AN afternoon in Wetherspoon followed by a curry sounds like a solid way to spend a Saturday rather than a wedding.
But for Michelle and John Walton, both aged 50, it was the perfect big day – and they only spent £1,100.
That’s an impressive £18,300 less than the average £19,400 wedding price tag, according to Brides magazine.
The couple, who are both from the Isle of Wight, knew they wanted to get married on a budget.
‘Weddings are a big con’
“Weddings are just a big con with companies extorting people for what they want to be their special day,” said Michelle.
“This was my fourth wedding and John’s second and we knew we wanted to make it simple and cheap.
“Some weddings can cost thousands – I know someone’s who was £25,000 – and the dress alone can cost hundreds.
Michelle’s top tips for cutting the cost of a wedding
HERE’S Michelle’s advice for other brides and grooms who are about to get hitched:
- Visit charity shops – they’re great for cheap outfits for the bride and groom as well as the guests
- Make the decorations and favours yourself – look on Pinterest for ideas
- Go to Poundland – if you don’t want to make your own decorations or you need some other bits for the wedding then hunt for a bargain
- Consider getting married in Wetherspoon – it’s such good value
“But I’d rather spend my money on something like a fabulous holiday experience or upgrading our home.”
The couple first met back in 2013 when they both worked for the island’s police force.
But it wasn’t until three years later that they went on their first date after seeing each other’s profiles on Match.com.
Fast forward two years to July 2018, and the couple got engaged at Fort Victoria Country Park on the Isle of Wight while eating fish and chips.
Instead of blowing their budget on an expensive wedding venue the couple plumped for a local registry office, costing just £212, which helped them save thousands of pounds.
This was followed by a lunch time spread for 70 people at their local Wetherspoon – the Man in the Moon in Newport – for £600.
Michelle and John hired the pub’s courtyard for the afternoon, which there was no charge for, and ordered a feast to feed and water 70 of their nearest and dearest.
This included 70 deli meals, such as southern fried chicken wraps and ham and cheese paninis, which all came with chips, salad and a pint of beer for £5.39 a head.
The couple then spent just around £222 on bottles of sparkling rose and a load of soft drinks. Wetherspoon also threw in an extra bottle of bubbles for free.
“It was such good value,” Michelle said. “There were no pretentious canapes, just nice tasty food, beers, and we had the courtyard fenced off to ourselves.”
Last year, Wetherspoons launched a wedding package but it’s only available at one pub – the Knights Templar in central London.
It costs £4,500 for a three course meal for at least 100 guests, with Prosecco, flowers, a DJ, and wedding planner included – although you do have to pay extra for the local council’s registrar.
But you can have you reception at one of the 934 Wetherspoon pubs across the country like Michelle and John, but prices will vary.
When it came to carrying on the party, Michelle and John did it on a budget too. The evening do was with for 20 close family and friends at their home.
How Michelle and John saved thousands on their wedding
HERE’s how the cost of Michelle and John’s wedding compares to the average wedding, according to Brides magazine:
- Registry office marriage, Wetherspoon pub lunch, favours for guests and takeaway curry for dinner: £1,019 vs £11,441 average
- Bride and groom’s outfits: £35 vs £2,116 average
- Rings: £49 vs £3,846 on average
- Flowers: £5 vs £638 average
- Photographer: Free vs £1,046
- Cakes: £10 vs £300
- Overall cost: £1,118 vs £19,387
- Saving: £18,269
They paid just under £200 for an Indian takeaway feast including lamb madras, chicken rogan josh, rice, and garlic naans, which they had delivered to their house in Shalfleet.
The couple provided drinks they already had at home, such as their homemade wine that costs about £1 a bottle to make, while guests also bought round their tipple of choice.
‘I spent £15 on my wedding dress – paying full price would have felt dirty’
When it came to outfits Michelle knew she wanted a secondhand dress.
“I never even looked at full priced dresses”, said Michelle. “I would have felt dirty doing so.”
Instead she picked up a wedding dress the Earl Mountbatten Hospice – a charity shop in Newport – for a bargain £15.
Pairing it with a pair of white trainers she already had.
She’s since worn it again for fancy dress parties and even to take part in an Age UK charity fun run the day after their big day.
John wore a suit he already had and just spent £20 on a new shirt.
Michelle’s best friend Karen was the only bridesmaid and she wore her own dress, which she bought for £10 on eBay, as well as her own trainers.
As favours for the guests, Michelle saved cash by picking stones off the local Isle of Wight beaches and then painting into “love bugs”.
She then bought little white boxes with “love” written on them from Poundland, which were 10 for £1.
‘My rings cost £49 but they look like the real thing to me’
Michelle picked her own wedding and engagement rings from highstreet retailer Warren James. She paid just £49 for the pair.
“I went for silver rings with and cubic zirconia because it looks just like platinum and diamonds to me,” she added.
“As they’re silver it also means they’re self-cleaning so I don’t need to pay to get them professionally cleaned.”
But John opted not to buy a ring at all because he now works in property construction and doesn’t like to wear jewellery while at work – saving the couple even more cash.
Michelle bought a bunch of fake silk flowers for about £5 from a home ware store.
The couple’s friend Marek is a keen amateur photographer so they enlisted him to take the snaps on their big day.
They even went into the grounds of their local church – for free – to take the “official” photos.
‘We had a pork pie wedding cake’
The couple had two cakes – the first a savoury pork pie cake at the Spoon’s do and the second a sponge cake for their evening party at home.
“My husband is a Yorkshireman so we had to have a pork pie cake, but only the top of the three layers was real – that was a pork pie from Morrisons.
“The second two layers were hollow pastry layers I made and baked myself.
“I then decorated a few wine corks to look like a bride and groom and put them on top – job done!”
The second cake was a £2 Lidl sponge birthday cake hidden with a cardboard box that Michelle had decorated to look like the traditional white wedding cake.
Michelle reckons it cost her about £10 all in for the cakes and decorations.
“We managed to have an absolute blast and celebrate it with our nearest and dearest for around a grand all in,” said Michelle.
“It’s all about creating fun and making happy memories and everyone getting together.”
And the money saving didn’t stop there – the couple drove their own campervan through France and down to Spain where they spent their first week as man and wife in a campsite.
And her top tip for others? “Don’t spend your money on crap for weddings.”
Another way to cut wedding costs is to enter competitions.
We spoke to one bride who had her dream £10,000 wedding for just £750 after winning more than 20 online competitions.
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