Planning a wedding is expensive. We all know that. But as we’ve been helping couples plan their weddings for 19 years, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to help your wedding budget stretch further. These wedding budget solutions will ease the strain and leave you some leftover cash for extra honeymoon treats!
Write Down Your Budget
It sounds too simple, doesn’t it? But actually it’s often overlooked because of how simple it is. Do you ever look at your food shop on the conveyor belt at the till and try to guess how much it’ll come to? No? Just us then. But we’re often wrong because without keeping a note costs will escalate. Use a budget planner and add everything in to it – even those few packs of wedding confetti that are a couple of quid each. It all adds up and it’ll be easier to control if you can see what you are spending.
Beg, Borrow and Steal
Don’t actually steal though. That’s a crime and we don’t endorse it. But borrowing is a key way to keep your budget under control. It’s likely that you have friends, and some of those friends will have already got married. If you loved the frame they displayed their table plan in, or thought your best friend’s tiara was beautiful, ask if you can borrow it. You’ll need something borrowed for your wedding anyway so try and borrow where you can to keep costs down.
Call in Favours
Does your aunt make awesome cakes? Got a friend with a fancy car? Don’t be afraid to ask Auntie Jane if she wouldn’t mind making your wedding cake in place of a gift, or Lee with the sweet wheels if he’ll drive you to the church. Just tell them it’s OK to say no if they don’t feel they can do it, so they don’t feel like they have to do it.
Become a DIY Expert
At one point, DIY meant spending an afternoon at Wickes looking at the different types of screw and wondering how the hell you were meant to understand what you needed. Now it’s a wedding buzz-word, and with good reason. The more you can DIY, the lower your costs will be. Just don’t go overboard and bite off more than you can chew. We’re not sure there’s ever been a bride who made her own dress, the suit, the cake, the invitations and the décor and lived to tell the tale. Pick things you’re good at – like sewing wedding bunting – and find a tutorial. You could even sell on your efforts after and recoup some costs.
How often does any bride wear her wedding dress for? A day (usually…). So why not consider shopping for a pre-loved wedding dress? You could snap up your dream dress for a fraction of the cost and you’ll know it was only worn once, for about 12 hours. It makes sense if you’re on a tight budget, or you’ve fallen for a gown that costs more than your venue hire and catering put together.
Be Honest About Your Budget
If you can empathise with the bride that fell for a dress that cost more than venue hire at a celebrity wedding venue, we’re tutting at you. In a nice way. Because you’ve made a fatal error. Be honest about your budget when you’re shopping. Don’t feel like you have to up it to sound better because then all that will happen is you’ll be shown more expensive dresses and you’ll be heartbroken when you fall for one that’s unaffordable.
It seems like it’s the done thing that weddings take place on a Saturday in summer – but because everyone does this, the costs rocket. Break those wedding rules and start looking at weekdays in the winter and you’ll see a marked difference in price. A week day might be awkward for some, but as long as your nearest and dearest can get annual leave and make it, let’s face it: if some people can’t come you’re saving on the guest list too. Too brutal? Sorry.
What Do You Really Need?
Once upon a time, in the olden days, it was customary to have a church wedding ceremony followed by a reception at a separate venue. But times are changing, and more often now the wedding ceremony and following celebrations all take place at one venue. So do you really need a wedding car to arrive in? Who will see it if everyone’s already inside and you’ve got nowhere to travel to after the ceremony?
Remember this mantra: I don’t need everything I’ve seen on Pinterest. There’s no shame in wanting a wedding car, but if that’s the case, do you need the DIY cocktail stand, the popcorn bar and the singing waiters? It might all look amazing on a Pinterest board but who really has the money for all those things?
Corkage and Catering
You may have never heard of corkage until you start wedding planning but it’s a crucial thing to ask about. If you find a wedding venue with no corkage, you could save yourself a significant amount of money as they won’t charge you to bring in your own alcohol and you won’t have to use the alcohol the venue provides (and charges for). You could do a booze cruise to France to stock up, or take advantage of supermarket offers to provide the wine and beer for your guests to go with the meal.
Also, don’t just assume your wedding package includes catering. It’s increasingly common for venues to charge a flat fee for hiring the place, then an additional cost for catering. If this is the case, ask if you can use external caterers (it never hurts to ask) and then search for a cheaper alternative.
Just because every wedding you’ve ever been to consisted of a three course wedding breakfast, following by wedding cake and tea and coffee, and then an evening buffet, you don’t have to do the same. Consider marrying later in the day and serving an elaborate buffet for the day and evening guests. Think about cheaper meal options – skip the starter, serve fun food like a BBQ or huge pizzas for the main and give your guests wedding cake for dessert. And do they really need tea and coffee?
How Much Do You Like Cake?
Wedding cakes are expensive. Do you actually need one? We’re not saying get rid of the sweet treat element entirely (we’re not monsters!) but think outside the box. A wedding cake alternative can save you lots of money and will really amaze your guests. We love the idea of a tower of doughnuts in place of a wedding cake, or a stack of brownies which can be served up with vanilla ice cream.
Cut Out Favours
Let’s have a show of hands: how many favours from weddings you’ve attended do you have in your home right now? How many did you forget to pick up? Thought so. Chances are, if it can’t be scoffed immediately (or downed in one), it’ll be forgotten as your guests focus on chatting, eating and then partying. So skip the wedding favours – no one will notice.
Make Your Own Entertainment
Wedding bands can cost a fortune – this is because you need a pay a group of people enough money so that each of them make enough to cover their expenses and have some to take home. DJs are also expensive as you’re again paying for a service and some of that money goes towards equipment, insurance and maintenance. If you have a big library of music, you can make your own wedding party playlist – why not ask your guests for song suggestions on their RSVPs? It’ll encourage them to send them back in, and you’ll have something for everyone at the party.
About the Bridesmaids…
Yes, it’s a nice idea to include your best girls in your bridal party…but they’ll be at your wedding whether you’ve asked them to be a bridesmaid or not. If you cut down on bridesmaids, you save money on dresses, hair and makeup and bridesmaid thank you gifts. You can still involve them in your wedding by asking one to do a reading, one to be a witness as you sign the register or even to give a speech.
If you can’t bear the idea of missing out on some amazing bridesmaid photo opportunities, why not have a frank chat with your girls and explain you’d love them to be part of your bridal party but would they mind contributing? Just remember – if you’re asking for them to pay for the dress (or you’re looking for a cheaper option) you need to be realistic; consider high street bridesmaid dresses and keep your bridal party small.
Same for the Groomsmen
If you have to cut back, so should the groom. You can have groomsmen and a best man, but can you ask them to wear a suit they already have? Just go for the colour that everyone has – blue, black or grey is always likely to crop up in the wardrobe. If that’s not an option, again look to the high street and suggest splitting the cost to make it more affordable.
Think About Flowers
You don’t actually need to have flowers at your wedding – there are plenty of alternative wedding bouquet ideas that are a more budget friendly option. You could also ask someone to head to a supermarket or flower market on the morning of your wedding and pick up bunches of cheap blooms, like gypsophila or daffodils, to use on your reception tables.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Get
Quiet and reserved types, this one might make you cringe. Sorry in advance. But don’t be afraid to be brazen – try and haggle, ask if that’s the best price or if there’s some kind of deal you can do. It doesn’t hurt to ask – the supplier can say no if it’s not possible, but if they say yes, you’re on to a winner. Think about what you actually want from that supplier – is there a way to tailor what they offer that can suit both of you? You don’t ask, you don’t get.
Even if you’re now feeling more clued up about your wedding budget, make sure you read about the hidden costs you need to consider when planning a wedding.