Are you concerned about the cost of your wedding and wondering how you can plan your wedding on a budget without spoiling your big day? Well you are not alone!
Ultimate Guide to Planning a Wedding on a Budget
Planning a wedding has never been more expensive than it is now! Many newly-weds are now starting married life in debt as the average cost of a modern wedding is more than £18,000! But weddings do not have to cost a small fortune and you do not have to start out your married life drowning in debt! Follow our 50 practical money-saving tips to have a truly memorable wedding without breaking the bank.
Planning a wedding can seem like a daunting task. But when it comes to saving money the trick really is in the detail. By planning your wedding well you can shave thousands off the costs of getting married and still have a truly memorable day. Follow our top 11 tips to saving money on your wedding as soon as you start planning your big day.
- Decide on a wedding budget – Too many brides and grooms plunge head-first into the world of wedding planning without even considering how much it is all going to cost. Don’t be caught out! Decide exactly how much money you can afford to spend and then find ways to make your wedding come in under this amount. When setting a wedding budget make sure that you break down each and every cost you are expecting. If you try to come slightly under your budget on each item then you will be making savings all the time. This will leave you a little contingency for any unexpected costs that may crop up along the way.
- Prioritise your most important expenses first – Before you get carried away buying all the little things that will make your day special ensure that your budget will cover the big things, such as the venue, catering and wedding outfits. With the most important wedding costs covered, anything you can’t afford can be left out and will not cause your wedding costs to spiral out of control.
- Avoid borrowing money for your wedding day – Borrowing money to pay for your wedding might seem like a good idea at the time, but with the cost of interest rates you could see yourself paying out double what you borrowed for your wedding over the years. Instead, save up for your wedding, putting money aside each month in a high interest account. That way you can be safe in the knowledge that you can enjoy a truly memorable wedding day without paying for it for the rest of your married life!
- Don’t get married at the most popular time of year – You can save up to a third on the cost of your wedding just by choosing a less popular time of year! The months of May through to September are the most popular months of the year to get married, with June and September costing the most on average. By having your big day during the months of January, March, April or October you can have a significantly cheaper wedding.
- Get married on a weekday – Recent wedding figures show that around 60% of people chose to get married on a Saturday. Yet figures went on to show that most people could save up to a third on their wedding day if they chose to get married on a weekday. Getting married on a weekday could also significantly reduce your guest list, thereby reducing the overall cost of your wedding! It’s a win-win situation!
- Limit your guest list – It can be so tempting to invite everyone that you have ever known to your wedding, but the reality of doing this is that the cost of your special day can spiral out of control. Each person you invite to your wedding costs extra so limiting yourself to a small number of guests will save a fortune. An article by the money saving experts at Sayvrs recommends that you ‘remove any work colleagues and children from your list. Your co-workers will get over it, and kids can turn a wonderful adult-oriented day into a total disaster without incurring extra costs.’
- Be prepared to haggle – There is some truth in the saying ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ Be prepared to ask stores, dealers and venue owners if they would be willing to knock some money off your quote. You can also ask that if you purchase two items or packages from the same place, if you could do a deal. Don’t be afraid to get quotes from different people and use them to get a cheaper deal elsewhere. And always make sure that you get your discount in writing as it is not so easy for a venue or supplier to go back on their word.
- Take advantage of voucher deals – In the year and months before your wedding keep your eye out for any deals or coupons that could save you money on your wedding décor. Websites such as Groupon, often have money off deals for all sorts of things from holidays to money off in stores.
- Try to always go slightly under the price you budgeted for – If you try to stay slightly under your budget in every aspect of your wedding then you are far more likely to come in under budget at the end of the day. For instance, if you have budgeted £100 for bridal shoes and accessories, try to get everything you need for £80 saving yourself £20 in the process. By doing this with every aspect of your wedding day you could come in significantly under your budget rather than over it. Having a few hundred pounds to spare after your wedding is always going to be a bonus.
- Keep your bridal party as small as possible – The larger your bridal party, the more money you are going to end up spending on outfits, gifts and flowers. Instead keep your wedding party small and keep the costs down. You might love the idea of having 12 bridesmaids following you down the aisle, but 2 or 3 is going to work out a lot cheaper!
