Wedding budget planner

Congrats - you’re getting hitched! The time has come to start planning the most magical day of your life, but where to start, what will it cost and how will you pay for it all? We’ve got you covered.
Share this guide
Graphic with a calendar, flowers with title 'wedding budget planner'

One of the first things to think about when planning a wedding is your wedding budget and how much you can afford to spend, ahead of setting the date.

If you’re getting married and want an interest-free way to spread the cost of your wedding, be sure to compare 0% purchase credit cards to secure the best deals.

We have created a wedding budgeting and date setting planner to help you figure out your budget and choose a wedding date. Simply input the amount of money you wish to spend on every element of your wedding, from food and refreshments to attire, music and decorations (the average spend for each of these, based on the average wedding size of 80 guests, is also suggested for those needing a helping hand deciding how much to budget).

Then once you have your overall budget worked out, it’s time to earmark your date; the wedding budget planner allows you to input your budget figure, savings and contributions, as well as how much you want to save a week, to reveal how long it will take to save up the amount of money you need for your dream day, and when that day should be. 

Breaking your wedding budget down into simple sections, and locking down your date in plenty of time, will allow you to relax, enjoy and revel in this exciting time.Try it now!

How much does an average wedding cost in the UK?

A legal register office wedding in the UK will set you back just £46 (2021 figures) however, most couples elect for something a little grander with specially purchased outfits, a wedding reception including food, drinks, flowers, music and cake, as well as a honeymoon on top of this.

graphic with a list of how much everything costs at a wedding.

Our research found the average wedding costs £24,482 - so be prepared to put your hand in your pocket if you want a big reception! This average was worked out using the average costs of both a marquee style venue and a specific wedding venue, however if you go for a marquee you could save yourself some money. The average marquee wedding costs £23,410 whereas the average cost of a wedding at a venue is £25,554; that’s an overall saving of £2,144 - not too shabby if you have got the space to do it.

With weddings being such a large cost, probably in the top three of the largest single expenditures in your life after buying a house and similar to buying a new car, it’s important you have some backup in case things go wrong. That’s where wedding insurance comes in – it provides financial protection for what is often a considerable financial investment.

Wedding itemCategoryAverage cost per item (£)
Wedding dressBefore the wedding1,193
Groom's attireBefore the wedding628
Wedding fashion accessoriesBefore the wedding228
Invitations (Stationery)Before the wedding222
Wedding plannerBefore the wedding1112
Engagement partyBefore the wedding875
Transportation to venueCeremony432
Average Church / Registrar costCeremony506
VenueReception6,286
Marquee hireReception4,142
CateringReception4419
MusicReception915
FavoursReception137
BarReception2500
CakeReception290
Entertainment (non music)Reception515
HairdressingGeneral costs227
Make upGeneral costs213
PhotographerGeneral costs1,110
VideographerGeneral costs1,016
FlowersGeneral costs676
Decoration and hireGeneral costs629
OtherGeneral costs1,425

How to do a wedding on a budget?

When creating a wedding budget, it’s a good idea to separate pre-wedding expenses such as bride and/or groom attire and wedding rings, from on the day expenses such as food and drink and extras like hair and makeup. This way you’re less likely to forget to include little extras that tend to add up and you’re able to clearly see everything you will be spending on the whole event.

Our wedding budget planner separates expenses into the above categories, saving you the hassle and helping you do your wedding on a budget!

Budget wedding tips

Saving up for a wedding can seem like a laborious task, but there are simple steps you can take to make cuts without compromising on your dream day. Use our experts' seven budget wedding tips below to cut the cost of your nuptials.

Budget wedding tip 1: Get married off-peak

Graphic of two costs at weddimgs one in august and one in feb

When using the wedding budget planner, consider choosing a weekday as these are often

a lot less expensive than weekends, which tend to be more in demand. Summer weddings are hugely popular, so choosing an autumn or winter date can save you lots of money.

For example, to hire the lovely Mill Barns on a Saturday in August 2023 will cost £10,250, whereas to hire it on a Wednesday in February will cost £3,750. That’s a saving of £6,500 simply by choosing a low-season date!

Budget wedding tip 2: Buy a used wedding dress/suit

Have a look for pre-owned wedding dresses and bridesmaids dresses and you’ll not only save yourself money, but give an old garment a new purpose, which is great for the environment. Win win. Online clothing resale store Vinted have reported a 23% rise in second-hand wedding dress purchases since 2020, and Google searches for ‘second hand wedding dress’ have increased 23% year on year, showing that buying pre-loved is a trend that’s most definitely on the rise. 

If you’re interested in buying a second hand wedding dress, you can visit second hand clothing sites such as depop and ebay, as well as more specialist sites like Still White .

