45 money-saving tips for your wedding
We all know that weddings can be an expensive business. According to our most recent survey, our couples spend on average £12,000 on their wedding day, and in certain areas of the country this can practically double! Luckily, our friends at Sunny have come up with their ultimate guide to saving money on your wedding day, so you don’t need to take a loan just to tie the knot! Here are 45 of their best money-saving tips…
Choose the right wedding date
You’ve all heard of wedding season, which generally coincides with the warmer summer months when good weather is more likely for brides and grooms. As it’s the business time to marry, it’ll also be the most expensive as couples compete for the best venues and suppliers. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at the cheapest times of year to consider planning your wedding.
According to research, 44% of people get married in the summer, 26% in autumn and 22% in spring. Meanwhile, only 8% of couples opt for a winter wedding, so if you’re looking to save money on your wedding, the winter months are likely to come with the best venue availability and the most opportunities to secure better deals from your suppliers. Take advantage of the winter season and plan a festive-themed wedding or look forward to spring with Easter wedding vibes featuring daffodils and pastel colours. Bear in mind though that some December prices will be higher as you approach Christmas.
Having a weekday wedding could help you land a much cheaper price for your venue and suppliers. Extend the weekend with a Thursday night party and head off on your honeymoon the day after, or plan an intimate Monday wedding with a small dinner after a ceremony with a few friends and family. Fridays are no longer as cheap as they used to be, with Sundays turning out more cheap on average. If you’re unwilling to ask your wedding guests to take time off work, then a Sunday wedding may be your best bet.
Did you know?
Research suggests that the 9th September and 26th August are the two most popular wedding dates in the UK. Not-so-coincidentally, these dates coincide with when the kids go back to school, which may mean cheaper honeymoons and even wedding venues.
Alternative Wedding Venues
Your wedding venue is likely to be one of your biggest expenses when it comes to planning your day. With this in mind, one of the easiest money-saving tips is to start early and get your venue right in order to keep overall costs down.
Increasingly, couples are eschewing religious venues in favour of alternative wedding venues such as village halls, museums and parks, in order to not only save money but to have more creative control over their big day.
The benefits of hiring an alternative venue for your wedding can include:
- You may be able to get it at a much cheaper price. Some of these venues may come with a much lower cost to rent out.
- You can arrange your own caterers. Often more formal wedding venues have rules on the caterers you’re able to hire, while blank canvas wedding venues may give you more freedom.
- You can bring your own booze. Similarly, alternative venues are less likely to charge corkage, which means you’re able to source the booze more cheaply yourself. Just ensure you check it has a license to serve alcohol first!
- You decide the decor. You’ll need to arrange everything from chair sashes to napkins and will need to ask for help from the whole wedding party to get the place ready but you’ll have total control over how your venue looks.
Things to remember when looking into alternative venues
- You will need to ask permission. You need to ask permission from whoever owns the venue if there is no set way of booking it. You’ll also need to check if there is anywhere people should specifically park or, if it’s a field, if the owner allows people to camp there.
- It may not be a legally binding wedding ceremony. Many alternative wedding venues won’t be licensed for a civil ceremony. If you want to have a ceremony at an unlicensed venue you can do this, but bear in mind it won’t be legal and binding. Instead, you’ll need to arrange a humanist or celebrant wedding ceremony for the day, and have a legal ceremony in a register office at a later date.
- Get it in writing. Local village halls and more unusual venues that require permission may not automatically provide you with a contract or written agreement confirming the date of your wedding. Make sure you get written confirmation that you are allowed to use the venue, along with the duration you can use it for, and any restrictions that may be in place.
A village hall or community centre
These spaces are made for parties and if they’re big enough can accommodate a ceremony, dinner and reception. A wedding in a village hall will definitely be a more hands-on affair, as you’ll need to decorate the venue and set up the chairs and tables, but get your wedding party involved and you’ll be done in no time.
