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 fabulous wedding abroad with 12 best friends (including hen and stag dos, wedding celebration and mini-moon) read on…
Who is this wedding perfect for?
It’s ideal for globe-trotting couples looking for a unique wedding adventure in an exotic destination with a handful of close friends. This 1970s inspired Moroccan wedding is all about laid-back luxury and deliberate decadence. A week long celebration, it involves you and your 10 best mates flying to Marrakesh for your hen and stag dos, your wedding ceremony, an all night party and a day of pampering before returning to celebrate your marriage with family and friends.
This amazing wedding abroad is totally achievable for £6,000 if you book everything at least a year in advance, plan the details carefully and have close friends willing and able to join you in your wedding adventure.
Marrakesh has beautiful weather from March so it’s the perfect destination for a spring wedding, when flights and accommodation are cheaper out of season. If you book in advance you’ll get 12 seats on the same plane for £150 each return. And whilst hiring a private riad with sun terrace, pool and hammam feels like the ultimate luxury, it’s totally affordable if you split the cost per room. Although travelling abroad for a wedding is an expense for your guests, combining the hen and stag do on the same trip helps keep total costs down and, as long as your friends have plenty of warning, five days in Marrakesh makes a pretty magical holiday for everyone.
With a £6,000 budget a professional wedding photographer is one of the things you’re going to have to sacrifice. But that’s okay. To capture and collect all the amazing moments from your trip just ask friends to upload photos with your wedding hashtag to instagram so everyone back home can follow your wedding adventure as it unfolds.
Although you can organise a wedding celebration in Morocco you can’t get officially married, so don’t forget to book an appointment at a registry office to make it legal on your return. Then arrange for family and friends to join you for a Moroccan meal at a local restaurant.
While travel to Morocco is relatively safe for same-sex couples, travellers are advised not to show public displays of affection, so celebrating a gay wedding in Marrakesh is not recommended.
Day one: Arrive
Meet friends at the airport for breakfast bubbly and arrive in Morocco by midday. To avoid airport hassle arrange for your riad to collect you and ask for lunch to be laid out on your arrival. Having driven through the bustling streets of Marrakesh entering a traditional riad through a small wooden doorway is like stepping back in time to an ancient kingdom full of secret treasures and pleasures. Spend your first afternoon checking out your bedrooms, plunging into the pool and organising your spa treatments in the hammam. Then relax on the roof terrace drinking fresh mint Juleps as you watch the sunset over the city.
Day two: Hen/stag dos
If you want your hen do to be a surprise let your girlfriends organise this day for you. From shopping trips and spa treatments to mountain climbs and camel rides in the desert, there’s plenty to do in and around Marrakesh during the day. Then at night head out into the magic and mayhem of the Medina, enjoy a delicious meal in one of the many roof top restaurants and then head to a club for cocktails – taking care not to bump into your other half on the dance floor.
Day three: Preparation
Start the day with pancakes and fresh orange juice to cure your hangover, spend the morning enjoying spa treatments and then use the afternoon to check on your wedding preparations and practice your speeches. Then get an early night – switching rooms so you get to sleep separately if you’re superstitious.
Day four: Your wedding day
Enjoy a long, late breakfast with your girlfriends then head to your room to get ready. For style inspiration think Jane-Birkin-70’s-chic. Find a floor-length dress in loose chiffon and some simple leather sandals. Then embrace a budget-friendly tradition by wearing a favourite old necklace or borrowing jewellery from your friends. To save money and ensure your desired hairstyle isn’t lost in translation, avoid local hairdressers and instead ask your most talented mate to help you with hair and make-up.
A beautifully tailored linen suit is the perfect choice for a stylish wedding in a hot country. Just make sure the riad has an iron or steamer your partner can borrow. Relaxed yes, creases no.
Block booking an entire riad like Dar Habiba means you can use the whole space for your wedding day and with a traditional yet stylish interior you won’t need to do much to decorate the space. With only 12 of you, you’ll be able to set up seats in the courtyard for the ceremony, head up for champagne on the roof terrace, sit around a huge candlelit table for dinner and speeches, then enjoy late dancing and pool party antics until dawn.
While most riads will be able to arrange all your catering requirements it might not be so easy to find a host happy to act as a celebrant. But it’s worth asking. Just explain your wedding plans upfront when making enquiries and see if hoteliers or riad owners are happy help or able to recommend anyone who can. It doesn’t need to be too formal and you might actually prefer a friend to bless your union.
