£6k Wedding Series: Festival Wedding Weekend – With a Little Help From Your Friends.

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 super-star list of suppliers.

To plan an amazing festival wedding for all your friends and family, read on…

Who is this wedding perfect for?

It’s ideal for hippies-at-heart who want to invite everyone they love to celebrate their union. This DIY festival wedding allows you to bring people together in a beautiful, secluded, family-friendly location. And celebrating over a weekend means you both get to spend quality time with all your loved ones – setting up the site with friends, sitting down to a wedding feast with all your family, dancing with mates into the night, then enjoying a lazy breakfast with everyone the morning after.

It’s totally possible to plan an amazing wedding for 150 people on a £6,000 budget. You just need some perspective, a plan and firm promises from friends and family to help out. But before you commit be clear about the challenge. You’re basically setting up a commune for a couple of days so you’ll need to get organised, be comfortable delegating and be confident that your friends and family will contribute time and skills to help make it happen.

If you’re a super resourceful bunch, a field with running water might be enough. But if you don’t fancy building your own compost loos and don’t have access to a generator you’ll need to look for a site with electricity, toilets and ideally a barn. Llyn Gwynant in Wales has the perfect set up with a beautiful stone barn for your ceremony, dinner and dancing, a large kitchen to store booze and prepare food, fields all around for camping and a lake for midnight swimming.

If you want friends to help you’ll need to get them involved as early as possible. Don’t just vaguely mention to people in passing that you might need a hand. Get them excited about the plan and inspired to help using Patchworkit.com – where you can set out all the things people can fund, make or do. Then let your wedding guests choose whether to buy some booze, make a cake, do the decorations or promise to DJ. If you don’t need new toasters and towels, it’s a fun and practical alternative to a traditional gift list and allows you to keep track of who’s doing what.

The day before: Arrive on site with your team of helpers and all the tools, paints, materials and props you need. Then after a big group hug send everyone off to complete the jobs they promised to do – from putting up tents and painting signs to decorating the venue and doing the food shop.

For a cheap, easy and sophisticated look keep styling simple using limited materials and a neutral colour palette. White paint on wood signs, tea lights in brown paper bags and glass jars filled with local green and white wild flowers look effortlessly cool and cost next to nothing.

Ditch table cloths in favour of bare wooden trestles and if budgets are super tight forget hire costs for china and glassware, opting instead for deliberately utilitarian white paper plates, napkins and cups and disposable wooden cutlery – cheap, chic and no washing up required.

Preparing a cold vegetarian buffet plus a hog roast is probably the easiest and cheapest way to provide food for 150. Just decide on a limited menu of simple but delicious dishes, buy all ingredients and then assign dishes to be made in bulk by your team of foodie volunteers.

If you give yourselves enough time and keep your jobs to a minimum it can actually be really fun working together to prepare for the wedding. But remember to give yourselves a chance to mentally and physically prepare too. Once you’ve delegated jobs just let everyone get on with it. Remember your friends are happy to help and don’t want you getting stressed. So take time to relax and be pampered the evening before the wedding.

The morning of the wedding day: Sleeping together in a tent on your wedding night will be romantic. But staying in a hotel on the night before will mean you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have got a space to get ready in the morning. Even the most low-maintenance bride needs a shower, mirror and hairdryer on her wedding day.

This festival wedding has a naturally laid-back vibe so style-wise think Sienna Miller at Glastonbury. Save money and stay true to you by doing your own hair, nails and make-up or ask a talented friend to help. Then choose a (non-wedding) dress in natural cotton, cheese cloth or linen and a flower crown to complete the look. Sandals, boots or wellies – weather dependent.

While you’re getting ready your kitchen crew can be finishing up the wedding feast and filling metal tubs with ice for cold beer and wine. And a couple of creative friends can make you a wild flower bouquet, corsages for the men and crowns for the kids.

As it’s a family-oriented wedding, it makes sense to have your children, nieces or nephews involved in the ceremony. And as children’s clothes are cheaper than adult outfits, having flower-girls rather than grown-up bridesmaids is another way to keep costs down.

If you’re planning a festival weekend you’ll want to capture the whole experience beginning to end. So hiring a professional wedding photographer might not be realistic. Not only is the cost for two or three days likely to blow your entire budget but photographing a traditional wedding is a very different skill to photographing party people out in the wild. For good value, original photography suited to a weekend wedding check out music and festival photographers such as Robin Pope. Expect to pay a £600+ day rate for a super-talented photographer used to mud, music and mayhem.

The Ceremony: If you’re lucky enough to find a site like Llyn Gwynant that has a wedding license, you can legally marry in a beautiful barn with 150 people present to witness your vows, exchange of rings and signing of the register. Then once it’s official you can celebrate together with Pimms and lemonade in the sunshine – cheaper than champagne and perfect for a summer festival vibe.

