Weddings can be expensive but there are ways and means of cutting the costs whilst still having a fantastic day. This time last year was my very own wedding. Our main priority was that our friends and family shared a lovely day with us, at no cost to themselves and at minimal cost to us. Here are 10 tips as to how you can achieve the same……
For our wedding we had a simple service in a registry office. The cost of this service was £300 for up to 70 people on a Saturday. Weekday bookings are slightly cheaper. The venue itself was small but decorative and provided an intimate setting for our ceremony before heading off to the reception venue.
Should we have wished to book a registrar to come to our location of choice for example a park, castle, gardens, we would have had to check if the location was licensed for such events and the cost would have been slightly more expensive ranging from £320 to £450. These prices are for our London Borough but are similar across the Uk.
We then hired a very beautiful church hall that cost us £1000 for the day including staff to help with the clear out. So our total price for our venue was £1300.
Of course there are many other options for venues. There are many venues that will offer the space for free but have a minimum spend. Other venues may offer deals when booking in- house catering and for some establishments there will be days and times of the year where the price will be lower. For example a Sunday in October would often be cheaper than a Saturday in July. So it is worth shopping around. I would advise however, if you are on a budget, to view venues with an open mind, be creative, think about how you can dress the venue and put your own personal touch to it to make the day even more special.
2. Guest List
Set a number and stick to it. The more guests you add, the bigger the venue has to be, the more food and drink you need to pay for, the more furniture you have to hire, the list goes on… It is very easy to get carried away, especially as you worry about offending people but you have to be sensible and stick to your budget.
This is where it pays to plan far in advance. I wanted my wedding to be colourful, so I purchased turquoise and white table runners as well as cerise satin napkins from China. They were a steal, I just needed to order them weeks in advance to ensure pre wedding arrival.
For the centre pieces I bought 20 mason jars from the pound shop and raided the local supermarket for the most colourful bouquets. My sister arranged the flowers beautifully to create a wonderful display for each table.
For wedding favours we ordered striped sweet bags which came with our names and wedding date printed on them. They were purchased cheaply from eBay. We filled them with sweets and there you have it. For the toddlers we bought little cars and play dough very cheaply as a fun gift.
You can find many bargains on sites such as ebay, there are even some that will sell on their used decorations that may fit very well within your theme. It does help if you are creative, but if you are not then enlist the help of friends and family.
4. The Dress
For some women the dress is the most important purchase of the whole shebang! For me I wanted to look nice but knew that we didn’t have the money to buy the latest designer wedding gown.
I actually ended up buying two dresses. The first was a Ronald Joyce dress for £150 from lincsbridal on eBay. Lincsbridal sell sample dresses at a reduced price. The second was a used, but immaculate condition Berketex dress, also from eBay. I ended up wearing the Berketex dress and selling the Ronald Joyce dress. I realise that for most women they want the experience of finding the perfect dress in a beautiful boutique, champagne in hand, but for me that wasn’t something I had always dreamed of. I also kind of liked the idea of my wedding dress travelling from wedding to wedding and being a part of someone else’s story – I actually sold it on afterwards, so the story continues!
If you are looking at second hand gowns it is worth checking out www.stillwhite.co.uk and www.bride2bride.co.uk.
High street and online stores such as Asos, Monsoon, Topshop, and even Dorothy Perkins do affordable bridal ranges that are all worth checking out.
For our wedding we opted for a DJ. He was very reasonable and with so many wedding DJ’s in London he offered a competitive price of £250 for the entire evening. Much cheaper than a band but obviously a different service.
Should you wish to have live music it is always worth asking friends if they have any contacts and local universities that may have musical groups offering services at a reduced rate. If you have a liking for musical theatre ask the local amateur dramatic group if they would like to come and do a stint!
It may be that you have live music during your ceremony where a friend sings you down the aisle or a local choir sing your guests out as they move on to the reception for the DJ. Having the best of both worlds and saving money in the process.
Gifts can be a touchy issue at weddings. It is common place now for couples to ask for contributions to ‘dream honeymoons’ or ‘new kitchens’. This may not be too popular with the older generation (I know my parents frowned upon it initially) but in this day and age where most couples don’t need a new kettle or a set of kitchen knives, monetary contributions are the norm.
So if need be, these gifts can be a contribution to your special day.
Alternatively you may know an amazing cake baker, a brilliant harpist, a wonderful florist. Ask them to gift their services and be an even bigger part of your memorable day.
The cheapest option for food would be to do the catering yourself. If you have keen family members that are willing to pitch in then brilliant.
For our wedding we had a cold buffet. We found a local company that provided an excellent service for a reasonable price. Having a buffet also means that you do not need to have extra waiting staff to serve it.
Our venue allowed our caterers to set out our buffet as we were making our way from the ceremony and the food was ready and waiting on our arrival, also meaning that we did not need to provide snacks between the ceremony and reception, but if they couldn’t wait for everyone to be seated there were always the wedding favours to tuck in to!
At our wedding we chose to have an open bar. I wanted people to have a day where they weren’t having to spend a fortune and could have a great time. We had, prosecco on arrival, bottles of wine on the tables and after the speeches the bar was open for spirits and beer. We built our stash of alcohol over a matter of months looking for the latest deals online and in store. In the end we had way too much, to the point that we still have some in our kitchen cupboard a year later!
Some people have a charity bar where drinks are cheap and all proceeds go to charity, others use the bar of the venue whereby guests buy their own drinks and the only alcohol provided is wine for the meal.
If you are buying your own alcohol, buy the bargains in the months leading up to the big day but always check the expiry date!
Wedding cakes cost a lot of money. Cakes don’t. Putting the word wedding in front of anything automatically raises the price.
Stores such as Marks and Spencer sell celebration cakes, different sizes, different flavours, fillings, that will taste just as good as your local cake maker. We paid £60 for a two tier wedding cake and bought a beautiful handmade cake topper for £15 to turn it into a simple, elegant wedding cake. £75 all in – bargain and it was delish! Find it here !
For our wedding we wanted just a couple of people on the bar. So we employed some local students, purchased a set of optics, some plastic cups and that was that! Our family pitched in with the set up and get out.
If you are looking for affordable staff it is worth posting on social media and asking at local colleges/universities. Going through agencies will always incur extra fees.
So there you have it, 10 top tips. We had a great wedding day with the people that mean the most to us, and it didn’t cost a fortune. Spend only what you can afford, the people you love are there to share the joining together of two special people and not to see you bankrupt yourselves!