Figuring out your wedding budget and paying for the day can feel like an insurmountable task. Whether you have £1000 or £100,000 to spend, your wedding will be one of the most exciting (and very likely) expensive days of your life. We spoke to five couples about what they spent and precisely how they did it.
UNDER £5000: Bridey and Jon
Jobs: Bridey is a Lash technician and Jon is an engineer.
They received a generous wedding gift of £2000 from Bridey’s grandad which helped them out a lot. They booked their venue, The Old Rectory in Sheffield, at the last minute and got a great deal. For food they served a huge buffet. The cake was made by a friend, the bridesmaids wore dresses from Missguided and the groomsmen wore their own suits. All the decorations were homemade, they did their own hair and makeup, made their own invitations and drove to the wedding in a friend’s campervan.
“Our biggest splash out was on the honeymoon at £2000, and we saved money on the fact my dad is a genius and can make anything I ask him. That gravestone was definitely such a feature for our wedding and looked so expensive and amazing, we still have it in our living room now in the fireplace. Also, having the ceremony at the registry office and the fact we booked our reception venue last minute meant we and got a good deal.”
I have a question – could Terriann and Brittany BE any cuter?! “We met 12 years ago,” they told us, “when we were young, wild and free on Birmingham’s gay scene. We went on one date but our lives took us on very different paths. Little did we know that we would meet again and oh what a meet it would be! It was love at first sight, we both never knew what love was until we found each other again. We had a lockdown date that turned into being locked down together indefinitely.”
They decided they wanted an intimate elopement so that the whole day was for them and no-one else. They wanted something cool and wild, where their love was the star of the show. “We were inspired by the line ‘Wild women do and they don’t regret it,’ from the Pretty Woman Soundtrack by Robby Cool, The Angel Singers. We didn’t have a plan for the day, letting love and excitement lead the way. From heart shaped glasses, posing in the streets, stopping traffic so our boots could do the walking to smoke grenades in the back streets of Shoreditch, surrounded by graffiti and sunshine.”
Gracie and Craig are both very into thrifting and buying secondhand, and their love of nature meant that their wedding could only have an eco consideration running through it’s core. They were married in Becketts Chapel at The Halls in Norwich, a hidden away crumbling church protected by a greenhouse-like structure. They had a £3,000 budget to spend on their day.
They served an all-vegan menu and thrifted decorations from charity shops. As Gracie is the founder of a sustainable clothing brand, fashion was very much a priority for their day; wherever possible, their outfits and accessories came from sustainable brands. “I’m very into Japanese ikebana and flower arrangements so that was a key focus when it came to inspiration, too. We wanted it to be as natural as possible,” Gracie said.
Brendan and Cheyanne come from Reno, Nevada which, by their own admission, is known for it’s super-speedy drive thru weddings and wild nightlife. “This didn’t really fit us,” explained Cheyanne. “We wanted something small and intimate, and we wanted to take our time and make it special in our own way. We love to travel together, and I’ve always been totally drawn to the ocean, so we decided on Hawaii.”
It was also important to the couple not to take on any debt for their wedding, and so spent just $5,000 on their day. “I think we brought a new meaning to ‘Ballin’ on a Budget’”, said the bride. “By focusing on each other, and our small number of guests, we created something super intimate. It wasn’t about materialism, or how much the dress cost, or how fancy the venue was. We did everything we wanted to do, no more no less.”
Jon and Steph’s love story had a rocky start – they met at a military charity boxing event on the army base where Jon was posted, but just a week later was posted over 180 miles away. Undeterred by this, they spent every night together in the time they had left, and Jon promised when he left that he would come back to see Steph at weekends. “I don’t think I really believed he would, so was happily proved wrong when he came back two weeks later!” Their determination to make things work paid off, and they were married in December.
With no set theme, the couple focused on using Steph’s favourite colours of navy and rose gold to tie everything together, and to make everything as family friendly as possible. “Our marriage was not just about us but was about our children, too,” she explained. “Jon has an 11 year old daughter from a previous marriage and I have a two and half year old son. Our marriage was about bringing us all together officially and celebrating the fact we all have each other.”
Ashleigh and Ric decided early on in their engagement what they didn’t want for their wedding day; “We knew from the get-go that we didn’t want to do many traditional things,” explained Ashleigh. “I didn’t wear the white dress, get married in a church, have 350 guests or to worry about chair covers. I think because we have our own house, we just couldn’t justify spending £20,000 on a wedding, which seems to be the norm in Northern Ireland!”
Instead, in August, they had a minimalist day that was true to themselves and expressed their love of colour and fun. They didn’t want anything over the top so focused their £4,000 budget on areas that meant the most to them, and ignored people when they tried to tell them how they should or shouldn’t be doing things!
Leslie and Dillon both love hiking and camping, so knew they wanted an outdoorsy wedding from the get-go. With the help of family friends’ pasture land, complete with idyllic stream and woodland, and a $10,000 budget, the couple set about creating the natural, rustic day of their dreams.
They saved a lot of money because of how generous their family and friends were. “All you have to do is ask for help and generally people are more than happy to do so,” said Leslie. “Working with people you know is also a huge benefit because its easy to get in touch with them and they really know what want. It can save so much in the end if you opt out of wedding planners and just ask friends to help you with the organisation and planning.”
