Painting and decorating duo Rebekah and Lee are proving that despite the cost of living crisis it is still possible to have the wedding of their dreams on a budget.
With 110 guests attending, theirs isn’t a small affair. Having invested their time in planning and by accepting support and help from their friends and family they have create their perfect big day for less than £3,000.
With UK weddings costing on average between £10,000 – £30,000, Rebekah and Lee are making a substantial saving. What’s more, they have operated on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ mentality to avoid getting into debt.
Identify your financial priorities
“Firstly we figured out our financial priorities, which were not to bankrupt ourselves and to put our spending focus on what mattered most to us – which was travelling for our honeymoon,” says Rebekah.
Having met in France in the spring of 2019 the couple clicked immediately, not least through their shared love of travel and adventure. Returning to the UK in 2020 full of plans for more of the same, they were quickly and unexpectedly grounded by the COVID pandemic.
“Backpacking round the Philippines for 6 weeks is our way of making up for lost time during COVID,” says Lee.
Have a winter wedding
“It makes sense for us work wise to get married in the winter,” says Lee, “we can take more time off for the honeymoon as there’s usually less work during the winter months.”
Venue hire is often cheaper in the winter too, though Rebekah and Lee have managed to secure their venue for free.
Having been members of The Hub Church, Bishop Stortford for over a year the church offered the couple the hall for the ceremony and reception for free – their first big saving.
“The Hub been overwhelmingly supportive,” says Rebekah, “Not just by giving us the venue for free but by helping us to plan the service, lending us chairs, fairy lights, decorations and so on.”
“We’ve also been doing a marriage course with the pastor and his wife, talking about all sorts of things like communication styles, conflict resolution, living with one another.”
Ask for help from family and friends
Friends and family have had a significant hand in helping Lee and Rebekah – from their knowledge of what goes into a wedding, through to helping out with paying for certain items.
Cash conscious Rebekah was keen to buy a wedding dress cheaply online. Family members encouraged her to go try on a few wedding dresses beforehand to check sizing and style and one dress was just too good to be true.
“They insisted on buying this one dress for me. It was off-the-peg rather than made-to-measure but incredibly kind of them to buy it. The only outlay we’ve had to make is the £115 for alterations.”
The cake has been made by a friend from the church and paid for by Lee’s mum and a sports photography friend of Rebekah’s dad has offered to take the photographs. Veil and accessories have been purchased by Rebekah’s mum.
Get Creative and DIY
“This is a very DIY wedding,” says Lee, “my mum and aunt are doing all the table decorations with foliage from their back gardens, which costs nothing. My mum has made metres and metres of patchwork bunting, and my aunt has made 200 favours bags that we’re filling with sweets.”
Other ways the couple saved money was by rethinking some of the wedding traditions – such as confetti. As Lee explains;
“Because it’s a winter wedding we had this idea of using sparklers to walk through at the end of the ceremony, rather than confetti. Our local party shop had a sale on sparklers just after bonfire night and I got a load for £2 per box vs £5 pre-sale.”
Use free online apps and templates
“We saved loads of money on the invites,” says Rebekah, “There’s lots of free templates online if you don’t mind little logos or watermarks on them. We used them for our invites and RSVPs, and had 130 of each printed for less than £70.”
“You can do it cheaper by buying pre-printed ones from card shops but we felt filling them all out manually for 110 people was too much!”
The couple also used Joy, a free online wedding website building tool which enables guests to access information on the wedding venue as well as the gift registry.
“We chose Joy because there’s an associated app that guests can download. Any photos they take on the day can be uploaded and shared via the app.”
Ask for discounts
Other ways the couple have saved money is by buying things via etsy or eBay. Rebekah highlights that where she did make bigger purchase spends – such as on her dancing shoes for the reception party – she found it was well worth chatting to shopkeepers and asking for discounts.
“I bought a pair of cheap kitten heel shoes from eBay for the wedding, but then I was out shopping and saw a pair of rainbow converse platform trainers – totally my style! They weren’t cheap at £110.00, but they’ll be worn after the wedding. And when I explained what they were for and asked for a discount, we were given 20% off!”
A community affair
“The story of our wedding, as much as it is the story of me and Lee, is the story of all the people who have really supported us,” says Rebekah.
Deciding to get married is not the only significant life change the couple have made – in June of 2020, after months of lockdown confinement, the two decided to quit alcohol completely and have been sober and clean ever since.
“We got sober, met some people, and started working for ourselves in the painting and decorating business. Work just blew up for us and we’ve been working for ourselves for the last 18 months. It’s been a whirlwind for the past two years,” says Less.
“We’re very blessed, in addition to our families, we’ve got a super group of people around us – and since going sober a whole new world of supportive friends,” says Rebekah.
Sober friends who are contributing to the wedding, include the DJ whose gift to the couple is the music set for the night and the professional make-up artist who is doing Rebekah, her bridesmaids and her mum’s make-up, all for free.
“Another saving is that obviously, being sober we’re only providing the soft drinks – we’ve spent about £300 on bottles of tango, pepsi, lemonade, teas and coffees.
“We’re not stopping anyone from drinking though,” says Lee, “we want people to have a good time, so we’re asking people to Bring Their Own Bottle, which everyone is really happy to do. That’s saved us loads.”
Love’s about love
Deciding to get married whilst being determined not to bankrupt themselves has made for a busy year for the couple.
“We could’ve waited three years, saved up loads of money or taken out a loan to get married. But we talked to lots of people who’ve spent £25-30k on their weddings, and no-ones really happy about that,” says Lee. “They don’t remember the day, and they’re really narky they’ve spent so much money. We didn’t want to do that.”
“Love’s not about 30 grand, love’s about love,” says Lee
“I can totally see how you could fall int the bridezilla stereotype if you spent all that money on a wedding. You’d want everything to be absolutely perfect,” says Rebekah. “But because we haven’t it’s a lot more laid back. Still stressful, still scary, still intense, but if things go wrong, things go wrong. We didn’t spent 30 grand, we spent very little and it’s a group effort,” says Rebekah
“It’s really nice that all those people are going to be there and part of it. We’re feeling overwhelmingly loved by our family and friends. It’s really beautiful.”
“There’s certainly going to be a lot of thank yous in my speech!” says Lee.
Budget in Brief
|Venue & decorations||£0||Free venue|
|Decorations||£460||Borrowing or making decorations, buying items on etsy and eBay, making bunting, table decorations with foliage from family gardens|
|Food & Drink||£1475||Biggest expense – Hog roast with salads etc; cake made by a friend, paid for by parents, desert table provided by gastro chef friend; all soft drinks purchased by couple by alcohol on a Bring Your Own Basis|
|Clothing, make-up, hair (Bride, groom, bridesmaids, mother of the bride)||£655||Bridesmaids and Groomsmen bought own outfits; Family bought wedding dress, only alterations to pay for; veil and accessories bought by Rebekah’s mum|
|Flowers, invites & sparklers instead of confetti (2 bouquets, 8 Corsages, 8 Button Holes)||£408||Fake flowers bought via etsy Invites from free online templates, printer only costs and use of online wedding website builder Joy|
|Photography||£0||Family member sports photographer|
|Entertainment||£0||DJ friend gave set as a gift, other acts tbc but free|