Lucy (39) and Giles (43) from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire are planning their wedding on a 2K budget. Here Lucy shares with us her relationship story and how she and Giles are planning their wedding on such a small budget.
How Lucy and Giles Met: We met through the online dating website, EHarmony. Both of us have Aspergers Syndrome, so we are very shy in person and find it much easier to break the ice with new people in writing first. We knew from our first meeting that we had each found our soulmate, and we are chatting to EHarmony at the moment about featuring our success story on their website.
Wedding Date: 5th December 2015
Number of Guests: 70 at the Registry Office, and 21 at the Lunchtime Reception.
Intended Feel for the Day: As very shy people, we wanted a small and intimate day that’s simply about making our commitment and promises to each other for the rest of our lives, rather than any jazz and glitz. We wanted the day to be about the beginning of a future rather than just one day that will be over in the blink of an eye. We both share a lot of hobbies which we love, so it was important to us to incorporate small elements of these things into the day, mostly in a subtle way where our loved ones will just quietly think to themselves “Oh yes, that is soooo Giles and Lucy!”. We also both have a big love of all things vintage and quirky, so that has been the main style element and feel for the day.
What are your reasons for planning your wedding on a 2K budget?
Both of us are self-employed on a part time basis. This is because both my children are Autistic, and so to keep up with their emotional and physical needs takes a lot of time and hard work, not least because of weekly and sometimes daily meetings with the professional support teams who all help us to take care of them. We have to fit work in at all hours of the day and night to be able to make ends meet, and so the concept of having to save up a large budget could realistically have meant that the wedding was on hold for many years. However, as mentioned already, we are both very quiet people, and we very much wanted a small and intimate day with very little fuss, so I think that even if the budget had been extended to 20K, we would still have chosen to do things in exactly the same way that we have already done!
How did you choose your venue and what difficulties did you come across?
We live in Stoke-on-Trent, but most of Giles’ family live in West Yorkshire, so we needed to bear in mind travel arrangements. We always knew we wanted a romantic winter wedding. We originally looked at venues in Leek and Buxton out in the Peak District, but felt that we needed to be closer to a city centre and good road networks to ensure all the Yorkshire family could get here safely.
We chose Hanley Town Hall as our Registry Office as it is a beautiful building with lots of great photo opportunities both in the ceremony room, and outside on the front plaza with the building in the background.
We then chose Etruria Hall at the Moat House Hotel, Festival Park, on the outskirts of Hanley for our lunchtime reception. Etruria Hall is a beautiful Georgian building attached to the main part of the hotel by a walkway, and it used to be the home of the famous pottery maker, Josiah Wedgwood. We loved the history of the building as well as the appearance, and we loved the small intimate room that was on offer.
Our Wedding Planner, Steph Seymour, has been fantastic. She must deal with hundreds of weddings in a year, but has a wonderful knack of making you feel like yours is the only one she is focusing on. With being a late booking (we only got engaged in May 2015) and a winter wedding for a small number of guests with only a lunchtime formal reception, the hotel were able to give us an amazing deal on price.
Tell us about your dress and the buying / choosing experience:
I wanted a simple dress that was elegant and made me feel very special, but that was a little bit quirky and different, and was definitely NOT flouncy or “poofy” in any way! I began by browsing for ideas online to get an idea of the sort of style that I felt would fit my wish list.
I wasn’t really intending to buy such an important purchase online without trying it, but I happened across the Sarah Kate Bridal Ebay store and was overwhelmed by the choice of amazing dresses at such brilliant prices! The majority of the dresses are ex-display, meaning they have been tried on by other brides-to-be, but otherwise are brand new and have never been worn other than briefly inside the bridal shop.
I was spoilt for choice, and decided to make a purchase and see how it worked out. The store gives all the measurements of the dress, so when it arrived (swiftly, beautifully packaged, and in perfect condition), it literally did fit like a glove. I paid £49, and it still had all the tags on it with an RRP of £995 to buy brand new – you cannot possibly ask for a better price or better service! I can’t say anything more about the style at the moment as obviously it is a surprise for Giles on the wedding day.
Has your ceremony date and time affected your catering choices?
Not really. We always wanted all our friends to be able to watch us get married at the Registry Office, but we knew we wanted a small lunchtime reception for just family and a very small number of very close friends. The lunch will be a three course sit-down meal, and we had a wide variety of options to chose from even on our small budget, including choices that were both vegetarian and gluten-free for my future sister-in-law, and suitable choices for the children.
There will be no evening reception, but we have opened an invite to all our friends to join us for informal drinks and chat in the hotel bar. Again, we are grateful to the hotel for allowing us to make use of their facilities in this way, and also for providing the Honeymoon suite for us to stay in included in the agreed price.
Who have you received help from to create your day on a budget?
I have already mentioned our wedding co-ordinator Steph Seymour, and the Sarah Kate Bridal store. Other people include our photographer, Wes Webster who was kind enough to work with us to create a bespoke package tailored to our budget whereby he agreed to attend just the ceremony for an hourly rate.
We are also grateful to our transport provider, Dave Moore at Italian job Mini Hire who is based locally and has let us hire just the one Mini that we need for the trip to the ceremony and from the ceremony to the reception.
Other thanks must go to my dear friend Kay Daily, who is a genius at creating cakes and has agreed to create something incredibly special and personal to us.
Apart from that, I have done pretty much everything myself. I’ve made my own invitations from pretty cards by printing inserts, and I will be making my own table plan, place cards and table decorations. Where we haven’t needed to buy new things, we haven’t done so – so for example, Giles was perfectly content to give his favourite suit a rare outing, as he doesn’t get a lot of opportunity to wear it with working from home. It has been about thinking small and intimate, doing a lot of research, and being prepared to put in time and effort into handcrafting the perfect day to suit us.
You’ve DIY’d your way to budget sucess – which of our DIYs are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the whole day, but I am especially proud of tracking down such an amazing dress for such a budget price. I’ve also been very proud of the invites as they took a lot of time and work to create, and I am very much looking forward to creating the table plan and table decorations in the same sort of theme.
What are your biggest budgeting tips to share with other Bride2Bs?
Do your research! Sites like Google, Ebay, Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram and Not On The Market have been invaluable for finding great inspiration and absolute bargains. Also, don’t be afraid to muck in and work hard on something handmade – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be good enough, and your guests will appreciate how much time and effort you have put in to making your special day the amazing success it deserves to be.