£6k Wedding Series: Elope and Honeymoon in a Romantic European City, then Fly Home to Celebrate.

Illustration by Susie Stone

Want to get married in style on a super tight budget? Our £6k wedding series is here to help. We’ve got six fully-costed wedding concepts for under £6000 for you to choose from, complete with a superstar list of recommended suppliers.

To plan a super romantic elopement to bohemian Berlin and party on your return, read on…

Who is this wedding perfect for?

This is for independent couples looking for a secret, spontaneous wedding in a romantic European city.

Whether it’s a city you both know and love or somewhere you’re discovering together for the first time, escaping everyone and everything to elope is a super romantic, thrilling and stress-free way to wed. And on your return you can host an amazing party to celebrate your love and marriage, armed with tales of adventure.

Getting married, just the two of you, means your wedding budget goes a lot further, allowing you to splash out on a wedding in a super cool European city that you might not otherwise be able to afford. To keep costs down, bare in mind the UK exchange rate when choosing your destination. While Paris is the undisputed romance capital and Copenhagen is super cool right now, both are expensive cities. Berlin might not be the most obvious option but for creative couples looking for a culture trip in an affordable and vibrant city it’s a great choice.

If you’d love to elope but are worried about the reaction of friends and family, don’t be. Most of your friends and family will have experienced the cost and pressure involved in planning a wedding and will want to make it easy and affordable for you. And most importantly remember they love you and want you to be happy. If you explain your situation and plans in a sensitive and thoughtful way you’ll probably find everyone will support you.

For a wedding abroad to be legally binding you need to contact the local authorities in the country in which you want to get married. If you follow the correct process according to local law you won’t need to register it separately in the UK, but you might be asked to get certain documents from the government if you’re a British National. You can visit  https://www.gov.uk/marriage-abroad to find out more.

The day before: Packing your bags for both your wedding and your honeymoon is super exciting but also terrifying. So once you’ve packed outfits for each day and doubled checked your passports and official documentation, reward yourselves with a gin and tonic on the plane to calm your nerves and toast the beginning of your amazing adventure.

If you fly mid-week with a budget airline you’ll find return flights to Berlin for under £100. So you can afford to treat yourselves to extra leg-room, speedy boarding and taxis to and from the airports to make your journey as stress-free and comfortable as possible.

As Berlin has a brilliant range of Airbnb options it’s easy to find a stunning apartment for half the price of an average hotel. But if you’re looking for something super romantic and entirely unique stay at the stunning Modern Boat on lake Rummelsburg.

Ask the owners if they can chill a bottle of champagne for your arrival. Then after lunch, pack an overnight bag with your wedding outfit and head off to Soho House Berlin to be pampered in preparation for the big day. Sleeping apart the night before the wedding isn’t a tradition you have to adhere to and might feel extra strange all alone in a new city. But it will definitely make your meeting at the registry office the following day even more magical. Plus, a night at Soho House means you can indulge in a massage and a manicure, order room service and watch a romantic movie in preparation for the big day.

Wedding day: You’ll feel incredibly nervous but hugely excited getting ready on your own. After all, this is the best and most important date of your life. Just remember to stay calm and keep it simple. Choose a boho dress, a statement clutch bag and cute ankle boots that you’ll look and feel comfortable in all day, then do your hair and make-up as you usually do. To avoid prolonged nerves and to make the most of your day together, book a morning marriage service. Then get a taxi to the registry office at Standesamt, texting your partner on the way to make sure they’re awaiting your arrival.

Once you set eyes on each other on the steps of the registry office you might find it hard to resist a pre-wedding kiss. But then we’re picking and choosing our traditions with this rebellious wedding so that’s fine. The only rule is that you both turn up with your required legal documents and that you don’t forget the rings.

Most German officials will speak excellent English but check with the venue whether the service and legal documents will be in German and ask for a translator if necessary. Then just grab two strangers from the street to witness your wedding and add to the spontaneous joy of your day. If you’re feeling brave you could politely ask one of your witnesses to throw some confetti while the other one takes a photo of you both as newlyweds. Otherwise, feel no shame and use a selfie stick.

After your ceremony, hire bikes to explore the city together in the afternoon stopping to buy a bottle of champagne and a couple of classic German bratwurst from a street vendor to celebrate your marriage with a picnic in the park. Then ride back along the river to your house boat, making sure you’re carried carefully over the threshold, to avoid both of you ending up in the water. After dark head back out for cocktails and a romantic dinner at the top of the TV Tower with stunning views of the city lights below.

