How to save for a wedding

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From the dress and suits to the canapes and cake, weddings are an expensive business and no matter what you have planned you’ll need a savings plan to pay for it.
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After a two-year break thanks to the pandemic, weddings are back and if you’re planning one there’s a lot to consider.

Not only do you need to organise everything for the big day, but you’ll also have to work out how to pay for it too. The average cost of a wedding last year was £17.300, according to Hitched.co.uk.

That includes £7,600 on the venue, £1,300 on the wedding dress, £1,200 on photography and £65 per head for catering. Your wedding may obviously be a lot less, or much more, than this but to avoid going into debt, it’s worth having a plan in place to pay for it.

Here we look at the best ways to start saving for a wedding and some helpful wedding saving tips so you can keep costs down.

You can read our full guide to the cost of a wedding here.

How to start saving for a wedding 

You can’t start saving properly for a wedding until you know roughly how much it will cost.

The first thing to do is work out the budget for the day. While everyone’s wedding will be different, a few things to focus on include the following 

  • Guest numbers

  • Venue

  • Outfits (bride’s dress, groom’s suit plus bridesmaid and best man clothes)

  • Flowers or other decorations

  • Food, cake and drinks

  • Transport

  • Accommodation

  • Entertainment

It’s always better to start saving early but this isn’t always possible. You may have also been lucky enough to have been gifted money by family or friends for the day. 

Any money for your wedding should be 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 or a combination of these options. 

Make sure you’ll be able to take the money out when you need it - and there are no penalties for doing so.  

Help stretch your budget a little further by making the most of your savings.

10 wedding saving tips 

You don’t always need to compromise on quality when choosing a budget option and here we look at how to keep costs down without sacrificing your day. 

1. Guest list 

Perhaps the easiest way to control costs is by keeping guest numbers down, although this is often easier said than done. 

Make a list of the most important people you want to invite, such as very close friends and family members, first. Then you can create a secondary list of people you’d like to have on the day if your budget allows.

You could always just a small number of people to the ceremony and a larger number to an evening party, as this means you won’t have to spend as much money catering for everyone throughout the day and evening. 

2. You don’t need to buy new 

It’s easy to get carried away when the ‘W’ word is mentioned but when it comes to clothes there are lots of save money.  

Lots of high-street retailers now sell wedding dresses, such as Phase Eight, for a fraction of the price of a designer dress. Charities including Oxfam also have dedicated websites for second-hand wedding dresses and suits that will only have been worn once before.  

You don’t need to buy outfits for everyone too, you could ask the wedding party to pay what they can towards the cost of their clothes or allow them to wear something they already own in colours to match your theme.  

3. Pick an unseasonal date 

Fridays and Saturdays in peak wedding season - that’s May to September in the UK - are the most expensive. If you pick a less popular day, such as a Thursday in October, the cost of a venue should be lower.  

The time the wedding starts can also affect the cost. If you begin the wedding at midday, you’ll usually be expected to cater lunch and dinner for your guests (and drinks if you’re feeling generous). But if it’s a later wedding you’ll only need to do one meal, and something lighter in the evening. 

4. Go off the beaten track with your venue 

Popular wedding venues get booked up quickly, and they can charge a premium. Instead, you could choose somewhere off the beaten track for your day.

Scrap a hotel and hire a Tipi and host the party in a garden (or field). If you are going down the DIY route, there’s more to organise but you’ll also have a lot more control over what happens on the day. 

5. Skip the honeymoon 

The honeymoon can be expensive so what better way to save money than to skip it altogether. If you’re not willing to sacrifice the trip, why not opt for a mini moon somewhere budget friendly, such as a staycation. You could then have a longer honeymoon later when you’ve had time to save up for it.  

6. Ask friends for help 

If you have any especially talented friends, such as cake makers, designers, DJs, or make-up artists, you could ask them for their services on the day instead of a gift.

This is an easy way to save for a wedding and it means your friends become more involved in the day too.  

7. Pick a buffet over three-course meals 

The cost of a three-course meal, canapes, and evening food can really add up if you’re hiring a catering company.  

Instead, a great way to save money is by catering the wedding yourself. Or getting some friends in to help. 

You could choose a buffet or afternoon tea - with food bought from a supermarket. Many supermarkets cater for weddings and the food is not only budget friendly, it’s often good quality too. Another option is a food van to arrive in the evening to serve guests.

When it comes to the cake, this could easily double up as a dessert on the day - especially as often the cake doesn’t get eaten.

Or you could challenge guests to a Bake-Off-style competition and ask them to bring a bake on the day which guests can then eat. 

8. Scrap the free bar 

Most wedding guests don’t expect a free bar anymore, as they are one of the most expensive elements of a wedding. But you could set aside some of the budget for drinks when your guests arrive and for the speeches. 

Another option is buying the alcohol yourself (if your venue’s licence allows) and operating an honesty bar for guests to give as little or as much as they want towards the costs.

9. Ask for money instead of gifts 

It’s a bit of a difficult subject, asking guests to bring money, and you don’t want to feel like you’re charging them for the day.

But if you don’t really need any wedding gifts - most couples already live together so have less use for a traditional registry - money can be a good option. 

If you can’t bring yourself to ask for cash gifts, vouchers are another option. 

10. Is your wedding covered? 

If something goes wrong, the groom becomes ill, the weather turns, or the venue shuts down, wedding insurance can guarantee your costs are covered.

However, while it may sound like a great way to save money on a wedding, there are catches to be aware of. For a start, not everything is covered - such as cold feet - and you’ll need to carefully check the policy on covid. 

If you can get cover and it’s not too expensive, and it’ll pay out if something does happen, it may be worth it.

But if not, you’re better taking your own precautions such as always paying on credit card if you can, thoroughly researching all the companies you’re using, and always getting references and recommendations from previous customers before you book them. 

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