Set a budget... and stick to it!

You may have a rough idea of what you expect to spend on your wedding day but taking the time to list all the costs and setting a maximum budget can be a good way to see exactly where your money is going and stop your spending getting out of control.

Prioritising which aspects of your wedding day are most important to you and getting those sorted first will also make planning the wedding you want within your budget a whole lot easier.

Set out a maximum spend and list all the essential elements of your wedding day that you just can't do without - for example the venue, clothes, caterers & ceremony. Work out how much you are likely to spend on each and set individual budgets. This will make it easier for you to find options that fall within your price range. It will also give you a clear idea of how much cash you'll have left over after paying for them.

Next, list your 'must have' extras such as flowers, a cake, luxury transport, a professional photographer and live band in your order of preference.

You should then be able to see more clearly exactly how far your budget will stretch, something to refer back to and a clearer idea of what you may need to cut back on.

If you are able to cut the cost of your essential parts of your wedding you may be able to stretch you budget to include more of your optional extras.

Haggle over prices

Certain wedding costs are fixed - such as the fee charged by the registry office for your wedding certificate - but most suppliers will be open to some negotiation so it's worth making the most of this.

Don't mention the W word

Booking anything from a reception venue to a DJ will attract a substantial mark-up if you let slip from the outset that you're planning for a wedding. This is because most businesses know that you want the best for your big day and that you will be perhaps be willing to pay a premium for the privilege - as a result most don't hesitate to up their prices.

However, there is nothing stopping you from getting a quote for a standard function or event and trying to make the company stick to it should they want to up the price once they know it's for a wedding - unless they can demonstrate a valid reason.

Shop around

You should do this for everything from the venue to your cake, your honeymoon and hairdresser to your wedding DJ.

Even if you have your heart set on specific location or a preferred florist, this is still worth doing as you can always use cheaper quotes elsewhere to try and drive down the final price even further.

It's always work asking whether there's any room to negotiate on the price you're quoted - especially if you're happy to book there and then for the right price, have a large number of guests, or you're booking for a less popular time of year.

If you aren't able to get them to lower the price you should try asking for extras to be added in instead. They may be more open to this idea and it will mean that you'll be getting more for your money.

Avoid peak wedding dates

Choosing a popular date to get married on is likely to add on a fair sum to all aspects of your wedding.

Being selective about when you decide to book your nuptials can make a big difference to the amount you pay over all - so avoid Valentine's weekend and bank holidays if you have a small budget. Also you could:

  • Opt for a winter wedding: Demand for wedding venues and entertainment is all much lower in the autumn and winter months meaning you could make your money go a lot further than if you chose to marry in spring or summer.

    You may also want to consider when you would like to celebrate your wedding anniversary each year as this again could influence your decision.

  • Steer clear of Saturdays: The cost of hiring a suitable venue for the wedding and the reception can be cut drastically by opting to tie the knot on a Friday, Sunday or another week day rather than the traditional Saturday.

    This is because many of the most popular wedding locations get booked up years in advance for Saturday weddings, and as a result of the high demand can afford to charge high prices.

  • Marry in the morning or late afternoon: If you are happy to move your ceremony forward to the late morning you'll benefit from cheaper ceremony costs and if you choose a lunch meal rather than a more formal sit down style wedding breakfast in mid afternoon, lower catering costs as well.

    Equally a later wedding time could help you cut costs by paying for just one wedding meal, perhaps an evening buffet rather than a wedding breakfast followed by more food in the evening.

Swap gifts for savings

Ask for wedding favours

If you have a family member with a panache for photography or the next Jamie Oliver as an uncle you could save a significant amount by asking them to utilise their skills for your wedding day rather than buying you a more traditional wedding gift.

Doing this will not only save you a considerable amount but will also give you a personalised service from someone who you know, who will want to do a good job rather than a hired stranger.

Chances are that the person you ask will also be happy to help as it may help them cut the cost of attending the wedding by providing the service rather than buying a gift.

Roles that could be given to suitable members of your wedding party could include:

  • Photographer

  • Chauffeur

  • Wedding cake maker

  • Musician or DJ

  • Master of ceremonies

Ask for honeymoon vouchers

One of the major costs of a wedding that is often overlooked when setting a budget is the honeymoon.

Chances are you will want your honeymoon to be special and memorable, but following a wedding finding the funds to pay for the trip can be tricky.

