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Tips for a cheap wedding.

(55 Posts)
honeytea Sun 05-May-13 19:42:39

Me and DP are planning to get married next summer, we have a very limited budget and not enough time to save (it is important to me that my Grandpa can come to the wedding and he has an illness which means it is likely he won't be able to travel in 3 or 4 years time --the time it would take to save up enough--)

We live in Sweden but I am English so my family will be traveling and staying in a hotel/rented houses.

I am thinking of asking guests to bring a dish with them instead of a present, I won't be asking the UK guests to do this, their travel/hotel costs will be high anyway, we will make it clear people don't have to bring something but it would be lovely if they feel they can.

We have found a location, it is a large old barn converted into a party location, it seats 200 people and has tables/chairs/plates for 200 people.

Any tips on a good place to buy very cheap (a couple of 100 pounds at the very most) wedding dresses?

Any good cheap bridesmaid tips?

Is it ok to have a play list lots of ABBA as we are in Sweden ;)

Tell me about the cheap weddings you have been to/held.


Thank you! thanks

sooperdooper Mon 06-May-13 09:00:14

I got my dress from House of Fraser, you can order online and they have some beautiful wedding dresses

Ask around if anyone you know has a smart car they can drive you in, of just get a taxi - I did!

We didn't have a cake, to this day nobody has even mentioned it!

I love the idea of everyone bringing a dish- you'll need to hire plates etc from somewhere though, but look for places that hire for events, not just weddings as it'll be cheaper

zipzap Mon 06-May-13 09:28:13

We used our chocolate wedding cake as our pudding - served it with raspberries and raspberry coulis and cream so it wasn't too dry and it was totally gorgeous. It was made by a lady that make cakes that mum had tried at another wedding and was really impressed with. I'd tried lots of other cakes at wedding fairs but this lady was half the price and her cake was outif this world gorgeous. unfortunately it was a secret family recipe that involved over a pint of double cream in the cake batter so I've never been able to make the cake again which is a real shame

If you are an English bride and the green cakes aren't so nice then definitely go with the 'british' cake option if you like if better. Ditto for any other traditions that you prefer, especially if they work out cheaper!

Set up a private Facebook page or other photo sharing area ifyouhave access to one through your work ASAP and male sure it is on the invites so that people know in advance that there will be photos, they will be shared but in a safe area, everyone should take lots of pix and share them etc. Also print the URL on things like the order of service etc if you have them as extra reminders of where to share.

Definitely think the photography students sounds a good idea in your situation. Do you have any good friend's that are also photographers that would step in and do a couple of special photos on the day so you know you'll have at least one each you like of you, you and your dh, dh, couple of key family groups, you with your grandpa. That way you won't be asking them to spend their day out working as the photo students will be doing everything, but you will feel more secure.

shufflehopstep Mon 06-May-13 10:06:30

It's easy to do if you rope in as many people as possible and keep numbers down. We booked ours about 11 weeks before hand so didn't have an awful lot of time. Our wedding was for 60 guests and I got friends and family to do loads. I was quite lucky as my MIL made my dress so only had to pay for fabric but Monsoon do some lovely ones. You can always have a look on ebay and get a plain one and make a few adjustments to it to make it unique. DH's auntie is a florist and she got flowers at cost and gave us them as a wedding gift but we also have a friend who's a florist who would have given them us at a reduced cost. My dad made invitations, table plan etc as he is a graphic designer. If you know anyone who's got any basic skills in design, you can get pretty decent invitations. My mum and I did a joint effort and made the cake - dead simple, tiered cake stand rather than stacking them (which can be fiddly especially if you have a sponge layer) so just made three cakes of different sizes (hired cake tins) with plain icing and then put some flowers on the top. FIL had a jag so he drove me and my dad rather than hiring a car. The ribbon you put on it is dead cheap and we got that from DH's auntie also. I bought some cheap plants from B&Q (lobelia, herbs, chilli plants) and some miniature plant pots from Hobby Craft and they were the favours along with some chocolates scattered on the tables. My cousin did my make up (she'd recently finished a college course in hair and beauty), another looked after the music and another handed button holes out. My sister did everything from ferrying people around, setting up, nipping back to my house to take the dog for a walk half way through the day, handing out confetti, taking presents and things home at the end of the day. She was an angel. A husband of one of DH's work colleagues was just setting himself up as a wedding photographer and we just asked him to come to the main ceremony only. He took pictures of us and then a few of guests as they made their way to the reception venue but then left once we went in to the meal so we that was cheaper as it was only a couple of hours. We have some lovely photos and didn't need any of the "getting ready" ones.

