I upset friends & got DIY decorations from B&M and Home Bargains to save £21k on my castle wedding

A BUDGET bride has revealed how she slashed people’s partners and bought DIY decorations from B&M and Home Bargains to save £21,000 on her dream castle wedding.

Ashley Waugh, 25, from Gosforth, Newcastle, says she almost halved the guest list and the move angered a lot of her friends, but it was worth it for the perfect big day.

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Ashley Waugh, 25, from Newcastle, and husband Luke Elliot, 27, saved £21k on their big day by slashing their guest list in halfCredit: Supplied

The legal cashier married sales consultant Luke Elliot, 27, her partner of nearly seven years, at Langley Castle on Wednesday July 28 – but the do didn’t cost the Earth.

Speaking to Fabulous, thanks to thinkmoney, she says: “Originally, we wanted to get married on a Saturday in the height of summer with 140 guests, and that would’ve cost us around £10,000 just for the venue.

“The steepest quote we had was £30,000 all in. So we booked a midweek date, which instantly saved us a lot of money, and went for a February date which was off-season and cheaper.

“We struck gold with Covid when they had to reschedule to July, and honoured the original price.

We were really harsh with our guest list, which upset a lot of people. But we wanted our closest friends and families there, not someone who felt they had a right to come because they were dating someone who was invited

Ashley Waugh25

“We were also really harsh with our guest list, which upset a lot of people .

“But we were paying for it ourselves and we wanted our closest friends and families there, not someone who felt they had a right to come because they were dating someone who was invited.

“We cut A LOT of people’s partners purely to save money. Most people were really nice about it, some were not, but then you learn who your real friends are when you’re planning a wedding!

“Luke has a larger family and is originally from Peterborough. He chose not to invite distant cousins and nieces so we could have an intimate day with our nearest and dearest.

“Our original guest list was 140 people and we changed that to 64 day guests and 15 evening, so cut 60 people.

“We also did every aspect of the décor ourselves – myself, Luke, my brother, my mum, and my friend Katie spent the day before dressing the Wedding Breakfast room.

“We bought centrepieces from Home Bargains, chair sashes and covers from Wish or AliExpress for 40p a pop and favours from B&M, but it looked as if it had been professionally dressed.

“We also didn’t have a DJ just a playlist we made together and controlled from our phones.”

They also bought DIY decorations from B&M and Home Bargains, blagged the cake for free & ditched the DJ

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They also bought DIY decorations from B&M and Home Bargains, blagged the cake for free & ditched the DJCredit: Supplied

What Ashley & Luke spent

Cake: FREE, gifted by Luke’s aunt

DJ: FREE, as the couple did their own music

Chair sashes, table runners and flowers for centrepieces: 40p each from AliExpress

Flowers: £300 from Groovy Ruby (fake to save money)

Suits: £600, hired from Moss Bros

Wedding dress: £700 from Wed2Be, altered for £90 (off the rack to save money)

Bridal and bridesmaids’ hair/make-up: £500 with friends’ discount

Venue: £5k on a winter deal

Ashley, who met Luke at uni, was originally hoping to go all out for her big day, but plans changed when she was furloughed from her zero-hour bar job during the pandemic.

In total, the big day cost £9,000 – with Ashley’s dad kindly paying for the venue and the happy couple footing £4,000.

She says: “We completed the purchase of our first home together during the pandemic so money was tight and we didn’t feel we needed a lavish or expensive day to celebrate our love for one another.

“We were also incredibly lucky in that Luke’s auntie is a cake maker and she gifted us our cake.

“My only tips would be to ask around, ask friends to ask their friends.

“No-one in my friendship group is a make-up artist, a photographer or a florist – but they knew people or had recommendations and I was lucky enough to get some friends’ discounts.

“I would search locally too, I found a woman based in my hometown who I had never heard of but then it turned out she knew one of my bridesmaids – it’s all who you know, not what you know.

“I hope people wouldn’t realise we’d done it on a budget, I don’t think they’d have commented if they did.

“The people I did tell that I had done it all myself were really surprised.”

thinkmoney’s tips for saving money on your wedding

  1. Make an estimate: be realistic about how much your wedding will actually cost. The average price in the UK in 2019 was £5.4k for the venue, £3.8k for catering, £1.5k for the drinks & £1.3k for the wedding dress
  2. Save, save save: you should set aside a year before your date to save for the wedding
  3. Cut costs: look for off-season dates & do DIY decorations as easy ways to save
  4. Set up a website: skip the expensive (and unnecessary) process of writing & sending invites by using a wedding website. WeddingWire is free to use & has systems like gift registries & RSVP collections built in
  5. Don’t mention the W-word: plenty of suppliers hike up the costs of things like flowers & cakes when they know it’s for a wedding. So when meeting or messaging suppliers, try not to mention the W-word and see if you can get a more reasonable price.

Although Ashley loved her budget day, she’s not judgemental about people who splash out.

She says: “I don’t think it’s silly – if you have the money and it’s not going to ruin your future financially then why not.

“It is one of the biggest days of your lives and one worth remembering. We spent the most money on the photography and videography as that’s what was most important to us – having the memories.

“Everything else was surplus, my flowers were fake and budget but looked amazing, my dress was off the rack and altered to look bespoke, you can have the look without the expense.”

Thrifty bride reveals the ‘expensive’ wedding traditions she’ll be skipping

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