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How much does a wedding cost in the UK?

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The pandemic put a limit on the number of people who could attend a wedding, and for a while, couples were unable to go ahead with their wedding ceremony. Now that big weddings are back on the agenda again, the cost of hiring venues, catering, photography and wedding dress purchase have all risen.

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It all adds up - but what does it add up to?

Not everyone can afford to spend thousands of pounds on a wedding or civil ceremony.

Weddings on a budget can be just as much fun and you can be as creative as you like and bring in family and friends to help!

But while cheap is possible, spending money you have on something you want is hardly something to be ashamed of either.

So what do couples and their families tend to spend on their big day? We decided to take a look.

How much does it cost to get married in the UK?

According to the National Wedding Survey by Hitched.co.uk, the average cost of a wedding increased from £9,100 in 2020 to £17,300 in 2021. That’s almost double the cost in just 12 months.

The survey found almost half of the couples it surveyed had gone over their intended budget and 61% had received help from their families to fund the wedding. 

What are the typical wedding costs?

According to Hitched.co.uk, the 2021 average wedding costs were broken down as follows:

  • Venue: £7,600

  • Catering: £4,680

  • Wedding dress: £1,300

  • Photographer: £1,200

  • Groom's outfit: £500

  • Bridal hair: £80

  • Bridal make-up: £70

The cost of hiring a venue rose by 40% from £5,406 in 2019. The survey didn’t say why this was but some of the costs might be due to many venues having to shut for the pandemic in 2020 and now looking to recoup their costs.

How to save money on a wedding

There are lots of ways to save costs when planning a wedding. While using a professional wedding planner can save you time, and sometimes negotiate better deals on your behalf, it is often cheaper to do most of the organising yourself.

First of all, work out how much you can afford to spend. Then decide what is the most important aspect of your wedding. Is it the venue and the food, or the wedding clothes and the ring? Whatever your priorities, think about what is most important to you, and compare that with the costs above for the average wedding.

Budget wedding ideas

Once you have a budget you can decide where to economise and where to splurge. Since the venue and catering costs take up the biggest proportion of wedding spend (an average £12,000 per couple), it makes sense to find the best deals available.

  • Choose your venue carefully: Hotels often offer wedding packages that include photographer, food, alcohol, room decoration and a master of ceremonies. You can cut costs by reducing the number of guests you invite or opting for a cheaper menu. There are usually a number of different catering options available.

  • Work out how much it will cost per head: If you have fewer guests you may also be able to hire a smaller room which helps to keep down the costs. You can also try to negotiate prices although this will be more difficult in the peak wedding season of June to the end of August.

  • Choose a less formal venue: pubs, small restaurants, village halls and rural hotels can all be cheaper options than hotels that specialise in wedding packages. You will need to be prepared to do more of the organising and legwork yourself, however.

  • Consider getting married in the winter: Winter weddings can be romantic and atmospheric – think velvet dresses and snow-themed receptions. It will be much cheaper to get married in December than in June. The drawback is that you will have limited daylight, so you might need to get married earlier in the day in order to get the best shots outside.

  • Snap up bargains: A winter wedding also enables you to buy dresses in the sales at the end of the summer, although this is of course an option if you are planning to get married the following year.

Weddings on a budget

Of course, you don’t have to have all the extras – string quartet, horse and carriage to church or the venue, lots of bridesmaids and a lavish wedding banquet in order to make your day special.

Think about what you and the other guests will actually remember about the day. If you see some great ideas for a wedding on Instagram, think about how you can copy the ideas and recreate the same look on a budget.

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How to have a cheap wedding

There are a number of clever ways to have a cheaper wedding without compromising on style and fun.

  • Go for an off-peak wedding – by getting married or having a civil partnership ceremony midweek or out of the main wedding season you will save a significant amount of money. Just make sure you give all your guests plenty of notice so they can book time of work well in advance. You may also find hotel accommodation is cheaper in the week as well.

  • Keep your guest list tight – catering is a big cost and so think carefully about how you want to invite and whether you are providing food for a single wedding banquet or an evening disco as well.

  • Don’t offer a free bar – costs can easily mount up, especially if you are paying hotel bar prices, which are often higher than drinking in a pub. Depending on the venue, you could even ask guests to bring their own alcohol.

  • Rethink bridesmaids’ dresses – high street brands can be picked up cheaply, or think of a colour scheme and ask your friends to wear something they already own.

You can read our full guide to budget wedding tips and tricks here.

How to cut costs on a wedding

If you are looking for ways to save money on a wedding you could do a lot of the background work yourself, from learning bridal make-up tutorials online to decorating the venue. Just remember that the more you take on yourself, the more time you will need to plan and prepare.

  • Bridal make-up – do it yourself using YouTube tutorials or ask a talented friend to help

  • Rather than hire a DJ – create your own disco playlist for the evening, or ask a  local band rather than musicians who specifically advertise as wedding performers

  • Wedding presents – ask for money instead which you can put towards your honeymoon or the cost of setting up home together

About Marianne Curphey

View Marianne Curphey 's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.