With the average UK wedding costing £18,400 in 2022 according to Hitched, it’s no secret that saying ‘I do’ comes along with a hefty price tag. While the special occasion may be all about love, the cost can quickly add up as couples look for their dream venues, stunning dresses and put on an event to remember.
However, as Sammie Tessier, 26, from Hampshire, proves you don’t have to splash the cash to achieve your dream day. After getting engaged to her partner Ryan while pregnant with their first child, the pair ended up tying the knot for less than £50. Here, Sammie tells her story…
“From the moment I swiped right on Ryan’s Tinder profile in 2015, I had a good feeling. Seeing his face, I knew instantly he was The One.
We went on a walk at Portchester Castle in Hampshire for our first date and were chatting away for so long that we walked round the castle twice. We clicked instantly and had so much in common. He was so sweet and funny – and loved a bargain just like me.
I’d always been a thrifty person, ever since I was a little girl. My parents worked and we never struggled financially growing up, but I’d always loved saving money and had a great eye for hunting down bargains.
I’d spend my weekends trawling through charity shops to hunt down hidden gems. My proudest achievement was definitely a pair of Dr Martens boots that I found in a charity shop for a tenner. They’re usually around £100. And they were my size – result!
Ryan loved seeing what I’d found after a rummage at the second hand shop and even joined me some weekends to pick up some bargains for himself. It was obvious we were a match made in heaven.
After six happy years together, we found out we were expecting our first child. We were so excited to become parents.
Ryan was helping me prepare for my driving test when he got down on one knee and popped the question. “Sammie, I love you so much. Will you marry me?” he asked, looking nervous. “Of course!” I said as I flung my arms around him, nearly knocking him to the floor.
I’d never been too fussed about getting married – but I love Ryan so much and was so excited to be his wife. It felt special with a baby on the way, symbolising our new start as a family of three.
Most little girls dream of a big white wedding, but that had never been my goal. I just wanted to be legally recognised as a family and I knew I didn’t need anything extravagant for it to be the most special day.
Planning a wedding can be so stressful and extremely expensive, which Ryan and I knew we didn’t want. All our money and energy was being spent preparing for our new arrival.
“I don’t need anything lavish, I just want to marry you,” Ryan said one evening as we sat in front of the laptop, starting to make arrangements. “I agree. Let’s keep it simple and focus on us,” I said, resting my head on his shoulder.
After a bit of Googling, we quickly realised that the cheapest place to get married would be at our local register office in Portsmouth. It only cost £48 to cover the registrar’s fees and have two witnesses present.
“What do you want to wear on the day?” Ryan asked. I paused for a moment to think. I couldn’t imagine forking out hundreds of pounds on a new wedding dress – it just wasn’t me.
“I reckon I’ve got something in my wardrobe that will work,” I said grinning as I got up to have a look. I rummaged through my rails and pulled out a beautiful white dress I’d got on sale from an independent brand a few months before. “This is perfect,” I said, holding up the dress to show Ryan.
I got a bit of a kick out of finding ways to organise the wedding without having to spend a fortune. Ryan also had a suit that he could wear and we agreed that we didn’t want a big party after the ceremony.
As we started to make plans for our big day, our wonderful parents offered to contribute and help us out. My mum and dad, Patrick, 59, and Rebecca, 55, very kindly offered to pay for a spread for us all to tuck into after the service. My dad went to town on classic British party food – sausage rolls, Scotch eggs and mini quiches. My mum bought us a Victoria sponge cake from the supermarket which is Ryan’s favourite.
Ryan’s dad, Rick, 72, was very generous and offered to pay for the rings, which helped us hugely. Everything was coming together and, with the help of family, we were able to keep the cost below £50 for the whole day. People say wedding planning is stressful, but we’d sorted ours – albeit with help – in a month.
On 31 October 2021, our son, Oliver, was born at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. It was the most magical day and Ryan and I were over the moon to become parents. More than ever, I was so pleased that we’d decided to keep our wedding low-key and simple.
Having a newborn baby and the stress of planning an extravagant wedding would have been a nightmare, but instead I felt completely calm and was able to enjoy being in the baby bubble until our big day arrived on 2 March 2022.
It was a crisp spring morning when my mum came round to my house to help me get ready for the ceremony. Ryan and I decided not to see each other before the wedding but had to try to avoid each other as he was getting ready at our house too!
I did my own make-up – it seemed silly to hire a make-up artist when I can do a good job myself. “I can’t believe my little girl is getting married,” Mum said with tears in her eyes as she curled my hair. “I know!” I replied, not wanting to smudge my freshly applied mascara.
Ryan and I decided that our witnesses would be our two best friends, Oliver, 29, and Olivia, 26, – the inspirations behind our son’s name. Olivia and I have been best friends since secondary school and I couldn’t think of anyone else who I would want to be by my side on my special day.
Ryan, Oliver and baby Oliver made their way to the register office, while Olivia and I waited for a limo to take us there.
Ryan works at a funeral director and had arranged for one of the cars to drive us there – which luckily didn’t cost us a thing.
When I arrived at the venue, Ryan greeted me at the entrance holding our son. All the money in the world couldn’t buy the way I felt when I saw my two boys waiting for me. Seeing them both looking so handsome made my heart burst.
The rest of the day was equally as perfect. We had a short and simple ceremony at the register office before going into the garden for a little photoshoot with a friend of my mum’s who is a wedding photographer.
She offered to take a few special snaps of us as a wedding present. Then we went back home where our parents were waiting for us to celebrate.
Ryan and I even changed into our pyjamas before tucking into the party food and cake with our guests, Oliver and Olivia, while the baby was asleep upstairs. It was simple, intimate and perfect.
Thanks to the kindness of our family, our wedding must be one of the cheapest of all time. All the money we saved can be put towards our family and making memories with our beautiful son. It was perfect for us and just goes to show that you don’t have to splash the cash to have a fabulous day."
- Wedding dress: Sammie already had a dress
- Venue: £48
- Cake: Bought by Sammie’s mum, Rebecca
- Meal: Ploughman’s platter from Sammie’s dad, Patrick
- Suit: Ryan already had a suit
- Limo: Ryan is a funeral director and the limo was arranged for free by his company
- Rings: Bought by Ryan’s dad, Rick
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