There is a lot of planning and even more spending involved with getting married. From nailing down the date you tie the knot and securing your dream venue to purchasing a dress or suit and booking a live band. But, of all the added extras that couples spend time organising and spending so much money on, what do wedding guests actually pay the most attention to? And how much money could couples save on their big day if they ditched the wedding décor that their guests won’t even notice?
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Curious to discover what wedding guests actually look for in a wedding, the financial wedding experts at money.co.uk conducted a study using eye-tracking software to reveal the specific elements that people spend the most time gazing at. The study participants were presented with 70 images of weddings featuring various items of decor and the software tracked how long people spent looking at each one.
Each decorative item was then ranked from those that caught the eye of participants for the longest amount of time, down to those with the least amount of gazing time. But to discover how much couples could save by eliminating the least eye-catching wedding decor from their big day, we surveyed 1,000 future newlyweds asking them to estimate how much they will spend on the 70 wedding items and analysed the results to get the mean average cost. The wedding experts then calculated the total cost of the 10 least eye-catching items to reveal how much people could save on their weddings.
Using eye-tracking software, the study discovered that fairy lights are the wedding day decorations that are the most eye-catching to guests, therefore making them the item most worth the extra spending. Interestingly, fairy lights are the cheapest item based on how couples plan on spending (£106.25) and yet they have the biggest impact as people spend almost six seconds staring at them. So, if you’re looking to make your big day more of a budget wedding that impresses your guests, then be sure to drape the venue in the twinkling lights.
Sparklers closely follow fairy lights, as potential wedding guests spent 5.13 seconds gazing at them. Despite couples anticipating sparklers costing more than £365, the total spend would be impacted by the number of guests you have. Not only are they an eye-catching added extra for your big day, but they are also a great way to get all your guests involved in the evening celebrations as they gather together for a picture-perfect moment.
Next on the list is the bridal bouquet (£416.57) and floral pew ends (£367.75), which are the third and fourth most eye-catching pieces of wedding décor being looked at for 5.10 and 5.09 seconds, respectively.
Fifth on the list is a wedding DJ which couples are willing to spend almost £600 on to keep their guests entertained. Although they come with a hefty price tag, they clearly impress wedding guests - whether it’s welcoming the bride and groom for their first dance as a married couple or playing a song guaranteed to fill the dancefloor, the entertainment of a wedding DJ is worth every penny.
Also on the theme of a big party, disco lights are one of the most eye-catching wedding add-ons. Although some wedding venues may throw in disco lights as part of the hire, couples expect to pay more than £365 to light up the dancefloor. Despite being on the more expensive side, the eye-tracking study found that people spent more than 5 seconds looking at the disco lights making it the sixth most eye-catching out of the 70 items.
Seating charts and a photo booth station are seventh and eighth on the list, followed by candle table centrepieces in ninth. Candles are a cost-efficient alternative to traditional floral centrepieces, with our survey findings couples expect to pay almost £290 more for flowers instead of candles. Interestingly though, it is candles that are the most attractive to wedding guests whilst floral table decorations don’t feature in the top 15 list.
The 10th most eye-catching wedding décor couples should splash out on to impress their guests are bespoke cocktails. This is a trend that seems to have become more popular recently which involves the bride and groom offering guests the choice of two cocktails; one crafted by the bride and the other by the groom. Not only does it catch the eye of wedding guests (4.52 seconds) but it adds a nice personalised touch to the drinks offered on a special day.
|Rank||Item||Mean Cost (£)||Avg. Fixation Time (Seconds)|
|4||Floral Pew Ends||367.75||5.09|
|8||Photo Booth Station||404.98||4.64|
|9||Candle Table Centrepieces||109.99||4.6|
|12||LED Tree Decorations||318.29||4.44|
|13||Mis-matched Bridesmaids Dresses||405.53||4.39|
|15||Multicoloured Hanging Lanterns||298.08||4.21|
The study using eye-tracking software also revealed the items that couples could cut out of their budget as guests don’t pay as much attention to them, which proved couples could save more than £6,000. The research found that a card and gift station is the least eye-catching element of the day. As some couples try and make a big deal of the card and gift table with opulent decorations and signature signposts which could cost almost £300, the study revealed guests spend less than a second gazing at it.
Candle pew ends are second on the list, as the study finds guests spend just 1.14 seconds looking at them, compared to the 5.09 seconds guests spend gazing at floral pew ends. Gold cutlery is third on the list of least eye-catching wedding decorations, as guests spend 1.15 seconds looking at the warmer alternative to traditional silverware.
Interestingly, the hottest wedding trend of the last few years - LED love letter lights and the initials of the couple lit up - take fifth and sixth place. Often seen as a backdrop for the dancefloor, the oversized lights have dominated weddings all around the world for quite some time, so it’s interesting to see that guests spend less than two seconds looking at them. The great news is by cutting these decorations out of your big day could save you more than £300 on average.
