Caroline and Charlie’s Amazing Budget Friendly Real Wedding

For brides dreading the thought of planning their wedding on a budget or worrying they can’t have their dream wedding without spending a fortune then this weeks real wedding is for you. Our budget savvy couple Caroline and Charlie have proved you can have the wedding you want without breaking the bank. With help from Evolve Photography this budget friendly wedding delivers from start to finish, so sit back, take note and enjoy. 

Caroline and Charlie's Real Wedding |


Bride and Groom… Caroline and Charlie

Wedding date… Saturday 31st May 2014

We met… At Exeter University, through mutual friends. We were just friends to start with but after Charlie helped me through a difficult period in my third year we decided to give a relationship a go.

The proposal…We spent the three years after University in a long distance relationship, in different counties and even different countries! But we managed to keep together and we talked a lot about our plans for the future and wanting to spend the rest of our lives together. Charlie surprised me by asking me to marry him one weekend before I was due to move up to Staffordshire with him. I didn’t believe him at first!

We knew it was ‘the one’… Very quickly. We had been close friends for a while before we got together, and Charlie stuck by me through a very difficult time in my life when others disappeared, so I knew that our relationship would be able to cope with whatever life decided to throw at us. It was about two months into being ‘official’, I went to London with some friends and when I got back I knew I loved him. Charlie said he felt the same but had been scared to tell me as it was so early in our relationship! 

Length of engagement… Over two years. I wanted to get my first year as a teacher out of the way before I seriously started to plan a wedding!

Our wedding photographer was… Mark! I had done a lot of searching on the internet for Devon wedding photographers, but I kept coming back to Mark at Evolve. I loved the style of his photography. We didn’t want a lot of formal photos as neither Charlie or I are very good at posing, and Mark captured very natural photos which told the story of each wedding I looked at perfectly. We were incredibly lucky to book him as he gets booked up very quickly, and it was one of the best wedding decisions we made. Mark was incredibly easy to work with, professional and always available to answer my never ending questions – he has the patience of a saint! Our package included a second photographer, Ashling, who was also lovely and took some stunning photos too.

How did help in your big day? Confetti was a source of inspiration to begin with, but as I gathered steam it also became the place to buy preloved wedding decorations and accessories, through the forums. I saved a lot of money doing this, and it was lovely to know that each item had already played a part in someone else’s special day. I plan to sell a lot of my decorations on so other brides can enjoy them in the same way.

Floral wedding shoes from  Irregular Choice |
Alfred Angelo bridesmaids dresses with lace |
Mix array of wild flower bridal bouquet |
Frame picture of the brides father on her bouquet |

My dress was… A Mon Cheri dress. I went dress shopping with my mum quite soon after getting engaged, with no intention of buying a dress when we knew the wedding wasn’t going to be for at least two years. I tried on a couple of styles to see what suited me, knowing that I wanted lace and that I didn’t want a strapless dress for church. It was about the sixth dress I tried on that I fell in love with originally, a strapless Mon Cheri dress that had a little lace bolero for church. Mum cried! However, about six months later I went to try on the dress again at another bridal shop but I wasn’t as sure about it. The shop assistant helped me choose another few styles until I found The One. It was another lace Mon Cheri dress, with straps this time, and a massive train! I felt like a princess wearing it. The only problem was that it was massively out of my price range. Feeling very down, I searched the internet for a few months but I kept going back to the second Mon Cheri dress. Amazingly, one day on Ebay, whilst searching for wedding decorations, I found the same dress for sale, in my size! I bid on it and won it for a fraction of the original price, and when it came it didn’t even need altering. It was meant to be!

Lace wedding dress by Mon Cheri, | bride getting ready |
Bride in her lace Mon Cheri wedding dress |
Bridesmaids taking a picture of the bride |
Mother of the bride helping her daughter with her veil | Mother daughter moment | Bridesmaid helping the bride tie her shoe | Wedding moment |
Groom with a thistle buttonhole and kilt |

Our groomsmen were… A friend from home and two from University. They all wore Highland dress with tweed Argyle jackets, as Charlie has Scottish heritage and spent many years there at school.

Groom and groomsmen adjusting their socks | Groom and groomsmen in kilts |

Our bridesmaids were…  Two friends from home, one from University, and one who I had grown up with. I knew I wanted long dresses, in a chiffon floaty material but otherwise I let the girls have their say. We did a couple of shopping trips but were struggling to find something that suited everyone. In the end, I bought the basic dresses (second hand!) and luckily one of the bridesmaid’s has a mother who altered them and added the beautiful lace straps and sash. I chose different colours to fit with our theme, and the lace pulled them all together. I was so happy with the result!

