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How to Plan a Budget Wedding (And Tips to Save for It)

Jennifer Birtles 19th Apr 2021 2 Comments

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Weddings are notoriously costly occasions, but they really don’t have to be. According to Hitched, the average wedding in 2019 cost a whopping £31,974, more than the average annual salary of that year. The fact that people take out loans and other lines of credit just to pay for their dream wedding means many couples start off the rest of their lives together in debt. Instead of splurging tens of thousands on one big day, cutting back to a budget wedding and using the money saved to become more financially secure, could be a great way to begin married life together.

Budget, Budget, Budget!

We may talk about them a lot, but budgets are so useful and important in keeping on top of your finances – especially when it comes to weddings. Instead of planning your dream wedding and then trying to work out how you’re going to pay for it, ask yourself first what can you feasibly afford to spend on your wedding without getting into serious debt.

The easiest way to keep track of everything is inputting every spend, no matter how small, into a spreadsheet. Google Sheets is ideal as it’s all managed online and both you and your partner can edit it individually. Set up separate tabs for each of the major spends of the wedding – venue, catering, decoration, entertainment, and outfits. As you make purchases you’ll be able to instantly compare how much you’ve already spent to how much of your budget you have remaining, making it easy to monitor and make sure you don’t overspend.

Cutback Your Guest List

Ultimately, something that will heavily determine how much you end up spending is the guest list. After all, when you’re paying for food, drink, and entertainment for each one of your guests it quickly adds up. Opt for a more intimate occasion with a guest list of 30 or less. You’ll be able to consider smaller (and cheaper) venues, like hiring a private room in a pub or restaurant, for example. As venues are a key cost in a wedding, if you can find a way to get a cheaper option you can save thousands.

Another option is to keep your guest list small for your wedding, but host a much larger celebration for your first anniversary. This gives you time to save separately and means you won’t have to worry about blowing a large chunk of your wedding budget on the reception.

Postpone Your Honeymoon

In a similar line, delaying your honeymoon can help with your wedding costs. If, for example, you decide to go for your first anniversary instead, or even after 6 months, you’re giving yourself an extra time to plan and save for it instead of having to pay it all upfront. Travelling off-season will also help you save massively, read our article on how to grab yourself a holiday bargain here.

Opt for Creative Catering

For a budget wedding, avoid the traditional 3 course wedding breakfast followed by an evening buffet. Why not choose to get married later on in the day and then serve a large buffet for both the day and evening guests? This way you’ll only have to pay for one meal, and it’ll be much cheaper than a larger sit-down meal.

Consider other cheaper food options as well. Having an afternoon BBQ, creating fun picnic hampers for guests to share out, or hiring a food truck for the day are all fun ways to have delicious food on a budget. Also, save on having to provide a dessert as well and serve up your wedding cake for dessert instead!

Shop for Pre-Loved and SecondHand Items

You can find great bargains by shopping for pre-loved and second-hand items. Sites like StillWhite, Bridal Reloved, and Preloved, are three great places where you can find deals on wedding outfits and decorations. You’ll find things at a fraction of the prize of what you would pay otherwise, and they’ve only been used once before! Plus, Oxfam even have their own online bridal shop now, which is packed with even more great deals.

For men, buying a suit can be really expensive and depending on the style, is unlikely to be worn again or very often. If you’re looking to buy a wedding suit, instead it can be worth checking out high street stores like ASOS, Topshop, and Marks & Spencers, who are all starting to offer their own cheaper wedding line alternatives.

Opt for lab diamond rings

Lab grown diamond rings are 100% real diamonds, sharing the same chemical composition and optical properties as mined diamonds, making them a perfect ethical alternative for any newlywed couple! Oh and did we mention they are also budget friendly? Costing up around 30% less than naturally mined diamonds.

Make the Most of Supermarkets

Don’t forget about supermarkets when planning a budget wedding. Whether it’s for your wedding cake, or joining a loyalty scheme, they can be a great way to cut costs. Wedding cakes can cost an extortionate amount, but plenty of supermarkets now offer cheaper versions. Especially with Covid limiting guest lists, there’s no need for a mammoth 3-tiered cake when a much smaller one will feed everyone.

Plus, shopping with a loyalty card can earn you some great deals in the long-run. Tesco Clubcard has one of the best reward schemes where the value of your points triple in value when spent at one of their reward partners. Some of which include luxury jeweller Goldsmiths, various restaurants, and holiday and travel booking sites. So why not put that money towards a cheaper honeymoon?

Get Rid of the Stationery

Not only is it pricey and not-so-great for the environment, but it’s also a completely unnecessary cost. Ditch Save the Date and RSVP cards and do it all online instead. Set up a free, simple website where guests can RSVP and you can email out details and any information about the wedding at no extra cost.

Skip the Summer Weekend

Summer Saturdays are the most sought after day to be married on and you’ll pay a premium to do so. Consider getting married Monday to Thursday when there’s much less demand and you’ll be able to negotiate a deal at a fraction of the cost.

Also marrying completely off-season between October and March is ideal for a budget wedding. Plus, for the particularly savvy saver, why not get married at Christmas? Make the most of the already decorated venues and save yourself that extra expense!

Negotiate Hard

Most businesses have been hit by the effects of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate a deal. Businesses that need the trade right now may be willing to cut prices in order to secure a deal. If they’re not able to offer you a discount, see if they’d be willing to include any extras included instead. Maybe you could have a room upgrade? Or cut your corkage costs?

Have a Contingency Budget

There’s only so much you can do to prepare and realistically, extra costs are going to pop up when you least expect them. Set aside part of your budget for this to be prepared for the unexpected. Ideally, 5 – 10% of your budget saved as contingency cash will have you covered. Just remember to keep it separate from your main account so you don’t find yourself tempted to spend it!

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3 years ago

Definitely a lot in here to consider! I know most people want the wedding of their dreams, but with a little shopping around, it is definitely easy to cut back. Simple things like wedding favours can be cut completely, or cut down if you’re happy to get creative and shop around… Also, look for any budding wedding photographers – you could find your costs reduce dramatically, if you’re willing to have someone with less experience. Also, use your network to see if you have friends/ fam in businesses you could use – chances are you may get a small discount!

3 years ago

Plenty of useful advice.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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