Our Small Budget Wedding: What did it cost?

Tuesday, 16 October 2018
This was always supposed to be a video, but there's so much to share that I've realised it makes SO much more sense to write it all down rather than relying on my poor sleep deprived baby-brain to remember to cover it all on a YouTube video. So instead, I have written this big post with all the info and then shared my top 10 tips for a budget wedding over on my YouTube channel.

So if you don't know already, Andy and I got married on the 26th August 2018 in a small ceremony in The Bothy, followed by a very small 'reception' in the Grosvener café in Glasgow. We only got engaged in April, so the whole thing took less than 4 months from start to finish and today I'm going to share all the details. So many more couples are opting for small weddings these days, especially weddings that stick to a smaller budget, so hopefully it'll be helpful to any of you that are planning a small wedding too.

The Bothy Glasgow Wee Weddings

Our reasons for having a small wedding were simple. Neither of us had ever dreamed of a big wedding. It just wasn't that important to us. We knew we wanted to be married one day and have the same name but we both agreed that spending tens of thousands (that we don't have) on the celebration just wasn't for us. We wanted something small, within an equally small budget. We did have some 'must haves' for our day, though, which were:

-  Our closest family and friends to be there. Andy has a really close group of friends, and his one stipulation was that he wanted them to be at the ceremony. Other than that, he was happy to leave it up with me.

- There's certain things that you're told you must do in weddings, but we aren't traditionalists and if it didn't matter to us, we weren't doing it.

- I wanted it to be a a low-pressure, relaxed day. I didn't want the pre-wedding nerves, or the feeling that it was too overwhelming. I have a tendency to get this dread before big events, where I feel like I'd rather it just wasn't happening at all and I could just stay in my comfort zone instead. I didn't want that at our wedding, I wanted to look forward to it and enjoy it.

How to do a small wedding on a budget

So here's how we did it, and what we spent on our wedding.

Our venue (£1210)
I started looking at small wedding venues in Glasgow, and my first place to check was The Bothy. It's a small restaurant down a lane in the west end of Glasgow, with a lovely rustic Scottish theme (but still very 'pinterest') and a private dining room upstairs. They offer 'wee weddings' which pretty much described exactly what we wanted. A relaxed, intimate ceremony at the end of a long dining table. The bride and groom stand with the registrar, and your friends and family sit at the table. Afterwards, you all have a big meal and drinks to celebrate. The room is yours all night, so you can stay there for drinks or go elsewhere if you want.

The room held up to 22 people, but our absolute minimum list was 26 (including Oliver and my then 8 week old niece Julia, who didn't need a seat). I called to ask if we could squeeze in another 2 adults over and above that and they were happy to go ahead with that. The Bothy offer 3 different set menus, from £25 a head to £35. All of them were great, but we settled on the £30 menu as the best value of money and it had something for everyone. Within our budget, we also factored in the cost of drinks for everyone, so we worked out it would be around £50 a head. For 24 adults, that would be £1200 - not bad for the largest part of our wedding cost. (In the end, the total cost came in at £1210!)

We booked the venue from 4.30pm. We both wanted it to be an evening event rather than a full day thing, and this would give us enough time to get married before dinner at 6pm. It also tied in well for Oliver's nap, and meant I could take my time getting ready and avoid that rushed nervous dread thing I was talking about. Venue: sorted.

The humanist (£355)
Now we had our venue sorted, we had a chat about how we wanted the actual ceremony to go. We didn't have an aisle to walk down, so it seemed a bit unnecessary to have bridesmaids that would just sit at the table and the same went for groomsmen so we agreed it would just be the both of us and whoever was marrying us. We had planned to do our second baby's gender reveal at the wedding too, so we wanted someone who could do that with us and that could make our ceremony quite personal. In the end, we went for a humanist that was recommended by a friend. She was free on the day, and after meeting her for breakfast one day, we booked in. Humanist: sorted.

The 'reception' (£75)
Since we were limited to the numbers we could invite to the actual ceremony, we still wanted to do a little something afterwards for our wider group of friends and family. We didn't want to have to transport everyone from one place to another, either, so eventually we found out that we hired half of the mezzanine floor at the Grosvener Café for just a £75 deposit. There was a minimum spend of £500 at the bar, but with 30ish guests that all like a drink, we knew that wouldn't be a problem. It was perfect as it was just a 2 minute walk from The Bothy so we were all able to walk there from The Bothy. It was also a really informal, casual kind of venue - exactly what we wanted.

