A cash savvy couple have revealed how they organised their glamorous wedding with 70 guests for just £5,000 – paying £27,000 less than the average cost of a big day by using crafting skills and cunning.
Primary school teacher Jasmin, 27, and her firefighter husband, Sam Kingdon, 30, of Whimple in Devon, couldn’t afford to spend much on their nuptials because they were also busy building their own house from scratch.
So they held their reception in Jasmin’s parents’ garden, grew their own wedding flowers from seed, borrowed stacks of tables and chairs from a village hall, used mismatched crockery bought at auctions, roped in family to make the invitations and cake for free – and even found a clever way to run a bar all night for just £5.
And with the average wedding costing £31,974 in 2019, according to wedding website Hitched, their DIY efforts ahead of their wedding on 17 July 2021 saved them a small fortune.
Jasmin said: “We spent around £5,000 on our wedding overall.
“We were building a house at the same time, so we knew we wanted a DIY wedding, but we also were focusing on getting the house built.”
She added: “It worked out brilliantly. Even having to postpone our original August 2020 date to July this year because of Covid worked out well because it meant the house was finished just before we tied the knot.”
Meeting through a mutual friend in January 2016, when they lived in Exeter, Sam popped the question to Jasmin in July 4 2019 – though he accidentally revealed his proposal surprise before it had even begun.
“We were at a camping ground on a break away,” laughed Jasmin.
She added: “He’d seen an old friend at the shop and was telling me about it, and then he let slip that he had told the friend he was planning to propose.”
Despite Sam’s hiccup, Jasmin said yes, and the pair moved to Devon to build their dream home and plan their big day, close to friends and family in the small village of Buttlerleigh.
“We were building our own home from scratch, so we had a small wedding budget to make room for that, but we wanted to do a DIY vintage wedding anyway,” explained Jasmin.
She added: “My parents used to live in this small village, Templeton, that is nine miles from Buttlerleigh, and there’s this beautiful church there we really wanted to get married in.”
With the church chosen, the pair thought the perfect venue for their reception would be a barn in Jasmin’s parents’ garden – luckily her mum, Jane Watson, 55 and dad, Richard Watson, 56, agreed.
“It was a given we couldn’t afford a venue,” said Laura.
She added: “So mum and dad said we should have it at theirs and it just went from there.”
Soon the couple were planning their cut-price celebration in earnest.
“We grew wildflowers at the bottom of our garden,” said Jasmin.
She added: “We scattered seeds in February at the bottom of the garden of our new house and they just bloomed.
“We wanted a vintage theme, like party games and a coconut shy, so Sam made all of those out of wood left over from building the house.”
For the decorations, the duo and their families got creative.
Jasmin said: “We collected a whole load of jam jars for the flowers and we borrowed all the tables and chairs from a local village hall.
“Sam’s mum bought loads of mismatched vintage crockery from auctions and she made the cake with my mum, as we had cupcakes.”
Sam meanwhile made the confetti – over a two-month period, patiently picking all the petals from pink, red and yellow roses and drying them in their kitchen under the window.
And they found lots of other ways to save too.
“We saved money by having the wedding photographer for a half day, so she went home when we sat down for food, which was kind of perfect,” Jasmin said.
“Luckily Sam’s parents, Jill and David Kingdon, have a yellow 1972 Volkswagen camper van, so we used that for the wedding transport.”
She added: “We were very lucky as our friends and family were so helpful. A school a friend worked at even lent us an ice cream freezer, so we had ice creams in the evening.
“My sister did all the invitations and save the dates for us as she’s really artistic. So we only had to spend money on the printing which cost about £50.
“She also made all the wedding signs, telling people where to go, the order of the day and for the bar.”
There were some costs that couldn’t be avoided, though.
Jasmin said: “Obviously there were still big-ticket items that we had to pay for as with any wedding – like the band, wedding dress, suits, caterer and church hire.”
Her dress, she said, cost £1,000, Sam’s suit was £400, food for all the guests came in at £1,400, while the band, speaker system and photographer accounted for another £1,220.
Other small amounts, including £50 for buttonhole flowers and £120 for bridesmaid dresses, made up the rest of the spend.
But she added: “We saved by doing a lot ourselves.”
The bride and groom-to-be enjoyed having something to distract them from the ongoing building of their three bedroom semi dethatched house, that took three years to complete.
“It was nice to have something else to focus on,” said Jasmin.
In April 2021 the pair moved into their new home and three months later tied the knot in an intimate church ceremony in front of their 70 friends and family at St Margaret’s Church, Templeton.
“It was the perfect day,” said Jasmin.
She added: “There were still lockdown restrictions in July so we could only have 30 close family and friends in the church.
“So our friends sat outside the church on the lawn with picnic blankets and glasses of wine. We hired a sound system so they could hear everything.
“I think they had a better time than we did because they could laugh and chat.”
She added: “The reception at my family home was wonderful. We had such a good day and everything came together.”
Jasmin is even happy her wedding was delayed by the pandemic.
She said: “It actually all worked out for the best that we didn’t get married in 2020 because we wouldn’t have been moved into the house.”
She added: “We moved in around Easter time this year. It also meant we had three months to focus on the wedding.
“It was a lot of late nights in the weeks before, getting everything ready, but it was completely worth it.”
But the biggest money-saving achievement for Jasmin and Sam was their wedding reception bar, that – including alcohol – only cost them £5.
“I’m so proud of the bar,” said Sam.
“I went to a Majestic Wine store and explained I was stocking a bar for my wedding.
“They told me that I could return any bottles that were unopened, so I could over-order and then return what wasn’t used with a full refund and they lend you the glasses for free – I just had to cover any breakages.”
He added: “So I bought a load of alcohol and we got some family friends to be bar staff for us. We put a donation pot on the bar, so our guests just paid for the alcohol cost, like £1.60 for a beer – obviously we didn’t want to make a profit we just wanted to break even.
“I think, after taking the unopened alcohol back, we were only under by a fiver.”
But there was a last-minute hitch.
Sam explained: “The only issue is, when I was returning the glasses to the store, a whole box fell out the boot of the car so I had to pay £15 to cover that.
“I had been so careful the whole drive and then right at the end they just smashed on the floor!”
Now the couple are looking out for their next big project after enjoying a well-deserved five-day minimoon touring Cornwall in the wedding campervan.
Sam said: “We were really lucky that we were able to save on some big costs like the venue and bar. I know other people getting married who haven’t had the same options and it’s been so expensive.
“It was the perfect day and we were so lucky with the weather.”
For more wedding planning inspiration, go to www.hitched.co.uk