Weddings On A Budget: How not to break the bank

Posted on July 6, 2018

Flowers, rings, a beautiful white dress, a fantastic venue, a lot of happy people - and potentially a pretty hefty bill to cover. Although your wedding day is a celebration like no other, it is also a financial investment which takes considerable amount of planning, saving and shrewd budgeting before you can truly enjoy what is hopefully one of the happiest days of your life.

According to a recent survey, it was revealed that the average cost of a wedding in the UK is £27,161. Not everyone has that kind of cash lying around gaterhing dust but, unlike years gone by, parents are no longer the sole financial contributors, with 51% of couples funding their wedding themselves with a little help from family and 32% of couples paying for the entire day independently.

Off-season perks

You may have always dreamt of a summer wedding with blue skies and flowers in bloom for the perfect photos. However, there are some sacrifices that should be made when you’re planning a wedding on a budget. Sian Chaplin, Yorkshire based wedding planner says: “The time of year and day of the week can really make a difference to the cost of your wedding. Many venues have package deals for autumn/winter weddings so be sure to take advantage of this and you could make considerable savings. You may naturally look to plan a wedding that gives you the sunniest photos and warmest temperatures and so book dates in the middle part of the year, but a crisp, sunny winter’s day could end up giving you a completely unique look, feel and overall experience that you hadn’t initially thought of."

Winter weddings

Sian continues: "If time of year is non-negotiable, the day of the week is also something you can consider compromising on to save money. Although Saturday may seem like the perfect day for a wedding, it can actually massively cut your costs if you opt for a mid-week wedding. Who doesn’t like the excuse for a booze-up in the week anyway?”

Savvy savings plans

The top five wedding spends are venue hire, the honeymoon, catering, the engagement ring and the drinks. Award-winning wedding planner Pamella Dunn gave us her lowdown: “In my experience, everyone has an idea of the amount they want to spend and absolutely everyone spends more. As a result, saving up for your wedding can take a long time but there are plenty of little things you can do to cut the cost. The best place to start is by working out the cost of your wedding and set yourselves a total budget and stick to it, work out how much you can afford to save each month and how long it will take. For example, if your total budget is £5,000 and you want to get hitched in two years time, you would need to put away around £200 a month.”  Pamella adds: “Create your top 5 must-haves and put the majority of your budget in these areas, then if there’s anything left in the pot, you can add nice-to-haves.”

Saving for weddings

Calling in the professionals

The biggest mistakes you can make when budgeting for your wedding is thinking you can do everything by yourself - a little help never hurt anybody! As Pamella says, “Arrange a consultation with a professional because more often than not, the first consultation is complimentary and is an opportunity to gain expert advice and gather approximate costs for some of the suppliers you are looking for.”

It’s easy to go with the cheapest option all the time when you’re wedding planning because you think that’s the best way to save money. However, this could be a mistake. It’s important to do your research to ensure your chosen supplier comes highly recommended, this will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Sian adds: “There are professional suppliers that live and breathe the wedding industry for a reason and they will help you in any way they can, this will save you hours of research and money as they can often find a good deal for you.”

Wedding bar drinks

VIP invites only

The average UK wedding includes 79 day guests and 104 evening guests. Pamella’s advice is that it’s a good idea to focus on your guest numbers as this can really add up and take chunks out of your budget. “When considering your guest list, allocate a price per person to include food, drinks and favours. Also think about the number of tables required, the size of the venue you’ll need and numbers for the evening food - this will help you keep track of expenditure.”

Organising a wedding and deciding who should attend can be a difficult process; you worry about missing people off the list and obsess over inviting your old school friend who you never actually see anymore. However, if you’re wanting to save money on your wedding it’s a good idea to try and limit your guest numbers as much as is realistically possible. The fewer you have, the lower the catering bill will be and being able to book a venue that accommodates smaller numbers will save you further money. It might mean revising that plan to invite your whole sixth form class, but on the other hand you can really focus on making sure the people that matter the most to you are present.

Wedding decorations

Perhaps the worst thing you can do when planning a wedding is to rush ahead to try and get everything booked and nailed down in the early planning stages. It’s important to take your time and make sure every service you use fits your budget. Pamella added: “There are so many incredible services and options that it’s easy to get carried away and book many different suppliers when actually, you could save a substantial amount by taking your time, doing your research and using fewer suppliers who offer a range of services”.

Top Tip: Look further afield

With the wedding venue seemingly taking the biggest chunk out of the budget, you could consider having a more alternative wedding location. “You could choose a dream venue where the cost is more than half your budget, leaving a much smaller amount for outfits, photography, flowers, decor and everything else”, says Pamella. “Alternatively, you could opt for a quirkier venue like a teepee or barn and create a personal celebration with a more DIY party vibe.” This will, if anything, result in a far more bespoke wedding with all the right touches to make it a reflection of your own tastes and preferences, rather than simply opting for an off-the-shelf package that anybody can choose.

Wedding reception

To summarise:

  • Once you’ve become engaged and have reached the nitty gritty stage of getting a wedding organised, it’s sensible to clarify your maximum budget from the get go so you know what you need to work with.
  • From this point, a wise move would be to bring your effective budget down to around 90%, to ensure you’re covered for any (perhaps inevitable) unexpected costs and incidentals.
  • Now you can take the time to decide what aspects of the day you want to prioritise, and then research the available options.
  • Lastly, enjoy the process! Of course you want your guests to enjoy themselves and have a brilliant time but it’s important that you also savour the experience of planning and do what’s right for you - without exceeding your set budget. You could also ask family members and friends to help out with any small finishing touches like decorations or favours for the tables, costs for which can often add up.

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