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Thrifty bride reveals how she spent less than £4,000 on her dream wedding

Lauren and Josh spent less than £4K on their dream wedding (Picture: Paul Walker Photography)

Weddings are notorious for being expensive.

And with the average wedding in the UK in 2021 costing around £17,300, according to Hitched, it’s no wonder we worry about having the right budget.

The cost of living crisis is heating up for many of us, so weddings seem a little out of reach and excessive.

But what if we told you that it’s possible to spend less that £4,000 on your special day?

Yes, really.

Lauren Gill, a 30-year-old primary school assistant is proof that this can be done – without compromising on any of the magic.

Spending less than £3,800 on her dream wedding, Lauren proves that being a thrifty bride can have many benefits.

Getting hitched to her now hubby, Josh, the pair originally planned to get married in 2020 but had to postpone their nuptials because of the pandemic.

Last summer though, the pair finally walked down the aisle and said ‘I do’.

Their dream day took place a local registry office (Picture: Paul Walker Photography)

The money-savvy Yorkshire bride spoke to Diamonds Factory about how she planned her special day on a modest budget.

She explained that she and her hubby-to-be had three main aims for their big day. They wanted it to be simple, fun and relaxed.

‘I think we absolutely achieved that,’ she told the retailer.

Getting married at their local registry office, Barnsley Town Hall, the couple had a ceremony in the afternoon and a reception straight after at the local leisure centre.

Once Lauren began researching cheaper options she explained how it became ‘really easy’ to stick to a small budget.

Admitting it requires a ‘little bit of planning and research’, she believes it was worth it because when she shows people photos from her wedding day they’re shocked that they managed to do it with such a small budget.

Instead of spending upwards of a grand on a frock from a boutique, Lauren opted for a stunning gown from an off-the-peg retailer.

‘One big thing where we made a good saving was my wedding dress,’ she explained.

‘I bought my dress from WED2B which is an off-the-peg store and therefore a lot cheaper than shopping at a boutique.

Lauren’s dress was purchased for less than £500 (Picture: Paul Walker Photography)

‘There’s a designer that specialises in the tea-length style of dress that I went for and a dress very similar to mine costs around £1,500 whereas I got my dress for £429.’

The wedding dress isn’t the only area of the day where she and Josh saved some pennies, because they also managed to reduce costs by taking on DIY projects.

Creating their own wedding invites, card box and cake stand were just a few of the things they did to save money.

‘We also saved a lot on our wedding invites as we did the bulk of the designing and assembling of those ourselves.

‘Invites are a really good place to save money as they can get pretty pricey but there are loads of ways to either fully or partially design your own invites with tools like Canva or Vistaprint,’ Lauren revealed.

Keen Disney fans, their invites were designed like Disney park tickets, and the card box they DIY’d was made to look like the mailbox from the film UP! – which they did by using a basic box and paint.

Josh and his dad built the cake stand from scratch as they wanted something simple that would hold a selection of cupcakes and a single-tier cake.

Josh and his dad built the cake stand (Picture: Paul Walker Photography)
Lauren and her hubby made the card box in a Disney theme (Picture: Paul Walker Photography)

‘We decided to set up our own sweet table rather than hiring a sweet cart which saved us a lot of money too.’

And as well as all of these thrifty ways on saving money and cutting costs of their wedding, they also sorted out all of the decorations themselves – aside from the balloons.

Opening up about the structure, Lauren explained how they didn’t want to bog guests down with a strict itinerary.

‘We wanted to celebrate our love fuss-free with the people closest to us. We wanted them to feel relaxed and we wanted to feel relaxed too.’

‘We didn’t have a wedding breakfast (though we had a big buffet, a sweet table and cupcakes), we let our guests sit where they liked and we had lots of entertainment with a DJ, a photo booth and a fun casino which our guests absolutely loved.’

Although fuss-free and laid-back, it was the wedding reception that the couple spent the most on out of everything.

