Our wedding with a difference

We had an amazing day, the foul March weather suddenly cleared up and the sun shone for us and our 300 guests. We were able to have a wonderful wedding and a two week honeymoon, in England, for £1500! (around $2300)

With the average cost of a wedding estimated at £15,000, we were married in 2002 on a much lower budget. We would like to reassure people, especially those on a low income, that it is still possible to get married and have a lovely wedding, without being saddled with enormous debt.


We first met on the Internet. We were both involved with different Christian projects, which brought us together by email. After a few weeks, we realised that we were going to attend the same event and arranged to meet.

One thing led to another. We got on so well and had similar interests, we fell in love and wanted to be together as much as possible.


Our engagement party

We decided to get engaged to be married quite early in our relationship.

We expected to wait three years before getting married, because of the money situation.

As we are both Christians, just living together was not on the agenda, we didn’t feel it was the right way to start our life together. So we soon started praying for answers to our problem. We started sorting out our finances, working out how much it would cost us to live together when we were married and how to save money on our wedding costs.

By the end of the year, with the help of family and friends, we were able to produce a joint budget of our incomes and expenses.

We were surprised to find that we were going to have just enough; if we were both very sensible. Well, we did pray!


We were very conscious that we were planning a marriage, not just a wedding day, neither of us wanted to be “celebrities” for a day, only to be left with debts, not a good way to start a new life together!

When we booked our wedding our church pastor took us through a marriage preparation course. Just the three of us together, so we felt free to talk over personal issues. Partly to get us ready for our wedding day, but more
importantly to prepare us for the ups and downs of our new relationship, for marriage is for life.

We discussed money issues, resolving family conflicts and our different expectations in life and in marriage. Both of us were given a list of 12 expectations of marriage and asked to place them in priority and to explain our reasons. We felt that we knew each other much better, because of this, and were able to talk through some delicate issues. We would recommend this to every couple, for it was a great start to our marriage and has been of benefit to us since! After reading this page, you may like to read my blog post written for our 10th anniversary.

We also asked an older, long-married, couple to be our mentors, both before and after our wedding, they have been a great resource when we needed some sensible listeners when we could not agree on important matters.


One big problem for us was our guest list. As well as our families, we had hundreds of

Catherine's Mum, Mary Higgins

friends. We decided to keep the official invitations to 100 guests and lay on cake and refreshments to everyone else who came to see our wedding in the church, there were around an extra 200 people.


We bought both ready-iced 3 tier wedding cakes from supermarkets and added fresh flowers ourselves.

A church friend, who is a professional caterer, organised a marvellous buffet for the official reception with non-alcoholic drink. This main reception cost £500, including a delicious fruit punch at the beginning and Alcohol-free wine for the toast. Everyone had such a good time they forgot they were drinking soft drinks.

The second reception cost us £50 for the cake, tea, coffee and biscuits. We had a “bring your own” party for the immediate family at a nephew’s house in the evening.

The other pleasant surprise was that, because I was a church member, it cost us only £20 to pay for the reception rooms. The church wedding was free, but we decided to make a donation for the music group who had volunteered their services. We even had a gifted

Rob, Catherine and Trinity

Christian trio “Trinity”, to sing as we were out signing the register. As friends, this was their wedding gift to us.



Catherine & her elder son, Kjell van Zoen.

Apart from those cost-cutting items mentioned above we relied very much on family and friends, who were delighted to help us. A nephew’s smart company car, with flowers and ribbons added, was our bridal transport.

Catherine's son Pieter

My younger son borrowed a video camera and did an excellent job, as did a friend who is a serious amateur photographer; all he charged us were for his costs.

My hair and make-up were done as a gift by a niece, training as a hair-dresser, I wore no veil but had tiny fresh flowers clipped into my hair. My dress was an ivory lace long sheath, with a matching lace jacket from Debenhams evening/party range; it cost £100 for the set. My ivory satin shoes were £30 from a theatrical shop.

