Alex and Mat managed to pull off their wedding with a modest £5000 budget. And what an AWESOME job they did too. Sometimes stripped back, unfussy weddings are the best.
I know we say it all the time, but really – it is just about the LOVE. And this wedding has that by the bucket load.
The 50s style Bridesmaid’s dresses were all made by Alex – they look so fun and colourful in the sunshine and look gorgeous on each and everyone of her six Maids. Alex also designed her own dress and then accessorised it perfectly with a gold Matthew Williamson belt and studded shoes.
All of the food was made by friends and family and the décor was either collected or hand made in the run up to the wedding.
I particularly love the quirky sketches of people’s faces as place names too, such a unique idea and all hand drawn by Mat. Oh yes, AND the flowers were grown in their allotment.
What a ridiculous talented and thrifty pair. They definitely achieved their aim of creating the greatest party on the smallest budget.
Big Wedding On A Budget
Alex The Bride: A small wedding was never an option for us (large families and great friends) but a small budget was always a reality so we had to get creative. As we started to plan we listed what we knew we wanted on our day; good food, too much booze and good music all for under five thousand pounds. We were incredibly fortunate that our friends and family were really keen to muck in.
One of the best man offered a field with sweeping views of East Sussex to hold our reception in – it’s free, it’s stunning and it’s a no brainer. We found a local venue that did a discounted rate for a weekday wedding and the date was set.
Vintage plates were collected from charity shops and boot fairs. The bridesmaids were happy to wear dresses made by a first time dress maker – the bride! The flowers were grown in the allotment. The canapés and menu were made up of dishes cooked by friends and family. The party was held under a circus style tent hired for a nominal fee from a family friend. We had the best day of our lives even if we had twice the budget we would not have changed a thing – it was perfect and personal.
Un-Pretentious But Stunning
Our ceremony was at Wadhurst Castle, East Sussex. To be honest we found the reception venue first and worked backwards from there. This place was un-pretentious but stunning. It had glorious gardens and the option to get married outside if the weather was nice. The reception was held in a friend’s field a few miles away. It was idyllic, unique and set the theme for our whole day.
Just The Best Me Possible
I did my own makeup – I knew I wanted to look like I do most days (liquid eyeliner flick) but the best possible version of. I went to local MAC counter and asked their advice. They gave me a makeup lesson and taught me a few tricks that meant that I could take my everyday look to the next level for the day. My hairdresser at The Chapel, Tunbridge Wells, did my hair. I knew I wanted it up, nothing fancy, again just the best version of my everyday look – the top knot.
Bespoke Evening Gown
I trundled round a number of bridal boutiques with enthusiastic bridesmaids and encouraging mother but I didn’t find a single dress I liked. Instead I tried on evening dresses and noted down what shapes suited me best and what I liked. From there I sketched a dress and took it to a local dressmaker Angela Webber she turned my ideas into a reality and knew exactly what she was doing – she was fantastic.
Spikey Shoes And A Spangley Belt
I wanted to accessorize, to put my stamp on the white dress. Cue gold Matthew Williamson bangle belt. I scoured eBay for months until one popped up and I got it for the 10th of the price. I found a fantastic pair of kick-ass spiky shoes from the internet too as soon as I tried them on with the dress I felt like me, something I didn’t when I tried on all previous dresses. The spiked earrings were from ASOS.
Vintage Vogue Design
We were greedy we had six bridesmaids and two best men. We didn’t have a theme really, we just wanted bright colours, nothing too matchy-matchy. I found a vintage Vogue pattern in a classic 50s shape, the sort of dress that flatters all shapes.
I found some fantastically bright cotton from a local shop, to give them a modern twist I put different coloured clashing zips down the back. I loved sewing the dresses, it was something I hadn’t done before and the girls were really up for it – no matter how rubbish they turned out – true friends. The girls provided their own shoes and accessories. The best men chose their own outfits.
Beg, Borrow, Steal
We wanted bright colours. We took the colours of the bridesmaids dresses as the guide. We used material scraps from the dresses to make bunting. We bought paper pompoms off eBay to hang from the tent. As soon as we were engaged to set our friends and family a little task – find vintage dinner plates for less than a pound. It got competitive between, who could find the best looking plate for the least amount.
