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2nd time around and struggling with budget

My partner has just asked me to marry him in December and have a Christmas wedding, and i have never been happier ever.

Problem is finances are tested as we both had expensive divorces only 3 years back.

We've decided to try to stay with a budget of £5k for the ceremony and reception and £1k for dress, flowers, suits, cake and entertainment. My issue is we live in the south east of england and every venue we've liked from checking online today, has a hefty price tag to go with it and seems to insist on us having at least 60 paying guests if we want to hold the ceremony there.

Does anyone have any suggestions for cost effective venues which can hold a civil ceremony on the surrey/hampshire/berkshire border, or know of a register office that is really nice and seperate reception venue that is beautifully decorated for Christmas, with ideally Christmas tree and open fire.

Any help will be so much appreciated as i'm trying so hard to keep to this budget.

Would consider any date within the last 2 weeks of Christmas including midweek if it keeps the costs down. We will have about 40-50 guests for the sit down meal and then about 80 for the latter part of the evening.


  • The venue hire just kills it, doesn't it? Our reception is at The Refectory at Guildford Cathedral and it's not the prettiest venue (no log fires) but they charge per head (£55 for a three course meal including wine), with no venue charge and no additional charge for evening guests. We chose it partly because it's got a brilliant dance floor and the staff have a real can-do attitude. We're decorating with balloon arches and flowers but I'm sure you could get someone to put a tree up if they don't. And Guildford register office is very nice (got married there first time,


    Alternatively, have you considered hiring a village hall? County Councils keep a list on-line and some of them are very pretty. With a charge of just a couple of hundred pounds you could splash out on great caterers and decorations.
  • You can easily do this - we have a wedding recep for 10 at West Lodge Park hotel inclu meals/all drink/hotel rooms for the night and breakfast (as its nice venue with lovely decor etc all that stuff on tables isnt needed - the settings and flowers are quite enough - tasteful and dicreeet rather than plastic top hats with sweets in to be left behind! ) - then a catered party for 65 the next week at home - all new outfits for MOB/step sons and oursleves (my dress Monsoon) rings etc etc and table flowers (£200 - rest being done by freind) short photp package for registry office wedding - my make up and hair for the day -the jewellery/rings etc etc - for about £4200 - using friends big Merc for the car and printed own invite inserts put in nice blank cards from M&S - none of the unncessary 'gumpf' like in the 'Confetti' catalogues (will give the table flowers to the mums to take home) and extras that you just dont need - and its quite possible - Good luck!!


  • I know its not in your area but i'm off to Gretna Green at the end of August - its SO romantic and easy go get married there - and inexpensive too

    Take a look at this website or give them a call - they're lovely and really helpful - its all geared up for weddings, we're taking 30 guests and have got everything - and a honeymoon in the Maldives - all for not much more than 6k!!!!

    There are a few places to get married but we went up to have a look around and just fell in love with the Mill as soon as we walked in, were getting married in the forge, having the reception and night doo there and staying there too... honestly well worth a look if you're on a budget

    Good Luck


  • Have you had a look at the britannia hotel web site?Bucks fizz reception and wedding breakfast for 50 and an evening buffet for 100 for £999..!!! This includes red carpet and room hire. We were sure they must be loads off extras, but there wasnt...we booked a lovely country hotel!! Take a look, just might help keep you in budget..

    Good Luck
  • BambagirlBambagirl Posts: 7,506
    We got married in Church, had 2 bridesmaids, 2 flowergirls, and all sorts of lovely things that made our wedding personal. We also had a honeymoon abroad. The whole lot cost just under £3,500. We've both been married before (he married his first wife in Church, I married first husband in Register Office). Our reception was in the Church Hall. We provided all alcohol (no corkage to pay as it wasn't licensed premises). On the evening we had a buffet & disco reception with a DJ in the local Social Club. There was a pay bar of course but Social Club prices are cheaper than ordinary pub prices and a LOT cheaper than the bar prices at fancy venues.

