'I ditched these costly wedding traditions to save thousands on my dream city nuptials'

·6-min read

Real-life bride Sarah Hanrahan, 35, from Dublin wanted a "modern city wedding" with her husband Sean, but they didn't want the hefty price tag.

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The TikTok star and her partner of 14 years got engaged in December 2020, and they chose to sacrifice some traditional wedding elements in order to put that money towards the things that were most important to them. That meant no wedding cake, no transport for guests and no wedding album!

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Sarah explained her clever cost-cutting hacks to diamond jewellers, Austen & Blake – see her unconventional bridal gown, toastie canapes and more.

The venue


The couple chose to get married near the Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin

Having grown up in Dublin, Sarah chose to keep her wedding close to home which meant that she knew what kind of wedding venue she wanted, and most of her guests didn't have to travel far to attend.

"We loved the idea of a city wedding and also the practicality of allowing people to come into town for a day out and then go home; no added pressure of booking accommodation. Most of our guests were Dublin-based and some travelled for the occasion," she explained.

They tied the knot in front of just 38 of their closest friends and family at the Woollen Mills (in The Yarn) overlooking the Ha'penny Bridge, opting for a reception at The Whiskey Palace, which was just a five-minute walk away – and their choice of canapes was perfect for a laid-back wedding.

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"For the reception, I had it in my head that I really wanted to do toasties and pints instead of the more traditional drinks and canapés, so The Whiskey Palace was the perfect backdrop for that.


Sarah was able to have a full menu since she chose just 38 guests

"Then The Winding Stair was chosen as they're a sister restaurant to The Woollen Mills and the food is absolutely beautiful there. Plus the decor was excellent what we wanted for a rustic backdrop with the Ha'penny Bridge framed through the windows of the restaurant," Sarah continued.

She said the small guest list allowed the couple to have the full menu at The Winding Stair restaurant. So that's the food sorted, but what about the drinks? Sarah explained: "One of my bridesmaids, Cathal, is a sommelier so he did the wine list which was brilliant."

The wedding dress


The bride opted for an 80s style mini dress

Many brides put a lot of pressure on wearing the perfect outfits on their wedding day, from personalised robes to match their bridesmaids in the morning, to a show-stopping bridal gown – and sometimes even another dress for the reception.

Sarah ditched the outfit changes and chose one gorgeous wedding mini dress, which she said completely suited her style. "I really knew I didn’t want a big fussy ball gown style dress," she said, "so I kept the dress simple, adding a nod to the 80s with the puff shoulder, subtle polka dot and oversized dinner bow."

Sarah confessed that several outfits weren't the only "unnecessary extras" that she didn't prioritise for her own big day.

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"We thought about what really mattered to us and what didn’t; we decided that transport and a cake weren’t important to us so we cut them out completely - we had dessert with dinner and got taxis to the venue instead," Sarah said, adding: "I didn’t feel that things like designer shoes (for the sake of having designer shoes) or fancy embroidered robes for the morning were important so I didn’t do them either, lots of little extras that have become the norm that I just don’t place any value in myself, so I didn’t include them."

The photographer


The couple put a big chunk of their budget towards their photographer

"Most of our budget went on great food and wine as well as a photographer," Sarah said, explaining that she wanted romantic, moody photos like the ones Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker chose for their Italian nuptials.

"I had followed our photographer on social media for years and adored her moody take on weddings when a lot of wedding photography I see tends to be quite blown out and ethereal. I knew if I went with anyone but Ivana I would be disappointed so I was delighted to have her involved in the day."

Sarah's top wedding planning tips

Sarah and Sean ended up creating a wedding that she said "was very true to us", with the help of their friends and loved ones whose expertise allowed them cut costs and make their special day extra personal.

"We are lucky to have a lot of incredibly talented friends so they were involved in our day; our makeup artist, celebrant, sommelier, videographers, singer, DJ, and musician were all friends but hired on the basis of the talent rather than as an opportunity to save money.

"It felt even more personal to us to have our close friends involved in our day and to have Sean’s uncle as our celebrant."


Friends and family helped cut costs and make their day special

This also extended to their homemade confetti, which Sarah said was created from dehydrated roses from her late grandparents' garden.

"For vendors, if we needed to cut costs we reduced elements of their service. For example, we didn’t get a wedding album printed for us by the photographer and we pulled back on some of the gorgeous decor options that our event planner offered," she added.

Sarah concluded by advising fellow brides and grooms to only include the things that matter most to them. She explained: "[Don't] bother with any of the endless extras unless they matter to you: favours, wedding perfume, photo booths… the list is literally endless and it all adds up."

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