Saying ‘I do’ on a budget

29 May 2013

Saying ‘I do’ on a budget

Tim and Jennifer Sigley

Where: The Burnside Hotel, Cumbria

Photography: Chris Freer

Tim and I had been together for nearly eight years; we have a daughter Eva and life was perfect. Marriage just wasn’t discussed. Then, a weekend away in Bowness, Cumbria on the edge of Lake Windermere changed all of that. Tim dropped on to one knee, apologised for it taking him so long, and proposed. The excitement, giddiness and tears all came at once as I said ‘yes’.

It seemed appropriate that we would marry in The Lakes but the cost would be a factor. I had also set my heart on marrying on our tenth anniversary, but in 2013, this was Easter weekend.

The search for a good, smart, inexpensive hotel at Easter started. Following days of sending emails we stumbled across The Burnside Hotel. On paper it seemed perfect; a winter wedding package for under £1,000 for 50 guests, on the date we wanted, a room for the marriage, use of a room for the evening reception, upgraded bridal suite and a free dinner as a taster of the day – it all seemed too good to be true. On driving up to Bowness from Hyde, Cheshire Tim warned me not to get my hopes up; for the price there had to be problems. Oh how he would eat his words. This was the hotel, this was the view we would have as we got married, this was it.

Next was the exciting part; finding my dress, the bouquet, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the cake, the photographer, did we want it videoed, how many people to invite, what colour suit would Tim wear. I am a fan of lists and the outside of the kitchen cupboards slowly turned into a wash of lists; who, where, when and what lists appeared everywhere.

We only had £3,000 to pay for the wedding without borrowing from family. When your list of people to invite has crept up to 60 it really does not leave much for the ‘essential’ items of a wedding to be purchased so we had to use our skills. Tim and I can lend our hand to most things so our plan was to find what we wanted online and research alternatives. Ebay, Gumtree, Etsy and many other like-minded sites became our friends. I designed my own stationery and then proceeded to spend many evenings sewing and sticking to make it look expensive. My Amanda Wyatt dress was purchased from a sample sale, Tim found his suit from Next but we waited for the summer sales to afford to buy it. Flowers, although gorgeous, don’t last long and are considerably expensive, so I found a picture of a bouquet made out of buttons. These looked phenomenal and would be something different to get people talking. I was smitten. As a child I remember my nana having an old Dairy Milk box filled with buttons and fastenings which my mum still had. This was the start of my obsession, and yes it now is an obsession, with buttons. Following a few practice bouquets I eventually made the main bouquet, the three bridesmaids bouquets, two hearts for the flower girls and 55 individual button holes.

Continuing the homemade theme was the cake; it was three tiers high and home made two days before we had to travel. I do not suggest this to anyone as it was so stressful and meant the afternoon before the wedding we were stood, in the kitchen of the hotel, putting flower decorations on the cake and icing sections together.

On the morning of the wedding Tim and I woke up together with Eva, kissed each other good morning then all went our separate ways. Tim had golf booked with the Best Man at Windermere Golf Club and the bridesmaids had a pamper session to attend at the hotel’s spa. The time leading up to the ceremony went past in a flash. Make-up and hair was all done by friends and before you could say ‘abracadabra’ I was standing in front of Tim saying our special vows. It all felt surreal but perfect.

The whole wedding day was over so quickly. To any bride I would say take a moment to sit back and take it all in, look around and make eye contact. I didn’t and I could not tell you where anyone was apart from Tim. Our wedding planner, Pauline Heaps, was with us every minute of the day. Nothing was a problem for her or her staff to get or move and the timings were perfect all day.

Our photographer for the day was Chris Freer from Freer Images based in Cockermouth. He was fantastic, in control of the wedding party, organised and his photographs are incredible. We hired him for three hours and had a lot to get done in that time. Other packages are available and probably worthwhile now we look back on the day.

To sum up our day I would say it was perfect. Everyone had a fantastic time. We managed to plan, source, buy and execute a wedding party for 54 guests, keep them fed and entertained and complete all of this on a budget. It can be done but you do need to spend time finding what you want, emailing suppliers to negotiate reduced prices, compromising and above all enjoying the experience.


Photography: Chris Freer Photography, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0XJ, 01900 827243,

Venue: The Burnside Hotel, Kendal Road, Bowness, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3EP, 015394 42211,

Dress: Amanda Wyatt,

Flowers: Wedding Buttonique,

Accessories: Eliza Blue Jewellery Ltd, Mersey Way Mall, Stockport, SK1 1PU

Music: Steve Stoker,

Balloons: Sharon’s Balloons, Millom, Cumbria, 01229 771021

Cake topper: Miss Cake, Not on the High Street,

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