Incredibly, the average wedding nowadays is expected to cost around £20,000. For many couples thats a huge and unrealistic amount, but the good news is you can have a special day without breaking the bank.
Here are our 20 top tips for having a wedding on a budget to remember.
1. Set a budget
Taking control from the very beginning and setting a budget is vital. It sounds like common sense, but it’s where you’re most likely to go wrong. Unless you sit down and agree on a realistic amount to spend, your cash could easily disappear faster than your Auntie Marg when the buffet table opens! Research prices for everything – from wedding gowns to venues, and from flowers to photographers.
2. Hit the internet
Look on eBay and search other websites for deals on worn-once bridal gowns and wedding attire. Check out Oxfam’s Bridal Collection. Many designers donate new dresses and you could get the dress of your dreams for £200 or less and help a great cause. Oxfam also has an amazing range of bridesmaid’s dresses and accessories for a wedding on a budget.
3. Head for the High Street
Head to your local High Street for some brilliant buys. Debenhams have a range of wedding dresses from around £170. You may be lucky and find some styles at sale prices. TK Maxx is also a great destination for cut-price designer fashion with a bridal selection and dresses from just £40. Hiring outfits for the day is worth investigating as a cost-effective option. You could also save on costs by having just one bridesmaid instead of a whole team. Friends and family can give a reading at your ceremony to feel included.
4. A familiar ring?
Shop around for your engagement and wedding rings. You can find some fantastic buys online and on the High Street. Or you may want to think about family heirlooms. Rings that have been passed down the generations have special sentimental value, as well as saving you money. Need convincing? Then look no further than Kate Middleton who is delighted to wear Princess Diana’s engagement ring!
5. Choosing your day
If you decide on a weekday wedding the venue is likely to be cheaper as there’s a greater demand for weekend dates. Monday weddings are worth considering as it may be easier for your guests to organise a long weekend, especially if they’re travelling a distance. Having your service late in the afternoon can cut costs if your location, or anything else, is hired by the hour. The added bonus of getting married later in the day gives you longer to get ready!
6. Are your friends’ florists or hairdressers?
If you have friends who have special skills, they will love being part of your big day and can offer their services as a wedding present. Plus it will help you cut costs for a wedding on a budget.
7. Food for thought
Ask your caterer for options and make it clear you’re working to a budget. What’s the cost of a buffet compared to a seated dinner? Opting for one main course and having a piece of wedding cake instead of dessert could save you £££s. Having a set dish, plus a vegetarian option, rather than a choice of three or four dishes will also reduce the costs.
Depending on the venue, you could supply the food yourself – some couples have found Lidl or Iceland brilliant value. Ask if you can provide your own alcohol for a small corkage fee. Your guests won’t expect a free bar all night! Serving a drink on arrival and a couple of glasses of wine with the food is absolutely plenty.
8. Let’s eat cake
Wedding cakes can cost a fortune. Save money by having a small decorated cake to be cut in front of guests, but have a flat sheet cake ready to be sliced up and served. Ask your local bakers for prices – they can vary enormously from baker to baker. Also, consider buying your cake from a supermarket such as Asda who do personalised cakes at £16 for 40 portions (contact your local store for details). The bride and groom could use a photo of them from a holiday or at their engagement for example.
9. Stag and Hen nights
There’s no need to spend a fortune on boozy weekends in Prague or Amsterdam. Drinking your body weight in vodka will only result in an empty wallet and a huge hangover. Staying local will cut back on travel and hotel bills, and you can have just a good time if not better with no worries about flight delays. Karaoke nights, spa treatments, paintball and lessons in making cocktails are all great ways to celebrate and cost far less.
10. Prioritise your guest list
You’ll be paying “per head” for your wedding meal, so think carefully about numbers. Give priority to loved ones who are constants in your life. Don’t feel obliged to ask long lost cousins you haven’t seen for 20 years. Having a small group to the day and your wider social circle for the evening reception will cut costs but mean no-one is left out. Don’t invite single friends with a partner if they’ll know plenty of the guests. Consider making it a grown-ups only event. Parents may appreciate the chance let their hair down without having to worry about the kids.
