A different post for you today :) I got married over 4 years ago and we did it on a very tight budget, but there were certain things I didn't want to negotiate or compromise over and we managed to have an amazing wedding, for about £2000 - £2500. I thought since it's January and lots of you might well be planning your wedding for the end of this year, or next year, now might be a good time to look at some thrifty ways to save money.
The Guest list
This was a tough one for me, I come from a big Irish and Welsh family and I wanted a big wedding. As time went on I realised that we just weren't going to be able to afford a big wedding, and if we waited, there's a chance we'd never get married. After a few years of being engaged, my desire to be married, overtook my desire for a big wedding, so we set about having a small wedding. We just invited immediate family and our closest friends - if you pitch it that way, you're extended family will generally accept it well, as they know it's not personal, it's a budget thing. I kept it to the people that were most important to me, and what mattered was spending the most special day of my life with them, and not people I hadn't seen in 10+ years.
We got married in a registry office. Lots of people automatically think that may not be the nicest thing, but it really depends on which one (like any venue), we got married at Reading Registry Office, which I picked because it's the town where I grew up, it's where my parents got married (and because my mum had passed away, it was very sentimental for me), and it's a beautiful building. It was also very cheap, around the £30 for the ceremony. We didn't have the place decked out with flowers either because to be quite honest, it was a small place (we only had 26 people) and they already had a bunch of flowers on the desk, and it just wouldn't have looked right. Everyone assumes you need flowers for the venue, but often the venue is beautiful enough as it is and won't need spending hundreds of pounds on something you won't really get to enjoy.
Surprisingly I didn't make invites, I bought them from Marks & Spencers with little RSVP cards too - it was something like less than £20 for all of them, since we were only inviting 26 people, I didn't need many cards, and most of the 26 were couples, so I only really needed about 12 cards :)
Like any woman, I wanted a custom dress, I didn't relish the idea of 'off the rack', but I didn't have a custom made budget, so I made do with what I could afford. To make the challenge harder, I'm plus size, so that seriously narrows down what I can pick too. I found a great little wedding shop in Weston Super Mare that specialised in plus size dresses, booked myself an appointment and headed down there. It just so happened they had a half price sale on too (this would be around July time). I tried on 3 dresses, the 3rd one being 'the one' - it should have been £800 but with it being half price, I got it for £400, it needed alterations as it was a little big and I think it was the only size they had it in, I also had little straps added. They had a beautiful selection of tiaras there too which is where I picked up mine, it was a cluster of little shimmery beads and cost... it was either £20 or £40.
This was something I wasn't prepared to negotiate on. I have a stunning engagement ring that's worth a lot of money (thousands), it was my mums, and when she was really ill, she gave it to Chris so that if he ever wanted to propose, he'd have a nice ring to give me, mum always knew how much I loved the ring, and now, I proudly wear it on my hand. I have such happy memories when I look at it :) Anyway, I digress! The engagement ring is gold, which wouldn't be my first choice, but I didn't want to change it either as I wanted it left as mum had it. So, the wedding ring needed to be gold too (I tried other colours with it and it just didn't look right). So to minimise the amount of gold on my finger, I opted for a wedding band that had diamonds going around it ;) This set us back £550, but oh my was it worth it - and as a cherry on the top, the jewellers we bought it from was called Christopher George (both our names!).
So back when I wanted a big wedding, I told the 4 girls who I wanted to be my bridesmaids, then when I actually set a date, we didn't have budget for their dresses, so I asked them to buy their own dresses, but what I said was that it could be any dress (I actually wanted them to all look different), they just needed to stick to a purple/blush pink colour scheme. That worked really well, and they didn't at all mind buying their own dresses :)
So, the hubby didn't ask anyone to be his best man, at that time in his life, I just don't think he felt close enough to anyone to ask, so as a surprise for him, I picked 2 of our close friends (both male don't worry!) to be best men for him, basically they turned up on the day suited and booted at his hotel room door to take care of him and help him stay calm. He loved that :) We couldn't really afford to pay for their waistcoats etc, so I went halves with them, saving me around... £60 I think.
I bought button holes for the immediate family, as I mentioned above I bought wrist coursages for the bridesmaids, and then I had a proper bouquet with diamante's in the centre of the roses, and hubby had a matching buttonhole.
Seeing as there wasn't going to be too many of us, we decided to have our reception at a local restaurant. We found this amazing little placed called Mya Lacarte (a few months later I found out I used to go to school with the owner, small world!), they had a basement you could hire out. The cost of hiring it was £600, but you can put that £600 towards the cost of the food. So I challenged them to let me know what they could come up with for 26 people, not spending any more than £600. Well, we had trays of open sandwiches on arrival, jugs and jugs of cocktails, 6 bottles of red wine, 6 bottles of white, 3 different main courses and 2 desserts - everything was handmade too - food was amazing. I gave him an extra £10 in advance as well to buy some balloons to put around the place to make it more weddingy. I made 3 mix albums too for our background music, the venue kindly purchased a CD player for us to use too.
We didn't really care about having a big fancy cake, lets face it there wasn't many of us there to eat it, so I asked the restaurant if they could make a simple cake for us that just said Congratulations Georgina & Chris. They made a vanilla sponge (iced) for us for £30, and this wasn't just any sponge cake, it was made by a French chef, for £30... amazing - the cake tasted divine and we had something to cut, which is all we wanted it for :)
All in all we spent about £2k - 2.5k on the actual wedding (we spent another £2k on the 3 day honeymoon in NYC - I'd do it again!) :) It can be done really well and elegantly on a budget, you just need to work out where you can negotiate, and have realistic expectations. I'd highly recommend approaching local restaurants (if you're having a small wedding) as you'll be surprised how much money you can save doing it that way, and it's so much more intimate :)
This months Big-Pixi3 advertiser is the lovely Angelica from One Little Vice, go check out her blog :)