Weekend Money: Why Britons are turning away from traditional weddings | UK News

The Britons doing weddings differently: ‘We didn’t tell family until after’ | ‘We had a barefoot ceremony’ | ‘Ours cost £500’

By Emily Mee, Money team

Heather-Anne Horton was having recurring nightmares before her big wedding. 

She and her fiance Josh had booked a manor house in the UK for their wedding, along with a band, caterers, florist and cake. 

Although she knew she wanted to marry Josh, in her nightmares it would get to the big day and she would realise she’d forgotten to write her vows in all the stress of planning everything, financial worries and pressure from some family members. 

So when Josh told her he was feeling anxious about standing up in front of 70 people to read their vows, they agreed: “What are we doing? Let’s just not do this. This is crazy.” 

They cancelled their big wedding (losing a few deposits in the process) and decided on exactly what they wanted: a beach wedding, just the two of them, in Mauritius. 

It seems they are part of a growing trend. 

Data shared with the Money blog shows Pinterest searches for elopement inspiration and small budget weddings have been “soaring” over recent months. 

Aside from saving money, Heather-Anne says choosing to elope has taken the pressure off – and now she feels “100% relief”.

The couple will be getting married barefoot in the sand with a treehouse dinner by candlelight afterwards, and after that they will be spending 10 days on safari in South Africa for their honeymoon. 

And despite the fact they’re staying in five-star resorts and haven’t “skimped out”, they’re spending half as much money – £15,000 instead of £30,000. 

Wedding planner Georgie Mitchell from Georgina Rose Events says she is seeing more and more couples opting for “low-key” weddings, whether it’s to save money or just because they have different priorities. 

“There are huge pressures to spend lots of money on one day, but unfortunately the tradition of parents paying is definitely decreasing and therefore couples have to foot the bill – and not many young couples have £30,000 lying around!” she says. 

She doesn’t think big weddings will die out – “I think for every couple opting for a smaller wedding, you’ll have one that will be even bigger and more expensive” – but there is a trend towards couples doing their big day “how they want”.

This was the case for Zoe Ashbridge-Law and her husband Stew, who had always known they didn’t want a traditional wedding. 

Zoe says she hated the thought of doing a first dance, while Stew is “quite introverted” so found the thought of doing a speech “nerve-wracking”. 

“We were trying to avoid paying for a day that actually wouldn’t bring us any joy,” Zoe says. 

They’ve been cycling around the world since 2019, writing for their blog Road to Frame – and it was during their trip around New Zealand that they decided to get married.

Their wedding day in October 2023 cost them £2,226.

“I was worried about it maybe feeling a bit soulless without family being there, but the opposite was true. It was really meaningful,” says Zoe. 

The couple told their families the weekend after the wedding, and although they had felt “waves of guilt” at the time they were “shocked at just how happy everyone was”. 

Overall, they say it was well worth it to do what they wanted – and it saved them a lot of money in the process. 

Eloping for your wedding doesn’t have to mean going abroad – it can also just be about having a very select few people at the ceremony.

For Chris and Becky Lockyer, their decision to keep their wedding small was down to finances. 

“We originally were planning on having the traditional wedding and having the big ceremony and the big party. We even picked our venue and everything and we were dead set,” says Becky. 

“Then the more we looked into it and the more we priced it up, we were like ‘this is crazy, it’s so, so expensive’.” 

They decided to have a two-witness wedding in the local council office on a Wednesday morning, followed by a three-course meal at the pub with their two families. 

All in all, the day cost them less than £500 – a far cry from the £13,000 budget they were originally looking at. 

“I think more and more people are going our route because everything is more expensive now, and I think young people are more interested in putting down roots and buying houses and travelling and setting down those more long-term goals,” says Becky. 

“The reason we got married is because we love each other and you don’t have to spend thousands of pounds to do that.”

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