Something borrowed How about EVERYTHING! Out of work couple ask for donations towards dream wedding
An unemployed couple who cannot afford a wedding ceremony are arranging to have one anyway – relying on the generosity of their friends and complete strangers to lend and give them everything they need.
But Chris Sanders and Karen Wilkinson don't expect to get things for free, they are both offering to 'do anything in return' for the items they are borrowing.
The couple, who got engaged on Christmas day, were perfectly placed to organise their dream wedding when they both worked in hotels helping to arrange weddings for others.
A good start: Chris and Karen have been offered a free venue for the wedding ceremony… the church they both volunteer at
But now that they have both been made redundant, they are relying on others to help make their dream come true.
The idea came from Chris, 29, who was offered a church as a free venue after working there voluntarily helping to provide furniture to those in crisis.
He said: 'Because I was a volunteer, the church waived the cost of the wedding.
'I thought, “if I can volunteer at the church and help towards the wedding, what else can I do”.'
Now the pair are willing to do absolutely anything if it means getting transport, catering, wedding rings, flowers or anything else people will offer for the special day.
Chris said: 'I will do anything in return. I'm not afraid of getting my hands dirty.
'Will do anything in return': The unemployed couple will return the favour to lenders, for example by cleaning their cars
'If someone is prepared to loan a wedding car, I will wash all their cars for example.'
The pair are used to offering their services for a good cause.
Karen has been volunteering at the same church, where she enjoys her role with the meals on wheels service.
She worked as a food and beverage supervisor at Redworth Hall in Darlington, County Durham, after running the Cumby Arms pub, also in the town. The 27-year-old estimates that she's worked at over 100 weddings.
Chris was the food and beverage manager at Blackwell Grange in Darlington, where he also played a major role in the weddings held there.
But two years ago the couple, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, both lost their jobs, and with the recession biting neither could find work.
They planned to marry, but when Karen became pregnant with their daughter Ellie, now 20 months, they decided they could not afford the wedding.
Karen said: 'We ended up without a job and it ended up being the time of the recession. We thought we'd easily find a job because there are restaurants and hotels everywhere.
'But we couldn't find anything – then I ended up getting pregnant. It was a really bad year for us.'
Karen and Chris have been saving 20 to 30 a fortnight from their job seeker's allowance to put towards the wedding.
They were delighted when they were offered Woodhouse Close Church, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, free of charge and they have already set a date for their big day.
The couple have also been offered a discount deal for their reception at the newly-built March Hare pub, in nearby St Helen Auckland, because they were the first to ask to use it for a wedding.
Wedding on the cheap: Chris Sanders, Karen Wilkinson and their 20-month-old daughter, Ellie
Karen added: 'We're not bothered about expensive or luxurious things as long as it's nice, we're grateful for anything.
'The cake doesn't have to be spice, it could be sponge and the car doesn't have to be a Rolls Royce, it could be a Merc.
'We just want the little extras that everyone else has, we've seen everything that anyone could possibly have at a wedding and we want a bit of that.
'I initially offered to walk to the wedding but my mother wouldn't have it!
'If we don't get anything then it's not the end of the world.
'We'll spend a couple of weeks delivering leaflets if it means someone will provide a cake for example, we're both willing to put the work in, we're not scroungers.'
The couple have been together for about five years and will marry on August 18 this year – with or without the trimmings.
If you can help the couple with the wedding, email Chris at: [email protected] .