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Thrifty couple spend just £4,000 on dream wedding – by doing everything themselves


The couple needed to save money for their home renovation – but didn’t want to miss out. (Picture: SWNS)

A savvy couple saved thousands on their DIY wedding – by buying dresses on eBay and growing their own bouquets in the back garden.

Newlyweds Alex and Dan Lilley created their dream wedding with 130 guests for just £4,000 – thanks to lots of clever tricks and hacks.

The couple, from Harby in Nottinghamshire, used second-hand websites – like eBay and Facebook Marketplace – to bring their dream wedding to life while keeping costs low.

Alex, 33, even grew her own bouquet of flowers to walk down the aisle with.

After getting engaged in 2019, Alex and 38-year-old Dan, parents to four-year-old Samuel, wanted to marry on a budget while saving for a house renovation.

In total, they believe they have saved around £15,000 by deciding to be so hands-on.

After the wedding, the parents went on honeymoon to Cornwall with their son Samuel. (Picture: SWNS)

‘People can pay thousands and thousands for their dream wedding but we couldn’t justify it,’ says Alex.

‘Doing everything ourselves was ten times the amount of stress, but the end result was amazing.

‘We were nervous but it was better than we ever could have imagined.

‘We managed to keep budgets low and still have the perfect day – I wouldn’t have changed a thing.’

Alex and Dan had shelved their wedding preparation for two years due to the pandemic – before they decided to take the leap and set a date.

With the big day in the diary for 21 Augus, it was all hands on deck for the couple, alongside their friends and family, to bring everything together.

They borrowed the marquees from friends and family. (Picture: SWNS)

‘I searched online and saw a lot of people saying their weddings cost upwards of £20,000, and we weren’t going to spend that,’ says Alex.

The couple had the service at a local church – costing £536 – before everyone took a five minute stroll back to their house, where they hosted the reception in the back garden.

They cut costs on music by taking their own sound system and using a seven-day free trial on YouTube to stream it – and dodged paying for a verger as their friend at the church offered to step in for free.

A dedicated family member made the cake as a wedding present. (Picture: SWNS)

The outfits worn by the couple, their son, and their bridesmaids were second-hand – with Alex getting her dress, a Kenneth Winston originally worth over £1500, for just £220 on Facebook Marketplace.

‘I did have to pay an extra £60 to have the dress altered by a seamstress – but it was still a great deal,’ she adds.

The enormous marquees erected in their back garden were borrowed from friends for free, with £160 spent on strands of lights to give it a cosy feel.

Their giant, three-tier cake was made by a dedicated family member for free, as a wedding gift – while green-fingered Alex grew her bouquet in their own back garden using packets of seeds.

‘We managed to keep budgets low and still have the perfect day.’ (Picture: SWNS)

Her home-grown bouquet was made of an arrangement of cosmos, lavender, eucalyptus, gypsophilia and achillea.

Food on offer was a buffet spread to feed their 130 hungry guests – prepared by their loyal bridesmaids the day before – and featured Mediterranean-style dishes including baked salmon, antipasti kebabs and a bean salad.

Shopping at Aldi, they got the whole lot for £400 – around £3 a head – along with bottles of own-brand Pimms and prosecco, totalling £130.

By buying most of their decorations from stores such as The Range and Dunelm, they kitted out the entire event with candles, chalkboards, bunting and hay bales for under £200.

Entertainment included hiring a local musician for £150, a photo booth for £275 and a children’s bouncy castle for £50.

Alex even grew her own bouquet. (Picture: SWNS)

The couple got the best of both worlds by celebrating their wedding while still renovating their house – and Alex revealed the thousands of pounds they saved have already gone to good use.

‘Earlier in the year we knocked down a wall in our home and made a new dining room,’ she says.

‘We also had a new patio fitted and re-turfed the lawn. Just six weeks ahead of the wedding, we had a new driveway installed too.’

The newlywed parents set off on a week-long honeymoon in Cornwall with four-year-old Samuel before returning to married life to continue their renovation work.

Reflecting on their journey, Alex adds: ‘It was partly me being stubborn and refusing to pay for something we could do ourselves – but it paid off!

‘It does feel fabulous to have had that level of creativity. We wouldn’t have changed a thing.’

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