Wedding Under A Grand

The winners of the Heart Wedding didn't have to pay a single penny for their big day, but it shouldn't cost the earth in any case.

We challenged Heart's Mel Hancock with the task of putting together a dream wedding with a budget of just £1000 - and she found it's not as difficult - or tacky - as you may think!

The Dress

We looked at a number of stores and found some of the high street brands have a good range of dresses and wedding accessories that don't cost the earth:

For example:

- Posh Frocks Boutique in Birmingham have dresses from £99

- Debut Debenhams - Ivory Satin Gem dress - £100

- BHS - 'Evie' or 'Alicia' Ivory dresses - £120 (and they actually do a - 'wedding outfit' with 2 piece dress AND shoes - £100)

- M&S - 'Bandu' bridal dress - £125

- Littlewoods - 'Angelica' - 2 way look for day with seperate which you take off for the evening - £175

- And there's always Ebay for a bargain - one woman last year got her dress for 5p! 


Now when it comes to shoes you want comfort - but don't want to pay over the odds. We've found some sweet little sandals from £10 to kitten heels up to £30.

For Example:

- Debenhams - White ankle strap sandals - £10

- New Look - White Flower flip flop - £14 or Strappy Sandal with heel - £16

- BHS - Juliet Bridal Chisel Toe Shoe - £15 or Keeley Lopped T-Bar Sandals - from £17.50

- Littlewoods - Nicholas Millington - Peeptoe Satin T-Bar - £29


Now every girl loves to ACCESSORISE, so details like hair and make-up are essential. The saying goes something OLD, something NEW, something BORROWED, something BLUE. Needless to say, the borrowed and old is what we'll be cashing in on, from the Veil to the Garter... and maybe even the rings!

Claire's Accessories is always a good place to start for tiara's and hair clips. Other options include:

- Debenhams - Butterfly Crystal Tiara - £5 or White tropical floral clip - £8 

- Littlewoods - Diamante Tiara - £ 7.50  or Pearl and Diamante hair slide £15

- BHS - Tiara's from £7.50 or silver hair spirals from £5


- Charity shops and Ebay are good places to find veils from £4.50

- M&S - Contrast Trim Wedding Veil - £29.50

- BHS - Bridal Veil - £30 

Hair and Make-Up

The best advice for make-up is to apply it yourself... I know it seems like an old cliche, but your husband-to-be loves you for how you look naturally and many surveys have found that men prefer their women looking natural than plastered in facepaint. So, get some tips by getting a free make-over by Mac or Benefit and take your time on the morning of your big day. Use the top products you have in your make-up bag or buy a few new ones that you know work for you. And you can always get your mum or the girls to help out!

For hair it depends again on factors such as the dress and the length of your hair. The best advice is to go to your usual hairdresser - they know your hair better than anyone else and they're someone you trust. This is the best time to haggle as well and tug at their heart strings. To bring the price down, wash your own hair in the morning so all they need to do is style it. It shouldn't cost you any more than £30-40.


Something old from parents or grandparents is always a good place to start as the sentimental value of the rings, neckalces and earrings can add more than what you find in a shop.

However there are also some good bargains to be found out there.

- M & S Autograph Faux Pearl Lustre drop earings £7.50  or  Gold Plated Art Nouveau Pendent Necklace & Earring Set £9.50

- Debenhams - Cubic Zirconia Square studs £6, or Pearl and crystal surround pendent and studs - £15

- Even vintage shops are a great source where you can pick up some classic pearls from £2.50

Wedding Rings

Being in the Midlands, the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham is a great place to find some nice customised pieces and vintage wedding bands - and even have a haggle to bring the price down!

A few websites have some bargains as well like Wedding Rings Direct, and eBay, with 9ct gold wedding bands from £14 each.

For... ahem... the Wedding Night!

Sexy LINGERIE is a must! You can always wear the best white set you have in your draw - but it's always good to get a new set for the start of your marital life...

So depending on your dress, you can get some good buys, for example:

- M&S - Lace/satin Bras from £12, Briefs/thongs from £4 = £16  or  An embroidered lace underwired basque for £9 which gives support for the boobs and the tum, bonus!

- BHS - Florence embroidered underwired bra £12  and knickers £4.80 = £16.80  or  Satin Trim Mutli-way £16 & embroidered Satin Thong £8 = £24

 - Debenhams - Lepel bra £18.50, Briefs - £10 = £28.50 (plus Hold up stockings £10 & garter £5 = £43.50)


This is when you call on your friends to help out - once you know the colour you would like them to wear, you can make a few suggestions on the high street and tell them to buy the ones they like - so it's ones they can afford and will wear again!


Some ideal suits for looking smart on a budget include:

Tesco - It might seem a little wrong to buy your wedding gear at the same time as you buy your bread and potatoes, but they have some great bargains and nicely tailored suits from as little as £13.50! (£9.50 for the jacket and £4.00 for the trousers!) up to £31 - jacket & £14 - trousers = £45 (Shirt from £5, Ties from £2)

Debenhams - Jackets from £32.50, Trousers from £34, Shirt's from £6.75, waistcoat from £20, Black bow/Tie from £8 = £101.25

BHS - Stylish suits from £69 (Black striped suit jacket £35.20 Trousers £20)

Or you can hire a suit from £30 at


The cheapest way of getting hitched is to actually have it at a register office.