- Avoid being ‘fashionably late’ – Whilst it might be fashionable to turn up to your wedding or arrive at your photo session half an hour late, it can also prove to be very expensive. Many registrars and photographers charge for their time and you may find that by keeping them longer than you were originally quoted for will incur extra charges. So plan for everything to happen on time and you will have no nasty surprises when you receive your bills.
- The biggest step towards saving money on your wedding is creating a budget and sticking with it. Write down every expense and plan ways in which you are going to make savings.
- Get married at a different time of year or day of the week than usual. This can shave up to a third off the price of your wedding.
- Limit your guest numbers. Remember that each guest you invite adds a considerable amount to the overall cost of your wedding day. You can keep your costs down by keeping your guest numbers down.
Invitations to your wedding day are of course vital. Without an invitation how would guests know that they were invited to your big day? So although invitations are a necessary expense, there is no need for them to eat into a large percentage of your budget. Saving money on the small things can be easy and here are 3 great ways you can save money on your wedding invitations.
- Make your own invitations – You can save considerable amounts of money by making your own wedding invitations. It is even better if you can talk family and friends into making them with you. Visit your local market to buy the items you need, such as card and ribbon, and decorate the invitations yourself. You could even teach yourself calligraphy by watching a video online or borrowing a book from your local library.
- Send out e-invites – An even cheaper way to send out your wedding invitations is to send them out via email. E-invites don’t need to cost a penny as there are hundreds of free designs that you can download online and personalise yourself. Of course, there will be some guests that won’t have access to emails so these will need to receive a card invitation, but this will be considerably cheaper than sending everyone on your guest list a card invite.
- Don’t include reply cards in the invitations – Reply cards are pretty, but are an added expense and it is all the little expenses that soon add up. Instead, leave an email address or telephone number in your invitation for guests to reply to. Some guests may even choose to buy their own reply cards and it won’t cost you any extra. You can even keep these individual responses as keepsakes.
- Making your own invitations can be fun and will save you a lot of money. Remember that by saving money in the little areas, you will save money overall.
Having the right wedding jewellery is very important and can ensure that you look absolutely stunning as you walk down the aisle. And your dream engagement ring is going to be a big feature of the day! But that doesn’t mean that you need to break the bank when it comes to beautiful wedding jewellery. You can buy amazing jewellery and save money at the same time. Here are our top 3 tips to saving money on your jewellery:
- Consider buying your wedding jewellery online – Buying your wedding jewellery online can save a considerable amount of money as online retailers have fewer overheads than high street retailers. Care must be taken when buying Diamond jewellery online to ensure that you are getting the best quality for your money. Only ever purchase from a retailer with a no-quibble money-back guarantee so that if you are not 100% happy with your purchase you can return it and get your money back.
- Consider a second hand engagement ring – A second hand engagement ring can be up to 66% cheaper than it was when it was bought brand new! All good jewellers will restore second hand jewellery so that it is in as new condition so you don’t need to worry about the quality being any less. In fact, by buying second hand you could get a much better quality ring for a fraction of the price. Always ensure that you buy your second hand jewellery from a reputable jeweller and that you have the option to return the ring if you are not happy with it. We have an excellent check-list of things to look out for when buying second hand jewellery.
- Choose a cheaper gemstone – Some gemstones are cheaper than others, and this is not because they are any less beautiful. Usually it is just because they are more widely abundant. You will be able to get much bigger gemstones in your wedding jewellery if you choose stones such as a citrine or amethyst. This will cost you a fraction of what the more expensive stones will.
- Look for jewellery online, as online jewellers have fewer overheads than high street retailers and can pass on their savings to you.
It is understandable that you want to look your very best on one of the biggest days of your life, but this does not mean that you should throw caution to the wind and spend far beyond your means on your wedding outfits alone. This doesn’t mean that you can’t look absolutely fabulous on the day however. You can save money on your wedding outfits and still look amazing. Here are our tips that will show you how.
- Don’t assume that only a dress from an expensive bridal shop will be good enough – With the average cost of a wedding dress coming in at over the staggering cost of £1300, finding ways to save money on your wedding dress couldn’t be more important. Consider buying your wedding and bridesmaid dresses from a retail store, such as BHS, instead of an expensive specialist bridal shop and you could save thousands! Search the internet, and shop around to find the best deals on bridal wear.