Rob & Catherine 16th March 2002

After the wedding we sent the outfit via Mission Aviation Fellowship to an Aids project in Uganda to be added to a small bridal hire shop they run.

Rob had a good suit and shoes which were hardly used; we bought him a newshirt for £20 and borrowed a flashy waistcoat and matching tie and cufflinks.

My going-away outfit was a skirt and top which no-onerealised had been bought in the January sales for £20!  We paid £25 for one little bridesmaids “party” dress and the other one’s mum paid for hers.   As we bought the engagement ring (£149) from Samuels Jewellers they gave us a reduction on the price of our 2 Celtic-style “three strand” wedding rings. These cost £168 together.

We bought the outer cards for the invitations and the orders of service, and we produced the inside pages on our computer. Our “Thank-you” cards were Easter cards; again, we printed the insides before-hand using the computer. The total cost, including our printing, was about £100

We seemed to find help at every step of the way; even down to Safeway giving discounts on postage stamps that Christmas as a stunt!

Rob & best man Martyn before the wedding

Church members provided the church flowers for the market price of the blooms, the bridal bouquet and the bridesmaids posies came to £40.We made the 50 buttonholes for £8 from supermarket spray carnations and florist’s tape with a family working party and also used a £3 roll of florists ribbon to make frothy bows to decorate the aisle seats.


As we prayed, thought and discussed the options the theme of our marriage service became clear: In the Bible  it says “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The third strand is God. This was the “theme” of our wedding and our first reading  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

We soon found that Christian Publicity Organisation produce wedding stationary with this as the theme, so we ordered the outer cards for the invitations and the orders of service.

We planned the whole ceremony ourselves; the only part that cannot be changed is the actual legal core of the exchanging of vows. I did promise to obey, within the will of God, this is something we had discussed and agreed on in the preparation. It has proved to work very satisfactorily, not that Rob is ‘The Boss” but that, as we already know how the other will react from our preparation, we don’t seem to get into too many arguments and I can trust Rob to make the decision that is the best for both of us. I know we can both be very strong-willed and if I do recognise that we are getting into an argument I say, ‘OK we shall do it your way!’ Not over trivial things but important decisions. Our second Bible reading reflects this attitude of the husband’s leadership, within God’s will this is Ephesians 5:21-33.

Rob, Catherine, Rev Tony Marron, Sue (Catherine's sister), Hilary & Katy(Rob's daughter & grand-daughter)

We married in my home church but, in fact, we had the ministers from both our churches taking part in the service, which, at our request, included us both i.e. our marriage, being anointed with oil and dedicated to God’s service.

Annointing and prayers

The tone of the service was joyful and lively and many of our guests did not usually attend church but loved the spirited singing and joyful atmosphere; one even remarked that shefelt an extra tingle from knowing we had not been sharing our home together before our marriage.

I came in to the hymn “Jesus stand among us” by Graham Kendrick, then we had Rob’s favourite “Be Thou my vision”, the Celtic version with the accent on the drums, the third hymn we chose was “Amazing Grace” played and sung with a jazz beat, we ended with “How Great Thou Art”.

Looking at each other coming down the aisle

Simon, a deaf/blind friend of ours, had written a prayer for our wedding, this was included in our order of service.


Many of our guests asked for copies of the video as they wanted to show it to others as they had “never been to a wedding quite like that one before and didn’t know how to describe it”! We know the difference was that it was not just a wedding but the first day of a marriage and that Jesus was a very welcome guest. No-one dictated to us how to plan our wedding, or how much to spend.

We had a unique day and know that involving so many family and friends gave them all

New family!

great satisfaction and has resulted in them continuing to be interested in the course of our marriage. On a practical note we started our journey of marriage with no debts for the wedding day!

God blessed us all on that day and has helped and blessed us in the years since then.

We trusted Him to provide and proved that you can have a wonderful wedding day and 2 weeks honeymoon for £1500!

Rob's Grandson James with confetti!

If you want to read how we met online here is a link.

And for more about Living with Blindness follow this link

This entry was posted in About us including WRNS, Living spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.