‘Naked Weddings’: Stripping Back the Glitz and Revealing What Really Matters


Marriage Week is here and the theme this year is ‘Naked Weddings’ – ones that do not cost the earth and focus on what really matters: the life-long commitment being made between the couple in the presence of loved ones!

With celebrity weddings and even friends’ and relatives’ weddings becoming increasingly extravagant the pressure to have a glitzy celebration is creating another barrier to marriage – and also, perhaps, distracting from the true meaning of the ceremony.

During this special week we want to encourage couples to consider committing to one another and to not allowing finances to be a deciding factor. We have gathered some heart-warming stories about couples who have tied the knot on a small budget to remind us what weddings are really about and to encourage others to consider a ‘Naked Wedding’. From borrowed wedding dresses and hand-made decorations, school halls and muddy fields – the message of these stories is that a ‘Naked Wedding’ is fun, meaningful and doable!

A stripped back wedding often makes for a more personal and rewarding experience as one bride shared: “My wedding dress came from the Monsoon Bridal sale and my bridesmaids’ dresses from Debenhams. Everyone looked amazing and my husband had tears in his eyes as he watched me walk down the aisle. He said I looked just like me, as I had done my own makeup and not paid for someone to do what I do every day myself.

I designed the table decorations – I did not go overboard, just a beautiful blooming African violet on a round mirror surrounded by tea lights. The joy of using your own imagination and personality in your big day is so rewarding!”

Budget weddings also mean less pressure: “Our son and daughter-in-law’s wedding which cost a fraction of the cost most weddings do was wonderful – everyone was relaxed and happy. The wedding dress was found off the internet and the groom bought a new shirt and tie to go with the colour scheme, wearing a suit he already owned. The cake was made by a friend, an uncle took the photographs and the wedding car was a taxi. There was no pressure for everything to be ‘’perfect’’ and because of that I can say it was the perfect day!”

Having a ‘Naked Wedding’ helps couples to focus on what they really want from their special day as we learn from this couple’s story: “Our wedding was minimalist, but it was exactly what we wanted – I borrowed my dress from a friend, we used our own car to get to the venue and family members took photographs. After the ceremony family came back to the house with buffet food for the wedding breakfast. The most important thing was to be married in a church according to the Catholic faith – the rest was not that important.’’

Another fun way to reduce costs is to spread out the celebrations – take this wedding for example: “We lived far away from most of our family and friends, so it was not possible for many people to attend the actual wedding.  We had a very small wedding meal, with just his sister, mother, and my parents. Because of the low numbers we could spend slightly more on the meal and we really enjoyed each other’s company.  There were a few more guests for the church ceremony and we held a very small cake and champagne reception afterwards with work colleagues. When we next visited our home countries, we had blessing ceremonies, with simple meals afterwards for family and friends that could not have made it to the ‘real’ one.  It was fun, we spread out the celebrations and therefore the cost. It was far cheaper than booking an official wedding venue for that number of people AND I got to wear my wedding dress three times!’’

Spreading out the celebrations is also a good reminder that marriage is an ongoing commitment, not a one-day event: One couple, who plan to marry this month, have come to appreciate more and more that their wedding is, most importantly, about their ongoing commitment to each other rather than having a big party. “Guests, knowing they may not be able to attend the ceremony, have sent messages of their ongoing support and love towards the couple.  In other words, their joy is about the couple’s marriage and commitment to each other rather than attending a wedding celebration.”

Another reason ‘Naked Weddings’ are so much fun and meaningful is that they tend to involve friends and family a lot more. “Our daughter’s wedding costs were minimal. They own a small field on a steep slope close to their house and that is where they held the wedding – it was glorious! All the guests brought enough food for their own family and some to share – the best wedding feast ever. Music played throughout the day (their own band plus other musical friends). Our local priest celebrated a service, with chickens joining in inappropriately. The wedding dress was lent by a friend, the bridesmaids wore whatever they liked in blue, and guests were asked not to buy anything new to wear but to come with welly boots and an umbrella and be prepared to have a great day – which we did! Friends all chipped in to provide chairs, seats, and tables. Lots of effort was made by all to make things lovely in the most economical way possible. The total cost was soft drinks, tent and a half price marquee!”

Another bride shared how they hired a school hall and collected flowers from a local field for the decorations – “We knew that it wouldn’t be the most beautiful wedding but the most important thing was becoming husband and wife and it really took the pressure off.  Ten years later our friends are still talking about our wedding as it was like nothing they had experienced before.”

In many ways a ‘Naked Wedding’ reflects marriage a lot better than an extravagant one: it is not about everything being perfect; it’s about focusing on your love and commitment to each other; you need to be creative and able to compromise – and the support and love of friends and family adds to the joy! So, our message to you this Marriage Week is if you want to commit to each other do not let finances be a barrier – it is about your marriage, not a grandstanding event that only lasts for a day!

For ideas and more encouragement on holding a ‘Naked Wedding’ check out Marriage Foundations webpage – https://marriage-week.org.uk/how-can-we-have-a-naked-wedding/. If you are considering a stripped back wedding, we encourage you to ‘go for it!’ and we wish you a wonderful day, but most of all a beautiful, life-long marriage.

A big thank you to the wonderful volunteers of Marriage Care who have contributed their stories and those of loved ones for this article!