- Look for a second hand wedding dress – Nowadays many brides sell their wedding dresses through internet websites. Many newly-weds need to recoup some of the money they spent on their weddings to pay off their ever increasing debts, whereas others would rather see their expensive dress worn again. Whatever the reason, a second hand wedding dress typically costs around 50% of what it did brand new and has usually been dry-cleaned by its original owner. Plus you can shop easy, knowing that the dress has only been worn once!
- Buy shoes that you can wear again – Instead of making your feet suffer all day long in expensive high heels that will cause you so much pain you will never wear them again, choose a really comfortable pair of shoes. You will really appreciate them on the day, you will save a lot of cash and you will be able to wear them again and again. Let’s face it; underneath a long dress no one is going to be able to see them anyway!
- Consider buying a second hand wedding dress to save over 50% of the cost of buying one new! Visit online auction websites.
Deciding where to have your wedding is often a big thing for a Bride and Groom to be. Wedding Venues can cost a lot of money, but they don’t have to if you think carefully about where and when you have you are going to tie the knot. Consider our top 7 ways to save money on your wedding venue and see how much you could shave off your wedding budget.
- Avoid the ‘W’ word – Sadly, once you mention the word ‘Wedding’ you automatically put an extra ‘zero’ on the end of your bill. Try to use words such as ‘party’ or ‘get together’ instead to avoid being charged more for the same package just because you are getting married. The same can be true when ordering catering and flowers, only mention that it is for a wedding once you have agreed on a price.
- Choose somewhere other than a hotel as a wedding venue – When deciding on where to have your wedding, try to think ‘outside the box’. Weddings don’t have to take place in a hotel so try to think of somewhere that is special to you as a couple. You can hire village halls relatively cheaply, or even plan to have your wedding in a local place such as a park! Less obvious venues can still look amazing once they have been decorated and there is much greater satisfaction in knowing that you created your perfect day yourself, and saved money in the process!
- Organise the wedding yourself – Rather than hire the services of a wedding planner, keep your day simple and make plans yourself. You can get a close friend to help you out, as this may make your wedding planning a little easier. Planning a wedding can be very stressful so give yourself plenty of time and try to remember that ultimately the little things don’t matter too much. Focus on the main things so that you can still enjoy your wedding day when it arrives.
- Get creative with place settings – Place settings don’t need to cost a fortune and you can even make them double up as the favours! Create your own place settings, even making them match your wedding invitations. Or collect and paint pebbles with each guest’s name on, or tie tiny bunches of dried flowers in ribbon labelled with each guest’s name.
- Decorate the venue yourself – Decorating your own venue might seem like a daunting task, but it can be really fun to do and your family and friends can get involved and help out! Look for inspiration online from other do-it-yourself weddings or get ideas from Kirstie Allsopp’s Vintage Wedding. Although it may seem like hard work, decorating a village hall yourself can work out thousands of pounds cheaper than buying a wedding package and paying a hotel to decorate for you. You can also tailor your wedding exactly to your tastes and have a truly wonderful wedding day!
- Consider hiring a DJ rather than a band – Live bands are great, but expensive. Consider saving a significant amount of money by hiring a DJ to sort the music at your wedding. As long as the music is good, guests will enjoy themselves so choose a great song list so that your guests can dance the night away!
- Snag a cancelled package wedding – It’s a sad fact that many weddings get cancelled, and when they do the venues will often offer the wedding package at a reduced rate. Of course, you will have to be very flexible about the date of your wedding and you may not have a lot of time to prepare but the savings can be phenomenal! For instance, the Daily Mail reports of a couple who managed to snag a £1500 wedding for just £51 when it was put up for auction online!
- Always think outside the box when it comes to choosing your wedding venue. A hotel might seem like the obvious choice, but by choosing a less popular type of venue you could literally save thousands of pounds.
- If you really can’t face the idea of planning your own wedding, then consider being really flexible about your choice of hotel or venue and buy a cancelled wedding package. You will save a fortune on the original costs!
The food and drink are likely to take up a huge portion of your wedding budget. Keep in mind that each person you invite to your wedding reception is going to cost you. You will be providing food and drink for each individual, which is one of the reasons it is important to keep numbers as low as possible. Of course, there are lots of ways you can save money when catering for your wedding and here are our top 7 ways of doing so.
