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Polka dot wedded bliss on a budget

By admin on February 26th, 2007 2 comments

Cate Regular Shiny contributor Cate Sevilla shares the story of her "Anti-Bride" wedding, and how she found bridal bliss despite having a teeny-tiny budget…

I never realised how much of an “Anti-Bride” I truly was until looking at a copy of Modern Bride resulted in breaking out in hives, and suffering an afternoon of panic induced diarrhea. I was thrilled about getting married to my fiancé, as I love my him more than all of the Absolut Citron in the world; however, the thought of planning our wedding wasn’t exactly a dream come true. White dresses, linen, china, and churches aren’t exactly our style. Add on top of that I just recently moved to London from California, and we were now faced with the decision of, “So, which continent are we going to have this shindig on?”

Never mind all of the immigration issues to ensue, we had to decide which family would have to shell out the money to fly across the pond, or if we could deal with not having one side of our family present as we exchanged our vows. Unfortunately, my fiancée visa only gave us 6 months to plan and as it didn’t allow me to work in the UK, time and money were both against us. After many hours of  thought, tears, and pints of lager, we finally made our decision. What always has mattered most to me about my wedding was the party afterwards, and having as much family there as possible. Therefore, we decided to have a small, quick ceremony in England in January, and then have a snowy wedding reception/party in Lake Tahoe, California, that March. That way, both of our families would both be involved, albeit, in different ways.

Thedress_1 I told the lovely Gemma Cartwright (The Queen of Shiny Fashion) what I was looking for in a wedding dress (“Um, something black and white…maybe polka dots, maybe red…something that doesn’t scream ‘Virginal’?”) and then, probably using her magical Fashionista powers to read my mind, she found and sent me the link to Dolly Dagger. I took one look at the Marilyn Halter black and white polka dot dress and actually squealed with bridal glee. It was seriously the first time in my life a dress had ever caused me to squeal. The price almost caused me to black out. It was only £50. Yes, that’s right. The dress of my dreams for £50. I believe the theme of my wedding dress shopping experience was “In yo’ face, Vera Wang!” and "Praise Be To Gemma."

I had a pair of cute little black heels that I planned on wearing, however, I am luckily blessed with a sister with impeccable taste, who for Christmas sent me these orgasmic heels from Aldo. My wedding outfit was practically complete. “But what about lingerie! What about hosiery,” you ask worriedly. "What about your something blue?” Well, first of all, lingerie is expensive, and my cute little black boy shorts from Target did just fine.  They served their purpose, which is after all, to simply cover my bum. Hosiery? Superdrug’s own “Retro Look Hold-Up Stockings”. The only bit of tradition I did adhere to, was my ‘something blue’ which was my mom’s garter from her wedding to my dad. (Personally, I was just amazed it fit over my thigh considering the 20 year old elastic is shot.) I wasn’t bothered about accessories, and just wore the necklace my mom gave me at her wedding to my step-dad, which is just a simple, silver Family Medallion pendant. For my make-up I chose to stick with my usual routine of Bare Minerals, and added my bright red NYC cherry lip gloss to match my shoes, and to also match my £3 red carnation bouquet that was arranged and decorated by my fiancé. (And might I add that watching him arrange it with such care and detail caused me to burst into tears…)

Myshoes In total, my ‘50s-ish wedding look –if you include the money my sister spent on my shoes- only cost me about £130. However, the best part, is that I loved every single part of how I looked that day. I was so comfortable and at ease with the fit of my dress, which was delivered extremely quick, and was amazed at the comfort of my shoes. Plus, my inexpensive stockings from Superdrug didn’t snag once! And for me, that is a miracle! What’s also a miracle, would be the cost of my awe inspiring engagement ring. Whenever anyone sees it, their eyes bulge, their jaw drops, and they gawk as though they cannot believe that anyone who is that blasé about their wedding should possible posses such a rock. I’ve even been asked if it’s from Tiffany, to which I reply, “Oh goodness, no…but close.” And really, Target is technically "close" to Tiffany&Co as they both begin with a ‘T’. That’s right everyone, my engagement ring, and wedding band, are from Target, and cost a total of –you might want to sit down for this– $19.99. I know. Shocking. Do I care? No. When we can afford it we’ll find something some thing that won’t tarnish or eventually turn my skin green. But until then, I don’t care. I get compliments on it, and I smile and say, “Thank you!” Do I feel as though  I should “fess up” and tell them that it’s not what they think it is? No, as how lovely or meaningful a ring is shouldn’t be dependent on how expensive or “real” it is.

Overall, getting married only cost us about £500, at the most,(Not including visa fees) but was exactly what we wanted. My dress wasn’t white, we walked down the aisle together to Etta James’ “At Last”, and my husband doesn’t even have a wedding band yet. I honestly couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out, and am eagerly awaiting our “pizza and beer” wedding party next month. I think that it is any bride and groom’s prerogative to have whatever kind of wedding they want, as long as it truly represents them, and not other’s expectations. It can be stressful, and tedious trying to fend off everyone else’s opinions, but not nearly as stressful as looking back on your wedding pictures 10 years from now and saying, “What the hell we were thinking?”

To read the uncensored, and equally long-winded lengthy story of our engagement & wedding –
with pictures!– please visit my personal blog at

  • arelya

    Thanks for posting this story. I am in identical position at the moment and have to make the same decisions as you did, inlcuding where to have the wedding. I was also considering having the ceremony in my country and the party in the UK. Money is also a massive issue, I’m glad to know that there are other couples with similar dilemmas.

  • You’re so welcome!

    I know how alienating it can be to have a small budget, and have the world expecting you to take out a second mortgage or gigantic loan to pay for everything.

    My advice is to just stick to the budget. Why go into debt over a wedding? After all, a wedding is to celebrate the beginning of a marriage. I’ve never seen the point in going into debt BEFORE you’ve even gotten married, lol.

    Do what you’re comfortable with and can afford. If your parents/family have a problem with things being small and causal, perhaps they’d like to pay for everything? 🙂

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