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How To Have a Great Wedding Day on a Budget

Updated on December 9, 2014

A Very Personal Experience

Welcome to my wedding day. It was a long time ago and the photos are a little discolored but good enough to show. If one is to write about a subject then experience in the topic is a help and my lenses on cheap weddings is a case in point. This particular subject is of great interest to most people as everyone loves weddings and when romance fills the air it's a good focus.

Brides are entitled to have it all but not many are fortunate enough to qualify, especially in these gloomy times. My own situation would have been along those lines if my parents were to pay for it. My fiancé and myself were not earning a fortune at that time so we were restricted in what we could do.

My plans had taken a great detour from the expected overseas adventure that was about to occur.

With my trunk already packed for it, passage booked on the P&O ship, Oronsay, and my car up for sale it was a shock when Mike proposed and even a bigger one when the answer was yes, Breaking the news to my parents was quite ticklish as well. They had long given up hope that some man would sweep me off my feet.

At 28 years of age one was considered to have been 'left on the shelf' in those days. They did not know Mike and they were literally speechless when the news was out. One minute they were expecting to see me off on my way to England and the next there was this amazing thing about to happen.

Never one to stand around long once making up my mind the wedding was set for just four months hence.

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Planning a Wedding From Scratch

Who Should Be Involved

The look on my parents face was one of both delight and shock. Their brains were already ticking over, after all they had three married children already and were used to 'giving the bride away'. Of course their questions came thick and fast. Who was he? How did we meet? How long had we been seeing each other? Where did he come from? What did he do? They went on and on.

The next thing was to invite him to dinner to meet them and of course his parents were in the same boat. That's when we got very nervous. We don't have photos of these meeting but thought you would like to see what it might have looked like.

He was from a traditional Czechoslovakian family and of course they were hard and fast Catholics. My family were basically Church of England with dad from a Presbyterian background but unlike them none of my family were religious. Dad actually had great resentment towards their religion for some reason or another.

There was no way my own conversion to that faith would or could ever happen. Having been educated in a Catholic school and subjected to the hatred against me for being 'outside the community' left me with deep scars. Looking back on it from this distance it is not surprising that our future happiness was facing an uphill battle.

Whether that had anything to do with rushed plans to put the marriage behind us or not is something to be pondered. But plans were made and things fell quickly into line.

Mike came to dinner. Mum loved him and dad was very impressed. Then it was my turn to meet his family. Until then the difference in culture had never entered my head, in fact it was not something known to me. The nerves increased in momentum as the moment arrived. My future in-laws were lovely towards me and seemed to be in favor of our nuptials.

Because my plans for overseas travel would not eventuate we looked at going on a small sea trip for our honeymoon. It happened that a friend of my father was connected to an American Shipping Line which ran 2 ships between Sydney and America. They stopped at ports along the way including Noumea. It had always been my intention to honeymoon in Honolulu but the cost was too much.

When we checked out departure days and times and what we could get for our money the long weekend in October emerged as the likely date. The ship, Mariposa, was to sail on the holiday Monday at 10 pm. It would birth in Noumea 3 days later and we could stay there a week or so and fly home. Boarding time was 6.30 pm.

The Church of my choice, St Luke's, where all the high society weddings took place, was also available on the day. With some negotiation we got the shipping line to agree to us having a reception on board, which they would cater for, prior to sailing. Wow! It was better than we had hoped.

Weddings Cost So How Did We Do It?

Managing the Essentials

A list of prospective guests was drawn up and trimmed down. We could have invited hundreds but the shipping company had given us a limit which was far below whet we would have liked. That meant 2 lots of invitations. One was for the church only and that went to neighbors and distant friends.The other was for the ship as well.

We both worked for the same company and when we announced our engagement they were ecstatic. The two senior executives were to take possession of brand new Pontiacs and they offered to be our chauffeurs so we did not have to hire cars. Unfortunately they did not have them in time and the two more junior executives filled in with their brand new Fords.

My thoughts were turning to what I should wear. It was not in my head to buy a wedding dress because I could easily make one. It could be a rather cool day, being early Spring, and as a late wedding at 6pm it seemed common sense to wear some type of coat that would prevent being chilled. But what bride gets married in a coat?