- Keep the wedding cake simple – Choose regular cake flavours, such as chocolate and Victoria sponge, as these are a lot cheaper to make than unusual flavours. You can keep the cake simple by reducing the amount of tiers. Try 3 tiers, instead of 5, as this will significantly cut your costs. You can even buy ready made wedding cakes, to assemble yourself at home. These are up to 60% cheaper than having a bakery make a cake especially. You could get your florist to decorate the cake with fresh flowers rather than paying a cake decorator to make royal icing flowers.
- Don’t order a free bar – Instead, offer your guests an alcoholic drink on arrival or create one or two of your own signature cocktails to serve. Make tea and coffee available throughout the night and hire a bar were your guests have the option of buying their own drinks. The cost of a free bar can be phenomenal and usually ends up causing more trouble than it is worth.
- Have a superstore provide the party catering – Many superstores do fabulous party catering for a fraction of what it would cost to have caterers come in on your big day. This is a great option if you have booked a village hall, or similar venue, to have your wedding reception in. And by having your guests help themselves to buffet style food you can save on the cost of hiring servers!
- Buy food that is in season – Food that is in season is easy to get hold of, can usually be purchased locally and is therefore cheaper. Find out beforehand what vegetables are cheapest at the time of year you are getting married so that you can make significant savings. This rule does not only apply to vegetables; certain sea foods and meats are also easier to get hold of at certain times of year, making them cheaper. Do a little research and find out what foods would be cheapest at the time of your wedding. You could save hundreds of pounds this way.
- Use the wedding cake as the dessert – You could cut out the dessert course altogether by serving your wedding cake after the main meal. Traditionally the cake is cut and handed out after everyone has eaten their meals, but by cutting out a whole course on your meal you could save hundreds of pounds. It is a shame that at most weddings, the guests are just too full to eat the wedding cake and really enjoy it so it usually gets handed out for people to take home. Utilise the wedding cake and use it as a way to save money on your meal costs.
- Keep the meal simple – There is no need to provide a feast of five courses at your wedding reception. Three courses are plenty, and by sticking to a set menu you can save a fortune on food. When guests have a choice, chefs have to buy in a lot of food in order to anticipate what guests will want at each course. By having a set menu, the chefs know exactly how much food they need, meaning they buy less, therefore making the meal cheaper.
- One of the biggest expenses at a wedding is the bar. Keep costs down by not offering your guests a free all-you-can-drink bar. Instead offer them one or two drinks on arrival or with their meal.
- Remember that most guests will be full after a three course meal so there really is no need to keep plying your guests with food all evening. You can make it even cheaper by having a two course meal and offering the wedding cake as the dessert.
One of the biggest hidden costs of a wedding is the wedding flowers. There is no denying it, flowers are expensive and most weddings are not complete without them. On average, wedding flowers are estimated to cost around 10% of the overall wedding budget with many brides paying over £1000 for the flowers for their wedding. With bouquets, buttonholes and centrepieces to create it is easy for the costs to spiral out of control. But you can save money on your wedding flowers by following our top 5 money saving tips.
- Buy flowers that are in season – Buying flowers that are easy to get hold of at the time of year you are planning your wedding is one of the best ways to save money on your flora. Flowers that are not readily growing will need to be specially imported for your big day, and this costs a small fortune. Instead, visit your local farmer’s market and buy all the flowers that you need for your wedding the day before as this will cost considerably less than sourcing them from your florist.
- Use plenty of greenery and fillers in your flower arrangements – By using more greenery and fewer flowers you can slash the cost of your wedding flower arrangements. Flowers are the most expensive part of a floral decoration, but ivy, ferns and other large leafage can be purchased relatively cheaply and make beautiful natural fillers in your flower arrangements. You could also use berries, ribbon and pine cones to cheaply fill out your decorations whilst ensuring they still look stunning.
- Purchase pre-made bouquets – Pre-made bouquets can cost a fraction of the price of having florist make them especially for you and they can be just as beautiful. Beware though, as you may not be able to get the floral displays you wanted on the day you need them.
- Don’t leave your flowers behind – Your ceremony flowers can be reused at your reception. The larger pieces can be taken with you and used to decorate the venue, and any smaller pieces, such as pew ends, can also be re-purposed. These could be used a table centrepieces or they could be used a favours for some of your guests.
