Dear Wedding On a Budget Planners- Some Tips

Dear Wedding On a Budget Planners,

A conversation on twitter prompted me to write this letter to you. We had the most amazing wedding ever (and I am not just saying that- 4years later people are STILL commenting it was the best wedding they have ever been too and as we were amongst the first of our friends to get married- people feel under pressure to match up! ūüėČ )

We had an incredible day for 150 people for well under £5k so I thought I would write down some of the money saving things we did in case it helps you planning your wedding:


  • Venue hire- We chose Wells Town Hall and Bishops Barn (medieval tithe barn) for our venues – short walk between the two in the stunning Somerset city of Wells. Venue hire was ¬£300 for both- Town Hall ¬£150 for 2 hours hire- Barn ¬£150 for 24 hours but with access day before and after for set up and clear up! (We did also have to pay ¬£300 registrar costs to get them to come out). The barn had lots of chairs and some tables so we didn’t need to hire chairs at least. As venues were within walking distance we saved on car hire too.

  • Equipment hire- we hired fridges, tables (we didn’t need chairs as the venue had them and we did not bother with chair covers!) and other bits from Prestige catering hire which were quite reasonable. We were very lucky in that our caterer provided all crockery etc for free and Tesco do free glasses hire so we had all the glasses from them but as a few broke (although they gave us broken ones too- grr!) we ended up paying about ¬£50 for glasses). Also instead of hiring tablecloths I brought a huge roll of white cotton from ebay and made all the table clothes.
  • Venue decoration-¬†Ikea¬†was our best friend here- we got loads and loads of white net curtains (2 huge ones for ¬£2.99 each- we got 10 packs and had too much!) which we used as swags around doors etc. We got loads of ivy from roadsides and decorated the barn everywhere which looked stunning. We had loads of fairy lights in Christmas sale and butteflies to pin in the netting. Also bought loads of candle votives from ikea and had battery operated candles in them (as no naked flame allowed in venue).

Food and Entertainment

  • Catering- we decided since the hot food was not an option and we¬†hate buffets (queues and can sometimes be a bit naff) we decided to have a picnic- so our caterer prepared 3 different picnic feasts of “Vegetarian, Continental, Traditional English” and put them in picnic baskets we specially brought for the occasion. The baskets also doubled as centrepieces and went down a storm.¬†The picnic baskets I managed to get catered by persuading a lady who ran a little coffee shop in Devon to do it for me. She advertised¬†she made picnics for walks in Dartmoor so I asked her for a large scale picnic! We then had a buffet dessert. All of this for 110 people came to ¬£1000. For the evening we had 25 extra large pizzas delivered which were also devored ¬£300. (So basically food worked out at about about ¬£12 per head!)
  • Cake- our cake for 150 people cost ¬£60 from a small independentcake maker. Was a yummy slab cake made like a book (which was one of the themes of the wedding). We made our own cake toppers out of Fimo- that was fun to do.
  • Booze- all supplied from Booze cruises to France- not sure what final cost was as was present from my dad. We didn’t bother with Champagne- had a really good french sparkling white which tasted nicer than Champagne and the only reason it wasn’t called Champagne was because it wasn’t from the region. All drinks during the reception and the meal were free but in the evening we decided to have a charity bar for drinks. ¬†We didn’t want people to get too drunk as can happen with “Free Bars” so we had volunteers from a charity I used to work for manning the bar and they charged a pound or so a drink and kept all the profits. They raised over ¬£800!!!
  • For entertainment we had a friend¬†who played¬†accoustic guitar, then my brother and another friend DJ’d and we also had another friend Bellydance. The music was eclectic- at one point we were all raving in a barn, then bouncing about to Queen. The barn was situated in a children’s play park so we also spilled outside and enjoyed the evening sun and had a go on the swings.
  • Overall our theme was Black&White, Butterflies and Books. We got butterfly place names for each glass from Ebay. I have two butterfly punches and with some black and white sticky backed vinyl was able to make lots of butterfly stickers which we used for lots of the stationary and even to decorate the votives.
  • Our table names were actually a book about love in a frame. We had “Married Love”, “Girls in their married bliss etc”. Each of these books were framed with a paper rose or lilly and put in the place.
  • For the table plan I bought a big frame from Ikea and made it myself and this now lives above our dining room table as a reminder of our wedding day.

  • ¬†We made our own Sweetpea seed favours. They were fiddly but so worth it. Brought loads of sweetpea seeds and minature bottles with corks in. Put the seeds in the bottles with a little message in tied with a bow – and “Sowing the Seeds of Love” Tears for Fears 1989 as the title of the message (Cheesy but LordCurd is a massive fan!).¬†Then in the cork pierced a hole and¬†put a minature white rose in so it looked like a tiny flower growing out of the bottle. Very cute. I actually planted some of the left over favour seeds yesterday in our brand new garden, but typical me I didn’t read the instructions I had laboured over, so I didn’t soak them or nick them with sandpaper, so I have a horrid feeling they will never germinate!

  • I also bought some¬†miniature¬†envelopes in our wedding colours from Ebay and made tiny cards with little love quotes or “fortunes” inside –¬†on the front of the card was a tiny butterfly sticker (made myself using black/white sticky backed plastic and a small butterfly stamp) and the envelope was in a contrasting colour also sealed with a butterfly. These mini envelopes were basically like fortune cookies without the calories¬†and the guests loved them! I still have lots of them left over (I made too many) so if you want one posting to you I would love to!