    I would strongly recommend hiring some place for your reception that isn't licensed and buy the booze yourselves to save on corkage charges - if they're not licensed themselves, then they're losing nothing by you bringing in your own alcohol! If you're marrying in a Church, then the Church Hall might be the obvious choice but some Churches (generally non-conformist and evangelical Churches) won't have alcohol on the premises. Church of England and Roman Catholic Churches are usually OK with alcohol though!

    Other possibilities are community centres and village halls. You can get your alcohol from a discount supermarket or, for a larger wedding, go overseas on a "booze cruise" and bring the drink back with you. A booze cruise weekend, incidentally, is a great idea for a Hen or Stag event!

    At least one member on Y&YW hired a lovely country house for the weekend which was licensed as approved premises for a civil ceremony wedding and the fee included accommodation for several people. They catered their own reception and provided their own alcohol - I'll see if I can find any of her threads, she's not posted on here for a while. So the ceremony, the reception and the accommodation were all in one place and because the owners don't have a catering or alcohol licence it was a whole lot cheaper than hiring a more commercially promoted stately home for a wedding. If your budget won't stretch to a lot of alcohol, you'll find that your guests will usually be quite happy to bring their own along because it's still much cheaper for them than paying bar prices ANYWHERE!!

    If your budget is very tight indeed, you could hire a place that's NOT licensed for civil wedding ceremonies and personalise a special ceremony to your own tastes to be held in that building - as well as your wedding reception. The idea would be to first of all go to the local Register Office and do it all legally so you're married officially anyway. After this (preferably the same day!), arrive at your special ceremony venue - where you'd also be having your reception. Have everybody seated with an aisle down the middle and have a trusted friend or family member acting as officiant/celebrant. There are loads of free marriage service scripts available on the Internet which can be easily tailored to your own preferences. And, of course, you can write your own vows. The whole thing can be drafted with religious significance if this is meaningful to you, or non-religious if you prefer - but either way it's important that it's special, appropriate and significant to the people you both are. Afterwards the reception (either a buffet or a sit-down meal) can be held in the same building. It's important though NOT to invite your guests to the Register Office ceremony but rather to the personalised, customised ceremony only. The special ceremony which you design and create yourselves is the one you want to remain in the memories of your guests. This idea is particularly good if the 2 of you are of differing religions - the ceremony can be written to reflect the values of BOTH faiths. There are also several websites on the Internet where any individual can be ordained as a minister of religion online - for ANY religion at all (including one you might even invent yourself). Many of these charge a small fee but some are actually free.

    Of course, there's nothing wrong with just have a Register Office ceremony anyway by itself. Especially if the Register Office you use is a stunning building with its own aesthetic charm. Makes for great photography! However, many Register Offices have marriage rooms that only hold a limited number of people. If you're having a large wedding (as in a large number of guests) it's as well to check out occupancy levels in the marriage rooms available at your Register Office. I went to a wedding recently where the marriage room only held 8 people, the Registrar stretched a point and let 15 (including the happy couple) in but I was amongst the half dozen or so left in the waiting area! So find out how many people may attend before you make any firm arrangements.

    Finally, I have a package of e-mails offering lots of wedding planning advice, money-saving and DIY advice for personalising your wedding, saving money and even doing your own wedding flowers. There's lots of ClipArt too in 4 or 5 files which is useful for anyone making their own stationery. All you have to do is e-mail me using the pink button below any of my posts and I'll send it out to you. I usually send them out every Sunday or Monday. You can read more about my electronic Freebies on one of these 3 threads:

    Hope this is helpful!

    Bamba xx
  • BambagirlBambagirl Posts: 7,506
    Hi again! It's this place in Monmouthshire.

    I'm not sure of course what part of the UK you live in but there MUST be other Country Houses approved as premises for civil marriage that offer accommodation in with the price but NOT catering & alcohol. Something like this would be brilliant as you can offer accommodation to guests travelling out of their way to attend your wedding BUT not get ripped off with food & drink charges.

    Best wishes,

    Bamba xx
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