Village halls typically cost a couple of hundred pounds to hire out and you can ask for access the day before and the day after to set up and pack away. Plus, if it’s local you can walk to and from the venue! No need to worry about expensive wedding cars and transporting guests.
What to think about when using a village hall as a wedding venue
- Is it large enough? Village halls can vary enormously in size, so it’s important to ensure that you have enough space for both a sit-down meal and an evening reception.
- Where will the caterers work? You’ll need to find out what your caterers need to do to prepare and serve food and drink for your guests and make sure your venue has a space where they can do their job.
- Are there limits when it comes to music? Many village halls are in residential areas, so you’ll have to consider local residents. There may be limits to
- Is there parking? Most offer some parking, but you may also need to ask local businesses if your guests can use their spaces if they’re situated close by, to ensure they aren’t blocking the road.
Image credit: Katah Events, Claire Williams Photography
Field or piece of land
An empty field is a perfect base for a festival-inspired wedding. Hire a marquee for the wedding breakfast and reception (and in case of bad weather!), and enjoy a boho outdoor wedding ceremony.
What to think about when using a field as a wedding venue
- Do you have permission? Whether it’s public or private you will need permission from the owner before you proceed. Allow plenty of time to organise this to avoid being let down at the last minute!
- Is it suitable for a wedding? Is the ground even and dry or does it need some prep before you set up?
- What facilities are there? Bear in mind that you may need to hire toilets, heaters and a generator if you’re in a field in the middle of nowhere.
Image credit: Brooklands Museum Trust Ltd, Surrey
What could be cooler than getting married in a museum or gallery venue? Say ‘I do’ on magnificently tiled floors, surrounded by art, history and maybe even dinosaurs! There are a wide range of museum wedding venues in the UK. Here are just a view you might not have thought of:
In the heart of the picturesque New Walk, Leicester’s original museum combines culture, history and wonders of the natural world. Say ‘I do’ in their incredible Victorian Art Gallery surrounded by the works of Hogarth, Turner, Rodin and Degas.
For travel fans, Brooklands Museum Trust Ltd is a charming museum in the gorgeous Surrey countryside. Marry in the Edwardian Clubhouse, which sits in the heart of the Museum and is surrounded by historic motoring & aviation exhibitions.
This unique town centre museum in Aylesbury has a variety of options for wedding ceremonies and receptions. You can keep it classic with their beautiful Georgian Room or Hall, or even host an intimate ceremony in their quirky Roald Dahl Childrens’ Gallery.
Be inspired by Pinterest
Pinterest is simultaneously a bride’s best friend and worst enemy. While there’s no doubt that it’s an amazing tool to help inspire you and show your wedding suppliers the style of day you’d like, Pinterest can also dupe you into spending far more on your day than is necessary. There are no price tags on Pinterest, and some of your favourite images can sometimes cost way over the odds to recreate. Luckily, some of our favourite Pinterest wedding themes don’t have to break the bank…
Garden wedding theme
Garden and outdoor weddings are still one of the most popular wedding themes around. Even if you’re not marrying outside, it’s easy to be inspired by the great outdoors when it comes to your wedding decor. Here’s how to create the theme:
- Pick up foliage from the supermarket, local market or friends’ gardens. You can easily place branches of greenery on the tables, pick up bouquets of foliage from the supermarket or take the secateurs out into the garden.
- Keep things simple. Basic white tablecloths and napkins create a clean minimalist look and should come with a lower price, whether you’re organising your own or hiring from a caterer.
- Drape sheer curtains over tables. Pick up some simple sheer curtains and drape these over the tables for an elegant feel that doesn’t cost a lot.
- Use solar fairy lights. You can buy packs of these for a low price online. They can be wound around tree branches, laid along pathways and woven in between decor on tables to create a whimsical, magical vibe. Bear in mind that these won’t work inside, so you may want to buy battery-powered lights for any indoor tables.