Budget wedding tip 3: Sell your gown after the wedding

You can save money by selling your dress and accessories after the event. You can do this on the same websites you may have used to buy your second hand wedding dress. Not only is this a great way of making back some of the money you spent, particularly if your dress was expensive, it’s also eco-friendly and sustainable to pass it on to someone else!

You can use specialised websites to sell your dress such as Still White or Sell My Wedding Dress. You could also use sites such as ebay, depop or Amazon to help another bride find their dream dress.

To give your dress the best chance of selling, we’d recommend getting it professionally cleaned and ensuring there are clear, attractive pictures of your dress available for potential customers. Dresses that are photographed modelled on a body tend to sell much better than dresses that are on a hanger, so recruit someone to take some pictures of you in the dress, or simply use your wedding photos if you feel comfortable in doing so.

Finally, have a fair returns policy, as it’s not unreasonable to expect that brides-to-be will be more likely to purchase the dress if they know they can send it back if it isn’t quite right. Doing this will allow your dress to attract the most attention possible, even if it takes slightly longer to properly sell. 

Budget wedding tip 4: Make your own decorations

Use props such as glass jars, candles, ribbon, fruits, vegetables and more - all available in high street stores. Explore Pinterest for wonderful and inexpensive centrepiece ideas. Our favourites are lemon table runners and these DIY glass bottle candles.  

According to our research, the average cost for decorations/decoration hire at a wedding is £629, but you could create your own decorations as explained above for a fraction of the cost!

Budget wedding tip 5: Limit the bar tab

Rather than having an open bar all night, which can often lead to guests taking one sip of their drink before leaving it somewhere in favour of a new one, introduce a bar tab that will run out eventually leaving guests to pay for their own refreshments. Alternatively, you could choose to serve wine and beer only or simply offer one signature cocktail. Your venue might even allow you to bring your own booze, which will lower the price significantly if you buy from a wholesaler in bulk.

Budget wedding tip 6: Cut down the guest list

Be brutal with the guestlist - just because someone invited you to their wedding doesn’t mean they necessarily need to come to yours! Another easy way to whittle down the list is to eliminate children and plus ones. 

According to our research, the average cost of catering a wedding for 80 people is £4,419 so try and stick to 50 guests to save £1,657!

Budget wedding tip 7: Reduce the people in your wedding party

With fewer bridesmaids and groomsmen, you won’t have to spend as much for flowers, button holes, and thank you gifts.

Budget wedding tip 8: Use a dummy wedding cake

graphif of two weddings cakes with prices on them. one is a dummy cake to show the cost difference.

Want a spectacular looking cake at a discount? Why not request a dummy cake? Made of Styrofoam cylinders decorated to look like edible tiers, dummy cakes can provide a showstopping photo op without the towering costs. You can simply have one edible tier on top to cut for a photo op and dish out to your guests, which is a great way to avoid wasting food, as well as cut costs. 

Our research has revealed the average cost of a real wedding cake is £290, however if making a cake with dummy tiers, according to Cakecentral.com, most caterers will tend to give a 20 percent discount, meaning you can save £58.

Hidden wedding costs to look out for

We all know it’s extremely important (and really hard!) to stick to your wedding budget, but stick to it you must.

However, things get complicated when your wedding budget isn’t completely accurate, which is often the case for those who haven’t thought about potential hidden wedding costs.

Don’t forget to use a wedding budget planner at the start of your wedding planning to ensure you know what you have to spend before you begin.

To make sure your wedding budget is as close to reality as possible, we have rounded up the most often overlooked hidden wedding costs, from extras to essentials. 

Supplier expenses

Sometimes bands, photographers and other staff will require you to pay for their travel expenses on the day, or even a hotel to stay overnight if they are required to stay late at your venue. Waiters and waitresses will also require meals, snacks and refreshments, so make sure to check the costs with your venue and suppliers so you can factor all this into your budget ahead of time. 

Admin fees

No doubt you’ve thought about budgeting for the party, but the legal part of a wedding also comes at a cost. For a civil ceremony, for example, you have to pay to give notice, as well as for registrars' fees and the cost of the wedding certificate. At a church wedding, there's a set fee, but you may want extras such as an organist, bellringer or choir on top of this. 

If you’re thinking about changing your name/s, there are costs involved in this, too. 

VAT

Suppliers will sometimes give you costs not inclusive of VAT, so make sure to allow for this in your budget. 

Alterations

Whether you’re wearing a dress, suit, kilt or anything in between, unless you’ve had it custom made it will often need alterations so that it can fit you like a glove on the biggest day of your life! Companies such as The Restory offer a free quote before you have to commit to anything. 

