When I started thinking about wedding planning, the first thing I did was try and understand how much it was going to cost us - typing ‘average cost of a wedding’ into Google was a big mistake!
Not wanting to splurge too much on the big day, we managed to spend a fraction of that cost, without making any scarifies on what we really wanted.
Whether you’re planning a wedding and it’s coming in overbudget, or you’ve just started planning and know you want to keep it low-cost – these tips could help you plan a wedding without the price tag!
Decide what’s important to you
Start the process by deciding what’s important to you. Straight away we knew having a great band and photographer for the day was something we were willing to spend money on.
However, when it came to wedding favours, invitations or having a big countryside manor for a venue – we knew we didn’t want to splash the cash.
Everyone will have different priorities and there’s no right or wrong, but it will help to be clear on this from the outset so you're both in agreement on the areas that are most important to you and the areas you’re happy to spend less.
Cut costs where you can
There are lots of ways you can reduce costs on the big-ticket items for a wedding.
Guestlist: Your guestlist will be one of the biggest contributors to the cost of your wedding. The larger the guestlist, the bigger the venue needs to be and the more food and drink you need to buy.
If you’d prefer to keep costs down by having a smaller wedding, stick to your guns – you may well feel pressured into inviting more people than you’d like. Try to explain to others the impact these additions will make to the cost of your wedding.
You could also cut costs by keeping the ceremony and wedding breakfast smaller, then inviting everyone you want to the evening. Without the need for arrival drinks and a full wedding breakfast meal – the cost per head for evening guests is so much cheaper.
Music: If you aren’t bothered about having a band or even a DJ for entertainment, load up a Spotify playlist and put it on shuffle. You can even ask for song requests from guests on your RSVP cards!
Suits and dresses: Don’t be afraid to go to high street retailers for your wedding outfits, whether that be suits, bridesmaids’ dresses or even the wedding dress! ASOS have some lovely wedding dresses for £100 - £500, all with free returns. And remember to shop the sales – especially online.
When it comes to bridesmaids’ dresses, I saw many for £70 - £150 each but if you don’t want to spend that much, you really don’t have to.
You might feel comfortable enough to ask the bridesmaids or groomsmen to buy their own dresses and suits - particularly if you’re flexible on the outfit itself. You can stick to one colour and let them get their own mix and match styles – they’ll be happier paying for something if they choose it and are likely to wear it again.
Venue: Venue prices vary wildly. They can charge anything from a few thousand pounds upwards – one we contacted was £18,000 just for one day because they offered exclusivity over the whole complex!
With finding a venue, you will need to research to find the right place with the right price tag. There are websites like Hitched and GuidesForBrides which have long lists of venues you can search through. Make sure you take advantage of wedding fairs and showcases so you can get a look inside venues you might be interested in.
One option is to save by choosing a non-registered venue. If you’re happy to get officially married and go through the paperwork the day before or after, you could hold a symbolic ceremony and party anywhere you like.
Also, don’t forgot to take into account decoration. If you opt for a plainer venue, you will have to consider the additional cost of décor and a venue dresser to put it up for you (unless you want to do that yourself on the morning of the wedding). If you choose a venue with enough character, you won’t need any additional décor!
Your wedding date: If you’re flexible on your wedding date, you might find you can make huge savings. Many venues offer discounts on their last few available dates for the year or for Autumn and Winter weddings. You can also save by getting married on a weekday.
Flowers: Fresh flowers can be very expensive, but often you can save if you choose to rent from an artificial flower supplier. If flowers aren’t important to you then perhaps you should decide not to have them at all – all weddings don’t need to look the same!
Food and drinks: The timing of your ceremony can impact the amount you need to spend on food and drinks at your wedding. If you opt for an early ceremony, the longer people will be in your care and you will need to keep them fed. If you choose a ceremony time 1pm or later, you can often forget the canapes and only the wedding breakfast and evening food are needed.
A ceremony even later than that can mean only one meal in the evening is necessary, cutting costs even more!
An open bar might be on the top of your list but if that’s not the case and you’d rather use the money elsewhere, don’t feel the pressure to keep a drink in everyone’s hands all night. An arrival drink or toast drink will go down a treat – but we found that most wedding guests are happy to pay for their own drinks.
Watch out for creeping costs
It’s really important to be clear with your suppliers from day one what the prices will be for the date of your wedding.
Most suppliers will raise their charges year on year. With weddings often being organised years in advance, you need to be sure whether the price you’re quoted is the price locked-in for your wedding date, or whether the suppliers expect the price to go up when it comes around to payment for your big day.
For example, our venue locked in the meal prices for us when we booked so we knew what we’d be paying. Whereas our florist waits until January on the year of the wedding to raise her prices and give final costs. This is when they know more about the cost of flowers for that season. You can ask for previous years price increases to give you an idea of what to expect.
When considering your wedding budget, ultimately, it’s about whether getting that extra drink for everyone, ordering the gold foil invites rather than plain or having a bouquet in your hand for the day will make a difference to your enjoyment of the day.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what you think you should have but it’s your wedding, so make sure you stay focused on what will make a difference to you both and not everyone else – even if that may be easier said than done!