Ceremony backdrops are seventh on the list as people spend just 1.61 seconds engaging with them. From a geometrical shape to a pampas grass wall, couples really get creative when it comes to choosing a backdrop for their ceremony. However, their guests could spend less than two seconds looking at it. Wedding cars are next on the list in eighth, and are one of the highest estimated costs for those soon to tie the knot, followed by ceiling projections in ninth.
Rounding off the top 10 list of the least eye-catching items to decorate the venue on their wedding day.
|Rank||Item||Mean Cost (£)||Avg. Fixation Time (Seconds)|
|1||Card and Gift Station||297.17||0.97|
|2||Candle Pew Ends||306.75||1.14|
|5||Initial LED Lights||311.31||1.31|
|6||Love LED Lights||305.27||1.54|
Purely looking at the survey data it is clear that soon-to-be-married couples anticipate that live entertainment and musicians will be the most costly part of their big day. Topping the list of expenses is a live band, for which those planning a wedding are willing to pay more than £722. Live music can often come with a bigger price tag than other elements of the big day for many reasons; if there are multiple members of the band then they all need to get paid for their contributions, and often the distance they have to travel needs to be factored into the cost.
Also in the realm of entertaining guests is a string quartet (£604.79) which is fifth on the list, a DJ is sixth, and couples plan on spending £564.80 on a singer for the ceremony. A harpist is the final entertainment cost on the list and ranks as the 12th most costly wedding item as soon-to-be-wed couples estimate spending £464.55 for the privilege.
Transport costs also feature highly on the list; horse-drawn carriages rank in second place as people estimate a cost of £657.46, wedding cars are fourth (£636.30), and a red guest bus is seventh with costs estimated to be more than £570.
|Rank||Item||Mean Estimated Cost (£)|
|3||Matching Bridesmaids Dresses||640.53|
|7||Wedding Guest Bus||570.07|
|10||Groom Top Hat and Tails||494.08|
|14||Bridal Designer Shoes||461.6|
According to Hitched.co.uk, weddings can now set couples back £17,300 on average, so it’s no surprise that people need to start saving well in advance of their special day.
The best way to calculate how much you need to set aside is by working out a few things; what time of year you want to get married (outside of peak season will help to bring the cost down), how many people will be attending, and the type of venue you want to get married in.
Once you have this nailed down you should start putting any money for your wedding in a savings account earning interest. This could be a standard savings account, a regular savings account you pay monthly into, an ISA, or a current account where you earn interest. You can also opt for a mix and match of the accounts you start saving into to suit you best, just be sure that you’ll be able to take the money out (penalty-free) when you need it.
There are plenty of great and sensible ways you can pay for your wedding day to ensure you have an amazing day. And the best thing is you can always split the ways that you pay for your wedding day rather than relying on one method. The best ways to pay for a wedding are:
Savings: If you have money sitting in savings, this is often a great fund to turn to when it comes to paying for a wedding because you can use it without being charged interest for borrowing.
A credit card: Credit card spending is protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, meaning it could be a way to shop for items between £100 to £30,000. 0% purchase credit cards let you spread the costs without paying interest for a set number of months, whilst reward cards are great to use when spending big as you can use the points towards your big day.
A personal loan: Although this can be an expensive way to pay for a big event like a wedding, it is an option for covering the entire cost by letting you pay it back in monthly instalments. With a personal loan you can borrow up to £25,000 over one to seven years, with some offering less than 3% interest rates.
Due to weddings being such an expensive day, it is vital to put protection in place just in case something goes wrong. Wedding insurance will be there to protect you if a supplier goes bust or if you’re forced to cancel, as well as many other reasons. It can give you valuable protection for many different aspects of the day that can go wrong. You just pay a one-off sum for a policy, and they will pay out should something go wrong.
1. The wedding finance experts at money.co.uk conducted a study on 50 participants to discover the wedding decor that guests pay the most and least attention to.
2. This was done using RealEye (eye-tracking software) and by presenting the participants with a series of images of weddings that are fully set up, including the ceremony, reception, and drinks reception. money.co.uk tracked the decor the participants spent the most and least amount of time looking at, in order to report where future newly-weds can save themselves money.
3. To get a figure on how much couples could save, we used Censuswide to survey 1,000 soon-to-be-married and recently married people to discover how much they expect to spend on each item of wedding decor. Those surveyed were given price brackets to choose from, going up in £50 brackets up to more than £4,000.
4. To create a longlist of wedding decor items, we analysed wedding ‘must-haves’ and wedding checklist articles from reputable bridal titles; including, Brides, Want The Wedding and Vogue Weddings.
5. All data correct October 2022.
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As a trained journalist, Lucinda has spent the past 10 years writing and editing content for regional and national titles, including The Mirror, WalesOnline and Manchester Evening News. She is now a personal finance editor and specialises in savings, helping people to make confident financial decisions so they can save for what matters most.