Hair and makeup trials 

Whilst you may have set aside money to pay your professional hair and makeup stylist, you may not have thought about the cost of the trial. These are often as much as the cost of styling on the day!

Accessories

Jewellery, underwear, shoes and hair accessories are all things you might be looking to splash out on for your wedding day, so be sure to include them in your budget. 

Transport

Especially for a wedding away from home, guests might not know their way around public transport or the number for the local taxi service, so often a coach or similar method of transportation is needed to get your guests to the venue on time. Depending on how many guests you have, this can end up being extremely costly, so factoring it into your budget is key. 

Thank you gifts

Be it for your bridesmaids, ushers, parents or anyone else who has helped you with the planning and/or execution of your big day, you might very well wish to thank them with a token of appreciation for all their hard work. Budgeting for these gifts in advance will help avoid running out of budget!

How to do wedding flowers on a budget

Fresh flowers look amazing at any event, but can end up costing an arm and a leg. If you’re looking to keep costs down, using flowers that are the cheapest per stem will help you keep to your budget. For example, using carnations at 20p a stem (wholesale price) will create a gorgeous, colourful, impactful bouquet of 20 flowers for just £4, compared to the same number of roses which will cost £18.20, almost 5x the price!

Using foliage and greenery such as ivy and eucalyptus among your blooms is also a good tip; they will not only add depth to your flower arrangements, but will save you money, too. 

Some popular wedding flowers and their average wholesale prices per stem* are:

FlowerAverage price per stem
Lily£0.78
Rose£0.91
Gladiolus£0.50
Lavender£0.48
Germini£0.34
Chrysanthemum£0.47
Iris£0.30
Gerbera£0.65
Bouvardia£0.73
Carnations£0.20

*We took an average of the different species of each flower listed here to get the price per stem for each species of flower. 

Buying flowers wholesale and making your own bouquet is a fantastic way to release your creative side and save money at the same time. 

Caroline Grimble, a florist at Bloom & Wild, has provided some tips and tricks to DIY your wedding flowers below:

“For longer lasting flowers, trim the stems on an angle before leaving them in a cool dark place overnight for them to drink up lots of water.

“Before you place your bulk order, order a few boxes to experiment with. This will give you a better idea of how many boxes (and helping hands!) you'll be likely to need on the day.

You’ll find lots of handy guides and video tutorials on the website to help you create the perfect arrangements.

For table displays, make sure your arrangement looks full by adding a grid formation over the mouth of your vase with floristry tape. Pop your stems into the gaps and they’ll stand perfectly. 

What makes a professional-looking display is the way you cut your stems. Create interesting levels by cutting some shorter than others and layering them. Remember that people will need to speak to each other over your display, so the less height the better.

Start collecting beautiful bowls, low vases or posy jars as these will give you the perfect starting point. Remember to keep turning your vase as you style it to make sure it looks beautiful from all angles!”

You should also consider using local flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding; they’ll be cheaper as well as fresher for longer - it’s more sustainable too.

Using props is another great way to make an impact whilst using less flowers - think glass jars with candles inside, and attractive fruit and vegetables such as citrus fruits.

Finally, double up! Our top tip for how to do wedding flowers on a budget is if you’re using lots of fresh blooms for an arch to hold the ceremony under, then why not take them and use them as centrepieces at your wedding reception?! 

How to save money on food for a wedding reception?

Catering is one of the most expensive elements of a wedding reception; whether you do it buffet style, sit down meal or BBQ, feeding a hefty amount of guests is always going to be costly. But how can you make it as cost effective as possible?

One of the easiest ways to save money is to be flexible around your date - weekend dates are often in higher demand and therefore caterers might charge more money for them. 

Secondly, choosing to get married later in the day will save you feeding your guests twice, halving the cost of your catering. Instead of getting married at 1pm and having to serve lunch and then dinner, if you start at say 4pm, offer canapes and drinks and go straight to the dinner, this will likely shave money off your final bill.

In terms of ingredients, choosing local will help to bring the budget under control. Aim for a menu of in-season ingredients; not only will these be more cost effective, they will also taste better. For the cake, as mentioned above, use a dummy cake where only the top tier is actually edible.

Then, there’s the style of food to consider. To keep costs low and without your guests noticing the difference, opt for a ‘passed-around’ menu of substantial canapes and bowl food. The food will keep coming round, keeping your guests well fed and giving the illusion of endless food options! Furthermore, with a wider variety of dishes on offer, there will be something for everyone - even the fussiest of eaters. 

