WEDDINGS can be incredibly expensive, but one savvy bride and groom have proven that they don't have to be.
Newlyweds Alex and Dan Lilley created their dream wedding with 130 guests for just £4,000 – and it was all thanks to a variety of nifty tricks and hacks.
The couple, from Harby in Nottinghamshire, utilised second-hand websites such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace to bring their dream wedding to life while keeping costs low.
Thrifty Alex, 33, even grew her own bouquet of flowers to walk down the aisle in front of their 130 guests.
After getting engaged in 2019, Alex, a store supervisor, and 38-year-old Dan, a factory maintenance manager, wanted to marry on a budget while saving for a house renovation.
The parents of four-year-old Samuel think that their clever hacks saved them around £15,000 – and it was the perfect day.
"People can pay thousands and thousands for their dream wedding but we couldn't justify it," Alex said.
"Doing everything ourselves was ten times the amount of stress but the end result was amazing.
"We were nervous but the end result 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 but eventually decided to take the leap and set a date in March.
In order to juggle a pricey home renovation on their three-bed bungalow alongside their wedding, they decided to take a thrifty approach wherever possible.
With the date set for August 21, it was all hands on deck for the couple alongside their friends and family to bring everything together in the ultimate DIY mission.
But despite the odds stacked against them with a 130-person guest list, the couple's spending totted up to just over £4,000 – miles below what many couples choose to spend on their big day.
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Alex said: "We just couldn't justify using the money on the wedding when we knew it was needed on our house.
"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.
"But at the same time, we really wanted to get married, so we aimed to do both."
The couple had their service at a local church – totalling £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.
The outfits worn by the couple, their son, and their bridesmaids were second hand from a variety of websites. Alex bought her own dress, a Kenneth Winston originally worth over £1500, for a steal of just £220 on Facebook Marketplace.
Alex added: "I did have to pay an extra £60 to have the dress altered by a seamstress – but it was still a great deal."
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 totalling a just handful of pounds.
Her home-grown bouquet was made of an arrangement of cosmos, lavender, eucalyptus, gypsophila 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 bought 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 'do 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.
The total cost of the wedding came to around £4,030 thanks to their thrifty approach – instead of the tens of thousands many spend on their perfect day.
"It was ten times the stress doing it yourself rather than paying someone else, but the end result was better than we imagined," Alex explained.
"We're lucky to have such supportive friends and family."
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 said.
"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 said: "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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And I saved thousands when I found my dream wedding dress in a charity shop for £20.
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