We had a bit of a debate over whether or not we should put on a buffet. We'd invited people to meet us from half 8 onwards to give us time to finish our meal across the road, so it was quite late anyway and the majority of people there had come straight from a meal so in the end, we decided to put out some cakes and tablet instead. We didn't have a traditional wedding cake or 'cutting of the cake' at the ceremony, so we decided to have some cakes out at the Grosvener instead. I was going to get some platters from Costco, but in the end we put out two small wedding cakes, some cup cakes and some tablet. I'm glad we didn't spend a lot of money on food for the reception, as most people were just interested in having a drink anyway. I actually forgot about the cakes completely until after 10pm! (more info under wedding cake, scroll down) 

My dress (and accessories) (£390)
I was going to be almost 18 weeks pregnant at the wedding so I must admit dress shopping was a bit of a conundrum. I had no idea what size I was going to be. I had originally fallen in love with a dress on Pinterest, before realising I'd have to fit a bump into it. When I took that into account, I had no idea what I wanted. I'd always said I'd never pay hundreds or thousands for a dress just for one day, but when you look on line for white dresses, you quickly realise that the high street brands are onto us. You could find the most beautiful evening dress and the minute you look for a white version, it's suddenly double in price. I found so many overpriced white 'high street' wedding dresses that were clearly just cashing in on the wedding thing. Although I didn't want to spend a lot on a dress, I wanted to feel nice and I wanted to get my money's worth for whatever I wanted and the high street didn't seem to offer that. I did find some gorgeous 'budget' wedding dresses on Needle and Thread, ASOS and Debenhams. They were all around the £600 mark, but sadly not available in a maternity option.  Eventually, I found the French Connection Palmero wedding dress around 6 weeks before the wedding. It was beautifully detailed, with an empire cut leaving room for my growing bump. It was £295 - lower than a lot of the other dresses I'd looked at and definitely worth every penny.

I kept everything else simple, with a pair of nude heeled shoes and a nude clutch bag for after the ceremony.

How to do a small wedding on a budget

My hair and make-up (£30)
This was a bit of a dilemma for me. I'm quite fussy with make-up, and know what I like but I had so many people telling me I should get my make-up professionally done for the wedding. My sister had the same with her own wedding last year, and after two failed trials she ended up doing her make up herself. She said it was the best decision she made, so I decided to do the same. Instead of paying someone £60+ to do my make-up, I spent my money on buying some nice new products to use on the day. I wouldn't even count the cost of that within the wedding, as I'm still using the foundation and concealer every day now!

One of my favourite parts of the day was actually sitting down to do my make-up, I find it so relaxing (especially since Oliver was fast asleep and I could take my time). For my hair, I paid £30 to have it curled and styled half up/half down with some flowers in it for decoration.

The Boys' Outfits (£95)
Andy wanted a kilt for the wedding, and I agreed it made total sense to go with the Scottish theme in The Bothy. It's normal to hire a kilt, as buying the full outfit can be over a thousand pounds in itself, so Andy hired his grey kilt from Slanj for £50 (with his student discount).

Originally, I found a matching toddlers kit on eBay for Oliver, which was super cute and really good quality but in the end, I wanted him to match with his big cousin and they both ended up wearing the Roco tweed suit. My friend actually gave us this grey tweed suit for Oliver to wear, as her little boy had grown out of it. It was perfect and in the end, we got another one for my nephew so they could both match. The suits were amazing quality and I was so pleased with them.

ROCO clothing ainsley tweed

The legal stuff (£80)
It doesn't actually cost that much to legally get married, and the paperwork side of things is nowhere near as much of a pain as I thought it would be. I booked an appointment at my local council office, filled in a form and took our birth certificates and passports with me. I think I had to pay around £80 to confirm we were getting married on a certain day, and then we booked me in again for the week before the wedding to pick up the marriage schedule. We were lucky to have a really good humanist who kept us right with anything we had to remember, too but all in all, the legal bit was pretty simple.

Photography (£320)
Obviously, I love to take photos and videos so it was important to me to have nice memories of our day. I've heard of photographers charging thousands, so I did have to weigh up whether or not it was worth it but in the end, we chose Karol Makula to do our wedding photos. Karol took the photos at my sister's and my brothers weddings and they were beautiful, plus he was really reasonably priced at £160 per hour. We booked him for two hours only, as we felt this would be enough to get photos of the actual wedding and to get some of everyone at dinner. As much as I wanted nice photos, I didn't want it to impact on our enjoyment of the day especially as we had such small venue. I knew it could make some people uncomfortable if they were eating dinner and getting 'candid' snaps taken at the same time, so we decided to have the photographer for the first bit and let everyone else take their own photos for the rest of it.

