Thrifty bride Anna Hamill enjoyed her dream wedding day without splashing the cash. Here, she reveals how she did it
For many, the wedding day of their dreams, often planned to the tiniest detail, can lead to rising costs and post-nuptial panic.
But for bride Anna Hamill (37), clever tricks and low budget hacks ensured saying ‘I do’ didn’t mean committing to a hefty debt.
The interior DIY lover and mum, who runs And Hope Designs card and gift business, celebrated her big day with 120 guests and spent less than £4,000 in 2012.
Now preparing to celebrate their tenth anniversary, Anna, who moved to Belfast with husband Iain, who is from the city, three years ago, says the decision to save where possible was ‘immediate.’
“My husband was just graduating from uni, and I had a learning assistant job so I wasn’t earning very much, and we wanted to get married, but also we were really conscious of a budget and how much we could actually spend without getting into debt,” she says.
“We didn’t really want to start married life in debt. I had some savings, he had some savings, and my parents put some money towards the wedding.
“We just used what we had and tried to save money any way we could. We used things like Groupon to get various things and went on eBay.
“We asked a friend to take our photos and she was just starting up her business and she gave us an incredible deal.”
Everyone got involved with preparations, which included Anna learning a new skill and a friend lending one of the most important items - the dress.
“My mother-in-law made our wedding cake. She makes Christmas cakes every year, and she just made that.
“Then I taught myself from YouTube how to ice it and just added ribbon around it to make it more special. We just kind of tried to make it look lovely but yes, not spend a fortune.
“I wanted a sleeved dress, not a sleeveless wedding dress. I bought a veil off eBay that wasn’t quite the right length, so I asked a friend, whose dress I loved, if it was okay if I just stitched bit of the veil on as sleeves,” continues Anna.
“She said as long as it can come off again, that’s absolutely fine. I stitched it really carefully so when I took it off, you couldn’t be sure it had been there, so that was a great result.”
The creative process didn’t faze her.
“I’m quite artistic; I run a wedding stationary business and ran a photography business until Covid. I love to be creative, and I thought, well, if I don’t manage, then I’ll find someone else who can do it, but I may as well give it a try.
“I made my wedding bouquets as well. I got the sunflowers and irises from a florist because I knew they wouldn’t be in season, and they’d have to source them not so locally. And then I thought, well, anything else I can just find in a local supermarket. I bought roses and a few other kinds of filler flowers from the local Sainsbury’s the day before the wedding.”
Making a strong financial decision meant other commitments needed to be made earlier in the planning process.
“I remember there were kind of two phases,” says Anna, who is a mum of four.
“There was maybe the first three months of our engagement where we made a lot of decisions and just kind of organising all the big things and then we knew what we had to organise in the last couple of months before the wedding. I had to make sure that I had friends to help make decorations and things like that and. But it was fairly relaxed in that way.
“We forewent some things like a big wedding venue. We found a church hall just up the road from where we got married and that was booked. We met with a caterer and decided on a hog roast. They organized crockery and so on.”
Growing up, Anna had an idea of how she wanted her wedding to look, around colour — bright yellow, turquoise and purple — and dress style.
“But then saw my friend’s and thought, that’s perfect.”
Both keen readers, Anna and Iain’s wedding was dotted with reminders of a special book.
“I found an old copy of The Princess Bride and cut out hearts from it and put them on the outside of jam jars to put little tea lights in,” she explains.
“We had little heart decorations that I made out of other pages of the book, draped across the front of the church as well.”
Their table plan was a nod to one of Iain’s favourite pastimes: “Our table plan was the mountains of Scotland because my husband also loves to climb.”
All in all, a very special and personal day — without the price tag.
“I think the only thing I would change is the bridesmaids’ dress style but that’s personal preference now 10 years on, the way styles have changed,” says Anna looking back on her 2012 wedding.
“Just think about the big picture,” she says of budget-friendly nuptials. What would you rather have: a massive day that gets you into debt or a simple day and then put your money in something like buying a house.
“There are other things that are probably more important than a big wedding day when you can do it on less money, and it can still be beautiful and you still remember it fondly 10 years on.
“I think the main thing is consider what is most important to you in the day, spend money on that and then think outside the box and find ways of cutting costs on the things that aren’t just as important to you.
“The last few weddings that I’ve been to, we haven’t had wedding favours. I only thought about it maybe a couple of weeks ago. It doesn’t bother people, it doesn’t really matter, so that’s a couple of hundred pounds saved.
“We had a sweetie buffet and we used that as our favours and just said help yourself to a pick-and-mix and it was a fun thing to do in the evening, but it was something to take away as well.”
For more information on And Hope Designs, see andhopedesigns.com