11. Things you really don’t need
There’s a whole host of wedding extras you can easily do without to help save for your wedding on a budget, such as wedding favours, fancy chairbacks, personalised napkins and table decorations. Tables tend to be busy with assorted cutlery, glasses, side plates and condiments so they won’t look bare without added extras.
12. Great reception
You could hire a community hall for around £100, or alternatively, some hotels offer all-inclusive deals. Britannia Hotels offer wedding packages starting from £999 and come with a Bucks Fizz welcome, 3-course Wedding Breakfast for 50 guests, evening buffet reception for 100 guests, room hire and your very own red carpet! Check out local hotels which may offer great deals.
13. Save on invitations
There are great deals online and at places such as WH Smith and Paperchase. Check out WH Smith’s three for two deals. Suss out thank-you cards and place names at the same time. You might want to consider sending online wedding invitations to save on printing and postage costs. Not on the High Street offer personalised cards for under £1!
14. Honeymoon deals
When you’re working to a wedding on a budget you can still have a honeymoon to remember. Check out Groupon for late deals, or consider having a couple of nights at a hotel close to home offering good rates. It’s not necessary to jet off to the Bahamas to have a fabulous time!
If you are looking to go away, there are now online alternative wedding lists that could make your honeymoon even more special. Web sites such as Buy-our-honeymoon cater a bespoke service where guests can put towards honeymoon activities and travel vouchers.
15. Get more for your money
Many wedding suppliers are open to negotiation. Keep your approach friendly and compliment the company on their goods. “We really like your cakes (or whatever) but it’s just out of our budget. What can you do for us?” There’s fierce competition in this industry and they want your business so may well lower the price to seal the deal. If there’s no negotiation on the price, don’t be afraid to ask for something extra to be included. They can only say no and you can always take your business elsewhere!
In some instances for example with the venue, or for the entertainment, you may be able to get a cheaper price by cunningly avoiding the word ‘wedding.’ Only once you have the price confirmed in writing should you let it out the bag.
16. Free and discount wedding make-up
Beauty counters in department stores often do free make-up as a trial. Buy one of their products and you could bag a free sample. Beauty training schools are a great option for wedding make-up. They offer hair and make-up for free or at a discounted rate as part of their training. Have a look at Beautyfinder to find your local training school. You can be confident the students are trained by experts so you know you’ll be in good hands.
17. Flower power
Don’t overlook markets and places such as M&S for your flowers. Look online for tips on making your own bouquets. You don’t need to go for anything ornate. Sometimes keeping it simple is more effective.
18. Wedding cars – arriving in style at no cost
If you have a friend who has a vintage car, a sports model or a car that’s an unusual colour ask if they would decorate it with ribbons and chauffeur you to the venue. Arriving in a Smart car could be fun and quirky!
19. Thank you for the music
Think about the kind of music that’ll get everyone on their feet. Do you have any friends who play in a band who would donate their services instead of a wedding gift, or give you a reduced rate? Instead of a live band a disco would be a cheaper option. Or for no cost you could download the music you want to your phone or an iPad and use the venue’s sound system.
20. Picture this!
You’ll want to look back on this special day in years to come so photographs are really important, but there’s no need to spend the earth. It’s worthwhile contacting local colleges that do photography classes as the students may be building their portfolios and offer a free service or very competitive rates.
It’s important to make a list of the types of photographs you want so nothing is missed on the day. It’s also a good idea to ask your guests to take photographs throughout the day and put together your own album using the services of a company such as PhotoBox. Check out our article for a full roundup.
Enjoy every single minute of your special day!
Read more here about how Amanda, mum of four, bagged her dream wedding for under £840!
How did you cut costs for your wedding on a budget? Got a tip you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below.