One of the first things we had to do after getting engaged was ask ourselves, what would our wedding cost? The only clue I had was the fact that couples on the TV show, Don’t Tell The Bride, are given £12,000 to plan their wedding. However, after googling I soon found out that the average UK wedding costs £27,191! There was no way we wanted to spend that much so we had to think of ways to keep our wedding cost down.
To get an idea of what our wedding would cost, I started looking for venues and wedding suppliers & emailed a few to ask for quotes. I put all of this into a spreadsheet and used it to help form our wedding budget. Once we found our dream venue, we realised it was going to be more expensive than we’d planned, so to avoid going over budget I started thinking of ways we could bring the costs down, whilst still having our dream wedding day.
For today’s Wedding Wednesday post, I wanted to share with you some of the ways we’ve kept our wedding cost down. Hopefully, this will get you thinking about how you can have your dream day without going over budget. This is a long post, packed full of tips, so make yourself a cuppa and bookmark it for when you’re wedding planning, or send it to someone who is.
I knew straight away I didn’t want us to post invitations. I am terrible at posting things on time, whether it’s birthday cards or returning online orders and my friends in the past have lost their invitations to other weddings. I work as a Digital Designer and I studied web design so it felt natural for me to create a wedding website for our invitations. I designed digital invitations myself which we emailed out to our guests for free using MailChimp, with a link through to our wedding website.
This kept the cost down because I didn’t have to pay anyone to design and/or print our invitations, there were no envelopes to buy and no postage for the invites or RSVPs. The only cost was the hosting fees because I chose to use Squarespace so that I could control the design. However, you could create a wedding website with ready-made templates for free with The Knot and Getting Married.
Potentially a huge wedding cost is outfitting the wedding party. With the wedding dress, the bridesmaid dresses, groomsmen suits, shoes, accessories and not forgetting the groom himself, costs can easily spiral. I’m happy to say we’ve made several savings in this category, so let me reveal all.
I bought my wedding dress from Wed2b. Instead of trying on a sample wedding dress then having your dress made especially for you, Wed2b sell dresses off-the-rail. That means when you buy a dress you take it home on that day, bringing down the cost of the dress. In fact, Wed2b sell wedding dresses from £99-£699, with their premium range going up to £950.
Firstly, I kept my bridesmaid number to four. There are more friends I would have loved to be bridesmaids, but the more bridesmaids you have, the higher the cost. When shopping for bridesmaid outfits, I chose to shop online during Black Friday weekend. I figured if none of the dresses suited, I would return them and shop again during the Christmas sales. I had all my bridesmaids come round to mine to try on the different dresses I’d ordered and luckily we all loved the same one which also happened to be the cheapest one! I’d fallen in love with Rewritten dresses but they were sadly out of my budget. Luckily I managed to find a very affordable similar dress in our chosen colour! I spoke to my bridesmaids and they were all happy to pay for their own dresses, which helped our budget.
Michael has four groomsmen to match my four bridesmaids. Originally we looked at hiring suits, but even this was working out to be several hundred pounds. We’ve chosen for the groomsmen to wear black suits, so we spoke to each of them and asked if they could wear a suit they already owned or buy their own suit. Luckily all four were happy to do this which hugely helped our budget. It will mean the groomsmen won’t all be wearing the exact same suit but I actually prefer this!
We shopped for Michael’s suit during the sales and we both loved a suit from Moss Bros. We also received a discount code on top of the sales because we were signed up to Moss Bros’ newsletter.
Neither Michael nor I are hugely into designer brands, so we weren’t fussed about having designer shoes or anything like that. Besides, my dress is full length so no one would even see my shoes! Instead, we’ve both opted for high street shoes and I bought mine in the sale. For our bridesmaids and groomsmen, we’ve asked them to wear their own shoes. If they want to wear shoes they already have or buy new ones, it’s up to them. We’re not fussed about them all having matching shoes, plus I’d rather they felt comfortable so they can dance all night! We have bought ties & pocket squares for the groomsmen.
I don’t want to say too much here as I don’t want to give away what we’ll be doing for decorations, but I will say that we’re saving money by doing a lot ourselves. If you have the time and patience, get creative and have fun making your own decorations. For the decorations we are buying, we’ve bought in the sales or used discount codes to save money.