- Decorate your wedding cake with fresh flowers – Wedding cakes can be very expensive, but you can slash the cost of them by decorating them with your surplus flowers. The cake will look stunning as it will complement your theme and floral decorations perfectly and it won’t have cost you a fortune.
- Visit your local market for great deals on flowers that are in season. Imported flowers cost a lot more than flowers that have been grown locally.
Making Your Wedding Day Special
It is so often the little things that make your big day so special. It can be so easy to forget to budget for these areas when you begin planning your wedding and the cost of lots of little things can soon add up. So follow our 9 handy tips to ensure that you can make your day special, whilst at the same time reining the cost in.
- Get your friends to help out – You can get your friends to help make favours, invitations and decorations. Make an evening of it by inviting lots of your friends over for a night of arts and crafts. You’ll have fun and you’ll save a fortune. Also get any talented friends to help out with other areas of your wedding, such as the cake making, flower arranging or catering. Most people love to be involved in their friend’s big day.
- Borrow a friend’s fancy car – Hiring a car for your big day can be a big expense. We all know somebody who drives a fancy car so why ask around your friends and family and see if they would be your chauffeur for your big day.
- Look out for supermarket sales – Keep your eye out for items that you need on sale at your local supermarket. Small glass vases, decorative mirrors as well as napkin rings can all often be found at your supermarket. Be on the lookout for sales on tableware, especially after the Christmas season.
- Try to use items you already own – If you need items for decoration, or for centrepieces, try to use things that you already have or that you can borrow from family and friends. It’s the little things that add up, so big savings can be made by re-using items from around your home.
- Think of ways to create favours for free – One way to save money on favours is to re-use items as favours. Small floral centre-pieces can sent home with guests as wedding favours or creative personalised table settings can be made for each guest. Try collecting little jam jars and personalising them with ribbon and the names of each your guests. You could fill them with home-made jams or sweets, creating beautiful favours that cost relatively little.
- Buy in bulk – Try to buy your wedding items in bulk, or at least from the same supplier. Most suppliers will offer a discount for buying in bulk so take advantage of anyway you can to save some cash.
- Borrow wedding items from other people – There are all sorts of items you can borrow from your family, such as your tiara or veil. A friend of ours had reclaimed some beautiful chairs for their wedding day and it wasn’t long before their family and friends were borrowing them for their big day.
- Don’t have your make-up artist stay all day – Make-up artists usually charge by the hour, so if you wish to have a make-up artist do your make-up on the morning of your wedding only hire them for a limited period of time. Make sure you have some make-up for touch-ups throughout the day, and better still get a friend or family member to do your make-up for you instead.
- Hire a photographer for just the main photo shoots – Photography packages can be very expensive so just ask for exactly what you need. You can ask talented family and friends to take photos at the after-party as long as the main photos are taken by a professional.
- Make use of your friends’ talents to cut the cost of everything from your wedding cake to your bridal bouquets.
- Get creative when it comes to favours and find ways to make things for free.
After the Special Day
Getting married can continue to cost you money even after the event is over. Just because the wedding day is over doesn’t mean that you should stop making savings. Here are a couple of ways you can save money on the cost of your honeymoon and wedding photos.
- Look for cheap holiday deals – If you have your wedding outside of peak times then chances are you will be able to bag a honeymoon bargain. Even if your wedding is right in the middle of peak season, shop around for special holiday deals or be flexible with your honeymoon date. If the week of your wedding lands during a school holiday, for instance, wait a week or so before going away and the holiday prices will reduce dramatically.
- Print your own photographs – Printing your own photographs is considerably cheaper than getting the photographer to print them for you. So ensure that you negotiate a deal with your photographer to receive your wedding photos on a disc. You can then have your photos printed onto photo paper, canvas or made into book form at a printers.
- Ask for donations towards your honeymoon rather than gifts – Many of your guests would rather spend their money on something you really need, rather than a gift that is going to spend years stuck at the back of your kitchen cupboard! So if you have everything you need already, why not leave a note in your invitations asking for donations towards your honeymoon if guests would like to give you a gift. That way your honeymoon doesn’t need to leave you in debt and you won’t be overloaded with a mountain of unwanted kitchenware and towels!
- If you have everything you need and don’t need expensive gifts then let your guests know. Give them the option of giving you money instead if they would still like to give you a gift.