Wedding budgets can be a significant source of angst between engaged couples, particularly if there isn’t much to work with. As soon as you add the word ‘wedding’ to cakes, cars, dresses and venues the bill doubles – or triples – and this can make it seem almost impossible to get the big day that you want without massively overspending. However, if your budget is tight then this doesn’t mean you can’t have a dream wedding. While ‘all you need is love’ might not quite be enough if you’ve got wedding guests to feed and impress, you can still make the most of your big day and keep costs down. You don’t have to resort to a personal loan to pay for your wedding!
Avoid the peak times
Everyone wants to get married on a Saturday and that’s why it tends to be the most expensive day for anything that you need to book. You can save anything from 15% to 60% by opting for a non-traditional wedding day, such as a Wednesday or a Sunday. Arrange everything for the afternoon and evening then your guests only need to take an afternoon off work, at most. It also pays to steer clear of ‘wedding season’ i.e. any month from May to August, as prices shoot up during the time in which wedding venues etc. are in most demand. If you get married in March or October instead there are much better deals to be found and you can even haggle a little, knowing that there are few other bookings.
Plan well in advance
Like holidays, weddings that are booked years in advance come with a pretty serious discount. Having a committed booking is something venues, car services and caterers are willing to drop their prices for so if you’re able to book a couple of years ahead then you can get married while significantly cutting the cost of your big day.
Use ‘alternative’ venue options
Those locations that market themselves as wedding venues are already bumping up their fees and will expect you to be willing to fork out at least a third more to use it for your big day than you would for any other occasion. There’s no reason why you can’t find an amazing venue that is not designed for a wedding and still make it work really well. From renting a large house, to using a barn or yurts in a field, there’s no need to fall into the traditional (and expensive) wedding venue trap.
Choose a no strings venue that works for everything
Combining your wedding and reception in one location is a simple way to save money as you don’t need to transport guests and you’re paying only one fee for the entire event. Make sure that your venue doesn’t come with ‘strings’ i.e. requiring you to use their caterers or to pay for their in-house DJ, and if it’s an option to bring your own booze with you then take it – you can save serious money by purchasing your wedding wine and gin wholesale, rather than paying for the venue’s bar.
Avoid a sit down dinner
Ask most wedding guests and the last thing they will remember from a big day is the food – and yet we agonise over the dishes to include on the menu for a wedding feast and will often pay through the nose to offer everyone three courses sitting down. All you really need to do is make sure no one is going hungry and perhaps include some celebratory dishes that guests can enjoy. A buffet is a great option for a wedding but steer clear of hot dishes or the traditional sausage rolls and quiche and do something like a big BBQ, hog roast or selection of local pies and cheese instead. As long as the food is good and there’s plenty of it, most guests won’t care about a silver service.
Get your guests to contribute
Weddings where the mother of the groom has made the bunting, the best men built the wedding seating, the parents of the bride hosted the reception in their garden and the bridesmaids baked the wedding cake somehow have far more sentimental value than those where everything has been provided by a stranger. It’s also a simple way to save money and you will feel surrounded by love on your special day. Avoid outsourcing ‘jobs’ as such and ask people if they would like to be involved instead. Give people plenty of notice and don’t demand too much – unless you have a Mary Berry among your friends then a show-stopper cake may be a bit too much to ask but you will know that someone went to a lot of effort to give you something to place your bride and groom figurines on, and that instantly doubles its value.
Capitalise on other’s cancelled weddings
While this may seem cruel the fact is that not all planned weddings go ahead – for one reason or another. As with so many goods and services these days there are websites that broker deals on these cancelled weddings. So, with a little bit of care you get married at a 30 – 40% lower cost by snapping up someone else’s perfect day and even their honeymoon.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley