By Liana Jacob
MEET THE COUPLE who spent just £2.5K on their BUDGET DREAM WEDDING after spending only £70 for BOTH of their WEDDING DRESSES and having their GUESTS contribute to their £1.7K HONEYMOON to MALTA.
PhD student, Lisa Garwood-Cross (27) and her wife Steph (25) from Manchester, UK, had their first date in February 2016 after meeting on Tinder and both ended up proposing on the same day in March 2017.
Between then and their wedding day they bought their own house and started a blog about living a frugal lifestyle. Their top priority was to buy their own house before they got married, so they decided to put together a thrifty wedding without compromising the size of it, as they wanted to make sure all of their loved ones could attend.
They hired the Swinton Masonic Hall which they used without a wedding license and instead did their legal paperwork two days before. They bought comic books worth just £1.58 which they turned into bouquets and spent just £48 for both of their wedding rings they bought from Etsy.
Lisa bought her wedding dress second-hand on an app called Shpock for just £70 and Steph borrowed her mother’s wedding dress. They provided a pizza buffet for their wedding meal for which they spent £400 for 100 guests.
To avoid spending money on her bridesmaids’ dresses, since they were all spread out across the country, she asked them to pick out black knee-length semi-formal dresses either borrowed or bought so that they could all blend in together.
Their guests all pitched in honeymoon contributions as wedding gifts to send the couple on a seven-night all-inclusive honeymoon to Malta.
“We met on Tinder and had our first date on Valentine’s day 2016. Between then and our wedding we bought a house,” Lisa said.
“We got engaged in March 2017; we both had planned to propose but Steph beat me to it at home with an intimate proposal with a video she had made, and the room filled with candles.
“I was so excited that I sent her upstairs for ten minutes after I said yes and set up for my own proposal; I rewrote the lyrics to the song my best friend had written for us when we first got together into a proposal and played it to her on the ukulele.
“We intentionally had a long engagement as it gave me plenty of time to do all the DIY for the wedding, to save money for the wedding bit by bit and that meant that we were not too stressed with buying a house in the middle of the wedding planning.
“Having a longer engagement also meant we booked things in advance and secured cheaper prices. Our photographer had done our engagement shoot in 2017 and we loved his work, at the time he was new to weddings and his prices reflected that.
“We snapped him up because we could see that the quality of his work was already amazing and would only get better.
“As much as I have dreamed about having a ‘perfect’ wedding all my life, buying a house was our top priority.
“We also didn’t want to take on any debt for our wedding as we wanted to start married life in the strongest financial position possible.
“We worked out a budget we could afford whilst also buying and furnishing a house. Then I did lots of research to find ways to keep our wedding spend as low as possible.
“We could have had a tiny wedding and spent even less than we did but we didn’t want to compromise on having the people that mattered there and we wanted to find ways to make it special and fun even with our budget.
“My bridesmaids were spread out across the country and I didn’t want the four of them, plus my wife’s maid of honour to have to all get together to sort out dresses so we gave them a simple guideline.
“We asked them each to pick a black dress, roughly knee length that was reasonably formal along with a pair of black shoes which could be flats or heels.
“This way they could go for a dress that suited their own personal budget and we knew they would all blend. One bridesmaid wore a dress she already owned, one bought hers from a charity shop and three bought a new dress they liked.”
The majority of decorations were made by Lisa and one of their friends designed the wedding cake for just £80, while the DJ was hired for £180.
Lisa advises that couples shouldn’t be afraid to ditch traditions that they don’t care about to fulfil their dream weddings at a budget. For them this was a wedding car, opting to have a friend drive them, fresh flowers which Lisa made her own from paper with non-floral centrepieces and hair and make-up were done by herself instead of booking a make-up artist.
“We made a real focus on having our wedding be personal, we did our legal paperwork at the registry office two days earlier so that at our wedding we could have a close friend perform a really personal ceremony that we had written,” she said.
“We wrote our own vows and walked down the aisle to a song my best friend had written for us when we first started dating.
“So many guests approached us afterwards to say it was the most personal and emotional wedding they had ever been to.
“We also made sure there were some fun quirky details like a table of dance floor props and a table of board games and playing cards in the bar for anyone who didn’t fancy dancing and they all went down really well.
“Our friends and family were really supportive; I didn’t feel any judgement at all for not going through the traditional route of spending a lot of money.
“We didn’t tell everyone the exact amount it cost at the time because I knew most people wouldn’t know that my dress was only £70 or that making the comic book bouquets cost me only £1.58.
“I’m sure one or two people perhaps wished we’d had a sit-down meal instead of a pizza buffet, but we wanted affordable comfort food that most people would like and made sure that gluten free and vegan guests were catered for.
“The response from Instagram has been overwhelming, so many brides have reached out to say they have been inspired by what we achieved for our wedding.
“So many couples don’t want to get into debt for one day and are looking for ways to save money as much as possible.
“I love chatting to people about how they can save money on their wedding and people often message me for tips which I’m happy to share.
“For our honeymoon we spent seven nights all-inclusive in Malta. It was absolutely incredible, our hotel had a rooftop infinity pool, we snorkelled with the fishes in the Blue Lagoon and found Malta to be a really romantic honeymoon destination.
“In total for flights, accommodation and everything we spent it came to £1,725. Because we had lived together for a while and already own a house together, we asked our guests to contribute to our honeymoon rather than physical gifts if they wanted to give us a wedding present.
“In the end our generous guests more than covered the full cost of our honeymoon (especially thanks to a generous gift from Steph’s Dad) and we were able to put some of the extra left over towards some amazing experiences on a trip to New York we took later in the year.”
For more information visit: www.living-thrifty.com