  • Going a bit paper mad I made my own¬†origami games¬†for the tables- the fortune game one where you put your fingers in and move the game to reveal quotes
  • Instead of putting blank cd’s on the tables or putting disposable cameras on the tables. I got Vistaprint to print business cards with a flickr address and log in for guests to log in and upload their photos (as well as location for our photos). They were great but unfortunately in the end only one guest uploaded their photos as everyone else used facebook! but I think that is often the same when you leave blank cds on tables.

  • Invites, thankyous etc- printed from Vistaprint– ¬£20 for 400!! They were really good- you need to sign up to the¬†special offers and wait for the emails for the best deals. We designed our own (book themed ones) and had them printed for free each time only paying postage which came to ¬£20 in the end.

  • Save the date magnets- we brought magnetic paper from ebay and printed them ourselves.- ¬£10.

What we wore

  • Best bargain ever- Dress- ¬£62 from Ebay (orginally ¬£2000 Carole Li at Veromia one!). LordCurd’s 3Piece Suit was a bargain from RiverIsland as his uncle could get staff discount! Shoes were ¬£15, tiara and butterfly hairpiece were less than ¬£10 each from a shopping mall in Dubai- I don’t recommend flying to Dubai for accessories but we were there anyway and you can get just as good stuff over here.

  • I didn’t have a practice hair do just¬†went on¬†the day and hoped for the best! Thankfully it went well. I did have a practice makeup which was¬†good as initially it was too much for me, she toned it down on the day.

  • We were lucky with rings –
    LordCurd’s stepdad is in the businessand they bought them for our wedding present. Mine had to be specially made to fit around my engagement ring and both rings have a secret engraving in.

Other Stuff

  • Photographer was my best mate from school- most of the pics on here she took and if you are on twitter and want to see more- please DM me. ¬†She was incredible and um free! Although obviously we bought her a present etc. ¬†Top tip if your wedding photographer hasn’t done many weddings though. In group shots make sure they get all the people to look at their camera not all the other guests cameras. We have umpteen group shots and I don’t think in any of them all of us are looking where we are supposed too! Oops! ¬†We also had a mate videoing the whole thing. The first dance (White Wedding- haha!) and last dance (Bohemian Rhapsody!) are on Youtube somewhere but I am too embarrassed to link here!
  • Finally the Flowers- we got all our flowers wholesale from¬†Triangle nursery– they were incredibly helpful with helping me choose. The cost came¬†to about ¬£100 for lots of Black Baccara Roses, Calla Lillies and Freesia-¬†then my genius idea was to ask the ladies of¬†Wells and District floral arts society¬†to put the flowers together for me- they did me 20 buttonholes my bouquet and 4 bridesmaid bouquets for ¬£50- They were amazing!

There was loads of other little things I did to personalise the day but those were the biggest and most creative and fun to do whilst trying to be moneysaving.


….and they all lived happily ever after. Pretty Much.

Happy Wedding Planning.



19 responses to “Dear Wedding On a Budget Planners- Some Tips

  1. It looks gorgeous and you show that it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to be amazing. Your dress looked stunning, love it! x

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  3. Wow! This couldn’t have arrived in my inbox on a more fitting day! have literally just got off the phone to my sister who has decided to get married asap and on a tight budget! Will be taking a lot of your ideas! All looks gorgeous too!

  4. This looks/sounds like it wasan amazing day! What great ideas, you are so clever! What beautiful venues too! I LOVE the picnic idea and the baskets!

  5. What a gorgeous sounding wedding! We had a similar sort of day, we got married in The Malt Shovel inn in the Forest of Dean and decorated the place ourselves in a Midsummer Night’s Dream theme with lots of Ivy and flowers from the forest. Favours was magnets we made ourselves from beer bottle tops and we had a friend cater and my brother’s band as the entertainment. Wedding on a shoestring, with no debt to take into married life! Lovely post, reminded me of our day 10 years ago. Great photos too!

  6. I had a red theme and saved money by not having flowers on the tables but bowls of red fruit. Not only is fruit cheaper than flowers but our guests were able to nibble all evening so we didn’t have to spend any more money feeding them.

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  12. For those of you keen on the picnic idea here’s what we had in each basket then we encouraged sharing (sadly I was too hyper and too excited to eat I missed out on most of it!)

    Traditional English Basket
    Home cooked roast gammon
    Herb and cheese crusted chicken breast
    Horseradish crusted roast beef
    Honey glazed cocktail sausages
    Selection Somerset cheeses
    Mini pasties (these will not be home made, but will be of a good quality)
    Mixed fresh salad
    Potato salad
    Crusty bread and butter

    Continental basket
    Selection of Italian and Spanish cold meats
    Chorizo sausage
    Quiche Lorraine
    Tomato pizza puffs
    Continental cheese selection
    Greek salad
    Tomato, basil and olive salad
    Roasted vegetable cous cous salad
    Continental breads

    Vegetarian basket
    Ricotta chese, tomato and mushroom pasty
    Asparagus and brie quiche
    Roasted vegetable terrine
    Tomato pizza puffs
    Aubergine and pinenut fritters
    Cheese selection
    Mixed salad
    Roasted vegetable couscous salad
    Potato salad
    Selection of breads and butter

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  14. Firstly let me say THANK YOU!!!!!!! for your blog! We have booked The Bishops Barn for our wedding this summer, after looking for bloody ages at small expensive venues, this one absolutely kills it at ¬£150! They‚Äôre talking of a referb, so looks like we got in there just in time, give me shabby ‚Äėcheap‚Äô any day. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions? ‚Äď

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