So yesterday we witnessed the marriage of Pippa Middleton to James Matthews in what has been described as the biggest 'Society' wedding of the year. With a budget well in excess of £250,000 it really was a wedding fit for a princess.
But the good news is you don't need to splash out £250,000 for your own fairytale wedding. I saw a great article on the BBC website yesterday talking about the fact that more and more millennial couples are opting for the 'DIY' style wedding to keep costs down. You can read the article here.
I got married to my beautiful wife, Lucy, in August 2015. We had both been married before and so this time we wanted to pay for everything ourselves. Initially, we thought of just eloping and having our own private little ceremony on a beach in Mauritius. However, in the end we opted for a small intimate wedding in London so our closest friends and family could be there to share it with us. Now I read recently that the average cost of a wedding in London and the South East is actually over £38,000. So how on earth could we plan a wedding on a budget in London you may well ask... well in truth its pretty easy!
You see, the great thing about London is you have literally hundreds of great venues like bars and restaurants in certain parts of the city that are actually very quiet on the weekends, and so they offer some great deals and incentives to hire the place out for a wedding. So in total including the dress, ceremony, wedding reception, food, suits, decorations, entertainment, wedding gifts, bridesmaids dresses, accommodation, transport and even the honeymoon we only spent around £9000 in total. More importantly, it was a truly awesome and memorable day!
We wanted to go for a chilled beach themed wedding as that was our original intention, but more importantly we just wanted to have a good time and a lot of fun with our close friends and family. So we started off in Camden Town Hall. If you have never been to a Town Hall wedding you may be forgiven for thinking its not the most romantic of wedding venues. However, Camden Town Hall is really a beautiful building with the most amazing marble staircase, which is great for group photos. The room itself was also very nice and was perfect for a wedding party of around 70 guests.
Following the ceremony we then walked to a nearby Gastro pub called The Driver, which was very close to Kings Cross. We even got a bus for some of the older guests to make it easier for them to get to the venue.
There we hired out the entire 1st floor for the wedding party and the best part was they also had a great roof terrace where guests could also go and hang out throughout the day and night. There was no cost for hiring out the entire floor, instead there was a minimum spend, which we more that covered with the cost of the food and drink alone.
We decorated the venue ourselves and we even made some of our own homemade decorations. For example we used glass tonic bottles, which we then glued rope to and put a little personalised wedding sticker on to hold the table flowers. We bough cheap lanterns and wooden picture frames from places like Homebase & B&Q, some sea shells online, and the flowers we bought on the day from Tesco! Everything was on a budget but that didn't mean we had to compromise on quality.
My Mum and I did most of the decorating ourselves in the morning before heading back to our hotel to get ready. Now, don't get me wrong... it wasn't spectacular, grand or super sophisticated, but we personally didn't want that! Ultimately, for us the important thing was to make sure our guests had a great time. So by far our biggest budget was spent on food and drink! The food was excellent... in fact it surpassed all our expectations and all our guests commented on how much they enjoyed the meal.
We tried to incorporate all the key things you typically get at a wedding these days. So for instance, the photoboth we improvised and had a personalised wall back drop made and then just bought some various props online. It cost us less than a £100, significantly cheaper than what you would pay for a professional photoboth which typically cost in excess of £500.
Overall, we really did have an amazing day and the party went on late into the night... I think we finally got back to our hotel room at around 3:30am in the morning. The other good thing was that as it was in London there were loads of accommodation options close by and most of the family stayed in the Premier Inn in Kings Cross, whilst we stayed in the very plush 5 Star St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. The head was certainly a little bit fuzzy the next morning but the memories will last a lifetime. We then went off on our honeymoon to Istanbul for a week where we stayed in the Soho House Hotel.
So the most important aspect of planning a wedding is to really decide what type of wedding you want. From there you can then quickly determine what budget you will need to execute your dream wedding. For everyone this is different, so whether you are planning to spend £2000 or £20,000 or more, the most important thing is to do what makes you happy! As long as you do that you will have a truly memorable wedding day that you will cherish forever.