However, if you are already living together and don't need another coffee maker or waffle iron, asking for money towards your honeymoon could ease the pressure on the purse strings.

Do your research

There are literally hundreds of websites dedicated to offering everything you need for your wedding day, making competition for your business fierce and bargains readily available.

Compare prices/quotes

One of the major benefits of online shopping is that you can easily compare prices and quotes from a variety of sources to make sure you are getting a good deal.

Many clothing hire companies will also offer a discount if you book online rather than by phone or in person, so check local providers websites before taking a trip to get kitted out.

You should also check wedding dedicated websites such as confetti.co.uk as well as more traditional department stores to get prices for all the little extras you want for your big day.

Don't exclude the high street

Although there are many benefits of shopping online and some great bargains to be had, that doesn't mean that you should exclude traditional high street stores and independent businesses.

However, the benefit of doing your research on the web is that you'll be able to get a good idea of what you might pay elsewhere before you shop, and remember while prices may be cheaper online you will need to factor in delivery costs and the benefits of seeing what you're purchasing before you buy.

Make the most of your skills

Many of the costs involved in planning a wedding can be cut substantially if you are willing to take on some of the work involved, as with many wedding items you are paying for a service as much as the end product itself.

Make your own

If you have the time and inclination you can make anything from invitations to table decorations, cupcakes in place of a cake, homemade truffles as wedding favours, thank you presents and much more.

However, work out how much you will need to spend on the raw materials and how long it will take for you to make a sufficient number for all your guests. Once you've done this consider whether you'll realistically have the time to put your plans into action without putting yourself under too much pressure. If making your own will be cheaper and you have the time available then it's worth doing.

Spend smartly

The way that you pay for your wedding can also make a big difference to the final cost, especially if you end up spending more than you originally intended.

How will you pay?

It's a good idea to pay for any wedding purchases between 100 and 30,000 on credit card so that you'll have the reassurance of Section 75 protection in case anything goes wrong with your order. This protection will apply even if you only pay the initial deposit for your purchase on a credit card and the remainder in cash or by some other means.

Remember

Don't forget to keep all of your receipts for everything you buy just in case.

For amounts less than 100 you should consider using a debit card so that you have the reassurance of Chargeback if the supplier fails to deliver.

If you are using a credit card for your spending you should ensure that you are using the right one, so consider:

  • A cashback credit card for your purchases: If you have the cash available to cover your spending then use a cashback card. Doing so will mean you earn a little something back everytime you spend - this can soon add up when wedding budgets are concerned!

    Make sure you clear the balance in full when you get your statement, otherwise the interest that's added will outweigh the cashback you've earned.

  • A 0% purchase card: If you need to borrow then you should consider a 0% purchase card with a lengthily interest free period so that you can spread the cost. You will need to be disciplined about paying off the balance when the interest free period ends or looking at arranging a balance transfer so you don't end up paying through the nose in interest.

Avoid going into debt whenever possible

Starting your married life with big debts from your wedding day is not an ideal situation and one that you could come to regret in later years.

Whenever possible avoid over spending on what is essentially the first day of your married life together.

If you find that you are stretching your budget beyond its limits you should look at whether there are any other ways you can cut your costs.

Consider wedding insurance

Despite even the best laid plans, sometimes events beyond your control can cause things to go wrong on your big day.

Illness, weather and business liquidations are all factors that could scupper your wedding day, so making sure you have a comprehensive insurance policy at an affordable price could save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds if something unexpected did happen.

Wedding insurance policies are relatively inexpensive and can be tailored to fit your wedding plans so they are worth considering if you're spending a significant amount.

Think outside the box

You're likely to pay a lot more if you conform to traditional wedding ideals. Do things a little differently and you'll not only be able to have your perfect wedding day, but you'll also be able to cut the cost of getting hitched substantially.

There are a number of this you could consider to help you keep your budget down:

  • Avoiding a sit down meal and going with a barbeque or buffet

  • Making a play list out of your guests' favourite songs instead of booking a band or DJ

  • Asking the groomsmen to wear their own suits instead of hiring

  • Choosing flowers in season rather than an exotic bouquet

It can be difficult not to cave into pressure from friends and family members that have an idea about what your wedding should be like. However, just remember that it's your wedding and not theirs. Plan your wedding as you'd like it and don't worry too much about what you should be doing!