Regular Weekly Feature – Rebecca Hanmer

So, the lovely Rebecca returns to Dotty Vintage Weddings, and this time, it’s all about the thrifty bride-to-be! Over to you, Rebecca!

Hello all, Rebecca back again. This week my shiny, happy blog is all about being a thrifty bride. I repeat, thrifty, not cheap. Just because things are being done on a budget, they don’t have to look cheap. In fact if anything, being thrifty makes you more creative about your wedding and you can end up making your big day a true reflection of you and your partner.

I was a thrifty bride and I loved it. The hunt to get a bargain and finding clever ways to do things for a lot less was right up my street. Amongst other thrifty things, my gorgeous dress was from a charity shop, my mother-in-law did the flowers for the tables and made the fab cake, my mum spent hours making spotty napkin ties and table runners, Rich (the hubby) and I designed and made our invites and I slaved over a hot stove baking, what felt like a thousand, biscuits for our favours. All these little touches made it “our” wedding and not just a day bought off-the-shelf.

I just dipped my toe in the ocean. If your budget is tight you really can organise a wedding on a shoestring. Do you want all the wedding trimmings or are you happy to lose some of the traditional touches in order to save a few bob? Because, if you really need to do it for almost nothing, you could have a civil ceremony at the local registry office and a fish and chip supper in the local pub. As long as you’re both happy then anything goes…

But the object of this exercise is to give you ideas for a traditional wedding for a fraction of the cost…

Before you get planning, it is worth deciding how much help you are willing to ask for. I knew a bride who got every guest at her wedding to help with something with absolutely amazing results. Everyone had a part to play from taking the photos to serving tea. Most people have a skill and are more than happy to muck-in, as everyone loves being part of something beautiful.

So here are my thoughts for the thrifty bride…


Village halls can cost as little as £20 an hour to hire and with a little bit of thoughtful decoration, a very plain space can be transformed into something gorgeous. You can’t beat some homemade bunting and fairy lights. And paper flowers and garlands of all sorts, from hearts to butterflies, are simple to make with a bit of patience and can really add character and charm. Image sourced here.

Village Hall Wedding Venue


Flower markets are a great way to source fresh blooms at a fraction of the cost. It’s a bit hit and miss, as you can’t guarantee what will be available. But somewhere like Bristol Flower Market has so much choice you should be able to get what you want. You’ll need someone with a bit of creativity to do the bouquets, but the rustic look is all the rage, and table decorations can be as simple as a few pretty blooms in a jam jar or old tin can. Image sourced here.

Flowers from the Market


My dress came from a charity shop and cost me £75. It was almost perfect but my lovely friend did some work on it to make it fit better and add a bit more twinkle. I got it from the cancer charity Tenovus; they have a wedding dress shop in Bristol. It’s definitely worth a look. Image sourced here.

Vintage Wedding Dress

And when it comes to shoes, the sales are your best bet. There really is no need to buy expensive, one-wear wedding shoes. Why not get a bright, statement pair from the high street, which will cost next to nothing and be cool enough to wear again? The same goes for your bridesmaid’s dresses.


My top tip for your jewellery and hair accessories is to make this your something borrowed or something old. Raid your mum or granny’s jewellery box and you might just find a little vintage treasure. Image sourced here.

Vintage Jewellery

Hair and Makeup

Take a close look at your friends. Who always looks smart, pretty or stylish? If you think they look lovely, maybe they can make you look lovely too. But remember have a practice. You don’t want the first go to be on your wedding day, and you end up with a side ponytail and 70’s eye-shadow if this wasn’t the look you were after! Image sourced here.

Wedding Hair and Makeup


I would never scrimp on your photographer. But if you really can’t afford a professional try your local art college. There will be plenty of artistic types with a keen eye who’ve had a spot of training. A better bet than entrusting this task to your uncle with his SLR! Image sourced here.

Hanging Jar Lanterns


Homemade cakes are definitely the way forward. Wobbly Victoria sponges decorated with icing-sugar, flowers and berries look gorgeous, vintage and rustic and are easy to bake. And the great thing about them is they don’t need to be perfect. Image sourced here.

Homemade Wedding Cake


Now, food can be a very expensive part of your day, but if you really want to be clever about this – have a pot-luck meal. Ask everyone to bring a dish. If you have 100 guests you’ll have a ton of food. But, so you don’t end up with a hundred pasta salads be specific…people really won’t mind, they’ll think it’s fun! Image sourced here.

Apples for Table Decor


What do you like to drink? Instead of the traditional champagne go for your favourite cider or ale – it’s bound to be cheaper and also a bit different. Image sourced here.

Bunting and Ribbon


We had a busker play the Kora at our wedding. We walked past him every morning on the way to work and loved his music so we asked him. We paid him, but it was definitely cheaper than hiring a “professional” musician. In the evening disco, rely on your iPod, or most of us have a friend who’s a budding DJ. Image sourced here.

DIY Venue Decor

Wedding Night

Why not stay at a B&B? Boutique ones can be gorgeous, cheaper than a hotel and a lot more intimate and special. Image sourced here.

DIY Paper Streamers

The main thing to remember, when trying to be a thrifty bride, is don’t cut back on the bits which are truly important to you. But, come to every decision with a fresh pair of eyes and see how you might be able to go about things differently so as not to blow the budget.

Happy planning!

Rebecca xx


About dottyvintage

Love Vintage, Love Weddings

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