Our great big cheap green wedding!

Emily says…
i want to keep this simple, not go into every detail about our wedding day but instead to write about how we planned our wedding and how we kept the cost to a minimum whilst making it as green a day as we could.

We got married on a wonderful sunny day in September in Stroud register Office, which is probably the cheapest way to do it. We didn’t chose it because of the price, but because we both felt that firstly it was a beautiful place to get married and within walking distance of our house, and secondly because really, as long as the people we hold most dear are there, the venue didn’t matter so much. there are some stunning venues in the area to hire but are they really going to make your day that much more special, and be worth it at such a huge price?

Stroud Register Office: http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=7849

The banns, register office and ceremony cost us around £150 (can’t remember exactly!). We had the most wonderful celebrant to lead the ceremony and the staff at the register office are like lovely wedding fairies! We had a mix of live music by friends and family and a CD that we made up.

We saved a lot of money by growing our own flowers. The allotment and garden was full of cosmos and calendula this year! Not only did we save money but picking the flowers the night before with my friend Lucy who took the photos was such a special way to start the celebrations. I also made my bouquet and head circlet thingumy on the morning of the wedding, a lovely hour spent calm and absorbed.
 

We could not have had this wedding as it was without the massive help from our friends, firstly Polly who brought round a car load of beautiful flowers the night before for the hall and for my bouquet. She also lent us solar lights for the hall where we had our reception and did so much washing up and clearing the day after too!

We, and my mum and sister, made our confetti from a mix of petals: free, beautiful and eco friendly.

My dress was a Monsoon dress bought from ebay for the grand sum of £20! I knew it would fit as i worked in Monsoon many years ago, but i still needed it altered a little, by the wonderful seamstress in Withey’s Yard in Stroud. This added £30 but was worth it, meaning i wouldn’t lose the dress if i danced with my arms up! I had the cardigan already and just dyed it with dylon dye (not very eco, cost about £5 but better than buying new) to match the shoes, which yes, i bought new again off ebay (beautiful pea green, indian silk slippers). The petticoat i made from a charity shop bedsheet: a very simple A-line skirt with a slit and ribbon tie to avoid bulky buttons under the dress, with stencilled flowers all around the bottom to look as if i was standing in a meadow. I added some tulle (bought new unfortunately) to make the bottom stand away from my legs…

  

As you can see there was no colour scheme, all we wanted was for all our favourite colours, flowers and people to be there. A joyful mix!

Ed’s shirt came from a great website called ‘Morrocan Bazaar’ and he bought his trousers for the wedding too, after a long search for second hand trousers that would fit his long legs!

All in all we spent very little on our outfits, mine came to £65 and Ed’s was £60. More than enough for one day thank you very much! Ed has worn his shirt and his trousers a lot, unfortunately i’m not sure i’ll ever fit into my dress again now baby is on its way! But i have worn the shoes lots since.

I got my ring from ebay, £17. I don’t buy into the whole luck or emotional thing with a previously owned wedding ring, as far as i am concerned it is a piece of metal that symbolises something. Ed’s ring was my great grandfather’s wedding ring and was passed to him from my mum.

The reception was held at Whiteway Colony Hall. If you don’t know about Whiteway then go and read up on it now! It is a fascinating place, i won’t go into the history here, but the whole history, feel and ethos of the village and the hall has always appealed to both of us.

 Whiteway Colony Hall with our guests

The hall is made from wood with a beautiful veranda looking out over cornfields. There was already bunting all around the hall in preparation or Whiteway summer fete. Lesley who made the booking and met us at the hall a few times was absoloutely wonderful and a really powerful, energetic woman.

We decorated the inside of the hall with the help of my friend Ann-Margreth and a huge bag of sari fabric borrowed from her friend Lesley. Also in the bag was more bunting to add to the 100 metres or so of bunting that i had sewn from charity shop and sari fabric! The hall was transformed into a colourful draped, magical place with fairy lights, flowers and candles everywhere.

   Jam jar candle holders.

We made our own invitations with a stencil and on the back we asked people not to get us a present but instead to bring either some food or drink depending on how close they lived and other factors. We ended up with the most fantastic spread of cold food for a buffet at around 5pm, perfect for all the small children there. We provided most of the wine and drinks, and some of the things we are picky about like good quality cold meats. We spent about £200 on drinks (fairtrade wine from the coop) and £100 on food from the Kendrick Street Deli in Stroud who made the most amazing chocolate torte! For 100 guests this was pretty good value! People brought amazing food ranging from salads, cheeses, fruit salads, to bread to tarts and pies. There was so much left over that we were able to give a lot away as thank you presents the next day.

My mum baked a huge and delicious wedding cake that was fed with alcohol for weeks before. My sister baked about 80 fairy cakes, iced them and sprinkled them with calendula petals (edible). We took a chunk of the wedding cake on honeymoon with us and ate it right to the very end, only finishing it nearly a month after we got back home!

Later on in the evening Ed’s brothers made masses of curry and fresh nan bread to satisfy the late night revellers… we ate the left overs of this the next day when our close families got together at the hall to clear up and continue celebrating!

 We made our own i-tunes playlists, three playlists to vary the mood of the night. We were very lucky to be able to borrow speakers from a good friend, which saved the expense of hiring speakers.

And then there was the washing up! So much washing up was done throughout the night, and Ed and I weren’t allowed in the kitchen! So many people helped out and did a stint in the kitchen, which looked like the centre of hilarity at times.

We had the amazing treat of being entertained by Mark, a good friend and entertainer. He did a low-key performance as the guests were waiting for us to arrive from the register office:

Then later on Mark did a brilliant performance involving some of the children and guests, fire juggling and other tricks. This was a wonderful surprise and absolutely thrilled the children (and everyone else!).

Lastly, after Mark’s performance and a lot of dancing, we  brought everyone outside again into the lovely summer night and handed out about 20 sky lanterns. We managed to find eco friendly ones (with no wire). They made a magical sight rising up into the air.

All in all we spent around £800 on the whole wedding and managed not to gain lots of unwanted gifts along the way. Yes people travelled some distances to come to the wedding and yes not everything was recycled or composted at the end of the day. But we bought as much as we could second hand, brought in no commercial help and kept our waste to a minimum. Where we did buy new we tried to do it ethically. It may not have been everyone’s cup of tea but it was exactly as we imagined it and even better, and it shows what you can do with a bit of time, imagination and friends and family. If you don’t feel you can stencil or sew your wedding dress, or do your own flowers or cake then i bet there is someone you know who can and who would love to help on your special day…

3 Responses to Our great big cheap green wedding!

  1. Jenny says:

    I almost had tears in my eyes reading this – it was the most magical day ever….

    Shall stop commenting on all your posts and go to bed now! x

  2. Chloe says:

    This was very helpful as I am planning on getting married at Stroud Registry Office. I was unsure but not I think it looks and sounds great! Thank you:)

    • Hi Chloe, yes the registry office was just perfect, the staff there are really lovely (we called them the registry fairies they were so nice!) and the building is very tasteful and nicely decorated. There isn’t much parking in the forecourt (maybe 5 or 6 cars?) but plenty on the streets nearby. We see the lovely man who married us in stroud a lot and it’s so nice he recognises us! Good luck with your wedding, i hope you have a very special day! emily

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