Real Budget Wedding: Ira and James’ Icehotel Wedding

Real Budget Wedding Sweden Title

Bride and Groom: Ira Blake & James Humphries are both lighting designers and advisors based in Salisbury, England.
Wedding Venue: Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Wedding Ceremony venue: Ice Church

Ira and James decided to get married in Sweden because their both ‘Scandiphiles’ and they fell in love with the place when Ira took James there for an early 40th birthday present whilst he was working in Stockholm.

Wedding date:  31 December 2013
Wedding colour Scheme: Not white!

Number of Guests: 6

Their guests consisted of, Ira’s sister and brother-in-law, Ira’s brother and sister-in-law and Ira’s best friend and her husband.

Photographer: James and Ira’s guests acted as their photographers, taking all the pictures they have of their day

Total wedding budget: 10K

How’d you decide on your budget?

We agreed on what elements were the most important to each of us together and stripped back everything else to keep it simple and about us rather than than about all the trappings.

Ira Feature Sisters Ira Anja

What elements of planning were the hardest with your budget?

The incidentals were the hardest as we were away for 3 days.  Also, whether we would be warm enough as the temperature can reach glacial levels i.e. as low as -40 degrees. Also the airline baggage allowance as pretty hard as we had lots of winter clothing!

We used a travel agency, Discover The World, who are an Icehotel approved specialist to help us plan travel etc. And the Icehotel has their own wedding coordinator, Eva Lundquist was on site all day and looked after all the arrangements which made things a lot easier. We flew out on December 29th 2013 and flew back on 1st January 2014.

Tell us all about your incredibly unique Bridal outfit.

My dress was my extravagance. I had it custom designed and made by a wonderful maker, Lindsay Fiddler of Angels Carrying Savage Weapons (ACSW). It was a full steel boned corset adapted into a jacket made of Harris Tweed and a silk riding-habit-style skirt. The tweed was a necessity for the climate (between -5 and -7ºC indoors) and the jacket also had a (removable) thermal layer stitched in.

Ira Feature newlyweds icechurch

Bridesmaids outfits?  

My sister was my Maid of Honour, and she wore a Desigual coat I found in the sale.  She provided her own accessories.
Which were a bit different to your usual Bridesmaids accessories. 

Groomsmen attire?

We didn’t have any Groomsmen

Where did you get your wedding rings from and how much did you manage to get them for?

My wedding ring was from Goldsmiths in Salisbury and James found his ring online.  Combined we paid about £600 for both.

Ira Feature James Vicar

Your something old, new, borrowed and blue ?

My Old & Blue were my thermal long johns! My New was my dress & earrings, with my something Borrowed being my sister’s lipstick.

What was the biggest hurdle you ran into when planning your wedding?

Doing everything by email.  A couple of things slipped – like getting the certificate of impediment sorted – but everyone was lovely and went out of their way to help us… sometimes at very short notice. The Registrar at Salisbury was terrific, in fact we’ve met her several times since through business events as Julie is now half of independent celebrants, Bespoke Ceremonies.

What were your best budget buys?

The feather bouquets my MoH and I had were about £25 each from Etsy. Also my snow boots were just £15 in the sale and my sister’s coat was also on sale.

Ira Feature Siblings and spouses

What was your biggest blowout spend for the wedding?

My dress as it had to be different – white was not an option and I wanted something I could wear again as separate pieces or together.
I suppose when you’re getting married in a hotel made of ice you wouldn’t exactly stand out wearing white! 

Was there anything that didn’t go as planned?

Oh yes! James’ parents bought us a horseback safari to see the Aurora Borealis and weReal Life Budget Wedding Sweden went the evening before the wedding. Conditions meant the mounting block was icy and I slipped, flying through the air and smashing my wrist into bits.  We went to the local A&E who said I needed an op to fix it.  It could be done in Kiruna meaning I would need to be airlifted to another hospital hundreds of miles away.  I refused to go so the fab medics gave me morphine and traction to straighten it and bound it in a soft cast with instructions to get the op done as soon as I got home. I had to slit the arm seam of my dress to get it over the cast, couldn’t do my makeup and hair and had to wear my casual boots.  I carried my bouquet in my right (broken) hand and it hardly made an appearance in any photos.  My new husband had to chop up my food at dinner and our wedding night in an ice-suite was a bit of a challenge!

What were your most memorable moments of the day?

Walking to the Icechurch in the dark at 2pm and it starting to snow as we left. The intimate, personal ceremony with just us, our 6 guests and our lovely Swedish vicar in what was really a snow & ice cave with lights that twinkled like a million diamonds.

So now you’ve had your own fabulous small budget wedding what tips or advice would you give to others planning on a small budget?

  1. Keep it simple, and about you not the big day.
  2. Something will go wrong – but no one will notice if you keep smiling and shrug it off.
  3. Paying for your own wedding means no-one else can tell you what to do. Doing away with a few ‘nice to haves’ is a price well worth paying for that freedom.

Ira Feature Wedding suite

Interesting Icehotel fact:  They only use LED lights and candles to minimise environmental impact. The ice melts back into the river as pure as when it is cut.

As lighting designers, we found ourselves inspired by the lighting and the design elements used within the Icehotel, so much so we have replicated some of the design ideas into our own bedroom with a bed made of glass which is backlit with LEDs.

You can find out more about James and Ira’s Lighting business:
By checking out their website

Or by liking them on Facebook 

Or you could follow them on Twitter

Are you planning a small budget wedding?
Or are you a newly wed who got married for 10k or less?
If you would like your wedding featured on the blog please send me an email to

2 thoughts on “Real Budget Wedding: Ira and James’ Icehotel Wedding

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