Finally, the most obvious yet controversial solution is to cut your guest list right down. Having fewer guests can dramatically reduce your wedding costs, and allows you to give your invitees a dining experience they won’t forget while saving you money. It goes without saying that this has to be discussed openly and agreed to by both partners to ensure everyone is happy and comfortable with the newly svelte guest list. 

How to buy a wedding dress on a budget?

Wedding dresses are notoriously expensive, but they don’t have to break the bank! There are lots of ways you can save money on this usually extravagant purchase.

Renting a dress is a great option as you can borrow a designer dress for a fraction of the cost. Afterall, you’re probably not planning to wear the dress again, and recycling it is good for the environment; it’s a win win - hence why this option is becoming more and more popular.

You can also opt for a shorter dress, or one with light-weight fabric, as these tend to be a lot cheaper than traditional wedding dresses; they also lend themselves perfectly to an overseas or beach wedding.

Sample sales are also a great way to make savings, as they often contain designer dresses that are ex-display, at a fraction of the original price. Keep an eye out for when your favourite designers are holding a sample sale, and you might just end up with your dream dress for half the price.

Finally, do some research and have an idea of the type of dress you want before going dress shopping. Designers will sometimes give you a small discount if you purchase the dress on the day you go in to try it on, so having a style in mind will give you the best chance of finding ‘the one’ on your first visit. 

How to choose the wedding date?

When it comes to setting your wedding date, there are many things to take into consideration such as the time of year, national holidays, sporting events, weather and more. It’s important to remember though, that if you’re on a tight budget, choosing certain days/dates can shave thousands off the price of your chosen venue. 

Consider choosing a weekday as these are often a lot less expensive than weekends that tend to be more in demand. Furthermore, summer weddings are hugely popular, so choosing an autumn or winter date can save you lots, not to mention provide a beautiful setting with autumnal colours or a scattering of winter snow.

When to send out save the dates?

In terms of sending out save the dates, make sure you do this as early as possible  to ensure the highest chance of people being able to make it. This is especially important if you’re planning a summer wedding, where wedding dates are often snapped up quickly, not to mention people booking holidays and potentially being out of the country. 

Famous wedding dates

If you’re setting your wedding date and want to see which celebs you might share the same anniversary with, then look no further. We’ve looked into the wedding dates of the most searched celebrity weddings - from Hollywood royalty to actual royalty and reality TV contestants, and can reveal when they all got hitched below:

Graphic of the most popular famous weddings

Celebrity Wedding Dates

Getting married in the UK - the small print

Who to notify when you get married in the UK?

When you get legally married, there are lots of organisations that either one or both of you will need to notify, including:

  • Passport Office

  • Company Pension Scheme

  • Bank Or Building Society

  • Child's School, Or Childcare Provider

  • Council Tax

  • Credit Card Companies

  • Dentist

  • Driving Licence

  • European Health Insurance Card

  • Global Health Insurance Card

  • Doctors

  • Employers

  • Hospital Clinics

  • Household Insurance

  • Income Tax

  • Internet Provider

  • Life Assurance

  • Local Co-Operative Share Dividend Office

  • Mortgage Provider

  • Motoring Breakdown Policy

  • Motoring Insurance

  • Pension Plans

  • Premium Bond Office / National Savings And Investments

  • Private Healthcare Provider

  • Solicitor

  • The Department Of Work And Pensions

  • Utilities (Gas, Electricity, Water, Telephone)

  • Vehicle Registration

You may need to send your marriage certificate, or a certified copy, as proof of marriage.  

What to change when you get married

Especially relevant if you have changed your name, there are lots of documents and accounts that you may need to change and make sure you have a copy of when you get married, including:

  • Certified copies of your marriage licence and certificate

  • Updated social security card

  • New Driver's Licence

  • Passport and Travel Documents

Furthermore, you will need to change your name with your bank, your employer, and insurance companies. 

How to change your name when you get married?

The process of legally changing your name after marriage (should you wish to do so) isn’t automatic; contrary to popular belief though, you do not need a Deed Poll to change your surname or add your husband’s or wife’s with yours. 

You can simply send off your marriage certificate along with a covering letter, explaining that you wish to have your surname changed to that of your husband, to all record holding departments. This will be accepted by all government bodies and organisations including the Passport Office as a legal entitlement to a change of name. It is important to note that certain official authorities such as the Passport office or DVLA require your original marriage certificate rather than a copy, so it is a good idea to buy a few extra marriage certificates from your registrar or minister after your marriage ceremony.

Do you have to change your name when you get married?

Changing your name is a very big, not to mention personal, decision and there is no legal requirement to do so.

Methodology and sources

About James Andrews

James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments - picking up a series of awards for his journalism along the way.

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