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Chips anyone? Budget brides say I do to quirky weddings

BUDGET-conscious brides are swapping expensive traditions for more fun and quirky ways to make their big day special in the recession.

Ice cream vans, chipper vans, photo booths, cartoonists and magicians are all becoming familiar features at Irish weddings -- as brides are opting for a unique experience when they say "I do".

While wedding planning is often considered one of the most stressful aspects of a couple's nuptials, savvy couples are bringing in reinforcements to save them both time and money for their trip up the aisle.

Landing the right photographer for your big day may be essential for the image conscious couple -- but recesionistas are shunning traditional snappers for more affordable options.

Rosemary Meleady from theweddingplanner.ie said that the newest trend is for couples to bring in their own photo booths.

"At one wedding, a photo booth was brought into the wedding and the couple did it up as a Hawaiian hut because their honeymoon was going to be there.

"And through the evening guests went in and then they placed the photos in an album with a message. That's becoming quite trendy now," she said.

A South Dublin couple has also opted for a recession-friendly wedding by organising most of their big day online.

Speaking to the Herald, groom-to-be Glenn Caulfield (29) said that he and fiancee Naomi Clear (27) found it particularly difficult to find the right photographer for their big day.



Handy

"We live in Dublin, but we're getting married in Mayo, which makes it difficult to find the right photographer," said Glenn.

"It was so handy when I found the website www.tenderweddings.com. For example, I said I was looking for a photographer at 10pm one night and by 12 the next day, I already had five offers within my price range."

The pair, who have been together four years, have sung the praises of the brand new wedding planning website, saying it's "taken a lot of stress out of organising everything."

Glenn explained "We're getting married New Year's Eve 2011 so everything had to be booked well in advance.

"I said I would take care of the venue and the band and she can look after the dresses and flowers."

And as more couples are using less conventional methods for organising their big day, wedding planners have also said that the bridezilla phenomenon is disappearing in the recession, with brides opting for a more laid back affair. Judy Mullins from "I do Weddings" told the Herald: "I've had a wedding with a fish and chip stand in the evening, where guests have chips, sausages and burgers instead of the dried up ham sandwiches that have been lying around for hours."

Another wedding planner said a recent bride and groom set their handprints in concrete instead of the traditional cutting of the cake.

With funny first dances becoming a phenomenon on YouTube, couples are also getting dance lessons to treat their guests to some excitement on the dancefloor.



Trainers

Rosemary explained: "The whole wedding party does a Glee extravaganza going down the aisle, or couples end up doing the tango or funky chicken instead of the normal first dance."

Brides are also opting for stylish trainers for walking down the aisle.

"I've had brides who wear trainers instead of shoes. They'd go all out on them. And then there's sequins or transfers which you can transfer on to the sole of your shoe and they spell out "I do" for when the couple is kneeling," said Rosemary.

hnews@herald.ie