A second hand wedding.

Big Poppa and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary this week and I had always intended to prepare a post describing how we put together our wedding buying as much second hand or small business products as possible. Even in a simple life time flies when you least expect it to, so here is an abbreviated version of what I originally planned:


  • I bought my dress from a small business near my parents holiday house. It was handmade using vintage material and a 1950s pattern, one-of-a-kind. It had a water mark on the sleeve, so I got it discounted. It cost me $315. The water mark came out at the dry cleaners.
  • I paid what I had to for a hand made vintage style fascinator from a local business. The milliner and I designed it together. The tiny veil was made from vintage netting. It was gorgeous and I was even able to lend it to another friend for her wedding a year later.
  • I bought a 1920s French made purse from the op shop, still in its box. It was in perfect condition, a real find.
  • We married at the registry office in Melbourne, which cost about $300. We couldn’t decorate the room, so I didn’t need to worry about flowers or ribbons. The room itself is beautiful, not what you’d expect from the registry.
  • I designed and made the wedding invitations myself (with a little cutting and gluing help from friends) and my brother designed the invitation for the evening party, which were also cut and glued by myself and friends.
  • I had no wedding party, so instead of paying for loads of different bouquets etc I happily spent $200 on a huge, gorgeous, messy bouquet full of roses and succulents for myself. This was made by a small local business recommended by my brother’s partner. A wedding guest planted the middle succulent in a pot and we still have it.
  • I decorated the tables at our wedding lunch (in a cafe overlooking gardens, not specifically reserved, saving HEAPS of money) with 1950s vintage scarves and seashell vases, all purchased at a second hand store.
  • Even though we asked for no gifts, we gave bomboniere to thank those people who supported our relationship and our marriage by being there on the day. I found vintage cuff links and brooches on eBay all for under $10 each. Mum and I made chiffon bags for these out of some more vintage scarves.
  • We only had 25 guests at our ceremony and lunch, but had a party that night with 75 guests. We hired a room (no charge) and Big Poppa’s band played.
  • I bought a 1970s maxi dress for the party and dressed in shoes and accessories I already had.
  • I had secretly purchased vintage cufflinks for Big Poppa on the last day of our holiday earlier that year in Brooklyn. I had a friend give these to him on the day of the wedding. He wore these with a vintage polka dot shirt, which I had secretly taken away and had altered at the cuffs for the cufflinks. He wore one of my vintage ties.
  • My wedding ring was purchased from an antique store, although it is not antique. It’s a 1960s white gold band with a few small diamonds. It cost a fraction of a new band with the equivalent gold and diamonds and has plenty of vintage charm.
  • Instead of having a cake made we ordered a berry cheesecake (our favourite) from the cafe. It was delicious and cost about $20. No one cared that it wasn’t multi-layered and white.
  • Big Poppa’s wedding present to me was having the band learn one of my favourite Beatles songs (the wildly inappropriate Norwegian Wood) for our first dance.
  • We asked for no gifts, but understood that many people felt this was important, so offered the options of donating to one of our favoured charities or the challenge of finding something second hand. We received beautiful handmade and vintage gifts that meant a lot to us. Some people gave us nothing which was also 100% okay.


The biggest costs were Big Poppa’s suit, food and photography. Big Poppa has worn his suit a bunch of times since, so that’s not really a concern. The food was great – I just wish I’d eaten more of it and had less alcohol! As for the photography, we have beautiful shots from the day, 1000s of them, but the situation itself was a little fraught in the end. Having a clear expectation at the start on both the photographer’s behalf and the customer’s is really important, especially if you’re utilising the services of a friend.

We had set ourselves a conservative budget for the wedding, not because we necessarily had to, but because we liked the challenge. We honeymooned in New York, so it was important to us to keep the wedding costs down.

None of these choices compromised our day, which was quite simply magical.


Mama xo


4 thoughts on “A second hand wedding.

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