Bride with her bridesmaids in their Alfred Angelo dresses |
Our wedding ceremony was at… St Andrews, Sampford Courtenay in Devon. It was the same church I was christened in and where my Dad is buried, so there really was no other option for me. It’s a beautiful church too and holds a lot of memories. We had 100 guests, plus many friends from the village who have seen me grow up. I walked to church with my mum and bridesmaids, which was really special. The moment I find the funniest looking back now is when I couldn’t get Charlie’s ring on his finger and Nick, our vicar, told me to just ‘give it a shove’! Mark, from Evolve, caught the moment on camera perfectly!
Wedding ceremony at St Andrews, Sampford Courtenay in Devon|
Black church gate |
Bride and her bridesmaids on their way to the church |
DIY jars with lace flowers and candles |
Fresh dried floral confetti in lace cones |
Lace order of service |
Bride and the bridesmaids walking in to the church |
Groom waiting for his bride at the alter |
Bride walking down the aisle with her mum |
The groom kissing the bride |
Church hymns sheet |
Black and white image of the bride and groom at the alter | Wedding guests at the ceremony |
The happy couple saying their vows |
The newlyweds leaving the church |
Bridesmaid in her teal Alfred Angelo dress |
Wedding guests throwing confetti over the newlyweds |
Groom blowing confetti of the brides hair |
Black and white picture of the newlyweds |
Bride and groom sitting on the bench |
The newlyweds kissing on the bench |
The bride and groom by Evolve Photography |
Bride in her Mon Cheri lace wedding dress |
Bride and groom walking to the venue |

Our wedding reception… In a stunning traditional marquee in my stepfather’s field which overlooks Dartmoor. I always knew we were going to get married in Sampford Courtenay, so we looked for venues in the local area. We debated travelling the 20 miles up to Exeter, as that was where we met at University, but in the end it was just too far to ask the guests to travel. We couldn’t find anything we liked, when my stepfather suggested a marquee in one of his fields. It was a beautiful clear day when we went to see it, with stunning views of Dartmoor, and I knew then that it was perfect. Having a marquee was fantastic too as we could decorate it exactly as we wanted, and it gave us the laid back feel we were after.

Our wedding theme was… A mixture! There was no set colour, but a mixture of jewel and pastel tones of blue, green and purple. This made it a lot easier to get the laid back rustic fete theme we were looking for, as nothing had to match exactly and I was able to source a lot of the decorations second hand from bridal forums.

Jars with wildflowers leading the way to the venue |
Wedding marquee in Sampford Courtenay |
Wooden wedding signs |
Rustic themed wedding in a marquee |
Rustic bird cage wedding centrepiece |
Rustic vintage bunting on chairs |
Mini personalised jam jar favours | Scrabble place names |
Scrabble place cards | Unique place card ideas |
Thistle buttonhole for the groom |
Sabre as a wedding gift |

Our wedding flowers were… A total mixture of colours and flowers. I was aiming for a wildflower look, with lots of seasonal flowers. I knew that we wanted thistles to be incorporated for Charlie’s Scottish heritage, but other than that I just took lots of images of styles I liked and let Jane do the rest. They were exactly what I wanted when they came.

Rustic themed wedding cake with wildflower decor |
Mini vintage birds and I do props for wedding cake deco |
Did anything funny or unusual happen at your wedding? We had a sabre as a wedding gift that we used to open the champagne! I don’t think many people expected the bride to be wielding a sword at the reception! It took a lot of practice the night before though.
Groom using a sword to  to open the champagne! |

Our favourite part of the wedding was… The ceilidh! We wanted traditional Scottish reels, and the ceilidh got everyone talking and dancing together even if they had never met before.

Bride and groom at the top table | Rustic wedding decor |
Bride and groom cutting their wedding cake with a sword |
First dance to Home by Edward Sharpe | First dance|

Our first dance was… Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. We had seen them at a festival the year before, and the words meant a lot to us as a couple who had moved around and spent time apart. We choreographed a secret dance routine to surprise our guests!

The bride and groom |
What is your advice for other brides? Stick with your gut feelings, as they’re usually right. And shop around! Ebay and wedding forums are a great place to get deals on things for your wedding. I dread to think how much our wedding would have cost if I had bought everything new.


Wedding Dress: David Tutera for Mon Cheri | Wedding Shoes: Irregular Choice | Wedding Suits: Highland wear hired from Burton | Wedding Bridesmaid Dresses: Alfred Angelo | Wedding Flowers: Jane Redstone | Wedding Entertainment: Piping Hot Ceilidh Band, then Richard Hill Disco| Wedding Photographer: Mark and Ashling at Evolve | Wedding Cake: Kirsty Tizzard at Kirsty’s Kitchen| Wedding Make-up: Justine at Finishing Touch | Wedding Hair: Gillians | Wedding Stationery: Dilly and Dilly | Wedding Invites: Dilly and Dilly | Ceremony Venue: St Andrews, Sampford Courtenay | Wedding Catering: Oaktree Occasions

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