridal style. My dress was the first one that I tried on and I fell completely in love with it. I had my dress customised from the original design by a seamstress, adding longer sleeves, a more open neckline with a lower V back with covered buttons. I also wore a short petticoat to add more of that all important 1950s swing. I wore a gorgeous vintage fur cape to add some old school glamour to my dress. I found the cape at a vintage fair, and I think it wins the prize for my best bargain find for the wedding at £35!”
Her bridesmaids’ looks were also vintage-inspired with each girl being styled to suit a different era. “I knew I wanted my bridesmaids to have vintage frocks but I didn’t have a set idea of what style of dress, which is half the fun of vintage shopping! The idea then evolved in to them all having dresses and hair and make up with a nod to different eras – 20s, 40s & 60s. All the bridesmaids dresses were bought from retro stores and vintage fairs with the exception of the light green fringed flapper style dress worn by my bridesmaid Ursula which was from Traffic People.”