Saturday, May 23, 2009


By Robyn Hunter Radio 4 - Woman's Hour

Ever wondered what to give the bride who can't afford everything?
How about fairy lights, sequins, a petticoat, ribbons, three golden tiaras, a bubble machine, pink wire butterflies, a pair of size five wedding shoes, beaded gloves and pillar candles?
Throw in a box of thank you cards, offers from photographers and beauticians, and six different sized wedding dresses and matching veils.
These are just some of the things that bride-to-be Martha Ryder has been given by Londoners via Freecycle - a website which matches people who have items to get rid of with those who could use them.
The internet listing service's aim is to keep useable items out of landfills, and as the name suggests, it is all in the name of recycling and it is all for free.

Martha never envisaged getting married on the cheap.
Martha's dream wedding is becoming a reality thanks to generous Freecyclers
For as long as she can remember she dreamed of having a money-no-object white princess wedding.
"A fairytale ball for all my friends and family, a gospel choir and a big disco, a beautiful sit down meal, champagne fountains, ice sculptures," she giggles, remembering, "oh yes I wanted it all - the whole she-boogie!"
But as little girls invariably grow up, so too do their wedding plans.
Her fiancé, John, fell ill and had to stop working. After his health deteriorated further, Martha ended up giving up her job to care for him.

Money was getting tighter, and so instead of a big traditional wedding, Martha's next inspiration for bringing on marital bliss involved a Buddhist blessing on a Thai beach.
Then she found out she was pregnant.
"And then came the recession," she says, which resulted in them losing thousands of pounds in share-related savings. "I'm not some kind of 'Bridezilla'," Martha assures, laughing loudly, before going on, "it's not like I was going: I want to get married; no matter what. "It was more of needing to work out a way of simmering down the plans so we could still have the wedding that we wanted."

Despite the uniqueness of Martha's situation, she is not alone.
A recent poll on the You and Your Wedding magazine website showed that 60% of brides in the UK are reining in their expenses.
Probably not a startling snippet of information considering the current economic climate. According to the magazine, the average British wedding now costs £20,000.
You and Your Wedding's Deputy Editor Cathy Howes admits it is a big figure.
"It includes all the traditional wedding expenses such as the reception venue and dress," she says.
"But we also factored in things like tooth whitening, facials, wedding day fragrance, your honeymoon wardrobe - lots of things that might be associated with the cost of a wedding but aren't all necessary."
And so obviously there are ways to get change out of such a huge amount. Cathy suggests cutting guest lists as the easiest way to do so, likewise a bride can ask herself whether she really needs eight bridesmaids, to which, as she says: "Probably not!"
Another tip from Cathy: "Fridays are becoming the new Saturday," because, "in terms of availability, it is a much better thing and for price you'll be in a position to negotiate."

Prioritising seems to be the key to cutting costs.
For recent bride Ria Lockie from Brighton, £20,000 was not even an option, being way over her £9,000 budget.
Another concern for Ria was that hers was a green - not white - wedding.
And so for the name tags on the tables, guests' names were written onto pebbles which she has since re-used in her garden. All the flowers for her big day were grown in her own and friend's gardens. All the produce was sourced locally too.
Ria's dress was her biggest expense, but it was by a British designer and made here in the UK.
"I was very conscious of the fact that I didn't want a dress that was made in China and shipped from abroad," she says, feeling that the cost is justified as she is recycling it - by having it altered into an evening dress.

Consequently, Ria's success at making her wedding both cost-effective and environmentally-friendly has led to her doing the same for others through the setting up of her Ethical Occasions company.
Although it was never Martha's intention to go green to get married, Freecycle has changed that for her and made her dream of having a big wedding come true.
Looking back at her pre-Freecycle life, she says: "I think I was mad.
"I can't believe I was actually going to pay thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds to get married."



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