The biggest saving was we didn't have an evening do. We went down the road to a local cocktail bar (it was a Sunday so wasn't busy) with any friends that wanted to come along and had a few drinks in there. I don't think anyone particularly thinks - "Oh yes, yours was the wedding without the evening do". Lots of people were happy to leave early (elderly relatives, people with children) particularly as it was a Sunday and many people had work the next day.

We didn't have a wedding list and said if anyone wanted to give us a gift, to just give money towards the honeymoon as we were already living together so didn't really need any of the traditional wedding gifts. The money we received covered a large proportion of the costs.

We also bought our own booze for the reception but be careful as the hotel charged us for corkage for everything (we drew the line at the £3 for each carton of orange juice we'd bought for non-drinkers, which they condescendingly agreed to waiver).

An accidental cost saving (but not one that I'd recommend, mind you) was that I forgot to put stamps on some of the invitations blush. Those friends had to then pay to pick up the invitations from the Post Office. Luckily, as it was only a small wedding, the friends we'd invited were quite close so it didn't damage any relationships irreparably!!hmm

Xiaoxiong Mon 06-May-13 12:23:40

We had a lavish wedding IMO but we saved money in all sorts of ways:

Food: we ditched the sit down meal and just had a buffet for all. We had some seating, enough to seat maybe 30% of our guests at any one time - people went through the buffet, sat and ate, and by the time they were done they stood up to see friends on the other side of the room and other guests sat down. All our friends sat on the floor etc. We had an open bar of wine and beer which ended up being about £500 because we had to use the caterer at the venue - if we had bought our own this would have been even less.

I have been to a wedding recently where guests were asked to bring desserts and there was a big dessert buffet. Another loved a food truck at a festival she went to and then hired them to cater her wedding for a tiny fraction of the cost - it was amazing, a Somerset farmhouse wedding with this incredible Ghanaian food!

Music: friends played and sang all the live music at the ceremony, my brother organised playlists on his ipod and kept an eye on the dancing to make sure people were having a good time.

Dress: ordered online from China, £125 including about £25 of alterations once it got here. Backup plan was a white gown on sale on the high street for £200. No formal bridesmaids but gave all my friends matching special flowers to pin to their dresses.

Cake: we had a cake of cheese, which became the cheeseboard at the end of the evening. For some reason this was a fraction of the price of a wedding cake. It would be so easy to make your own as well - it literally was just 7 cheeses stacked on top of each other and surrounded by fruit.


Well in advance of the wedding we bought floral foam (oasis), green floral tape, pearl headed pins and cheap vases for the tables for about £1 each (I did think about milk bottles or charity shops but we found a £10 for 10 deal online and they delivered).

The day before we went to the wholesale flower market and we bought armloads of whatever we thought looked nice. Later that day we had anyone who wanted come round to our house and served sandwiches - my aunt put together one centrepiece which looked brilliant and then everyone copied that, other people did buttonholes. These all then were delivered to the venue by a friend. Aunt put together bouquet and this went in our fridge.

Total spend was about £200 and we had 10 big vases of flowers, every family member, male and female, at the wedding had a buttonhole, and we still have all the vases!

My friend did the same but collected large jars for a few months beforehand - they had a barn wedding so that looked lovely.

Xiaoxiong Mon 06-May-13 12:26:46

One more thing - we sent all save the dates by email (was organised well in advance for overseas guests so we needed save the dates) and also set up a little website with all the information for people to see what was happening. We sent postcard invitations but could easily have dispensed with these too in retrospect.

specialsubject Mon 06-May-13 13:32:49

200 people is a big party.

what people care about is a decent meal, creature comforts and a happy bride and groom. No-one really gives a stuff about favours, table decorations, colour schemes and all the other nonsense.

so lose the bridesmaids, wear an outfit that makes you look good and spend on the food. Doesn't need to be flash, needs to be tasty.

Startail Mon 06-May-13 14:08:21

A good buffet is better than a bad formal meal especially if you have children, very elderly relatives, veggies or other faiths to consider.

Also roast on a very hot day at 4pm feels very odd.

