When it came to planning our wedding, it was not at all how I thought it would be. We got engaged on August 9th 2016 and the great wedding planning began. However, due to the fact we found out I was pregnant with our little Squishy, all plans of a Spring wedding were abandoned in favour of a ‘quickie’ in October 2016.
So, with 11 weeks to plan our wedding and a very tight budget (£3k), all of the ‘traditional’ plans of wedding magazines, champagne Saturdays trawling bridal shops and wild hen-dos, were abandoned.
I still wanted the big, white wedding, but to pull off the wedding of our dreams, we had to creative! Unintentionally that did mean that lots of decisions we made were eco-friendly and we still had the day of our dreams with little waste and outlay.
Our ceremony was in our family church and my uncle performed the ceremony with our friends and family members taking part. Also, we very fortunately got a ‘kiss me quick’ package with a local beachfront hotel. You have to be flexible on dates (and guest numbers) as they use this to fill up any unsold dates but we were lucky to get a Saturday date in October during half-term. This meant we got to hire venue, bridal suite, welcome drinks, afternoon tea wedding breakfast (with lots of doggy-bags for guests too!), evening hot food, sweet cart, DJ, chair covers and table linen all included for between 50 and 80 guests. Of course, a smaller guest list means less resource straight away but what about the rest?
We chose a ‘colour theme’ of navy, silver and white, as we felt this was neutral enough and gave us lots of opportunities to use stuff we had or get things second-hand pretty easily. This meant the groom’s party all wore suits, shirts and shoes they already had and we bought silver ties and pocket squares, my 3 bridesmaids got navy dresses they could wear again and we all wore our own shoes that were comfortable (and in my case I already had). My dress was on sale at a bridal shop and was one of only two dresses I tried on, although it was too small to fit my growing bump, bridal shop kindly altered it to a lace-up back.
My veil was kindly borrowed from my friend as my ‘something borrowed’ and actually she had borrowed it from her sister for her own wedding too and my earrings were a present from my sister for my birthday a few weeks before (my something new). My ‘something old’ was a coin in my bouquet that my Nana had been given on her wedding day to wear in her shoe as a good luck charm and my ‘something blue’ nicely fit in with the navy theme (blue everywhere!).
We used a local florist and asked her to choose locally available white/cream flowers that were in season. Only I had a bouquet and the bridal party had buttonholes but we really limited the flowers (even though I love flowers!). We pressed a buttonhole for our memory box, but the rest of the flowers were given away.
I was kindly given some dried flower petals from a colleague that she had leftover from her own wedding as confetti and gave out those and bubbles rather than confetti or balloons.
We shunned ‘favours’ in favour of drinks tokens for our guests and created Wedding I-Spy games for the tables, and used hurricane vases that we already had filled with sand and battery-operated fairy lights and candle lanterns to create beautiful centrepieces. These have since been borrowed by friends for their own special occasions including a Silver Wedding Vow Renewal.
Around the venue, we created welcome boards and signs using log slices painted with blackboard paint and chalk and used an old world map as a table plan (our table names were themed around places we had lived/travelled).
Our ‘guestbook’ was a second-hand Jenga and some Sharpies which people wrote messages on to help us ‘build our lives together.’
My mum upcycled books with our initials on and we had jute bunting and a sign on the sweetheart table, which I passed to my friend for her own wedding, and a globe which I bought Mr Ecologico for his 30th birthday to fit in with the vaguely ‘travel’ theme.
A special touch for us was a frame in the welcome area of photographs all of our family on their wedding days with the details going back 3 or 4 generations. It provided a beautiful centrepiece and talking point to the drinks reception. This now hangs in our house, alongside our own wedding photo.
Getting by with a little help from our friends:
My main piece of advice to anyone planning a wedding would be don’t be shy in asking for favours; we didn’t realise how many talented friends and family we had until we were planning our wedding on a tight time-scale and budget, meaning we saved resources as well as money. We had our wedding cake made for us as a gift, a friend did our photography and provided us with digital copies so we could use the photographs the way we wanted, we borrowed fancy dress and a back-drop for a photo booth from my am-dram group, asked a friend to do our dress alterations and borrowed a friend of a friend’s vintage car to transport us. My bridesmaids did the hair and make-up, my husband’s best man played guitar, my friend sang at the ceremony, we had a live band we love play, our brothers did the readings, my dad’s friend entertained with magic, Mr Ecologico set up a photo projector of all our photos and we had a flash-mob first dance of family and friends.
These may all just seem like little touches but they really did make the day special and people all commented on how personal and family-orientated our wedding was. But also all of these meant NO WASTE! Double win.
This one is more extreme: Mr Ecologico ‘wasn’t fussed’ about a wedding ring so he hasn’t got one whereas I have a gold band which is similar to my mum’s wedding ring. Him not wearing a ring doesn’t make him, or me, feel any less married but this is definitely one for personal choice.
The only thing we have ‘leftover’ from our wedding, apart from a happy marriage and memories, is my wedding dress. I still haven’t decided almost 4 years on what I will do with it, maybe give it away or have it made into something else. I am a little bit sentimental about it but it seems silly keeping a perfectly good wedding dress that was worn once.
So where does that leave us?
Even if we hadn’t planned our wedding in 11 weeks, or we had four times the budget, we would still have wanted the wedding we had. We didn’t feel like we missed out on anything, didn’t get into any debt, waste anything and most importantly, the bride didn’t lose her mind!