One of the first things we had to do after getting engaged was ask ourselves, what would our wedding cost and what should our wedding budget be? 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 day. However, after googling I soon found out that as of 2018, the average wedding cost in the UK is £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.
I’ve seen brides-to-be say their wedding cost anywhere from £1,000 to £75,000, so although weddings are generally an expensive occasion you can absolutely spend as much or as little as you’d like. Do what feels right for you, so that you don’t blow your wedding budget or end up in debt.
For today’s Wedding Wednesday post, I’m sharing some of the ways we’ve kept our wedding cost down and saved ourselves money. Hopefully, this will get you thinking about how you can have your dream wedding 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 a bride-to-be.
Setting a Wedding Budget
Knowing how much you can afford or feel comfortable paying is one thing, but knowing how much your ideal wedding costs is another, and I was totally clueless! So to get an idea, I started looking for venues and wedding suppliers & emailed a few to ask for quotes.
For example, I found five wedding cake makers whose style I loved and I emailed them all asking if they could give me a quote for a 2 tier cake for 100 people. I sent pictures from my wedding moodboard so they had an idea of what I was after. Once I received all five quotes I had a much better idea of the cost of wedding cakes and could determine how much of our wedding budget to allocate to it, or whether I needed to adjust what I wanted to fit the budget.
I did this with every supplier – photographers, caterers, florists, makeup artists etc – and put all of the quotes into a spreadsheet. This gave me a great overview of how much our ideal wedding would cost and I used that to 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.
Tracking your Wedding Budget
I use the app “You Need A Budget” aka “YNAB” to budget for our everyday expenses and used it to keep track of our wedding budget too. I setup a Wedding master category in YNAB and under that I had all of the necessary categories like Outfits, Venue, Ceremony, Food, Entertainment etc. I put down how much I expected to spend in every category and then when we spent money I could see if we would be under or over budget in each category. Using YNAB to track every penny spent massively helped me stick to our wedding budget.
I knew straight away I didn’t want 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 studied web design so it felt natural for me to create a wedding website instead. 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 Squarespace which I used to create our website. However, you could create a wedding website with ready-made templates 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 affordable wedding 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.
Firstly, I kept my bridesmaid number to four. 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 ordered several bridesmaid dresses online 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 bridesmaid dress from Boohoo! I spoke to my bridesmaids and they were all happy to pay for their own dresses, which massively 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 expensive. 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 20% off 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! For the groomsmen we’ve bought ties & pocket squares to have them all matching.
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. There are loads of ideas for DIY wedding decorations on Pinterest. For the decorations we are buying, we’ve bought them in the sales or used discount codes or TopCashback and Quidco 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 as this would add a large take-down fee. I’ve also opted for more greenery
My friend is trained in make-up and is doing my bridal make-up for me as a wedding gift for which I am so grateful! For my bridesmaids I’ve decided to use BlowLTD’s Wedding Service and I managed to negotiate a discount as long as we send them photos of our make-up from our photographer and luckily our photographer is happy to do so.
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 were over our wedding 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.
*Update: Our wedding co-ordinator was brilliant! Even the venue manager thought he was amazing and was shocked he’d never co-ordinated a wedding before!
I found a 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 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’ve booked our DJ from Uni and we’re having him all day to play music during our ceremony, the drinks reception through to the party. He always put on the best nights at Uni so I was so happy that he said yes to DJ’ing at our wedding. Hopefully 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 on the riverside so we have the option of hiring a boat. Some couples who got married at our venue 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 these 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 on your wedding.