From the dress and suits to the canapes and cakes, there’s a lot involved with planning a wedding and the costs can really add up. It’s easy to get swept up in the day and spend more than you planned but with some careful planning, it is possible to have a wonderful wedding with even the smallest budget. Here we show you how.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to watch a video on how to save money on your wedding.
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 of stopping your spending from 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 lot easier. Are the photos something you’re happy to splash out for or could you get friends and family members to take them? Could you bake your own cake or do you want it made by a professional? Deciding which areas of the day are most important, and those that you want to spend more on will make planning and budgeting for it easier.
Set out a maximum spend and list all the essential elements of your wedding day that you just cannot do without - for example, the venue, clothes, caterers and ceremony. Work out how much you are likely to spend on each and set individual budgets.
Next, list your 'must have' extras such as flowers, cake, luxury transport, a professional photographer, musicians and a live band in your order of preference.
You should then be able to see more clearly how far your budget will stretch and what you may need to cut back on. Read our guide on how to write a budget
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 is worth making the most of this.
Booking anything from a reception venue to a DJ will attract a substantial mark-up if you let slip from the outset that you are planning a wedding.
This is because most businesses know you want the best for your big day and that you will be willing to pay a premium.
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 is for a wedding - unless they can demonstrate a valid reason.
You should do this for everything from the venue and cake to your honeymoon and hairdresser.
Even if you have your heart set on a specific location or a preferred florist, this is still worth doing as you can always use cheaper quotes elsewhere to try to drive down the final price at your chosen supplier.
It is always worth asking whether there is any room to negotiate on the price you are quoted - especially if you are happy to book there and then for the right price, have a large number of guests, can pay in cash, or you are booking for a less popular time of year.
If you are not given a lower price, try asking for extras to be added in instead. They may be more open to this idea and it will mean that you will be getting more for your money.
Choosing a popular date to get married is likely to add on a fair sum to all aspects of your wedding.
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 much lower in the autumn and winter months so your money should go further.
Steer clear of Saturdays. The cost of hiring a venue for the wedding and the reception can be cut by opting to tie the knot on an alternative day such as a Sunday or Monday.
This is because many of the most popular wedding locations get booked up years in advance for Saturday weddings, and high demand leads to high prices.
If you can, choose a late afternoon wedding. This means you’ll only need to cater for the main wedding meal, instead of providing guests with food from early in the morning through to the end of the wedding.
Instead of a traditional wedding list, you could ask guests for money to put towards the wedding, or honeymoon or for their help on the day.
If you have a family member with a flair for photography or an uncle whose the next Jamie Oliver you could ask them to donate their skills for your wedding day in place of a traditional wedding gift.
As well as saving money, it will also make the service more personal if it’s from someone you know and trust.
Roles that could be given to suitable members of your wedding party could include:
Wedding cake maker
Musician or DJ
Master of ceremonies
One of the major costs of a wedding that is often overlooked when setting a budget is the honeymoon.
If you are already living together and do not need another coffee maker or waffle iron, asking for money towards your honeymoon could be a great option. If the money is in cash, and you’ve had to use credit to pay for your wedding, you could use some of this to clear your debts too.
There are hundreds of websites dedicated to offering everything you need for your wedding day, making competition for your business fierce and bargains readily available.
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 dedicated wedding websites such as Confetti where multiple suppliers are listed as well as more traditional department stores to get prices for all the little extras you want for your big day.
Although there are many benefits of shopping online and some great bargains to be had, that does not mean that you should exclude traditional high street stores and independent businesses.
The benefit of doing your research on the web is that you will be able to get a good idea of what you might pay elsewhere before you shop.
Remember that while prices may be cheaper online you will need to factor in delivery costs and any costs to return things if they are not as you hoped.
Many of the costs involved in planning a wedding can be cut if you are willing to take on some of the work yourself.
If you have the time and inclination you can make a range of different things including invitations, table decorations, cupcakes, home-made truffles as wedding favours, thank you presents and much more. If you have the time you could even batch-cook the meals yourself.
Work out how much you will need to spend on the raw materials and how long it will take for you to make enough for all your guests before you decide if it is worth doing. You could always rope in some friends and make a night of it to make the job more enjoyable and to get the work done quicker.
The way 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.
It is a good idea to pay for any wedding purchases between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card so that you will 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.
For amounts less than £100 you should consider using a debit card so that you have the reassurance of the Chargeback scheme if the supplier fails to deliver.
In some cases, suppliers will ask for you to pay in cash. In this situation, make sure you’ve done enough research in advance so that you know the company is genuine before you hand over any money. This includes looking at past customer reviews, speaking to the company on the phone, and checking where their address is.
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 every time you spend - this can soon add up.
Make sure you clear the balance in full when you get your statement, otherwise the interest that is added will outweigh the cashback you have earned.
A 0% purchase card: If you need to borrow then you should consider a 0% purchase card with a long 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 do not end up paying high-interest fees.
Starting your married life with big debts from your wedding day is not an ideal situation.
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.
Even with the best-laid plans, events beyond your control can sometimes cause things to go wrong on your big day.
Illness, weather, and business liquidations are all factors that could scupper your wedding day, so having the right affordable insurance policy 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 are spending a significant amount. However, always check the details before you buy a policy. There will be exceptions in every policy and reasons when you won’t be able to claim so read these before you buy. You can compare wedding insurance here.
You are likely to pay a lot more if you conform to traditional wedding ideals. Do things a little differently and you will not only be able to have your perfect wedding day, but you will also be able to cut the cost of getting hitched substantially.
There are a number of things you could consider to help you keep your budget down:
Avoiding a sit-down meal and going with an informal barbecue or buffet
Making a playlist out of your guests' favourite songs instead of booking a band or DJ
Asking the groomsmen and bridesmaids to wear their own suits instead of hiring
Buying a second-hand wedding dress
Cutting down your guest list
Choosing flowers in season, or from your garden, rather than an exotic bouquet
It can be difficult not to cave in to pressure from friends and family members that have an idea about what your wedding should be like. Remember that it is your wedding and not theirs so keep this in mind when you are planning it.