The Frugality's Alex Stedman getting married

Congratulations (on the cheap)

Ed Peers

Getting hitched but don’t have a big budget? The Frugality’s Alex Stedman has been there and blogged about it. Here are her top tips for having a wedding on a budget.

Don’t: Stress About Invites, It’s The Day That Counts
We bought save the dates in bulk; it was a raffle kit where we circled the wedding date. Our invites were just cards with the date and time on. Our thank you cards were on recycled card from Paperchase.

Don’t: Be Too Bling
My engagement ring was £180 from Laura Lee. When I lost it, I could afford to replace it with the exact one. My wedding band was £250 from Georgina Boyce, who makes achievable diamonds. My husband’s ring is H Samuel

Don’t: Dismiss The High-Street
My bridesmaids were flung across the world, so I went to J Crew because they deliver to everyone. ASOS’s bridal range is amazing. My bridesmaids’ flower garlands came from Topshop.

Read More: Shop the affordable high street wedding dresses we love 

Don’t: Fall For The Photo Booth
Go for small, local companies, who are cheaper. Buy a brown card photo album from Paperchase instead of the leather-bound book they bring, and instead of paying £100 for props, go to a fancy dress shop. Ask for old-school analogue strips instead of postcard prints – they’re cheaper. We used Coco Photo Booths, and then my Dad made a photo backdrop, a frame with linen fabric over it, for people to take photos against.

Do: Negotiate
Everyone has a standard price, then you can shave the excess off. I halved the price of my photo booth, even my brass band quoted me a ridiculous price and I came back with half. They didn’t come down to my half, but they were closer to my bid then theirs. It’s easier to haggle over e-mail if you’re scared.    

Don’t: Have A Crazy Hen Party
I’m all up for having afternoon tea and spa day, where everyone can go home to their own beds. Going away with friends from different circles is always a bit hard.

Do: Get Crafty
I couldn’t see any napkins I liked, so I made my own. We cut napkins out of a linen tablecloth – it doesn’t matter if the edges are a bit raw, you only use them once. We printed our seating plan with the rubber stamps you can buy from Marks and Spencer. You can buy paper hanging decorations from Ikea, and linen table runners from H&M Home. Instead of big candles, I just used tea lights, and sparklers in zinc pots from Ikea.

Do: Get Personal
I live in London, but places here overcharge. I used a florist who gave me wholesale prices because she was so excited – she usually gets bog standard orders for a ball of roses bouquet and said ‘your flowers are more what I want to do and I really want to make it work’. She dropped them round and I tied them with ribbon the day before. It cost me a couple of hundred rather than a thousand. 

Do: Go Wild
Flowers in fashion at the moment are wild, so baby’s breath is cheap and can really fill up a bouquet. My bridesmaids had a stem of lavender each.

Read More: Wedding beauty tips from a make-up artist who's made up hundreds of brides

Do: Wash Up Old Pasta Sauce Jars
My family saved me pickled onion and Ragoo pasta jars throughout the year, which I used as table settings. Milk bottles are too thin and let in a lot of condensation, so you need wide neck bottles.

Do: Scrap Favours
They’re so old fashioned. We left gifts for ushers and maids of honour, and Poundland sparklers and glow sticks on the table, but a free bar was our gift for everyone.

…And A Fancy Car
I also thought why am I spending hundreds on a car nobody will see us turning up in, so we just got a local taxi and I turned up in a Ford Tourneo. It did the job. 

Do: Make Your Own Music
My brother-in-law made us a mix of our favourite music, with no breaks. A  lot of friends have done iPod or Spotify playlists.

Do: Lean On Friends And Family
A family friend baked our wedding cake as a present. Some people had a cake table, so everyone made sponges, or had cupcakes instead of a three-tier cake. There’s nothing to say you even need to have a cake, a lot of people have had cheeseboards.

Do: Bring Your Own
Some people have said instead of gifts, everyone bring a dish and their wedding is a buffet. For drink, check the corkage fee for BYOB, and see if it’s cheaper to pay or put money behind the bar. We did a few runs to Sainsburys when there were wine deals on throughout the year and stocked up.

Do: Crowdsource Your Honeymoon
We wanted to go somewhere expensive, so we used buy-our-honeymoon.com for our wedding gifts. We went to Japan, and you can pick things like a day dressing up in a kimono or a trip to Disneyland Tokyo –but it comes into your account as cash so it makes them feel like they’ve bought you something specific.

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All images by Ed Peers