It’s an unavoidable truth that weddings are expensive, by their very nature. An entire day where you feed and entertain your nearest and dearest, wearing brand new clothes and cutting into a cake that costs more than a four-course meal. However, it is possible to have your dream wedding, without ending up starting off your married life in a whole bunch of debt. Here are some of our top money saving tips to help you spend less, without having to compromise on your perfect day.
One of the easiest ways to cut your costs from the offset is to think about when exactly you would like your wedding to be. The most expensive time is on a weekend in the peak season of course, and you can get some incredible savings by choosing a weekday wedding out of season. If you want a summer wedding without the summer wedding price tag, why not try to get the week before the peak season starts. You’ll (hopefully!) get the weather you wanted for a fraction of the price!
Another thing to consider is the time of day. If you have an early wedding, you will have to feed your guests twice which is going to up your costs incredibly! Why not have a twilight wedding and provide something simple like bacon sandwiches in the evening? We have a whole guide on the best times to get married right here!
Do you need Save the Dates? If you don’t think they are necessary, it’s totally okay to skip them altogether. Save the Dates can be cute, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in a Pinterest world of overly fancy ideas and spend a large chunk of money on something that does not need to be so expensive – especially if you are trying to keep costs down.
If you know people are going to need to know the date in advance, for example, if it is a holiday weekend or you know people are going to have to travel, why not send them via email, rather than spending money on stationery. The important thing is that people know when the big day is going to be so they can plan accordingly, so as long as that happens, it doesn’t really matter how. Alternatively, try making your own invites and save the dates to keep costs low but still keep people in the know.
If you book early enough, you may be able to secure a great deal with your venue, caterers, and other suppliers, where the price won’t go up for you. For example, a lot of vendors will have a small price increase every year; however, if you have signed your contract in advance (usually up to two years) you can expect to only pay the lower rate, even if the prices for the year you are getting married goes up.
That said, there are some venues that offer incredible discounts for last-minute bookings. Sure, it will be stressful to organise a whole wedding in a short space of time, but it will certainly help you keep to your budget – it’s harder to spend a large sum of money when you only have a few weeks to plan! It’s important to weigh up these options as they won’t be for everyone, but they can offer a way to save money on your wedding.
When you are paying for anything per-head, the fewer heads there are, the cheaper your bill will be! It can be hard when you want everyone and their dog to be there for your special day, but it is not always practical. For a huge budget saver, keep it to immediate family and close friends, or if you are having a bigger day, think carefully about who you want to invite. Not allowing plus ones will save some money, or even not inviting children (although that’s a whole other question). There has to be a balance between who you want there and how many people you can afford to attend.
It may seem much easier to find a venue that comes with their own vendors, but it is not the most cost-efficient way of planning a wedding. Venues know that if they give you no other option for vendors, you will have to pay the fees, and so they can hike them up. Find a venue that allows you to use outside vendors so you can shop around for exactly what you want and get a good price too.
If you can, try to find somewhere where you can have the whole day in one place. It saves on transport costs, and if you can have your ceremony and reception in one room, it really cuts down on decoration costs. A lot of hotels offer packages like this and will often give the couple a free room to stay in, or at least a hefty discount.
Although it is traditional to have a sit-down dinner (and why is it always chicken?!), it can be really pricey for one meal. You can save a lot of dosh by choosing a buffet, or even something a bit quirkier such as a food truck – your guests will thank you and so will your wallet!
Another way to save money on food is by organising a pot-luck or picnic where guests can bring their own meal. It might sound stingy but it can be really fun and something a little different. We have plenty of ways to save money on your wedding food DIY’ing it here!
Wedding cakes can be incredibly expensive, but they don’t have to be! Have a small tier made for the obligatory cake-cutting photograph, but make the other tiers out of styrofoam. Cake decorators can still ice these in the same way as a real cake, and no one need know the difference (unless they try and help themselves!). It also makes decorating these fake cakes a lot easier as they don’t have to be edible – so you can ask for something really elaborate that will look amazing in pictures.
In terms of giving your guests cake on the day, ask the kitchen to cut up a tray bake for the guests to enjoy. Your guests will not know or care; they just want cake!
As much as everyone loves a good drink at a wedding, you can save a lot of money by keeping your bar simple. An open bar is not a necessity, and it is a massive expense! You can save even more money on your bar by stocking just beer, wine, a signature cocktail and soft drinks. You do not need every drink under the sun to keep your guests happy.
Make sure you know your venue’s policies on corkage. If they do not charge corkage, why not buy some cheap wine from a wholesaler for the tables? A free drink is a free drink!
To save money on decorations, look for a venue that doesn’t need a lot doing to it. Although it can be nice to have a blank slate, it can also be very costly to decorate it! Some places are so picturesque that they will need little decorating to make them photo-ready so you can definitely save money here. Alternatively, try making some of your decorations yourself – we have some inspiration to keep you busy here.
