Reverend outlines ways to cut wedding costs down to size

A vicar is attracting a lot of support for his ideas about getting married for as little as £100. Sheena Hastings reports.

THE Rev David Newton really started something recently, when he whizzed off an email in response to hearing talk on the radio saying 75 per cent of couples who co-habit would like to get married but many consider the cost prohibitive.

The next thing we knew, the Reverend was telling listeners that he could – and would – marry any hard-up couple for nothing. And furthermore, he could give them tips on how to pull together their big day for no more than £100. The IT-savvy man of the cloth, vicar at Gildersome Baptist Church, Leeds, spent an afternoon launching a website of sound advice, showing those who think a wedding is off the cards because they lack mountains of cash that they can have a beautiful day without selling their soul.

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Not all the hundreds of weddings the Rev Newton has presided over in the last 30 years have been sumptuous affairs, and he says that if you are a couple who really can’t afford to spend much, then there are ways of spending little more than the obligatory £67 for the marriage licence. “Find a friendly local church, most often a Baptist or Pentecostal church. If you explain that you have very little money then a small friendly congregation will usually be happy to supply their services for free.”

Among the reasons, says Rev Newton, is that most weddings are held in Anglican churches. Others don’t get much of a look in and it’s a treat when they do.” However, he warns couples against abusing people’s kindness: “They will be happy to give you their time and energy ...But if you then go off to the poshest hotel in town for the reception and fly out to Bali for your honeymoon that would be wrong.”

He’s had a great reaction since posting his ideas on the website, including reusing a ring that may already be in the family, recycling a friend’s dress or buying from a charity shop, and putting together an album from the best photos taken by your guests.

With weddings typically costing anything from £5,000 to £40,000, it’s easy to see why many couples are putting it off. But, if the thousands of hits on are anything to go by, there seems to be support for the idea of undermining the consumerism and ballyhoo that can engulf those essential “I dos”. Many people who had a great wedding without breaking the bank are happy to share how they made the day feel special without it seeming cheap and nasty.

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Several contributors say friends brought homemade food for the reception, and a pal loaned one couple her luxury flat for the honeymoon. Another tip on saving costs on photography is to find someone who has just started doing weddings and will offer a good deal because they are still putting together their portfolio.

A couple of penniless artists used a marquee that was to be used for another event the next day, importing flowers and greenery picked from hedgerows. Another bride and groom were chauffeured by a friend who had a particularly nice car, and one of Rev Newton’s followers in New Zealand says they bought 12 chickens from a poulterer who threw in another three for free. They then farmed the birds out to friends to cook into chicken casserole. Other guests made the puds, and grandma baked and iced the cake. The venue wasn’t licensed, so the couple bought grape juice, and the guests declared it was the best wedding they’d been to.

As Rev Newton says, it’s about the marriage not the wedding, and so the bride and groom, whose idea of catering was pasties all round, had no reason to feel like cheapskates. Nor should Grace and her husband, who are happy to tell us that they saved Tesco Clubcard points to buy their wedding rings.

Other vicars have also made very interesting contributions to the website. One describes how a woman he knows in Cardiff woke up her long-term partner on his birthday, saying: “We’re getting married today, like we’ve often talked about, so get your suit on.” She’d arranged for her friends to meet them at the registry office and they all went to a restaurant afterwards. She then sold the story to a women’s magazine and made a profit.

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There are clearly many people who find Rev Newton’s ideas a breath of fresh air, and he has been blown away by the response. “It’s been exciting and overwhelming. Some people won’t want to do their wedding for as little as £100, it’s true. But it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Everything on the website is from real experience, and in keeping with carefulness rather than meanness.”

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