We didn't bother with an evening do since it's my and DH's parents idea of hell. We also got married in his church so I didn't have to invite my whole village. This also meant we got alsorts of flower aranging, bell ringing and vicars fees waved because DMIL and DFIL did assorted church jobs and DH hsd been an alter boy (Yes the vicar knew I'm an athiest and wasn't worried).

Also it's a flower growing area so we got what was in season from the big green houses up the road, she also did bouquets for way less than the florist and it was huge and really pretty.

Dresses were easy as I have aunts and a DM who dress make.

Cake the caterer made, very simple with piles of silk flowers.

Wedding cars, a gold merc belonging to my one rich family friend and the flower girls Dads new silver ford. They decided to do it properly and flew into town for ribbons.

Hair decorations I made and veil and shoes were as cheap as possible.

no seating plan, no favours, no decorating the village hall.

We were students and the first to get married, non of the expectations people have at 30.

AJBthesecond Mon 06-May-13 14:09:49

Instead of cut flowers grow little pots of herbs and flowers for table decorations. Tie a ribbon around the pots and they can double up as favours.

As its summer save money on food, maybe a BBQ. If you find a local farm they sell delicious sausages usually quite cheaply and some lovely fresh salads.

Make elderflower cordial which is delish for non drinkers and divine when added to proseco (loads cheaper than champagne).

For decoration start saving jam jars which look lovely with tea lights in, or as vases if you do go for cut flowers. Search out flower markets where florists buy their flowers, loads loads cheaper and chose flowers in season to save more.

For cake, when we got married we didn't want people to spend lots o money on presents so asked people to bake a cake and bring it on a dinner plate. We had an abundance o delicious cake and now use the plates everyday to eat off which brings lovely memories of the day.

KatAndKit Mon 06-May-13 15:29:28

Save the date - use facebook instead of sending out cards and send an email or an ordinary letter to any non facebookers.

Dress - many very pretty bridesmaid dresses are available in ivory. Bridesmaid dresses are a fraction of the price of wedding dresses so that might be the way forward. Otherwise there is Monsoon, BHS and Debenhams that sell high street wedding dresses. There is also Preloved if you want to buy second hand. I would avoid the made in china knock off designer copies as there are all sorts of horror stories on wedding forums when it has gone horribly wrong.

Invites - make your own. Lots of ideas online.

I'd be wary of asking people to bring dishes as you will not know in advance if you will have enough food or not. Asking people to bring cake is a nice idea though and will save you buying wedding cake. Perhaps ask for canapes and finger food and then make sure you sort out the main food yourself. 200 people is very expensive to cater for. The easiest way to make your wedding cheaper is to halve your guest list. Most weddings seem to be about 100 people.

It is definitely ok to have a playlist. I have been to weddings when this was how the music worked. I don't see a problem with it.

Nobody needs wedding favours they are a pointless waste of money. Also you can not bother getting place cards done for each person

Daughteroughter Mon 06-May-13 16:36:34

We had invites printed by a local supported employment for people with mental health problems, good quality card and envelopes for 120 £50. A friend played the harp and others played the fiddle and bodrum for barn dance ( we were in barn. Used ivy for decoration very cheap. Got married at 3 so had one do with barbecue. Had a French wedding cake, pyramid of profiteroles which was dessert. Bar which we bought wholesale wine and beer and soft drinks. I had loose trouser suit found in sale, DH had Nehru jacket from Indian tailors.

vix206 Mon 06-May-13 16:40:05

Ooh I forgot one thing. The cake. We got ours from tesco (square iced fruit) in 2 sizes and my mum made a tier of sponge cake and decorated all 3. It was delicious and only cost £30!

feralgirl Mon 06-May-13 19:51:34

I bought the most beautiful 1920s ivory silk dress for £60 from a vintage shop in London then spent about £50 having it altered a bit and cleaned up. I made my own invites out of DH's photographs (he's a photographer) and an aunt made the cake for our wedding present. Photography as a present from our three photographer friends. Joint stag/ hen (hag) do which was a meal out with all our mates and then clubbing in our local town.

Flowers all came from my parents' garden and their present to us was lunch catering and marquee (about £1K, by far the biggest expense).

A different aunt and uncle's present to us was to do a booze run to Calais; we bought a barrel of ale from the local brewery and also suggested people bring their own. Family all clubbed together and made the buffet food for the evening.

