Thrifty East London Pub Wedding: Ruth & Steve

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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.”

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“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.

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“We wanted an informal, low-key kind of affair for the wedding, where people could enjoy themselves and celebrate with us,” Ruth continued. “Essentially, it was a big party – and people definitely let their hair down and had fun! Steve and I play in a band together, so the event was naturally going to have a bit of a Rock n Roll vibe. Music is a huge part of our lives, so I appointed myself as the DJ and programmed a wedding playlist featuring a heap of classic tunes that kept everyone dancing. Everything from The Ronettes, Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison to T.Rex, Talking Heads and David Bowie. My mum was very proud.”

“We loved that our wedding felt unique and personal. It was a combined effort with family and friends that helped bring it all together. Without their help, I’m not sure we would have pulled it off half as well. We moved to London two years ago from Australia, and didn’t know a soul in the city. We are so lucky that, in such a short period of time, we have met the most wonderful people who wanted to contribute to our special day. We didn’t have a lot of money and the event was organised very quickly, but the personal contributions, such as the bouquet, photographs, wedding cake, decorations and hair and make up, really helped us. Even our wedding rings were family heirlooms inherited from Steve’s grandma and great aunt!”

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The couple were very lucky to have a professional wedding photographer as a friend. Maureen Du Preez shot their wedding free of charge as a wedding gift. “We chose a few rather unusual locations for some of the portraits, including Urban Outfitters and Nandos (the photo with the glowing heart!). Our friend and photographer Maureen was very spontaneous and spotted some great places as we were making our way to the reception. We also took some shots by the Love Lock Fence on Shoreditch High Street and added our own engraved padlock to the fence to commemorate our wedding day. Maureen and I are both lovers of analogue photography as well, so we got a few packs of instant film and a Polaroid camera to capture the day. It was something a little bit different, almost a relic of the past, and people loved holding a physical picture in their hands – it was a topic of conversation all night!”

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  1. Hayley Smith

    I absolutely LOVE this. This is completely the vibe I wanted, everything about it is lovely and pure and romantic, it truly horrifies me to think how much money we’ve wasted – ahem – spent – on our wedding day, even though it would be classed as a ‘budget’ wedding. I’m sure it will all be worth it but looking at this makes me sad that we got so swept away on the people pleasing train.

  2. I love this wedding, I love the vibe, I love the details, I love the dress, I really love the photography.
    However I think it is a bit misleading to say it is SUCH a budget wedding. If I wanted to have the EXACT same wedding I would have to pay for the rings and the DIY input of the family and friends, including mates rates pro photography. I don’t want anyone to feel guilty because they have spent more money on a wedding because chances are they have paid for things that this couple were very lucky to get for free.

    But don’t get me wrong I am not trying to put a downer on this wedding, it just always feels like false advertisement when people say this is my budget…but it doesn’t include this. I also want that cake. To eat now. And I would love to have to own that heart of lights!

  3. Post author

    Stef: sure… but that is how much these guys spent…
    Id never want anyone to feel guikty for spending more.. or less… just do whats right for you

  4. Chery lYearwood

    I love the whole thing!Couples should spend how much they like on their wedding.Money or lack of it should not get in the way of creativity.Weddings are the beginning of the big Journey;Marriage.

  5. Beautiful wedding and beautiful couple. It reminds me of my own wedding (24 yrs ago!) We asked our family and friends to save the date a week before, but didn’t tell them why. On the morning of the wedding we told my sister and my husbands brother what was happening and they managed to get everyone there on time. It was April Fools Day, so no-one really belived what was happening. I bought my wedding outfit in our local market and my husband and I got up extra early to make sandwiches and decorate our empty, newly plastered through lounge with streamers, the only other thing we spent money on was a one tired wedding cake, which had our names and April Fools on the top.

    I’ve been to many weddings since but I still love the way we done it and wouldn’t change a thing. Having been happily married for 25 years next year, we just have to decide now, how to celebrate our Silver Wedding!

  6. Nat

    LOVE this wedding, especially as it is on a super tight budget and DIY. Lovely stuff especially the photos 🙂

  7. Evelyn Onate

    I absolutely love the retro feel. Love how personal the wedding is. I especially love the polaroid pictures

  8. pom

    aw, so lovely. so much style here. very unique and gorgeous bride.
    it reminds me of st etienne’s i was born on christmas day when tim and sarah tied the knot!


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