Superstar George Clooney splashed out almost $7 million on his wedding to Amal Alamuddin and Prince Harry‘s Windsor Castle nuptials with Meghan Markle cost a cool $4.1m – plus a $59m security bill.

But budget-conscious Kiwis are walking down the aisle for less than $3300 through a popular pop-up wedding service.

Skinny Love Weddings started five years ago after friends Jilly Taipua and Gabi Martin discovered a gap in the market while planning their own weddings.

And they‘ve grown in popularity since.


Fellow co-founder Vivre Lokes said her friends were frustrated by the lack of affordable options for those wanting more than a registry wedding, but less than the “full shebang” of a traditional wedding.

“It started off slow, people didn‘t know what the hell pop-up weddings are … the first summer we did three, then next 20 and we‘re doing 40 to 50 weddings a summer now.”

Skinny Love Weddings have three options priced under $5000, but 95 per cent of bookings were for the $3299 pop-up wedding, Lokes said.

For that couples get a venue, celebrant, cake, first dance, bouquet and buttonhole, photos and bubbles and nibbles for 30 guests.

The 90-minute time limit means up to five weddings can be held in one day, keeping costs low and making the concept work financially.

“The [different wedding parties] don‘t see each other, but they are essentially sharing the cost.”

Vivre Lokes, left, and Jilly Taipua are two of three co-founders of Skinny Love Weddings, which does pop-up weddings assembly line-style on the cheap. Photo / Michael Craig facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Couples had different reasons for choosing a pop-up wedding.

Some had children but never got around to marriage, some didn‘t want a fuss, some were short on time, some wanted to limit guests and some liked the idea of a “sharing economy”.

Others were saving hard for a house, Lokes said.

“You kind of have to choose between the two.”

Summer Farmer, 24, wed her longtime partner Kris, 27, at a pop-up wedding at Howick Historical Village, Auckland, in April.

The couple had planned a registry wedding before Farmer remembered a friend talking about pop-up weddings.

“It looked more intimate but it also meant we could have it our way.”

That meant casual clothing they felt comfortable in and minimal fuss.

Summer and Kris Farmer loved their pop-up wedding. Photo / Natalie Morgan Photography facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

It also meant they could save money for their honeymoon – a dream holiday to Europe next year – and their long-term goal of buying their first home, Farmer said.

“[Someone was telling me] they bought their wedding dress for $3500 and I was like ‘that was the cost of my entire wedding‘.”

Lokes said many thought marriage involved a lot of rules.

“The actual legal requirements are in the vows … and you need a licence and a registered celebrant. Everything else is extra.”

Their pop-up wedding season was restricted to October to April, although their other wedding packages were available year-round, she said.

She doubted anyone not at a pop-up wedding would guess it was done on a small budget.

“When you look back at the photos you wouldn‘t be able to tell it wasn‘t a full wedding … [and it can be] more intimate and personal. Instead of keeping up with the Joneses it‘s ‘This is our day and it‘s a celebration of what we want‘.

“That‘s how it should be.”

The Hits radio host Paul “Flynny” Flynn has married about 200 couples in six years as a wedding celebrant and said most people wanted a “big, lavish wedding”.

The Hits host Paul “Flynny” Flynn is also a marriage celebrant, and has wed more than 200 couples. Photo / Supplied facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

His own wedding was big and in a church, because both families are Catholic, but if he was marrying now it would be more low key.

He had seen a “slight move” towards lower budget weddings.

“I think it‘s crazy spending $40,000 to $50,000 on one day. You can do a really good wedding for $4000 to $5000. Some of the best ones I‘ve done have been in someone‘s backyard.

“It‘s a nice, relaxed atmosphere.”

He encouraged people to marry at home, get a friend to take photos, use a Spotify playlist, buy alcohol through a wholesaler and order a spit roast instead of catering.

Engagement parties that doubled as surprise weddings were getting more popular, Flynn said.

Guests were already being spoiled with “a free feed and drink”, so gifts were unnecessary.

“People are quite boozed at the end of the night and just leave them behind anyway.”

Flynny‘s cheap wedding tips

• Marry at home to save on venue costs
• Get a friend to take photos instead of hiring a photographer
• Use a Spotify playlist instead of hiring a DJ or a band
• Buy alcohol through a wholesaler
• Order a spit roast instead of catering