Rustic wedding theme
Woodland vibes, natural greenery and lace embellishments make rustic wedding themes timelessly popular. Hessian fabrics, chopped wood and wildflowers not only look fantastic, but they don’t have to cost the earth either.
- Create hessian table runners. Hessian fabric is relatively inexpensive for large quantities. Simply grab a roll and cut a long strip to go across the head table to add that rustic, country vibe to your wedding tables.
- Buy seasonal flowers. It’s far cheaper, not to mention better for the environment, to buy British blooms that are in season rather than flying in unseasonable flowers.
- Recycle pallets, old baskets and crates. Friends and family may be able to help you source some of these items. People often have bits and bobs hidden away in garages or sheds that they’d be happy for you to use. You could even speak to your local garden centre about taking away a pallet or two that they’ve received with a delivery – these look great with table plans pinned to them or as a welcome board.
- Opt for a “naked” wedding cake. Not only can these cakes cost less as there is no fondant or decoration, but they can be quickly dressed with fresh fruits and flowers yourself for a stunning, natural vibe.
- Use pinecones, acorns and conkers. Bring the outside in and create table decor for very little. Pinecones look sweet with a card label attached featuring the person’s name, while acorns and conkers look cute scattered across the tables.
Geeky wedding theme
Whether it’s comic books, video games, superhero movies or TV shows, incorporating your favourite things into your wedding day is an easy way to add a personal touch. These budget wedding decorations are easy to make yourself AND can be customised – win-win!
- Create confetti out of comics or pages from your favourite book. These look effective when spread across the tables – all you need is a heart-shaped hole punch, a strong arm and some time. Pick up a copy of the book or comics you don’t mind destroying then get punching to create confetti that can be recycled too!
- Ask guests to create the table centrepieces. Fill a bowl with LEGO™ building bricks and leave a note asking guests to make their own creative centrepieces! Fun for them, less effort for you and you can either keep their creations or pop the bricks back in the box at home.
- Create your own cake toppers. If you’re not a traditional couple, why have a traditional cake topper? Why not use cute spray-painted animals, superhero figurines or LEGO™ characters instead?
- Have fun with table settings. Big fans of Lord of the Rings? Buy basic napkin rings, spray paint them gold then carefully copy Elvish script onto them. Or, you could create Harry Potter-inspired wands with sticks, hot glue and some paint as fun favours.
Image credit: Julia Evans Photography
Colourful wedding theme
While pastels will always be popular, rainbow wedding themes are a fun alternative. Having a bright mix of colours means that you’ll never struggle to find the right shades, and every part of your day will pop with colour.
- Create your own streamers. You’ll see coloured streamers all over Pinterest wedding boards, and for good reason! These pretty additions add a simple but cheery touch to wedding venues. Create yours by taking tissue paper, cutting this into long strips and securing it to a long piece of fishing wire or string.
- Have a range of flowers. One of the best parts of having a multicoloured wedding is that you have plenty of flowers to choose from! Mix and match, or have each bridesmaid carry a different colour bouquet to create a fun rainbow effect.
- Choose different coloured bridesmaid dresses. Have a lot of bridesmaids? Get them to each pick a colour of the rainbow and choose a dress in that shade for the day. They can be similar in length and style but they’ll create a stunning visual when grouped together in photos.
- Feature balloons. Balloons are an excellent budget wedding decoration, and look particularly fabulous in mixed colours. Alternatively, choose white balloons with multicoloured paper tails.
- Add food colouring to floral table displays. Feature one or two simple flowers in a jar or bottle and drop some different shades of food colouring into the water, to create a rainbow effect across the tables.
- Add colour with napkins. Make white tablecloths pop with coloured napkins, and add contrasting flowers for a unique extra touch.
What to cut from your wedding budget
Many of us have an idea of what our dream wedding looks like and while flying in by helicopter or having a Maserati deliver you to the church door sounds great, budget doesn’t always allow it. However, there are extras you can cut down on in order to achieve your dream wedding without putting yourself in debt.