Lizzie and Nick were halfway to planning a traditional white wedding when they decided to do a 180 and decided to get hitched at Glastonbury instead! They wanted to create a joyful, silly, stress-free celebration of their love that they’d remember forever, and choose their happy place their location. Armed with £1000, they did the admin part in London the morning of the wedding and then hotfooted it down to Somerset to have a friend officiate a ceremony that they wrote themselves.
They decided against having a defined format for their ceremony in order to keep things experimental and most importantly, fun! Lizzie wrote a poem for Nick, and Nick in turn wrote a speech. With Sean Paul announced as the surprise headliner for the John Peel stage that day, their friend did a reading of the lyrics to Temperature between speeches – not your regular heartfelt wedding reading, but it turned out sweet nonetheless!
Mark and Amy wanted to keep their day as low cost as possible, in order to have a baller honeymoon to Tokyo a year later. With that in mind it was easy for them to bid farewell to a whole bunch of wedding traditions and expectations and focuse on having a day full of fun instead!
That’s not to say they didn’t add personality to their day. They were inspired by a mash-up of all of their favourite things; Pokemon, comic books, ghetto golf and great vegan food, and made decisions with nods to these elements in mind. In lieu of a traditional reception venue, the took their guests for dinner at their favourite vegan restaurant, followed by stopping for portraits in the comic book section of a bookstore, and ended up the night playing ghetto golf in their wedding outfits!
Lizzie and Kyle’s wedding day was full of things that were personal to them as a couple, a ton of DIY, and some canny thrifting, all of which kept their budget low and the feels high.
“Our theme was a bit of a combo!” said Lizzie. “We had animals everywhere as Kyle had proposed after an amazing day at Berlin Zoo. We kept the clothing sixties-inspired as I’d found my dress early on and wanted things in-keeping with it. And as one of our first dates was a dog walk in the New Forest, colour-wise we used any colours you’d find there, so mustard yellow, heathery purples and greens, plus dusky blues. We tried to get as many bits from charity shops as possible, both for the good karma and great style. It was important to both of us to get friends involved and have a gender-equal ceremony. We tried to keep everything as family-friendly as possible, as well as relaxed and happy.”
“We bought Rock n Roll Bride magazine religiously over our 18 months of planning, and I know that Kyle really appreciated the articles for the guys – so hard to find! We wanted to make as much as we could ourselves because we have always handmade our presents for each other, and when my friends make me gifts I honestly love them to death! If I’m totally honest, it was also a bit of a platform to show off all of the things we can make – we both love a good compliment!”
Jasmina and Mihael’s Slovenian wedding was all about nature. They kept things small and they spent only €1000 on the day. “Our colours were white, black and dark green with elements of wood, jute and lace”, said the bride. “We wanted to have a lot of wooden elements and to completely ban plastic from our table sets.”
“We were inspired by other eco-friendly weddings that we saw online but we wanted to have our wedding under our terms. It was a really nice to have an outdoor wedding with home-prepared food. Everything was vegan and vegetarian too. We gave homemade hemp soap as favours.”
Fee and Steve’s fabulously colourful, budget friendly wedding took place at Hemingford Abbots Village Hall in Cambridgeshire. “We wanted a fun day that we were both involved in”, Fee explained. “We didn’t wait it to just be about the bride, but both of us equally. Lots of colour was involved, and guests were requested to leave office attire at home! We both wanted to have a day that was about us, so we ensured that we included as much about us as possible. Early on in the planning we trawled wedding blogs, but mainly just looked at Rock n Roll Bride as we found that is was the only blog that included low budget weddings, and weddings that encompassed different themes.”
“We also made sure that we threw out any traditions that we weren’t sure on. We both wanted to embrace our feminist and humanist values, and only use traditions that we felt were appropriate to us.”
The bride wore a beautiful green dress from Honeypie Boutique. “My dress gets quite a few comments, with most people asking why I chose green, instead of white. This really encompassed the whole day for us though, as we chose the traditions that were applicable to us. Steve also gets lots of comments about how great his outfit was!”
Allison and Cameron’s colourful wedding took place in Austin in October. They wanted a simple, low-pressure day, with minimal stress. “Cameron and I honestly never wanted a wedding”, said the bride. “I get anxiety when I throw an event, and I am always worried if everyone else is having a good time that I forget to have a good time myself. However, since our mothers would never forgive us if we didn’t have one, we decided to do it our way. We wanted something low-stress and intimate, where we could mingle with all the guests and have a great time.”
The Sunday wedding was a morning and early afternoon event, meaning they served brunch and the whole thing was over by the evening. “Having a brunch wedding felt unique and alternative”, she explained. “Brunch may be the most popular meal in Austin, TX, and our wedding meal was no different. It was fun day drinking with our closest friends at a long family-style table. Our friends and family cheered us off on a ‘Just Married’ pedicab, and we took a brisk ride around downtown Austin taking it all it. After the reception we met up with some friends at our Airbnb across the street! Early in the evening Cam and I were able to split off and have a romantic dinner together and recall all of our favourite parts of the day! It was a really special moment.”