Flowers are not cheap and then there’s the cost of the florist’s time and skills, plus if they have to set-up or break down any installations at unsociable hours then this can increase the cost further. Luckily for us, there is a florist based on the same site as our venue. Because of this, his set-up fee is minimal. Our venue has to be cleared by 4 am instead of the next day, so we’ve opted not to have big installations that would require the florist to take it down in the early hours.
I’m kicking myself because between me first enquiring and then booking them, our make-up artist substantially increased their prices. However, I managed to negotiate a discount as long as we send them photos of our makeup from our photographer. I checked with our photographer and she was happy with this.
Our venue is a blank canvas, so we need someone to oversee the logistics, making sure the suppliers all arrive on time as well as actually set-up and decorate the venue. I looked into hiring a wedding planner as an on-the-day coordinator, but their prices weren’t in our budget. Luckily a friend recommended a friend who works in events and regularly organises huge events for well-known brands and companies. It’s a bit of a risk as they’ve never organised a wedding before, but they know logistics, event set-up etc better than most.
I found this fairly new photobooth company who has the style of photobooth I wanted and I enquired with them. Their prices were really reasonable compared to other photobooth companies I’d emailed. They added me to their newsletter list which was a bit cheeky, but it meant they emailed me when they were offering a discount. I booked straight away and got 15% off their already reasonable price!
We’re having a buffet style service, where the food is served to the guests’ tables, but in large serving bowls for the guests to help themselves. This reduces the staff costs of the caterer as not as many staff are needed compared to a sit-down plated service.
Our wedding cake baker is actually a good friend of ours. She’s started her own cake business and they are delicious! She totally understood my vision for the cake and suggested the yummiest flavour combos. I love that we get to support a friend’s business and bring that personal touch to our day. Not to mention the cost saving of mate’s rates!
Hiring a registrar to marry you at a licenced venue can be expensive, depending on the area. I’ve been to weddings before where I didn’t really like the delivery of the registrar or the way the vows were worded so I was really worried about this for our wedding. Instead, we’ve chosen to legally marry at our local registry office with just our parents present for less than £100. Then at our venue, one of our good friends will marry us in front of all our friends and families. This means we can make our ceremony truly personal and we have someone dear to us marrying us. Our friend is an amazing poet and performs beautifully. She’s even given a TED talk and regularly puts on creative writing workshops, plus she knows us better than any registrar could so I know we’re in the best hands!
We’re having our DJ from Uni and we’re having him all day to play music during our ceremony, the drinks reception through to the party. We loved him at Uni – he always put on the best nights – so I was so happy that he said yes. Plus it will feel like we’re all young again haha. Having a DJ for the whole day could run into the thousands, but our DJ has given us a very reasonable rate.
As I am a Digital Designer, I will be designing all our wedding stationery myself. Everything from the seating chart, to signage, to table names will be made by me. The only cost to us would be the printing costs. I love that I get to put my creative stamp on our day and throughout our venue.
Instead of hiring a fancy car, we’re going to get Ubers! There are several reasons for this. One, I’m just not fussed about cars. Two, the hotel we’ll be getting ready in is only a 5-minute drive from the venue. Three, no one will see me arrive in a fancy car because they’ll all be inside waiting for me to walk down the aisle! I will upgrade to an Uber Lux though, it is a special occasion after all haha.
Also, our venue is in London and close to transport links and everything is happening in the one venue so we don’t need to pay for transport for our guests.
Extras and nice-to-haves
Since wedding planning, I’ve quickly come to realise that there are so many options of what you could do, that it’s easy to add loads of extras and nice-to-haves without realising how much your wedding cost is spiralling. I’ve had to be pretty firm with myself and not get carried away with all the wonderful things we could do and ask myself, is this necessary? For example, our venue is situated close to the river, so we have the option of hiring a boat. Some couples got married elsewhere and transported their guests to the venue by boat, or they had their drinks reception on a boat. This would be amazing, especially on a hot day. However, the cost of this runs into the thousands, and as it is a nice-to-have, not an essential, I’ve had to say no to the boat. That’s just one example, but there have been so many more where I’ve just had to be firm and say no so as not to spiral our wedding cost.
So there are all the ways we’re keeping our wedding cost down and sticking to our budget. I’m sure there’s probably more we’ve done that I just can’t remember now. We’ve been planning for over a year now and done so much in that time. Now there’s just over a month to go until our big day and I can’t wait! I really hope this post has been helpful and sparked ideas on how you could save money.