Hmmm! Checking out the fabric shops there was some beautiful white velvet material available at a very reasonable price. This sent a design into my head of a velvet coat, long and with a partial train, over a satin under dress.

By this time we had rented a flat near where I lived and it was a perfect place to lay out the material and work out a pattern I cut a half circle for the coat and train, cut out the sleeves and made a small collar. It was the easiest thing you could imagine to do. It had to be plain and elegant so I was not fussed over trimmings..

My cousins wife, June, checked me out at one stage and it dawned on me that the family was probably wondering what I was up to. Her daughter, Irene, then 16 at the time was to be my only bridesmaid.

By the way I bought myself a sewing machine, which I still use, in order to do the job. It was probably the best investment I had ever made as it was used to dress my own children and make many of my clothes from then on. It has also been used for heavier jobs like curtains and even recovering the lounge suite. No one can complain at that.

With the time available I made my coat and lined it beautifully with satin taffeta. The last thing was the dress itself and for that I did buy a pattern for a very simple evening dress which took me about a day to make. It was all in satin without sleeves.

The veil was bought almost in the last week and was to give the outfit the bridal touch along with the necessary decorations. I don't know what the final cost was now but it was a lot less than gowns and other things on sale. Oh! I also got a beautiful pair of white satin shoes which were perfect for the occasion

The Trimmings

Its Amazing What Family and Friends Can Do

Mum and I had both done icing courses years beforehand and she prided herself on the wonderful cakes she made for special occasions. Who would deprive her of that thrill? She made the cake (I don't have the recipe but it was a fruit cake) and sat up night after night icing it. She was in her element and poured a lot of love into her work.

A cousin of my best friend, Yvonne, offered to do the flowers. On the week-end prior to the wedding we took a drive in the country and gathered all the flowers we could from farms. With them I decorated the church on Sunday after services. It looked lovely with huge bowls of blooms and ribbons on all the seats.

Yvonne went to the markets on the Friday for flowers for the bouquets and button holes and her efforts were not unappreciated. In fact when they arrived at the house a couple of hours prior to the wedding we all gasped at how well she had done. They were simply stunning.

My bouquet was made of orchids and small roses with some trails and Irene's was smaller but much the same. They were basically pink in color. To this day I cannot imagine the amount of effort it must have taken her.

How Time Flies

The Day Arrived

Four months might seem like an eternity but it is unbelievable how that time just flew by. We had so much to do and fitting everything in made the weeks seem like days.

Finally the day itself arrived. My first appointment was at the hairdressers. Robert had been doing my hair for years so we were like old friends. He put a lot of effort into my locks and included a hairpiece as a wedding present. It turned out far better than anything I had imagined.

By the time I got home time was running short. It was already mid afternoon and I still had to get dressed and look after the final bits and pieces.

Then the flowers arrived along with Yvonne who was so excited. Of course she was coming to the wedding. Then came Irene and her parents, Ross and Alan along with their cars for which they needed to put ribbons on to make them into wedding coaches.

Another surprise. Robert sent one of his stylists to fit the veil and adjust my hair. Aunties and Uncles turned up with presents and good wishes and before I knew it it was 5 O'clock and I was still not dressed.

This was the moment, the big one. From that moment on panic set in. Was the dress ironed? Was it going to rain? Were the cars ready? Had we forgotten anything? The main thing in my mind was to stay calm. Telling myself that everything was done according to plan at last I was fixing my makeup and then the veil was on my head. Ready at last! Not quite.

There was one final thing to do. Someone presented me with a blue garter and Irene put it on one of my legs. Apparently Mike had to take it off during the reception. Oh well!

Dad met me in the hall and tears welled in his eyes. "You look beautiful" he managed to get out. Then we were on our way. Out the door and into the cars.

We had organized for bells to play at the church and being a few minutes late they stopped before I arrived. That was my only disappointment.

The Wedding

Poor Dad, I felt for him

One thing about my father is that he was not one to withhold his emotions and walking down the aisle with him was a strain on both of us. he was very proud that day. This was his last daughter to be married and escorting me was overwhelming him. It must have been obvious to the entire congregation.


