weddings

Leonie and Matthew have paid for their entire wedding by recycling bottles.

Weddings are notorious for their propensity to be ludicrously expensive.

But one couple from Australia’s Sunshine Coast has managed to pay for their upcoming wedding without spending a single cent from their own pockets. And they’ve helped the environment along the way.

In November last year, Leonie Starr had the ambitious plan to pay for her wedding to fiancé Matthew Porter via Queensland’s container refund scheme.

For every 10,000 bottles they collected, they would receive $1,000 in return.

And so, they set out to collect 810,000 bottles after receiving a $81,000 quote for their overseas wedding.

As Leonie, 29, tells Mamamia, when she announced her plan to her friends, family and fiancé, they all laughed.

how to pay for wedding
Leonie Starr had the ambitious plan to pay for her wedding to fiancee Matthew Porter via Queensland’s container refund scheme. Images: Supplied.

"It's something quirky and random - those are the sorts of things that I do."

It took about a month, she recalls, for them to realise that she was really going ahead with her plan.

A year on, they're now "super supportive".

"If we're driving around and we see bottles on the side of the road, I'll pull over and he'll [Matthew] help me grab the bottles and put them in the bag."

Even on the day that Leonie talks to us, she just got back from a walk where she found $1.20 worth of bottles. It's an everyday effort, she says, and one that has paid off.

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One year after they began collecting, she has amassed 89,064 bottles, which equates to nearly $9,000 in their joint wedding savings account.

The pair has altered their initial goal, and moved their wedding to a local place on the Sunshine Coast where their new budget is $10,000.

how to pay for wedding
The couple have a budget of $10,000 for their wedding next year. Image: Supplied.

With TOMRA recycling donating the pair a $1,000 cheque, to put towards flowers and decorations for the wedding, they have now hit their goal.

"The venue and the celebrant have been paid in full, we've put down a deposit for catering and we've still got heaps of money left over from the bottles, so I'm really excited.

"We have separate savings account for our wedding. The bottle money just goes directly into that bank account - we don't touch it, we don't look at it.

"We don't plan on spending any of our own money on the wedding at all. My main goal is for it to be completely paid for by bottles."

She continues: "Anything extra I collect will be put towards our honeymoon and when we get back we're looking at buying land. So it will contribute to our house deposit.

With the wedding booked in for November 7, 2020, they will continue collecting bottles for at least another year to gain funds for their future lives together.

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how to pay for wedding
They will continue collecting bottles for at least another year, to gain funds for their future lives together. Image: Supplied.

Since June, Leonie has been working two jobs and seven days a week, which has seen their collecting rate go down.

"I was collecting consistently on average about 10,000 bottles a month. And since picking up my second job, it's been around the 3,000 mark a month. But it's still better than nothing."

And, they've had help along the way. Leonie says there are 12 families, who were strangers just 12 months ago, who now consistently help them collect bottles.

One man in particular who heard about the couple's story via their facebook page, A Recycled Wedding, contacted them to say he had some cans for them collect.

When Leonie took them to the recycling place, they counted over $500 worth of cans.

"I was in shock like I started crying," she recalls. "A complete stranger had just given me $500. He doesn't know me from a bar of soap, but is obviously motivated by our story. It's just so heartwarming."

With one year to go until their wedding, their story sure will be one to watch.

You can follow and Leonie and Matthew's journey on their Facebook page, A Recycled Wedding

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