Image credit: Leslie Choucard Photography
Matching robes for the bridesmaids
This trend may look sweet in photos, but can quickly set you back, especially if you’re opting for personalised robes. With most weddings featuring around 3-5 bridesmaids, the costs can quickly add up when you’re giving out fancy, personalised robes for them to wear in the morning to get ready. This is especially true if you buy robes reading ‘Bridesmaid’, as we find that bridesmaids often don’t use these again.
What to do instead?
Simply ask your bridesmaids to wear their best PJs, potentially in the same colour if you think their budgets can stretch to it. If you’re set on buying those robes and they’re doubling up as your thank you gift to your bridesmaids for being there on the day, why not buy plain robes and personalise them yourself? The prices of these types of items go up in Spring and Summer as it’s wedding season, so buying robes in Autumn and Winter can be cheaper.
Loads of bridesmaids and groomsmen
This is potentially a controversial suggestion, but cutting the number of people in your bridal party is a surefire way to save you money. Fewer bridesmaids and groomsmen means fewer dresses, suits and shoes to buy, and saves you money on hair and makeup, bouquets and thank you gifts. With the average cost of three bridesmaid dresses coming in at £314, and the hire of three groomsmen’s suits costing on average £171, this can save you some serious money.
What to do instead?
If you’re worried about upsetting friends, then why not keep it in the family and stick to brothers, sisters and nieces and nephews? Your friends will be there to celebrate for the whole day anyway, and they can still help you organise your hen party or stag do celebrations.
Having your photographer for the full day
Here at Guides for Brides, the average amount spent by brides on wedding photography is £1100. While we don’t ever recommend skipping wedding photography, this cost can make it difficult for couples to keep their wedding budgets low.
What to do instead?
If you’re not fussed by photos of your guests on the dance floor, you can save some money by booking your photographer for a reduced amount of time. Many wedding photographers offer a shorter package, for example just the ceremony and for group shots afterwards. Reducing their time could see you paying around £400 for three hours, saving you £700 on average.
Paying for everyone’s dinner
Food is perhaps the most expensive element of a wedding, with some wedding sites claiming that an eye watering £4,151 is spent on catering, on average. It’s also the area where most couples overspend.
Savvy brides and grooms are now finding new ways of feeding guests and saving money at the same time. Many of these suggestions could slash that cost in half, while still ensuring guests enjoy a tasty meal.
What to do instead?
Only have very close family eat with you
Invite everyone to the ceremony then invite them back in the evening to celebrate later. You and your wedding party can then have a small, intimate and still delicious dinner somewhere special before joining the party later.
Ask guests to bring a dish
If you have a venue that allows it, ask guests to bring along a cooked dish and lay these out in a buffet style. When dinner time comes around you can dip into lasagne cooked by your auntie, a pie made by your Grandad and a pasta bake whipped up by your new brother-in-law. It also means everyone feels like part of your day, contributing a little something – and you can save some pennies too.
Have a late wedding
Planning a wedding after dinnertime is an easy way of skipping the cost of the meal. A ceremony at 5pm and party straight after means you won’t need to worry about serving up both a wedding breakfast and evening refreshments. By serving only evening nibbles, you’ll be able to save a considerable sum.
Hen or stag parties abroad
Hen and stag dos have become more and more extravagant over the years – and more expensive too. What started out as a night out with friends ahead of the big day has grown into weekends – or longer – spent in sunnier climes. The average hen party abroad costs £998 per person, with £118.75 alone spent on drinks. Stag dos abroad cost around the same amount.
The cost of attending a wedding can be expensive on its own, as you need to pay for accommodation, a new outfit and a gift for the couple. As a result, an expensive hen or stag do on top of this can stretch people’s budgets.
What to do instead?
Staying in the UK is a simple money-saving tip – a weekend away with your mates is great but perhaps plan it for another time when your money isn’t tied up in wedding planning! Plus, this means it suits the group’s budget as not everyone has the same amount of spare cash to hand.