Despite having a thrifty wedding, the pair enjoyed a magical day (Picture: Paul Walker Photography)
Now Lauren has shared her thrifty tips to help other couples looking to get hitched (Picture: Paul Walker Photography)

‘We obviously paid for the room hire and then the buffet for our guests.

‘We also had a basic decoration package with them which included balloons and table covers and we used their resident DJ.

‘So just the basic room and food cost the most. 

‘When you add in all the decoration and entertainment we added to the reception as well it was by far the biggest chunk of our budget. But still cheap compared to a lot of weddings.’

Off the back of her successful money-saving wedding, Lauren started a blog titled The Thrifty Bride.

Her blog, which has the motto of ‘nothing fancy, just love’ is a great destination for brides-to-be who are looking for resources for small-budget weddings.

And now Lauren has shared her top tips on saving money on weddings.

Lauren’s top tips on having a thrifty wedding

  • Research, research, research! Anything with the label ‘wedding’ attached to it is going to cost a lot of money. Think about alternative venues, photographers looking to build their portfolio, and off-the-peg dress stores. All of these things will save money.
  • Please, don’t think about taking out a loan. If you truly are on a small budget you don’t want to be starting married life in debt. It’s honestly not worth it. A wedding day should be about you and your partner, not how much money you spend. Stick to what you can afford.
  • Make a list of what’s really important to you and things you are willing to compromise on. For example, having the wedding dress shop experience was important to me, but I wasn’t fussed about going to a boutique, which is why an off–the–peg store was the perfect solution. Having a video of our day wasn’t something I was personally that bothered about just based on cost but our friends recorded footage of the day (for free) so we still got lovely clips of our day. When you’ve got a list like that it’s easy to see where the savings will come naturally and where other things may require a bit more planning.
  • Keep a check on that guest list. Naturally the more people you invite, the more it’s going to cost you. If you want to keep your budget low, be a little stricter with the guest list. We kept it to close family and friends only – rather than including people we never really see or speak to.
  • Look at alternative food options. Food is one of the biggest costs at a wedding. If you’re really not that bothered about a wedding breakfast, don’t have one! The formality of it didn’t fit with our day but it just so happened that it saved us a huge chunk of money too. Buffets, hog roasts, pizza, and BBQs may all work out cheaper than a wedding breakfast and an evening buffet.
  • Look at timings. A wedding starting in the morning and running all day will cost you a lot more money than one like ours. We got married at 3 pm so we could go straight on to the reception and cut it down to one meal for all guests (the buffet) and cut out the need to find entertainment, drinks, canapés etc for all the times in-between the ceremony, the wedding breakfast and the reception because we didn’t have any of that dead time to fill.
  • Pull in help from family and friends. Having family and friends that can help with things like decorations, cake making or even dress alterations can save you a lot of money. Obviously don’t go expecting the help for free but you’ll often get it at a heavily discounted rate.
  • Check out places like eBay and Facebook Marketplace for a bargain. I only had one bridesmaid but we managed to get her a brand-new dress (with the tags still attached) on Facebook marketplace – it was perfect!
  • Make a spreadsheet to keep track of the budget. I noted every little thing down on my spreadsheet and I also wrote the dates on that full payment needed to be made by. It was really handy for seeing when money was due to be paid and for seeing how we were getting along with the budget.
  • Don’t think you can’t have your dream day just because your budget is smaller than average. There are ways to achieve absolutely anything. The most important part of wedding planning is remembering why you’re getting married. As long as you and your partner are happy with the choices you’re making then that is all that matters.

‘I always say it’s your day so it’s your rules,’ says Lauren.

‘At the end of the day no one else’s opinion on your wedding day matters, you have to be a little bit selfish and do what pleases you as a couple not what pleases family and friends.

‘You’ll end up regretting it if you have a day that’s planned and dictated by everyone else around you.’

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