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

Featured on ‘The Wedding Cat’

Featured onThe Wedding Cat

Back on June 12th Lisa from The Wedding Cat featured my autumnal budget wedding day on her blog within the ‘Real Brides’ section of her site.

There may well be some information about Steven and I’s big day, or some thoughts and feelings I share with Lisa that I haven’t shared on SayIDoOnABudget before. Also, it is great that lots of details about our wedding (that have been scattered across lots of different posts on here) are all neatly in one place in the feature.

The Wedding Cat is a wedding blog site I follow closely. Lisa is based in the US, and our conversations leading up to the feature going live really highlighted to both of us how different weddings can be across the pond. For example, Lisa was a little intrigued about UK Wedding Breakfasts – what they are and how they work, so I gave her the best explanation I could.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever detailed here what songs we chose for parts of the wedding such as when I walked down the isle… Can you guess what songs we may have chosen? You’ll find all of that on the feature too.

To read the full feature about my 6.5k Autumn wedding on The Wedding Cat click here.


Are you planning your own wedding? 
Have you recently got married?

If you are getting married or have got married in the past 5 years on a budget of 10k or less I’d love to feature your wedding on SayIDoOnABudget. 
Send me an email to 

Real Budget Wedding: James & Lucy’s Blue & Yellow September Wedding

Real Budget Wedding

Bride and Groom: Lucy & James Price
Lucy is a photographer and James is the manager of a coffee shop. They met through a mutual friend and had been together 18 months before James popped the question.
Wedding Date(s!): 22nd September 2016 & 24th September 2016
Wedding Venue: The legal bits were conducted at St Georges Hall and their wedding day was at The Racquet Club. Both venues are in Liverpool.
Number of guests: at The Racquet Club on 24th September Lucy and James has 60 day guests and an additional 35 in the evening.
Colour Scheme: Blue & Yellow

Photographer: Heather Rachel Photography

I’m a wedding photographer so photography was (obviously) important to me. Just like everyone else I wanted beautiful photographs to capture my day and look back at, but I also understand the importance of someone giving a photographer, who may have not shot weddings in the past but wants to, that first break. So my photographer wasn’t someone who had years experience in weddings. I’ve known Heather for years and knew she could take beautiful photos so I trusted her completely and the photographs are beautiful. Heather had also assisted me at weddings I photographed so I knew she understood the style I liked.

MUA: Lucy didn’t hire a professional make-up artist. Instead her sister did her hair and makeup for her. 

Total Wedding Budget = £5,500 (roughly)

How did you decide on your budget?
We didn’t really make a plan for the budget when we started planning the wedding (which we probably should have) We just knew we wanted it to be affordable, we didn’t want to take out loans or anything like that to pay for it. We got engaged in the October (2015) and about a week later booked the wedding for the following September so we didn’t have years to save for it, so everything had to be within our means, Real Life Budget Weddingbut that was what we wanted. Neither of us wanted a big flashy day as that didn’t really fit our personalities.

Phew! So even though Lucy and James made the mistake many couples make when in the early stages of planning of not working out and setting a budget, it would seem their grounded approach kept them on the straight and narrow. For advice on how to work out your wedding budget click here.

So what about these two wedding dates?
Well Lucy & James technically had two weddings.
“James had always said that he wanted someone we knew to marry us, which isn’t exactly legal (in the UK). So on the 22nd Sept we went to our local registrar office with my mum and James’ parents as witnesses to get the legal stuff done. We didn’t tell friends/family until our ‘real’ wedding on the 24th.”
Instead of a registrar, James announced to the guests that they’d done the legal bits a couple of days before but that they wanted their friends and loved ones to be there to see their vows. Lucy found example ceremonies online and used them to write their own personal ceremony which their parents conducted for them.
“We saved a lot of money on registrar fees doing it this way, but we chose to do it like this so we could have a truly personal wedding.”

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Writing Personal Wedding Vows


It probably isn’t a surprise to you that the ceremony IS THE WEDDING in my eyes. Without the ceremony it wouldn’t be a wedding – it’d just be an expensive party. I’ve done a number of posts on how you can personalise your ceremony such as this one from 2015 and this one from 2012, and I always mention how I well up listening to a couple say their vows to each other.

The husband and I including personal vows in our ceremony was something I wasn’t going to negotiate on. In the UK you have to say certain vows to make the marriage legal, although you get to choose which legal vows you say from a pack the registry office/church give you. These vows can be incredibly beautiful on their own, but I wanted to write extra vows ourselves so we could say our own personal promises to each other.

What I did not realise, is how difficult writing your own vows can be. Every time I sat to think what I wanted to promise him my mind went blank. After quite a bit of time though we both manged it, and I’m incredibly proud of the vows we gave each other.

Here are my tips on how to go about writing your own vows:

  • Before you go anywhere near a search engine, sit and think about what makes your relationship unique, and what silly little things are features of yourself, your partner and your relationship. Note these things down.
  • Note down little things he does for you that you’re thankful for.
  • Jot down what sort of things you’d like to promise your loved one.
  • When taking notes of all these things don’t worry about wording it in any set way, and don’t worry about if the things you’re jotting down are things you definitely want to include in your final wedding vows. This is your initial ideas stage.

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14 Ways I Reduced the Cost of my Wedding

I often get asked how I was able to cut my wedding costs down by so much to meet my 6.5K budget. This question is one I love answering as it really can be very simple. Often you can meet your budget without even having to remove elements your guests will notice or miss. These 14 simple changes can save you big bucks and are so easy to implement!

This isn’t a comprehensive list of things the Husband and I did to reduce costs, but these 14 things are the main ways we ensured we hit budget.  

How many can you incorporate into your wedding planning? 

What other little changes have you made to save money?

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Gold Bridal Shoes

Some Brides may have 2 wedding gowns. Very rarely does a budget bride have 2 dresses. But you know what a budget bride can have 2 of?

2 pairs of shoes!


I had two pairs of shoes on my wedding day and I loved having both pairs. 

 A couple of months before the wedding during a dress fitting with Tina, (the lady who was making alterations to my dress) I was told that I needed to bring my wedding shoes with me to the next appointment. But I hadn’t bought them yet! So a hastily planned shopping trip with my Mum was arranged to get my shoes. 

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Epic Elopment

I am delighted to bring you an interview with Carly, the wonderful lady who runs helping you fulfill your dream of eloping.

carlyepicelopeI met Carly during a twitter chat hour, and as some of you may know, I’ve always been a fan of the idea of eloping. When my husband and I started early stages of wedding planning I showed him my own personal favourite location to elope to – Gretna Green – but he was dead set against the idea much to my disappointment.

Over the years I’ve known many couples who have chosen to elope, friends of mine have gotten married in Cyprus, Gretna Green and Las Vegas, and another friend is planning her own elopement to Venice.

If you’re toying with the idea of eloping, or struggling to get your plans off the ground read on for Carly’s experience, hints and tips…

Once you’d made the decision to elope, how did you find the planning? 

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