Kye Harman of Stagweb.co.uk also confirmed that you can save even more money by using a stag and hen company to arrange the event. “The quality stag and hen companies work like the big supermarkets,” he says. “Because agencies book huge numbers of groups each year, hotels and suppliers are keen to offer them discounted rates to ensure their custom.”
“These are rates the agencies then pass on to consumers to ensure the bride/groom get a better deal than booking direct. The more you book through an agency (hotel, activities, nightlife, meals and extras) the more you can save.”
Staying in a hotel on the wedding night
If your chosen wedding venue doesn’t provide accommodation, consider skipping the cost of booking a hotel room for the night and simply go home for a romantic evening if you can.
If you have children, arrange for them to stay with a family member, change the bed sheets the day before, dot a few candles around the room to light when you return home and leave a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge. You’ll save around £100 that can be used for the honeymoon or a lavish date night to soften the “back to reality” bump when you start life as newlyweds.
Plus, you can unwrap all those lovely wedding gifts at home so no lugging them back the day after!
More wedding money-saving tips
Ask a family member or friend to help with tailoring
Many couples forget to budget for the wedding dress, suits and bridesmaids dresses altered, which can be a nasty unexpected cost. If someone close to you is a dab hand with a needle and thread, ask if they can help turn up some hems or adjust some straps.
Hire glasses from your nearest supermarket
If your venue doesn’t supply glasses for dinner, head to a supermarket and ask about their glass hire service. Some require a deposit but allow you to take away glasses to use on the day to return later.
It’s cheaper than buying glasses or renting them from a dedicated supplier. The amount you can borrow varies and some locations may not offer the service so check beforehand to make sure you’re not dependent on this option!
Supermarkets that offer a glass hire service:
- Morrisons. Each store can normally offer around 100 glasses, with wine glasses, tumblers, champagne flutes and sherry glasses available.
- Waitrose. You can hire out pint glasses, wine glasses and champagne flutes.
- Tesco. Available in some stores.
Ask friends and family to bring flowers for your bouquet
The bride can either collect these as they walk down the aisle or have a flower girl or bridesmaid do this. It’s a great way of saving money and getting the guests involved in contributing to a truly meaningful part of your day. They could be flowers from the garden, a florist or that they’ve grown specifically for the day.
Serve your wedding cake as dessert
Save some money and have the venue or caterer serve up your cake as dessert once dinner is over. Just ensure you get that special cake cutting picture beforehand!
Don’t order leaflets for the order of service
It’s safe to say the guests will likely leave these behind once the ceremony is over or, if they do take them home, they’ll end up in a drawer. If you still want to create an order of service, make a large board that guests can stop to take a look at as they enter. This can be done with a large piece of card, placed on a tripod or easel.
Choose wedding shoes you’ll wear again
While ivory pumps are a classic bridal shoe, choosing shoes in a neutral or metallic shade means you’re more likely to wear them again after the big day. Why not buy a beautiful pair of blue shoes to act as your ‘something blue’, or a pair in a bright shade to pop against your wedding dress?
Ask other brides if they have any decor you can borrow
You’ll likely get your hands on some pretty Just Married bunting, unused confetti or perhaps some rustic chalkboard signs to direct guests to the venue. They’ll be more than happy to lend them out, knowing their money has gone a little further, while you enjoy the savings!
Spread the cost
Don’t leave everything until the last minute, try to buy little bits here and there to spread the cost of everything from the decor to accessories. If you’re buying alcohol, pick up a bottle or two each time you go for a food shop and store it in the garage or a spare room until the day. You’ll build up what you need without having to find all the money at once. The sooner you can start picking up bits for your wedding, the better.
Thank you to Sunny for their amazing money-saving tips for wedding planning! See their Ultimate Guide to Saving For Your Wedding for loads more money-saving advice, as well as DIY tutorials and ideas from real brides.
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