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A match made in Disney: How we're having a £12K wedding for under £3K

01 Mar 2019

If you're on a tight wedding budget, take heed in these tips from bride-to-be Catherine Hiley who has made a significant saving on her big day

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Image gallery

Like most engaged couples, we’re torn between having the wedding day of our dreams and the one we can afford. My fiancé and I are paying for it ourselves and, like a lot of grown-ups, we also have a mortgage to pay and big plans for the future that won't come cheap.

But we’re only planning on getting married once and we want it to be the perfect, magical day we’ve always dreamed of. 

Essentially, we want all trappings and trimmings without having to pay for it. And while that sounds impossible, we’ve actually managed to plan a £12,000 wedding for under £3k.

Here’s how we’re doing it:

1. Set the date for a weekday

Saturdays are traditionally the most popular day of the week for weddings, but both our registrar and venue charged a lot less during the week. And as a lot of my friends and family work weekends or teach for a living, we chose a Thursday in the summer holidays which suited everyone we wanted to be there.

We saved: £600

2. Using my skills to my advantage

As a writer who’s worked on websites for most of her adult life, my skill-set didn’t seem all that useful when it came to working out how to get money off our wedding. After all, I can’t bake the perfect cake or sew dresses or even apply my own make-up with anything more than the most basic competence.

So I had to think outside the box to work out how my talents could make the wedding cheaper. I looked up local bridal stores and found a lovely family-run shop that had beautiful dresses, flowers and decorations but a woefully outdated website. So, I spoke to them and negotiated a straight exchange: I'd build them a new website in return for a free dress with alterations.

The website has already been so successful for them that they're also throwing in chair covers, sashes and decorations for the day. And they're doing our flowers free of charge too.

We saved £2,000

3. Calling in favours from family and friends

We're lucky enough to have very talented friends and family who are only too happy to help make our day special. One of our closest friends is a graphic designer who is doing our save the dates, invites and table plan.

My dad's best friend is a brilliant photographer who is very kindly lending his services for the day. My aunt is making our wedding rings and my friend is doing my hair and make-up. Having everyone involved makes everything feel so much more personal and special. And it's saving us a fortune too. 

We saved: £2,000

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4. Check Groupon, Wowcher and other discount sites

After hours of trawling the internet looking at endless overpriced venues and catering options, it suddenly occurred to me to look at Groupon. And I found a perfect wedding package at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel in Southampton.

It comes with reception and ceremony room, a changing room for the bridal party, a three-course meal for 50 people and an evening buffet for 80, along with an overnight stay for the newlyweds and a dedicated wedding planner for well under £2,000.

We're now looking at honeymoon options on Wowcher and, while we haven't booked anything yet, we're set to save a stack on the flights and hotel.

We saved (so far): £2,700

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5. Let your bridesmaids and groomsmen wear what they want

My fiancé and I are pretty laid back and we want our wedding to have a really relaxed vibe. So the last thing we want to do is to make anyone wear something they don't feel comfortable in. Besides, I've never really been a fan of matching outfits.

We're telling our bridesmaids and groomsmen to wear whatever they want to wear. They'll be happy and it will make the day look and feel much more natural. And best of all, it's costing us nothing. 

We saved: £600

6. Make the most of sales

When you're trying to create a magical wedding day on a tight budget, sales can be a real life-saver.

So far, I've managed to get lots of bunting and decorations as well as wedding shoes and even bride-to-be pyjamas for a fraction of their normal price.

We saved (so far): £100

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Stay tuned for my next instalment as my wedding date draws ever closer...

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