The church looked lovely and the guests were lined up in the pews on either side watching as we made our way forward. That's what usually happens so there was nothing special here.

The ceremony was over and we went back to sign the register and then to leave the church. But first photos were taken of the wedding party.

The next thing we were in the car heading for the ship.

The Party Afterwards

Aboard The Ship

It probably wasn't what most people would call a party because there was no signing or dancing and we only had about three hours to get through the speeches, the talking, the photos, and everything else. But here are some shots on board. The first is us coming up the gangplank. The excitement of going away on a ship was very real at this time.




Boarding the ship --->>

(above) toasting the bride and groom

<<---Talking to some guests


An emotional father of the bride --->>/p>

We Sailed Away Into The Night

The rush at the end

It was soon sailing time and we were asked to clear the area because the crew had to set up the food for the passengers. We headed quickly to the cabin to change only to find our suitcases were full of confetti. It went everywhere. It was my brother's prank but that was not all he did.

Apparently we learned later that he had a sign "JUST MARRIED" hung over the rear railings to make it official. He is quite a character. It was embarrassing calling the steward to clean up the cabin later on.

We rushed back to the deck and everyone was leaving. They were pouring down the gangplank as the "all aboard" siren and messages were ensuing from the loud speakers.

I had the bouquet to throw and one of the men caught it. My cousin, Irene's mum, slung her mink cape over my shoulder in case I got cold. It wasn't necessary as we were heading to tropical Noumea.

My wedding dress and all the trimmings were hastily packed and mum took them with her. We sadly waved goodbye as our friends and families gathered on the dock cheering and singing "Goodbye Norma" to the tune of "Hello Dolly".. We had enjoyed their company and now we were sailing off into the night, just as we had planned.

The ship worked its way up Sydney harbor amidst the beauty of the lights and atmosphere that makes it one of the best in the world. We were on our way and it was taking us into the first days of our married life.

It may not have been a spectacular wedding and a lot would say it was far from special but it was my wedding, done the way I wanted it. Nothing could have been done better and nor would anything have been wanted more special than what this day had been. There were no hitches, no problems, no dramas and there was lots of love.

Still images from Dreamstime - click here

© 2009 norma-holt

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    • norma-holt profile image
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      norma-holt 4 years ago

      @VspaBotanicals: Nice to have you visit and that you enjoyed the lens. Hugs

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Thank you so very much for the blessing on my cream pie lens.

      I wanted to make sure that I answered your question about Coolwhip. Coolwhip is just a brand name for whipped cream dessert topping. You can find it in the frozen foods aisle at the supermarket. It also has to be kept cold or it will melt like ice cream does. And there are a lot of brands to choose from. I hope this helps. Thanks for the blessing!

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Love these photos, brides need this lens.

    • whats4dinner profile image

      whats4dinner 5 years ago

      Oh I love this, it looks like a wonderful wedding. I'll share this with a friend who's planning a wedding but is on a budget.

    • jojokaya lm profile image

      jojokaya lm 6 years ago

      Love your pictures. Thanks for sharing.Great lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love it, what a great lens! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Enjoyed this lens and your personal experiences of the family and wedding plans. I remember my own experiences and feel that it was just yesterday.

    • MyFairLadyah2 profile image

      MyFairLadyah2 6 years ago

      Most brides are looking to save some dough

      Fine suggestions in this lens you show

      -- Nice Lens!

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 6 years ago

      A very nice story showing that you really can have a wedding on a budget. Thank you for sharing it. I added this lens to my Wedding Planner lens.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      A wonderful wedding need not be expensive. Love the pictures.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      An engaging tale! I've featured this on my fan-club thank-you lens so - thank you.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 7 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Thank you for the beautiful photos and engaging story!

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 7 years ago

      Wonderful old fashioned pictures in this lens! I really enjoyed the tour and would say I'll come back!

      Dom.

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 7 years ago

      Thanks for letting us share your special day, I love weddings, 5 stars

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 7 years ago

      great lens, blessed by a squidangel :0

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Wonderful! You were a beautiful bride!