With almost half of couples having to postpone their wedding by over a year in order to boost funds, Emily Berryman caught up with four beautiful, real brides to discover how they financed one of the most expensive days of their lives…

“Our clever friends and family stretched our budget!”

When Amy and Lee Marsden tied the knot last January, they knew they didn’t want to start married life saddled with debt. “We were adamant that our budget of £10,000 was an obscene amount of money to spend on just one day – but as we wanted to cater for 200 guests – we had to think up creative ways to stay within budget,” says Amy. Pooling £6,000 of their cash on the stunning venue and catering, Amy’s biggest save was her gorgeous gown, which our bargain-hunting bride picked up online for just £100! “Instead of paying to get it professionally cleaned, my mum washed it in the bath and steamed it with a wallpaper steamer – it came up beautifully!” says Amy. “The shawl I wore was the one my Gran made for my dedication when I was just a baby, my mum made my jewellery and I wore a pair of wellies down the aisle, which I swapped for a pair of £6 Primark shoes to dance in”. Utilising the skills of clever friends and family also helped the couple stretch every penny. “We were so lucky that everyone was willing to help,” says Amy. “A friend made our amazing cake, my stepmother did the flowers, my auntie made the stationery and my parents are in a band, so that was our entertainment sorted!” Amy also recommends hitting the Christmas sales. “We snapped up lots of things – from centrepieces and ribbons to our bridesmaid dresses and suit jackets – when prices were slashed,” says Amy. “A little creativity and forward planning will save you a bundle.” And we are all for a bit of that!

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“We won our wedding!”

For lucky couple Abi and Brian Searles, balancing the wedding books was never a problem – thanks to them winning their entire day! “I had recently discovered The Daffodil Hotel & Spa when I was in the Lake District with a friend and loved the look of it, so when I saw the competition online to win a wedding there, I decided to go for it. Maybe it was fate!” says this lucky bride. “I didn’t think for a minute that I would win, so when I got a call from the hotel’s wedding planner, I couldn’t believe it! I don’t think it properly sank in until we went together to visit the hotel and excitedly started planning our special day.” Amazingly, the couple’s prize included full use of the hotel, a wedding planner and master of ceremonies, a stylish red carpet drinks welcome and wedding breakfast for 80 guests. “Not only that, our lucky streak continued when a local wedding photographer, Bowness Wedding Photography, found out about the competition and offered us a full day’s complimentary wedding photography too,” says Abi. “Everything about the day was perfect – even the weather, and not having to worry about the cost of everything allowed us to put money aside for our honeymoon to Thailand. A lot of our friends didn’t have a honeymoon until a long time after their wedding because of the cost of everything, so thank goodness I entered the competition.” Abi explains. “We’d probably still be saving!”

real-brides-budget-Lake boat shot Abi Brian

“Getting wed abroad made our money go further!”

Being budget-savvy types, Diana and William Revell started saving for their nuptials as soon as William popped the question. Yet despite squirrelling away impressive amounts, and generous contributions from parents – the couple soon discovered that achieving the day of their dreams would be a stretch on their budget of £14,500 here in the UK. “We wanted to host a party to remember – where guests could eat and drink ‘on us’ for the entire night – but as we had a guest list of 140 this would have been impossible to do in the UK,” the bride explains. In comparison, getting married in Romania, Diana’s home country, allowed the couple to treat everyone to a five-course dinner and free bar all night! When it came to dress shopping, major savings were also made by shopping further afield. “I tried on a few dresses in the UK, but the price tags seemed outrageous for the simple design I wanted, so I started looking at Romanian designers, found a design I liked, got measured and hey presto!, three months later my dream dress was ready.” she explains. Not only did it fit her perfectly, it was half the price she initially expected to pay! Yes, getting married abroad can be stressful because of the lack of physical contact you have with suppliers, but we live in the digital era and communication is only a click away. “Getting married abroad made every pound go further – and seeing as our reception started at 7pm and the last guests left at 7am, I think we can safely say that our mission of throwing a party to remember was well and truly accomplished!”

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“We splurged on a two-day bash!”

When Simone and Daniel Berryman tied the knot in Snowdonia last September, the couple plumped for a lavish two-day celebration. “We’d been visiting the same beautiful hotel for years and couldn’t imagine marrying anywhere else,” says Simone. “So once the venue was booked, we agreed to stick to a total wedding budget of around £30,000 and pay some off monthly.” The couple decided to push the boat out in two areas – the venue, which they hired exclusively for two days, and catering, which included a delicious pre-wedding Indian banquet, three-course wedding breakfast and they even splurged on two show-stopping wedding cakes – a towering Victoria sponge for the adults and lollipop chocolate cake for their smaller guests! “For us, our day was all about getting together with the ones we love most, and while it was definitely worth spending as much as we did on the venue and food, there were areas we had to be more frugal with,” says Simone. “Having our entire celebration in one venue meant we didn’t need to hire posh cars, and by using local suppliers, we were able to barter a bit and save on travel costs.” Dan’s mum and dad also kindly paid for their amazing flowers and they made cute jam favours which looked brilliant and cost very little! Being regulars at their hotel also gave the couple extra bargaining power, “Admittedly, it does take bottle but being a bit cheeky can make a massive difference to your final price and what is included,” says Simone. “Yes we spent a lot, but I’m so glad we decided to stick to the wedding we wanted – it was worth every penny.”

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If you’re stressing about the cost of your wedding day, we’ve found some sneaky wedding swaps that’ll help save you £££s!

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