Thrifty couple save a staggering £20,000 on their wedding using cyber currency

Debbie and Bill Lightbown got their wedding rings, marquee and venue all using a form of online money called BBX pounds.

A businesswoman who saved a staggering £20,000 on her dream wedding – taking just three months from the proposal to tying the knot – has attributed her swift and thrifty nuptials to using an online currency.

Debbie Lightbown, 31, of  Swanage, Dorset, married  fellow businessman Bill, 46, on December 21, 2018, at St Nicholas church, Studland, Dorset, followed by a lavish reception – after trading overnight stays with her holiday homes company Janes Places for cyber money called BBX pounds.

Spending the online cash on everything from jewellery to entertainment, Debbie, who has a daughter Mia Rose, five, from a previous relationship, said: “We spent around £18,000 in total, but saved £20,000 on what the wedding would have cost.”

Debbie and Bill (Collect/PA Real Life)

She continued: “We were able to use Bill’s brother Jack and his wife Pippa’s pub, the Bankes Arms in Studland, with a beer garden overlooking the sea – and had a marquee which was about £11,000 on BBX.

“It was really good, they’d built in a wall, and a clear ceiling so we could see the sky and sea view, we had chandeliers, tables, chairs and a bar.”

Debbie was friends with Bill for many years and got to know him better while working together in a Dorset bar – going on to start dating in March 2015.

Debbie and Bill (Collect/PA Real Life)

She was introduced to BBX by her now husband, who was one of the currency’s first 365 members.

Aimed at entrepreneurs, only business owners can use BBX, then qualifying for different levels of entitlement depending on the amount of trading – with participants paying a percentage rate when selling a service, but not when buying.

It then lets them use what is known as ‘spare capacity’ – meaning users have a service to offer but no paying customers, such as a hotel with spare rooms on a particular night.

Debbie and Bill saved £20,000 on their wedding (PA Real Life/Greg Long Photography)

BBX members can then find other members on a website and view what services they offer.

“Someone could use BBX pounds to book a night’s stay with Janes Places, which I could then bank and spend with other members,” explained Debbie, who ‘let’ space in her holiday properties and spent the money on other services she needed for her wedding.

In the end, not only did the couple have a grand marquee for their 68 daytime and 120 evening guests, complete with magician, but Debbie also bought a £980 dream fishtail, fitted lace and pearl-trimmed ivory low-backed dress with cyber money.

Debbie and Bill saved £20,000 on their wedding (PA Real Life/Greg Long Photography)

She said: “I remember, as I got to know Bill, he would mention BBX.

“I was a photographer at the time and he put me in touch with them, so I joined in the spring of 2015.”

The idea of using BBX to fund her wedding came as, having built her holiday home business with her mum Jane, who sadly died in 2016 aged 47 from ovarian cancer, determined to carry it on in her memory, Debbie did not want to use all the profits on getting married.

Debbie and Bill saved £20,000 on their wedding (PA Real Life/Greg Long Photography)

She was also reluctant to spend years saving, having heard that the average UK wedding costs £30,355.

So, after Bill proposed in September 2018 , she started looking for another way.

“What was important to me was to have our friends and family there,” she said. “I didn’t realise how costly weddings were.”

Debbie and Bill saved £20,000 on their wedding (PA Real Life/Greg Long Photography)

After asking some friends who owned relevant businesses, like cake makers and photographers, if they were willing to offer mates’ rates, the couple turned to BBX.

Debbie continued: “When we sat down with our wedding planner, we thought we could spend £10,000 cash and the rest could be on BBX.

“I was thinking, ‘We can get a credit card,’ or see what we could ask family for, or we can use BBX'”

Debbie and Bill (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “It was one of those things – go for it, or wait a year.”

The couple even bought their wedding rings which cost £1500 with BBX.

“I’d worked as a photographer with the company that the rings came from and Bill had used them to buy jewellery for me,” said Debbie.

Debbie and Bill (Collect/PA Real Life)

She continued: “We got our rings personally made for us, choosing the thickness and where we wanted the diamonds to be set.

“My dress was one of the first things we got, from a shop in Bournemouth that Bill knew accepted BBX. It was about the fourth dress I tried on and I loved it.

“Using the cyber currency also freed up money for us to use on other things, like staying in a high-end hotel called The Pig the night before our wedding.”

Debbie and Bill saved £20,000 on their wedding (PA Real Life/Greg Long Photography)

She continued: “I was able to get all the bridesmaids’ dresses with my own money, costing around £500 in total, too, because I’d saved on other things, which was such a special thing to be able to do for my friends.”

Debbie, who has not had a honeymoon yet, but hopes to go on an island beach holiday, has also enjoyed fringe benefits as a result of using BBX.

She said: “It makes people talk about your company, so it spreads knowledge through word of mouth.”

Debbie and Bill (Collect/PA Real Life)

She continued: “You can go on holidays using it. I pay for bookkeeping using BBX. There are lots of business expenses that you can pay for with it, too, such as printing, handyman work, deep cleaning and pest control.”

But clearly, her big white wedding was Debbie’s grandest cyber expense.

“We’ve just celebrated a month as husband and wife and rather than having the headache of paying off a wedding bill, we’re looking forward to  a bright future and planning our honeymoon,” she said.

For more information about BBX see www.bbxuk.com