A mum has revealed how she created her dream wedding on a budget for less than £2,000 – including her wedding dress.
When Diana Hill started planning her wedding day, she dreamed of tying the knot on a sandy beach while wearing a fairytale dress and sipping champagne.
But as she and her husband, Ray, 47, started visiting venues along the southern coast, they quickly realised their dream location was out-of-reach – with an average hire price of £10,000.
Feeling hopeless, Diana, who is a stay-at-home mum, decided to utilise her crafty and savvy skills to create her special day on a budget, setting herself a personal challenge of £2,000 for the entire soirée.
In total, the whole day cost £1,700, including her wedding dress and their cake – which they made from scratch themselves.
“I created my own bouquet and Ray got busy in the kitchen whipping up our wedding cake,” Diana, from Portsmouth, told NeedToKnow.co.uk.
“The night before, we headed down to the venue and decked it out with pound-shop candles and balloons.
“It was really magical seeing all of our personal touches come together.
“I didn’t really have a budget for my dress, but I knew I needed it as cheap as possible, but still quite nice.
“I was a little bit cheeky, as I visited bridal shops and tried on various dresses until I found a style I liked.
“Then, I went home and trawled through secondhand websites and newspaper adverts to find an exact match.
“I had only been looking for a couple of days, but I started to grow fed up as nothing ticked the boxes and everything I did want, was out of budget.
“Until I came across the perfect dress on eBay.”
With “gorgeous” bead detailing and the fairytale style she had always hoped for, she snapped up the wedding gown at a bargain, for just £60.
Diana, aged 41, also hit the jackpot with finds such as a £3 tiara, shoes from a bridal shop sale at only £25 and a replica “Heart of the Ocean” necklace, which retail for £600, for just £2.
Their venue, a seafront hotel, cost them just £500, including a hot buffet and DJ.
For wedding favours, they created a “bag of randomness” filled with a piece of string, a marble, a gobstopper and a penny – each with their own special meaning.
She said: “We came up with the idea, as we wanted something meaningful for our guests to walk away with.
“The string is so you can always hold things together, the marble in case you ever lose yours, a gobstopper to stop putting your foot in it and a penny, so you’re never broke.
“While I was terrified about the whole day, once we said our vows, I felt relaxed and like everything had finally fallen into place.
“All our guests were amazed and couldn’t believe we had done everything ourselves, especially for so cheap.
“They kept saying: ‘We can’t believe you’ve made this, it’s so professional’ and it made us feel so proud.”
Diana and Ray met in 2010 after exchanging messages on dating website, Plenty of Fish, before he popped the big question in March 2011.
Just two months later, they found out they were pregnant with their first child, Ellie-Mae, now 11.
While the arrival came as a shock, the pair were overjoyed and went on to have Karalyn, seven and Eithan, one.
But as their first born came as they were planning the wedding, their savings quickly dwindled – and they were left with little hope of having a baptism, which they had always wanted.
Luckily, their reverend pitched the idea of doing the religious ceremony at the same time and the couple believe the “unconventional” plan saved them £500.
Diana said: “It was a grand idea, as it made our special day even more special and we were able to ensure all family members were there for both occasions.”
Now, the family-of-five practice frugality in their daily lives, learning how to upcycle pre-loved furniture and create their own Christmas decorations.
Diana has also been tasked with decorating her cousin’s and auntie’s weddings on a tight budget, costing £100 each, as well as street parties for royal occasions – with her next mission, the King’s Coronation for less than £30.
She added: “Our wedding has taught us that you can do anything with a little budget.
“If we find a piece of furniture we like, we will upcycle it into our own creation and with Christmas, we’ve created our own decorations, including a life-size Grinch for less than £10.
“For the Queen’s Jubilee, I managed to do a whole street party for under £10 and I can’t wait for my next challenge with the Coronation.
“I loved our day and it was everything I could have imagined – it was my alternative fairytale wedding come true.”