Did you know that the average wedding now costs over £21,000? That’s more than a lot of people earn in a whole year, and to think it’s all spent on just one day of celebration and a honeymoon in the sun. Here’s our step-by-step guide to all the big bits of your wedding, and how to get your dream day for less:
If you’re a bride to be then the chances are you won’t want to skimp on your wedding dress, and no-one can really blame you for that – you’ve probably been planning your outfit for the last twenty years! But before heading off to the nearest designer boutique, seriously consider buying second hand. If you’re prepared to do a bit of hunting (and who wouldn’t be for their dream dress?), make sure you have a rummage through vintage shops and auction sites such as eBay where you can often find some stunning and unique pieces.
If you’re just not happy about wearing a second hand outfit, go for discounted dresses at warehouse sales. Sites such as Dailycandy, Samplesaleslondon and Designersales all list up and coming warehouse sales and where they’re going to be hosted. You can also find some stunning dresses on the high street. BHS, Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, John Lewis and Monsoon have all jumped on the wedding dress wagon and come up trumps on the style, quality and value stakes. Don’t pass over a high street dress just because it’s high street!
Everyone wants their wedding ceremony to be perfect, and just by following these few simple rules you could slash the cost of yours by half:
- Have a weekday ceremony and watch the cost drop by up to 50%
- Have the ceremony in the late afternoon and you won’t have to worry about feeding your guests lunch as well as dinner. Just do one big buffet for church guests and evening party guests alike
- Make sure your florist uses flowers that are in season and from the UK, as they will be both cheaper and fresher. You could also ask a friend to pick the flowers up from the florist and take them to the ceremony, as this will cut delivery costs
- Try and hold the ceremony and reception in the same places, as venues will often offer a discounts for this
Venues specifically designed for weddings will generally cost a lot more than say, a local village hall or club house. With all your friends and family there you won’t even notice the difference, but you’ll probably save a small fortune. Here are some alternative venues to consider:
- Village halls- depending on where they are based a village hall shouldn’t really cost more than a couple of hundred pounds, and they’ll usually provide you with tables, chairs and catering facilities.
- Local schools-well worth asking as they could have space to spare in the summer holidays
- Local sports clubs-tend to have pretty nice facilities, and if you’ve got a friend who’s a member (or even better, works there) you might get a discount
- Pubs-there are some gorgeous pubs scattered around the UK, many of them set within beautiful surroundings. Check out the Beer In The Evening website to find out which ones offer room hire.
- At home- if you’ve got a close friend with a big garden, why not ask them if you can use it as the venue for your reception. It’s definitely free to ask them!
Along with the honeymoon the reception is the most expensive part of any wedding, as it generally includes the catering, decorations, photographer and wedding cake. Ouch. Here’s a few ways of keeping prices to a minimum:
The golden rule when it comes to cutting down the cost of catering is NOT to invite people just for the sake of it. Fewer people will mean lower costs.If possible always go for a buffet, as it’s an awful lot cheaper than most sit-down meals. Go for a small catering company as opposed to a more renowned one (but make sure you check their credentials), and if there’s a catering college nearby they may well provide your food for a very low fee. If possible pop over to France before the big day and buy some bargain booze- even the cost of your travel will work out cheaper than what you’d have to pay for UK priced alcohol.
- Wedding cake
Can you believe that Marks and Spencer sell gorgeous looking wedding cakes from as little as £12? Considering top cake designers often charge in excess of £800, we know which one we’d be going for. Even if you bought ten M&S cakes and put one on every table for your guests to tuck into, you’d still be saving yourself a small fortune. For fun traditional wedding cake alternatives check out WeddingsFromScratch.
Rope your friends in to help decorate your venue, and even the dullest of places can end up looking pretty special. Place photos of you and your new spouse all around the reception area, and don’t forget to bring the flowers from the ceremony to help brighten things up. If you’re feeling really adventurous why not go for a themed wedding and get your guests to turn up in costume – who needs decoration when you’ve got cowboys and Indians roaming around the venue?
Photographers can be pricey, so why not scatter some disposable cameras around instead and let your friends do their worst. You’ll probably end up with some much more original snaps anyway, and will see your big day from an entirely different perspective. For the important wedding snaps (family ones, you and your new spouse etc) why not give one friend (who’s nifty with a camera) the responsibility of taking them. They’ll probably be chuffed to play such a big part in your wedding, and you could buy them a little thank you token for their troubles.