 Birmingham register office - offers 3 rooms for 24, 50 upto a 100 guests.

The wedding licence itself costs £30 each and the ceremony costs £43.50. Totalling £103.50


A beautiful bouquet to set off the dress can cost a lot of money, however some tips I've found are to use the flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding, and to choose a florist that is near to the venue so as to reduce the cost of delivery.

Petals: Simple Bouquets from £25 Button holes £1.50-£2 each

The Flower Room Birmingham: Simple Bouquets from £20-£30 and Button holes £2.50 each

Nu Leaf Florists: simple bouquets from £35 & Button holes from £1 each

And you bridesmaids could have an individual flower to hold (Lily or a Rose) from £1 each 


Taking you to the registry office and to reception.

Manual: Renault Clio £26.24 to Ford Mondeo £40.64
Automatic: VW Polo £39.00 to Mercedes CLS £125

Class A Mini: Ford KA or similar £22.24
Class B Economy: Chevy Aveo or similar £23.17
Class C Small Compact: Chevy Lacetti or similar £24.13
Class D Large Compact: Vauxhall Astra or similar £34.42
Class E Intermediate: Vauxhall Vectra or similar £35.26
Class F Standard: VW Passat or similar £41.25
Small People Carrier: Vauxhall Safira or similar £39.25
Large People Carrier: VW Sharan or similar £65.01

And then the all important Ribbon to attach - which you can get at a local craft market from £1 a meter)


This is where you will spend the most amount of money - however having a reception at home or family members house can be the cheapest option and gives you a more personal touch.

It could also be a chance to get in with the local community and see if the local youth centre can let you use their main hall area for the evening at a bargain price.


To save on feeding your guests twice, many weddings now take place around 3pm - so most of your guests will have had lunch before attending the service meaning that all you need to cater for is the evening meal.

An outside gazebo can cost from £12.99 (at B&Q/Homebase/Wilkinsons).

For food you can either do a BBQ which is a great way of catering for everyone with meat and veggie options, have some salad and munchies on the side or get a hog roast done so everyone can tuck in and help themselves to a bread bap and apple sauce!

The other option which is quite a novel way of doing things - but depending on the amount of guests you have - you can order in fish and chips and have them handed out in an old fashioned cone of chips with haddock goujons.

Total cost £400 (as you must have a few bottles of champagne!)


Calling in a favour is what's expected when planning a wedding - and I'm sure someone in your family or friends can help out with a bit of baking. Gone are the days where the bride and groom share a slice of a 3, 4, or 5 tier wedding cake.  Nowadays some people are opting for a more simple cake solution, yet they still want the elegance that a large tiered cake offers. Enter the simple yet elegant cupcake! 

Versatile cupcakes are standing alongside and, in some cases, replacing larger cakes these days.It's also quicker, easier and cheaper to make costing from £5 for 30 cupcakes.

Here's a really simple receipe that you can follow which creates 15 cupcakes: (double the amount if you have around 25-30 guests)

Vanilla Cupcakes

- 6oz self-raising flour
- 6 oz of sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2 large eggs

Easy Cupcake Recipe Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (350F).  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder in a large mixing bowl.  Add the vanilla essence.  Beat for 1 minute on medium speed.  Scrape side of bowl with a spatula.

Add eggs to the mixture.  Beat for 1 minute on medium speed.  Scrape bowl again.  Beat on high speed for 1 minute 30 seconds until well mixed.

Spoon cupcake batter into paper liners until 1/2 to 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in pans then remove and place on wire racks to cool completely.

Once cupcakes are completely cooled, you can decorate as you desire with some icing sugar and silver balls to give the simple yet classic look.

And then rather than cutting into the cake you can both take a cupcake, link arms, and bite at the same time!


For the evening you want to have some tunes - especially songs that mean something to your and you new husband as well as tracks that you and your friends can dance to.

Why not line up a computer and either download the songs you don't already have or upload songs that you already have on CD's - get some speakers and attach them to your computer.

Argos - Mikomi 2.1 Speakers - £16.99  or  Wharfdale 2.1 Speakers £19.99

Currys - PC Line PCL-201S 2.0 Speakers - £9.99


If you haven't already got a digital camera you can get some relatively cheap ones from £40 and then get a memory card for it which costs around £8/10 (with 1000 picture capacity)

You can then get a family member/friend who you trust, to take the pics, which you can print yourself or get them taken into a photo shop to have printed out.

At a later date you can choose a favourite photo to be canvassed and put up in your home. (prices vary from £19-£210)


Instead of getting presents from your guests, why not get them to put money in a kitty, tell your family and friends, three destinations/countries that you would like to go to and let them book you a week away!

So, after all that, did Mel manage to create the perfect wedding for under £1000?

Based on 30 guests and with the cheaper options on all areas of your wedding, we've calculated the total cost to be £870.00!! Which gives you £130 spare for spending money on your honeymoon! Result!

 (Disclaimer: All prices were correct when the article was created in May 2009)