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I spent just €4k on dream wedding with 120 guests

WEDDINGS can cost a bomb – but one thrifty Irish bride managed to pull off her big day for under €4,000.

Anna Hamill, 37, got engaged to her partner Iain Hamill back in 2011 and knew they would never want to spend tens of thousands of euro on their wedding day.


Anna and Iain tied the knot in June 2012, with 120 guests
Anna borrowed her wedding dress and had her bridesmaid dresses made by a friend


Anna borrowed her wedding dress and had her bridesmaid dresses made by a friend
Anna made her own bouquet


Anna made her own bouquet

But thanks to some clever tricks and low budget hacks, the couple didn’t have to.

Instead, the thrifty pair spent an incredible €3998.

Anna, who runs a small card and gift business in Belfast, said even with a small budget, she was still able to have everything she wanted for her dream wedding which took place in 2012.

Speaking to diamond outlet, Austen & Blake, she revealed she borrowed a dress from a friend and only had to pay for the flight to go and collect it from London.

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Borrowed a dress

She explained: “A childhood friend got married in August 2011 and she wore a dress that I wouldn’t have really considered usually, since my two criteria were for it to have lots of cute buttons at the back and I didn’t want a sleeveless dress, and this one was a corseted lace up back and sleeveless.

“It looked so beautiful on her that when I got engaged, I asked if she would consider lending it to me. I went down to London to try it on, it fit, it looked amazing, so that was that.

“With my friend’s permission, I carefully sewed part of a veil to make it appear to have sleeves and unpicked this once I’d worn it to return it as she bought it, and it was absolutely perfect.

“The beautiful dress cost me a return plane trip from Edinburgh to London and a dry clean.”

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Have bridal party do their own hair

Instead of paying an arm and a leg, Anna only had her makeup done professionally.

She said: “I was the only one to have my hair done professionally, my bridesmaids are all really good at hair so they did each others’ and we all did our own makeup.”

Get bridesmaid dresses made and have groomsmen wear their own suits

When it came to bridesmaid outfits, Anna tapped into her friend’s talent, who is a professional dressmaker. In total, she spent €256 on her dresses.

And the groomsmen wore suits they already owned, with the exception of buying waistcoats on Ebay.

She said: “My bridesmaid dresses were made by a seamstress friend after I couldn’t find what I wanted in a shop at a reasonable price point.

“The groomsmen all wore black suits they already had for work with white shirts, hired waistcoats and bought cravats from eBay – someone was selling 4 in the color we were after.”

Save on a caterer

Rather than shelling out for a pricey three-course meal, the couple opted to get a hog roast which set them back €1,300.

They also spent €186 on canapes and nibbles after the ceremony.

Meanwhile, by buying the booze themselves, drinks were €147

She said: “Feeding 120 people is expensive no matter which way you cut it, and we wanted people to have quality food and plenty of it, so this is where we allocated most of our budget.

“The hog fed us really well and it was so beautifully complimented with sides and salads – coleslaw, green salad, potato salad etc.”

Hire a friend to do photography

Photographers can often be one of the biggest expenses, but Anna and Mark had their friend do it at cost price of €400.

She said: “Our photographer was a friend who was just getting started with her photography business. She was really good, and we’d seen her work from her as she’d shot a few friends’ weddings, but she gave us a really great price.

Hire a church hall as a venue

The couple tied the knot in Edinburgh, and this is where the biggest saving was made.

Instead of shelling out tens of thousands for a venue, the pair hired a church hall for the day.

She said: “We got married in our church and found a church hall up the road (on The Royal Mile in Edinburgh) which only charged less than €467 for the afternoon/evening including chairs, linen and crockery).

“We kept everything very local, so there was no need for transport for ourselves or our guests.”

DIY the decor

Anna works in the decor business, so it was a no-brainer to do most of the decorating herself.

And by doing the flowers herself, she spent just €78.

She said: “I made mine and the bridesmaids bouquets, as well as buttonholes for all the men, and the mums. I also made little candle jars from pages of the book The Princess Bride and put tea lights in them.

“To go with this book theme, because both my husband and I love to read, I also made some heart decorations with strips of book pages. I also made the aisle end decorations with teal and purple ribbon and some leftover flowers from the bouquets.”

Prioritize what’s important

Anna said her top tips include hitting charity shops, and prioritizing what’s most important.

She said: “Have a look in charity shops, they’re perfect for tea cups, table cloths, fabric, even wedding dresses. And eBay is great – that’s where I got my veil, florists’ tape, and other things I needed for decorations and cake decorating.

“And think outside the box. Decide what is important for you to spend money on, and save on everything else.

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“It is just one day, a special one, but still just a day. Make use of what you already have.

“I used bunting that hung in my bedroom and got a couple of extra lengths to compliment it, and use yours and your friends’ creative talents.”

Crafty Anna made her bridesmaid's bouquets


Crafty Anna made her bridesmaid’s bouquets

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