Flowers (£110)
As much as I was up for going down the budget route, I knew I wanted to have a good bouquet. I love flowers, and remembered how much time we spent swooning over the flowers at my sisters wedding the year before. I booked the same florist, Rose & Thyme, to do my bouquet and three button holes for Andy, his dad and my dad. We paid £110 in total and I can honestly say it was worth every penny. I had found a beautiful photo of a rustic, green bouquet on pinterest and sent this to the florist as an idea of what I wanted. I also wanted a thistle in it to tie in with the Scottish theme. They were perfect and one of my favourite things about the whole day.

How to do a small wedding on a budget

Decorations (£50)
This is something that can potentially be a big part of your budget, if you wanted it to be. Luckily, our venue didn't need any decorations. It was literally perfect as it was. The Scullery room where we got married, was already covered in greenery, candles, and rustic décor so anything extra we added would be too much. We saved a fortune, actually, and a whole lot of stress by choosing it as our venue. Andy's mum offered to make cupcakes beforehand, so the only extra to the room was a cake stand with some gorgeous cupcakes on it and this sat alongside our guest book at the front of the venue. Since the meal included desert, we kept our wedding cakes for the venue afterwards.

For the drinks afterwards, we kept the decorations really minimal - I had some jam jars with hessian and lace, candles, some 'just married' hessian banners and we had a table set up with the wedding cakes, some tablet, cupcakes and the guest book. My favourite place to pick up budget wedding decorations were eBay, amazon and ginger ray. I made a full video on our DIY decorations here if you want to have a watch - and all the links to the items shown are in the description box below it.

Favours (£20)
This is one tradition we did stick to. Purely because I had pinned so many favours ideas on pinterest, that I wanted to get a shot of doing my own. Sticking with the Scottish theme, I asked my mum to make some homemade tablet which I wrapped in tissue paper and put into little hessian bags. Each bag had a name tag on it (by Viollaz - see below) and I put them onto the starter plates for each persons place at the table. They acted as placecards too, so we killed two birds with one stone with that one. I made little wreaths to surround the favours as an extra decoration. I was so happy with the result and, thanks to my mum, the tablet was a huge hit!

Invitations (made by family)
There was no question when it came to invitations, I knew I was going to get Viollaz to do these for me. Yanina (who runs the company) is my sister-in-law and she is incredibly talented. I wanted our invitations to match the rustic theme of the venue, and they were perfect. This is the template we used. You can actually download her invitations and other wedding templates via etsy, or you can buy bespoke designs too. Yanina kindly did our invitations as a wedding gift, but her designs are very reasonably priced if you are looking to do something similar. For the drinks afterwards, we went super-modern and set up a good old facebook event to invite our friends. It was too much hassle to post invitations to everyone at short notice, so we invited around 30 other friends via facebook and sent a quick text round just to confirm who was coming - easy peasy.

Wedding cake(s) (£56)
As I mentioned above, we didn't have a traditional wedding cake or a 'cutting of the cake' moment at our wedding. Since the whole event was focused around a three course meal, it seemed a bit silly to spend hundreds of pounds on a cake that people would most likely not be interested in. Instead, we served cake at the 'reception' afterwards alongside some homemade tablet and cupcakes. I bought two of these wedding cake bars from Marks for £18, and served them both on wooden trays for Home Bargains (£3.99). With a little bit of my leftover ivy garland wrapped around, and a wooden Mr and Mrs cake topper - our wedding cakes were completed for just each. What a bargain and I can confirm the cake was AMAZING. I highly recommend DIYing your own wedding cakes from M&S. Here's how I made mine.

When we first set our budget, we said we wanted the whole thing to be no more than £2000. At that price, I thought I wasn't being unreasonable. In total, we spent £2790.

If you have any questions at all, leave them in the comments or DM me on instagram

3 comments on "Our Small Budget Wedding: What did it cost?"
  1. This sounds like my ideal wedding - when the day comes this is more or less exactly what I want! For the meantime though you've just put me in the mood to go to a wedding <3 Congratulations!

    G is for Gingers xx

  2. You look absolutely phenomenal in your wedding pictures, and it sounds as if your day was absolutely perfect and one that will fill you full of warm and fuzzy feelings as the start of a new chapter in your lives together. Absolutely delighted for you my darling.

    Lis / last year's girl x

    1. (also, passing Viollaz onto my sister as she's ready to get started on her invites! x)


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