Honeymoon: It’s up to you how long you stay for your honeymoon but it’s easy to spend a week soaking up Berlin’s alternative culture and discovering new places to eat, drink and dance. Whatever you choose to do make sure you take plenty of photos along the way to share with everyone when you get home.

Wedding party: Send invites to everyone explaining your elopement and honeymoon plans and that you’d love them to come to a party to celebrate your wedding on your return. Ask people to arrive at 8pm and set out the timetable for the evening so the event feels sufficiently formal and wedding-y.

Request that people don’t bring wedding gifts to the party and instead suggest that those who want can contribute towards your Berlin trip. Patchworkit.com has a readymade Berlin patchwork for you to customise.

To work to your budget avoid traditional wedding venues and instead look for a local art space, members bar or community club that’s happy to be creative and flexible to meet your needs. The Square in Bristol is a private members club for the film, creative and media industries that also offers private hire for parties at reasonable rates. A great choice not only because the eclectic interiors and relaxed outside space fit this wedding’s bohemian vibe but also because they can organise catering to keep your stress levels to a minimum and provide a PA system and a projector screen setup at no extra cost.

Budget £3000 to cater for 80 people for an evening party. This won’t stretch to a sit down meal but will cover the cost of hiring a nice venue with a buffet and plenty of booze. Just be open minded and curious, enquire at a number of different venues to see how they can make your budget work. For example, The Square is a members club so you have to pay £200 to join but then you can hire a room for free. There’s a minimum spend (£2000 on a Saturday night) but you can cover this by paying for a champagne reception and a light buffet and buying poker chips to give to guests on arrival so they don’t have to pay for their own drinks.

If you’re a flea market or Etsy addict, find yourself 80 nice looking matchboxes so you can put four poker chips inside for each guest. A practical way to present people with pre-paid bar tokens and a nice favour for them to keep.

Invites £35: Check out design templates or upload your own image to create cheap and super cool postcard invites with Moo. You can print 100 postcards with offers starting at £35

Flights £200: Costs will vary depending on which UK airport you fly from as well as the time, day of the week and month you want to travel. But if you book in advance you’ll easily get two return flights for under £200.

Airport taxi £25: If you don’t have too much luggage and want to save cash a train ticket to central Berlin costs a couple of euros.

Sources: SOHO House Berlin, Reformation, Clare V at Net-a-Porter

Spa hotel including treatments £285: Prices for a double room in Soho House Berlin start at £175 for one night. A 60 minute full body massage costs £80 and a 30 minute manicure costs £30.

Wedding dress £170: Long sleeve, fit and flare mini dress with lace trim and high neck from Reformation.

Handbag £205: Patchwork leopard-print calf hair clutch bag by Clare V from Net-A-Porter is super cute and big enough to hold a box of confetti and your wedding certificates.

Sources: Paper & Chain, Berlin Standesamt

Rings £500: You can buy two classic gold bands from Paper & Chain from £500-£700.

Marriage service £30: Choose a simple civil ceremony for two at the Berlin Standesamt and you won’t incur the cost of having to hire a room.

Outfit number two £170: Assign the same amount for your partner’s wedding outfit. One handbag will do.

Selfie stick £10: Your arms will not be long enough to capture you both looking beautiful in your wedding outfits. 

Bike hire, bratwurst & the TV Tower

Bike hire £24: You can hire bikes for £12 each for a single day. Or at a discount for an entire week.

Picnic lunch £30: Food and drink is much cheaper in Berlin so you’ll get a good quality bottle of champagne for £20 and lunch from a hotdog van for £5.

Dinner £148: 207 metres above Berlin, you can book window table in the TV Tower’s revolving restaurant and enjoy a set menu for £74 per person.

Berlin Houseboat Airbnb, The Square Club Bristol

Airbnb accommodation for a week £1250: The Modern Houseboat on Rummelsburg lake costs £219 per night or £1250 for a week between March and October.

Wedding party for 80 people £2904: As a useful guide catering for 80 guests at The Square in Bristol costs the following:

Joining fee for a year’s membership: £200

Champagne reception: (£5.50 per glass of prosecco) £440

Light evening buffet: (£11.50 per person) £920

Bar currency: (4 drinks per person) £1344

Matchboxes favours for drinks tokens £150: On a good day you could easily find 80 vintage matchboxes in a boot fair for a few quid. But if you’re looking for a contemporary option head to Etsy for a range of graphic matchbox designs.

TOTAL COST: £5986

TOTAL COST TO YOUR GUESTS: £0 – £50

Your guests will need to pay for drinks if they want more than the four pre-paid by you. And the only other cost is a gift if they choose to contribute to your honeymoon fund.

See the rest of the wedding concepts in our £6k wedding series here.

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