Flowers can be incredibly expensive at a wedding, but they don’t have to be! If you are a little crafty or only want something quite simple, why not look at doing your own flowers. There are plenty of tutorials online that will help guide you through this, and you will have the added pride of knowing you did it yourself. You can even buy flowers from the supermarket to DIY your own wedding bouquet.
When ordering flowers, keep in mind what is in season. Trying to source a particular flower out of season can cost a whole ‘bunch’! You might be surprised to know that peonies are more expensive that roses and so it is worth doing research to keep your costs down if you are going to a florist.
Fake flowers, made of plastic, paper or foam, for example, can be a lot cheaper and will also last as a sweet keepsake. You could do something original, such as make paper flowers out of a secondhand copy of your favourite book to make a real feature out of it.
You could even skip the flowers altogether! You could make a bouquet out of buttons or brooches, or your bridesmaids could carry something entirely different, such as a lantern or a clutch bag.
If your girls do carry flowers, why not double them up by placing them on the various tables at the reception to add some colour.
Chances are, you know someone else who has gotten married relatively recently, who may still have some bits and bobs hanging around that they would be willing to lend you. Perhaps they made metres of bunting which is now just packed away in a box, or they have some cool centrepieces that they’d love someone else to get some use out of. People like to help a couple getting married so just ask around.
Check out charity shops, car boot sales and selling sites for everything from bridesmaid gifts and decorations to your own gown and rings. If you’re not afraid to go secondhand, you can save a fortune on things that have only been worn or used once and give a new lease of life to something!
If you have talented friends, why not ask them to help you out in place of a wedding gift. Perhaps your cousin is a professional photographer, or your sister is handy with a sewing machine. It will save you the cost of hiring other people and allow your friends and family to be involved in your special day.
Wedding DJs can be very hit and miss and will take a chunk out of your budget. If you (or someone you know!) has the right equipment, why not do your own playlist for the day. You can ask guests for suggestions before the day and have different playlists for different times of the day. Make sure you put someone else in charge of this during the day – the last thing you need on your big day is to be fiddling with an aux cord so that you can stick the Cha Cha Slide on!
Some bands will offer to do a DJ set too which is another great way of saving money if you’d like live music but don’t want to have to pay twice for a DJ and a band.
Everyone enjoys a good photo booth after a few drinks, but they can cost a decent chunk of dough that you might not want to spend. All’s not lost! Set up a camera, grab a cheap remote and leave a box of dressing up items and let your guests go to town! You will likely be able to source some silly hats and feather boas from friends and family or buy some of the cute props on sticks online for a few pounds. Use a plain wall as a background, or DIY something simple.
To cut costs, even more, don’t provide a camera and just make it a selfie-spot. People will take pictures with their cameras, and if you tell them a hashtag to use, you will be able to find all the pictures the next day.
As fun as they look, do not go down the Polaroid camera route as the films are incredibly expensive, especially if you have quite a lot of guests! Disposable cameras are a waste of money too as they cost a lot to get developed, and there tend to only be a few decent pictures out of a reel of 30, so it is not worth it!
If you want to save on favours, you could just skip them entirely. Often, favours cost the couple quite a bit of money, and they are left behind, lost, or never used by the guests. It can be easy to get caught up in all the fun ideas, but really, who wants a magnet with a picture of the couple on it?!
If you do want to do favours, perhaps consider doubling up with your place cards and having something that will work as both. For example, wooden place names that have magnets on the back for guests to take home.
DIY’ing some aspects of your wedding can be a great way to save some cash, but sometimes the cost of the materials and the time you take to make it just isn’t worth it! Make sure you price up your projects before you raid Hobbycraft and make sure that you are really saving money by doing it yourself. We have a whole host of wedding DIY ideas on our Pinterest, so give us a follow for some inspiration!
As soon as someone hears the word ‘wedding,’ they will add a zero or two on to the price! If you want to save some serious money on your wedding, do your searches without the word ‘wedding.’ Look for ‘white occasion dresses,’ or just buy a bunch of flowers rather than a bridal bouquet. You’ll be surprised at how much the price drops!
Just like high street stores, wedding dress shops often have sales with discounts where you can find your dream dress for a fraction of the price. It’s not just wedding dresses you can find in the sales, though. If you are looking for fairy lights to decorate your venue, for example, check the January sales at department stores, and buy suits a year in advance at the end of season sale. Whenever there is any type of sale, you will be there, grabbing your wedding essentials for a bargain price!
It’s important to make sure you don’t get too carried away in sales, of course. Just because something is discounted, it doesn’t mean that you have to buy it. If you were not already planning on getting the object, you are not saving money by buying it, no matter how good the discount is!
Your dream wedding can be achieved on a budget if you plan ahead and follow these tips! Before you know it, you could be saving thousands and hosting the perfect big day for your friends and family. Want to keep an eye on your budget or need some inspiration? Join our private Facebook group and gain access to our totally free wedding budgeting tool while asking other brides for their tips and tricks too.