Either way, the idea is that you both script a simple service that includes the exchanging of rings and a celebratory kiss and ask someone to act as Master of Ceremonies. You can involve best friends formally in the roles of Best Man and Maid of Honour or just ask people to choose a poem or reading. The beauty about having a non-official ceremony is that you can make it what you like – borrowing the best bits from different traditional ceremonies and rituals.
Make sure your most instagram-obsessed friend is in charge of photographing the ceremony and ensure there are bowls of rose petals, fresh from the market, for that all important confetti shot.
Day five: Mini-moon
Plan for a hangover. Lay in ‘til midday, enjoy a long lazy brunch together followed by a swim and a couples massage in the afternoon before heading out for dinner just the two of you.
Day six: Depart
Spend the day sunbathing. Then treat your friends to a last glass of champagne to say thanks for being part of your special celebration, before heading back to the airport for an early evening flight.
If you fly out on a Sunday and return on Friday your flights will be cheaper and you’ll have the day on Saturday to head down to your local registry office to make your marriage official. Dress in jeans and t-shirts, grab two witnesses off the street and share your selfies to complete the story.
Then hire a room in a local Moroccan restaurant paying for a cold buffet so family and friends can hear all about your wedding, toast your marriage and enjoy a taste of Marrakesh too.
Invites £10: Send beautiful matte finish postcards with your own designs rather than traditional invites. Moo does small print runs with offers starting at £10 for 20 cards.
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 can easily get midweek return flights from Gatwick to Marrakesh in March for under £100 per person.
Deposit for Riad £2000: Costs will depend on the number of guests and the type of riad and location you choose. But as an example the luxury riad Dar Habiba is in a great location in the centre of Marrakesh can be hired exclusively, sleeps 12 people and has a range of rooms starting at £60 per night. Budget up to £2000 upfront in case your riad requires a deposit, then your guests can pay for their rooms on arrival.
Hen/stag do £300: You might want to leave the plans up to your mates but budget £150 each for your hen/stag do activities.
Spa treatments £200: Treatments to prepare you for the big day and to help you recover the day afterwards.
Wedding dress £254: Look and feel cool and chic in the Moroccan heat with this loose cotton maxi dress from Mara Hoffman.
Sandals £32: ASOS tend to do great sandals with nice details. For a fun touch try these leather pom pom sandals with their colourful accents.
Linen suit £765: A linen suit is the perfect choice for a sophisticated yet laid back Moroccan wedding. Check out Richard James’s 2017 ready-to-wear collection for a range of linen suits in sun-bleached colours. Prices start at £600.
Rings £829: This wedding is all about exoticism and storytelling so choose rings that symbolise this too. Phoebe Coleman’s Braveheart Chevron and Arrowhead rings connect to celebrate the powerful union of a Warrior and a Princess. Studded with ruby, black and champagne diamonds the stacking rings are a deliberately opulent statement as a wedding ring. While the matching male ring is strong in its simplicity.
Champagne reception £100: This is one tradition you need to stick to. Budget £100 to cover the costs of your champagne toast.
Wedding day meal with wine £600: Your friends will be happy to pay for their meals most days but treating everyone to the wedding day dinner makes sense and will be appreciated.
Thank you drinks £100: You might all be in need of a hair of the dog before you get back on the plane so budget £100 to say thanks to all your mates for making the trip.
Registry office service and certificates £55: The charge for a registrar to perform a registry office ceremony costs around £45. Marriage and civil partnership certificates cost around £5 each.
Dinner at your local Moroccan restaurant £500: Find a local Moroccan restaurant happy to provide a hot buffet for 50 people working to a budget of £500. Then invite friends and family to come along, explaining that you’re providing food and that there’s a cash bar for drinks.
Gifts: Obviously with a wedding abroad you’re not expecting or wanting physical presents. So if people do want to give a gifts you could suggest they contribute towards a wedding treat while you’re in Marrakesh. Use Patchworkit.com to show all the things you’re planning to do from camel rides to cocktails, manicures and massages, then let people choose what they’d like to buy you. To make it easy we even have a readymade Marrakesh honeymoon fund.
TOTAL COST: £5946
COST TO YOUR GUESTS: £800
This includes flights, accommodation and activities in Marrakesh for your 10 best friends. Friends and family coming to your UK celebration will just need to pay for drinks and contribute to your Marrakesh mini-moon if they wish.
See the rest of the wedding concepts in our £6k wedding series here.