Evening venue was the local cricket club, hired for £20; DJ friends and friends in bands played for free as their present to us for entertainment.

No cars, no bridesmaids, no favours, no photographer as such, no stupid expensive stag and hen. Lots and lots of family and friend help; I've just remembered how incredibly lucky I am to have such generous and creative people in my life! Also no stress, little to no organisation and under £2K in total.

honeytea Mon 06-May-13 19:57:49

Thank you so much for the tips! SOrry it has taken me ages to come back, it has been a hectic day.

I love the idea of having matching flowers for bridesmainds rather than buying them all a new dress.

Herb/flower growing is a lovely idea, as is the facebook group to keep in contact with everyone. I will send out some invites using some of my photography.

ANy ideas for some plus sized cheap dresses? I do have a year so I should try to diet really but I am unlikely to be under a size 14 and possibly pregnant with dc2

KatAndKit Mon 06-May-13 20:03:03

If you are ttc then I'd wait until very near the time as if you have a year now and you get pg in three months time then you could be very bumpy! Empire line is good for maternity. I personally have decided to postpone ttc till after my wedding due to the dress issue but you have to do what works for you. It should be easy enough to get an empire line ivory dress.

MumOfTheMoos Mon 06-May-13 20:15:42

We had a blow out wedding but having it midweek meant that I was able to save on venue, cars and photographer. Anyone for whom you're paying the time for - your midweek wedding is an extra for them so make sure you ask for a midweek discount.

You've got your venue and car aren't really a necessity but I would make sure your photographer is just there to take photos, not a guest good at takin photos - you need them to be working when everyone else is socialising.

Second about focusing on nice food rather than frills and formality.

honeytea Mon 06-May-13 20:15:51

We are not really ttc, ds is only 4.5 month old, it took us 2 years to get pregnant with him so it is very very unlikely that I would be pregnant as I am EBF at the moment so my period has not even returned. We intend to just not use contraception and hope for another baby at some point in the future but we both have fertility issues so an easy conception is unlikely.

Empire line is a nice idea if I am miraculously pregnant! smile

unlucky83 Mon 06-May-13 20:36:52

I was going to say -do you really need to invite 200?
I have been involved with organising weddings (mainly the catering) and the best ones were smaller ones with just family/close friends...
The worse were big 2-300 with free bars. Never serve copious amounts of alcohol at a wedding unless you know the people really well. Have seen it all - fights, the sale or return booze thing (its paid for so we'll take a bottle or so home- you can't its sale or return - oh xxxs won't mind -actually they will - we had to call the police once as one guest punched a waiter because he stopped him loading boxes of beer from our van into his car), people weeing, puking and having sex in the bushes...yuck, yuck yuck ...
Always did our best to keep it away from the couple -but we've had a bride ...and a bride and her mother in tears...and some arguments (usually over whose 'friend' was causing trouble... )
One that should have been lovely (but actually spoiled by drunken free loaders) was a picnic lunch in a country park and wine in wicker baskets on blankets (instead of tables) by a lake (chairs for older guests and a marquee too in case of bad weather) ......something like that (marquees aren't cheap but maybe cheaper than a venue?) could be relatively cheap....and potentially idyllic...

ExRatty Mon 06-May-13 20:37:00

We did a registry office and a house party. Good playlist and made peach bellinis with prosecco so that everyone was sozzled. It was so relaxed ans fab

ExRatty Mon 06-May-13 20:40:07

I also went to a wedding <when we were students> where everyone chipped in £50 for their meal and booze...instead of gifts
held at a restaurant and then dancing afterward in the room

we all bought little sweet gifts anyway
brilliant brilliant wedding

Pluto Mon 06-May-13 23:08:41

Are there any specific Swedish customs you really want to incorporate into your wedding? Will it be in midsummer? Can you do a smorgasbord rather than hot dinner? Can you walk from church / place of marriage to your reception? I thought Swedish weddings were traditionally fairly small affairs - do you really need 200 guests?!