Dinner: If you want to serve meat for your main meal, having a local person come and cook a hog roast is a good value way to feed a large crowd and also provides a bit of theatre and a talking point for people queuing up to be served. Combined with a self-service vegetarian buffet it offers a relaxed eating experience everyone can enjoy.

If you’re not fussed about where people sit forget about a table plan. Just organise your top table and let people decide who they want to talk to. Not only does this feel appropriate for a festival wedding but will save you time and money designing and printing name places and table plans.

Once speeches are over make sure you don’t forget to thank everyone who has helped to make your DIT (Do It Together) wedding happen. If you have budget it makes sense to hire extra staff at the venue to clear away and manage the bar for the evening. If not ask everyone to help to clear plates and move tables so the party can begin. Ensure your ‘help-yourself-bar’ is stocked with plenty of cold booze and tie bottle openers on strings to stop them wandering off.

Party: Asking everyone to list their three favourite songs will help you prepare an eclectic playlist for the evening. But if you have musician mates or friends happy to do a DJ set as their wedding gift then live music will massively add to your festival vibe.

The good thing about a countryside venue is you can often get a late night license, so once you’ve danced with your nan and done the conga with the kids you can party hard into the night before stumbling back to your tent at sunrise.

The day after: If you’re lucky enough to find a venue like Llyn Gwynant you can cure your hangover the morning after with a swim in the pristine lake. Then organise for a local van to turn up to provide fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast… And a pizza van for those still lazing around at lunch.

The post festival come-down is tough enough in normal circumstances. So to avoid the blues once everyone has left the best-wedding-weekend-ever by staying an extra night in your hotel to enjoy long baths and a bit of luxury as newlyweds.

Sources middle + right: The Royal Victoria, Llyn Gwynant

Wedding website and organising tool FREE: Use the party organising tools at Patchworkit.com to share your wedding info, show friends and family how they can help and keep track of the things people promise to make and do.

Hotel £300: Budget up to £300 to stay in a local hotel the night before and after the wedding. The Royal Victoria is a traditional hotel with amazing views of Snowdonia, 10km away from Llyn Gwynant campsite. It has clean and comfortable double rooms for £145 per night. 

Venue and campsite £3,000: Getting married on a weekday is always cheaper. Llyn Gwynant in Wales charges £3,000 for two nights mid-week (25 staying on the first night, 150 on the second).

Sources: Free People dress, Robin Pope Photography

Registrar £409: If – like at Llyn Gwynant – you can get married on site, you’ll need to pay £409 for a registrar. If not the two of you can get officially married at your local registry office for £50 and then pay for a Celebrant to perform your public ceremony for around £500.

Photography £1200: Street and Music photographer Robin Pope photography packages start at £600 per day. 

Wedding Dress £98: Wear a Crochet maxi slip dress from Free People

Sources: Folk, Free People, Wild & Gorgeous, Grow With the Grain

Wedding Outfit No. 2 £85: If you really want to save money encourage your partner to wear favourite shorts/jeans and footwear and just budget for a new shirt. Folk does a gorgeous Grandad shirt for £85. If you’re a same sex couple £100 will cover the cost of another festival inspired dress from Free People.

Flower girl dress £79: The Wood Nymph dress from Wild and Gorgeous is perfect for a festival – loose fitting and laid back yet sufficiently fairy-like.  

Rings £40: Opt for simple wooden rings to celebrate your love, the spirit of your festival wedding and to keep within your budget. You can always celebrate your first year anniversary with an upgrade once you’ve had time to save up for the rings you really want. Grow With The Grain has an Etsy shop selling simple wooden rings from £20 each.

Source for plates: Little Cherry

Hog roast £400: The Welsh Hog Roast company offer a discount package for DIY weddings where they come and do the set up, allow you to check, carve and serve and then collect the next day.

Buffet £300: Budget £300 for a trip to the local supermarket to buy ingredients to feed 150.

Tableware £40: Basic white paper plates, cups, napkins and wood forks will cost about £40 for 150 people. For biodegradable options check out eco-friendly party suppliers Little Cherry. Ask everyone to collect jam jars to use for tea lights and wild flowers.

Drink: A local supermarket should be able to supply sufficient booze for 150 people for under £500. But if your budget is tight it makes sense to include cash contributions towards beer and wine in your patchwork so you can buy it upfront. Then include a request for people to ‘bring a bottle’ of spirits in your patchwork as another gift option.

Coffee and Pizza Van: Organise for a local company to come to the site on the day after the wedding so people can buy themselves breakfast, lunch or both.

TOTAL COST: £5951

COST TO YOUR GUESTS: £50-£100

Staying in a tent, a relaxed dress code and a gift list that asks for help rather than physical presents means this wedding works out pretty cheap for your guests too. The only essential costs are travel and paying for food the day after the wedding.

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

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