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Bride on a budget

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
10:00 AM

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Jo James organised her big day in just over 72 hours and came well under her £3,000 budget.

Latest figures show the average cost of a UK wedding can top £18,000 and take up to 18 months to plan.

Jo, 37, wants to prove to couples up and down the country that they don’t have to start married life stressed and in debt.

She is hoping others will learn from her hints and tips, including buying wedding shoes for £10 in a charity shop (she later dusted them with gold eye shadow), using hair accessories for button-holes and collecting jam jars to hold table decorations.

‘I just wanted everything to be simple and not cost the earth,’ said Jo, who lives in Plymouth with her new husband Simon, 41, and their children Katie-Rose, seven, Isobella, five, and Reggie, two.

‘I was determined not to spend a ridiculous amount of money and I didn’t want to spend ages stressing about it – life’s too short.’

Jo and Simon have been together for ten years but the thought of blowing their family’s budget on a wedding had always put them off tying the knot.

One Saturday, the couple happened to drive past a wedding congregation outside their local church and decided the time was right for them to take the plunge.

‘We made up our minds to get married on the Sunday and by the Wednesday, the wedding was all booked and I had my dress, shoes and had ordered the girls’ flower girl outfits,’ says Jo.

‘It was basically all done in three days. We forgot all about it and went on holiday and then back to work and school. It was only in the week before the wedding that I added the finishing touches.

‘None of it has been stressful and I’m so pleased it came together on the day.’

Jo, who got married in February admits she had to learn a thing or two about haggling in the run up to the big event.

‘I think you’ve got to be a bit cheeky, I suppose, and be confident that people want your business,’ she said.

‘A couple of times I just said no when the price has been too much and then people have done me a deal.

‘I’m not normally like that but it’s been a really interesting experience.’

Jo said she relied on family favours and even the kindness of strangers to help keep costs and time down.

‘I went to get my wedding shoes re-heeled at a local cobblers’ and ended up talking to the lady about my wedding budget and how I’d saved money.

‘I went to pay and she told me not to bother. I took her in some cakes afterwards to say thank you.

‘It’s little things like that which have made the whole thing really enjoyable.

‘I’ve got a tremendous sense of satisfaction from knowing that I’ve kept the costs down and researched it all myself.

‘It’s made me think that I could do this as a living eventually!’

Simon, an on-course bookmaker and taxi proprietor, says he’s all in favour of getting married on a budget.

‘I think Joanne has done an amazing job,’ he said. ‘If I’d have known it was all going to be so easy, perhaps we would have done it years ago.’

How Jo did it:

The key is to book out of season – venues will always be cheaper.

Register office ceremony - £147

Reception venue (Plymouth Royal Corinthian Yacht Club)- £1,500 (including a three-course meal for 26 people, an evening buffet for 100 people and a DJ)

Wedding dress - £35 in Monsoon

Matching handbag - £8 from eBay.

Shoes - £10 in a charity shop. Dusted with gold eyeshadow.

Buttonholes - £5 (hair accessories from H&M)

Flowers and table decorations - £25 (artificial flowers arranged by Jo’s mum)

Balloons - £32

Invitations - £11, with printed inserts done by Simon’s mum.

Rings - £350 (second hand)

Four flower girl outfits - £175 from eBay

Cake – being made by a friend as a wedding gift.

Groom’s suit - Simon is wearing his pin-stripe work suit.

Photographer - £150

Hair and make up - £60

Wedding night in a local hotel - £107

Wedding car – Simon’s taxi and driver will bring Jo and her children. She said: “I’ll just meet my dad at the register office!”.

TOTAL: £2,615

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