timtam23 Tue 07-May-13 00:29:47

I got married on a budget

No bridesmaids!
Dress - lovely beaded Art Deco style off the peg from Principles in the sale - £60 - I didn't want a traditional dress so that kept costs down.
Flowers - from MIL's garden & I had a hand-tied bunch of flowers from local florist.
I made the cake (very amateur but it tasted fine - neither of us like fruit cake so we had mango & coconut sponge).
We made the invites etc - bought fancy paper & envelopes & printed them on the computer.
No wedding car - I hired a silver London cab from local taxi firm - gave the driver £40.
A friend did the photos and we asked everyone to send in their pics afterwards.
No disco - we put lots of music onto an Ipod and played it in the evening.
Wedding was at 2pm so we had a few canapes/drinks after the service then a meal at 4ish and people left quite early (was a Sunday wedding).
No wedding favours etc

ItsYonliMe Tue 07-May-13 01:14:21

I love the sound of all these wonderful do-it-yourself weddings. So much cosier and intimate sounding than the stuffy traditional ones.

StoicButStressed Tue 07-May-13 07:27:09

Love idea of more personalised wedding rather than a mega bucks but less personal onesmile

These are my tips if help?

1 - UNDER NO CIRCS TELL ANYONE (STORE/SUPPLIER ETC) THAT WHATEVER YOU'RE GETTING IS FOR A WEDDING grin Their margins just rocket up for anything weddingy.

2 - DRESS: Would def investigate THIS route for wedding & bridesmaid dresses - pic here is actually a 'bridesmaid dress' but if in barn am guessing will not want long dress/train etc(??) and it's only £65shock [DEF do your research first tho & check testimonials etc..]

3 - FOOD: Great that friends bringing dishes, but make sure you do the ness (TGod cheap!) 'framework' round that - IE Jacket potatoes; bread; butter; sauces/salt/pepper etc. All low cost but essential and rounds meal off.

4 - TABLE DECS: I (& I am sooooooo NOT a crafty bod) decorated the - huge/for over 250 people - reception venue for my DS. Aim was for it to be UBER low-cost but NOT 'look' 'cheap' IYKWIM? ANd it looked FAB (was soooooooo relieved!!!) & SO many people commented on it with DS just going "WOW" when she walked insmile

CENTREPIECES: Ordered one helium ballon (in their colour theme/match her flowers etc) per table (25 so negotiated much cheaper price than just buying 1 or 2) & got store to use sparkley glitter marker to write her & DBIL names on one side/date on other and l'il 'kisses' all round edge each side (sounds awful written down, but were stunning & the 18-24 inches of ribbon meant no big centrepiece blocking peoples views of each other).

I collected same number of stones from beach (all about 4-5inches across) and spray painted them gold so on the stone was a kind of bronzey muted gold colour (IE NOT mad blingy yellow gold!) and used those to secure the balloons AND allow me to make them all same 'height' for tables.

CANDLES Got vast bags cheap tealights; for 4 or 5 on each table (sent DS1 around hall every 90 minutes to replace them before went out!) to really make it glow; they went in - free! - saved up/cleaned baby-food jars with the 'screw thread' at top of jar covered in ribbon (same colour as balloons) and tied with cute bow. Ribbon was from cheap fabric store.

TABLECLOTHES/NAPKINS: Bought 'real' (IE not paper as that DID look 'cheap') tableclothes from IKEA (& obv can be re-cycled over & over again; the right colour napkins from IKEA; coloured perspex 'upright' napkin holders 1 per table from, yeswink IKEA.

HTHsmile - Oh, and congratulationsthanks

PS Lights - if anyway you can get those long fat stringy lights to hang from end to end in barn, I'd def do that as they look stunning and add to rustic chic;)

StoicButStressed Tue 07-May-13 07:58:24

Oh, one other thought re Wedding Favours - stemming from a funeral that I organised recently and which I was DESPEARATE to be very 'personal' and not 'prouduction line' kind that doesn't actually have anything to do with the people involved (apologies for bringing funeral into it, but the pic of this is on my profile if you want to see it as uploaded pics for the lovely MN'ers on here who helped me.)

I'd found pre-seeded (Forget-Me-Nots) 'butterflies' which, whilst looked like a craft item, were actually made of pre-seeded composite paper online, and one of each was stuck to the top right corner of the Order Of Service so that people could then plant them at home to have a lasting and 'nice' memory.

The site (are quite a few) ALSO did lots of wedding ones, but they were quite expensive so if budget doesn't stretch to it, you could so similar by buying - wholesale - flower bulbs and wrap each in muslin tied with ribbon/bow that matches flowers etc.

yearoftherat Tue 07-May-13 11:22:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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