Within a matter of months we had amassed the 112 dinner plates we needed. We bought 50m of very cheap material to use as table clothes in bright blue. A friend spotted a shop taking down their window display and picked it up for a small donation to charity- hundreds of paper birds – which we used to decorate the exterior of the toilets.
We bought hay bails from a local farm and built sofas, covering them in throws bought from Ikea. A friend recently got married so we inherited 100 jam jars to use as tea light holders. We sourced vintage glass bottles from car boot sales for the table flowers.
Home Grown Blooms
We tried to grow most of our flowers on our allotment. We successfully grew enough for the brides bouquet and the button holes. We supplemented the bridesmaid bouquets with Dahlias bought from a local flower stall. In the vintage glass bottles on the tables we had Sweet Peas. They smelt wonderful and added a slightly lighter touch to the rest of the bold decoration.
Relaxed And Fun
The bride walked up the isle to Johnny Cash, Walk the Line, played on the mandalin and guitar. We had two readings chosen by our friends. We walked out to Eye of the Tiger. It added a real sense of humour, which was perfect for our relaxed day.
Out Danced The Generator
The musicians (our friends) came to the field to play for a few hour whilst people ate canapés and drank champagne. Our first dance was to You’ve Got The Love by Florence and Machine. In the evening our friend DJ’d. He started with a Northern Soul vibe so that everyone could join in. As the night went on he moved onto some good old pop. Everyone was up and dancing until the generator ran out of fuel.
We didn’t have any favours, instead we sketched every guests face onto recycled card to act as place names. It’s the same thing we did with our own faces for our wedding invites. Our menu was as a result of our incredibly generous friends and family. People offered to cook, we provided the food and they provided the time. We had homemade pork pies, aubergine cheesecake, french bean salad, butternut squash salad, oat biscuits, cheese straws, couscous salad, mackerel pate, chutney, pickled onions, lemon drizzle cake and greek baklava.
The only pre-made food we had to buy in was bread and locally sourced cheese. The menu told everyone who made what and provided a great way of people to find out who was who. The picnic boxes were served one between six in old wooden wine crates that we collected from wine merchants around the country through the year – another mission!
Our late night disco snack were venison sausages. The deer was a wedding gift from the family (that had been grazing the field we had our reception in!) who leant us the field and we had them made up into sausages by a local butcher.
We kept drinks simple, presecco, white and red wine, ale and lager. We hired glasses from Sainsbury’s – they are free!
Find Your Face
We only had three very long tables. We had a seating plan but people were asked to ‘find their face’ to work out where they were sitting. Watching people searching for their sketch was lovely to watch – seeing people recognise the characters and then finally find their own and laugh was one of our favourite moments of the wedding.
Enjoy Every Minute
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – those who love you are just excited about the wedding as you are and will love to be involved in any way they can. The days leading up to the wedding we spent in the field, cutting the grass, raking the hay, building the marquee and decorating. Being involved in every part meant we enjoyed every minute of putting it together – seeing our hard work turn into our wedding.
We had bought a cheap marquee to house the dance floor, the morning of the wedding the tent had blown off the frame, we hung fairy lights from the frame and people danced under the stars.
Very Kind People
Our wedding was the best day of our lives and it was down to the kindness of people lending their skills and time. Andrew Marshall kindly offered to take our photographs – he fitted in and he was everywhere. All the photos we love of us we don’t remember him taking. He captured the day, he added to it rather than distracting people.
Angela Webber the dress-maker should get a special mention for understanding the mad ramblings of a woman who cannot draw and creating the dress she wanted.
Dress Maker – Angela Webber
Gold Belt – Matthew Williamson
Earrings – ASOS
Hair – The Chapel, Tunbridge Wells
Bridesmaid’s Dresses – The Bride
Ceremony Venue – Wadhurst Castle
Photography – Andrew Marshall
Are you feeling all warm and happy inside?
This wedding definitely has the feel-good factor.
The image of the guests dancing under the marquee frame just sums up the whole day really.
Lots of love,