With the cost of living reaching a 40-year high it’s no surprise to hear that couples are looking for ways to reign in the spending whilst still creating their dream wedding day.
The good news is that a wedding that’s perfect for you doesn’t need to break the bank. I emphasis the you part here because this is what you need to focus on and keep at the forefront of your mind during wedding planning. Don’t be distracted by what others are doing or get caught up in whatever mega wedding trend Instagram keeps serving up in their ads. Yep, we know, it’s easier said than done, but if you’re serious about scaling back on some areas of your big day during this tough economic landscape then it’s time to get less spenny and more savvy.
Understanding the value of service/product for money will certainly help, but in the same breath don’t set out to find the cheapest of anything – in fact this isn’t what we’re getting at, at all. Seeking out the bargain basement option could end up costing you more in the long run and you’ll probably just end up feeling disappointed.
Here are some quick tips before we dive into the detail; filter out what isn’t essential, be realistic about what you can afford, and how many guests you can accommodate. Prioritise the things that will make you happy and the things that you’ll remember. Think about what your guests will appreciate, and really dig into what you enjoyed and remembered as a guest from previous weddings you’ve attended. You can immediately start saving on the areas that don’t fall into these categories.
Finally, make a commitment to set a budget…and stick to it!
CHOOSING YOUR WEDDING VENUE
Carefully select your wedding venue based on the whole package. Making the right choice here could save you a considerable amount of money from the off. Don’t fight against the décor/location/catering once you’ve decided it’s ‘the one’. If you’re considering a nice venue but you’ll need to change XYZ to make it the perfect venue then it’s probably not the one for you.
MAKE THE MOST OF EVERYTHING YOUR VENUE OFFERS
If your venue has accommodation on site – book it. If they offer in-house styling, props and furniture – say you’ll take it all (within reason). Heck, some even have their own wedding car!
Another brilliant way to save a few pennies is to find a venue that doesn’t charge corkage, where you’re welcome to BYOB. Drinks packages and corkage fees can end up seriously bumping up your bar bill, but heads-up folks, as with a few money-saving alternatives, it could end up costing you more in time and effort.
WEDDING CEREMONY OPTIONS
To keep any additional costs to a minimum (including travel) opt to have both your ceremony and the reception in one location, or at least very close by. The majority of our venues are licensed for legal marriages and many have a church on-site / within walking distance. Or you go for a humanist-led ceremony; a non-religious celebration that is inclusive, flexible and personally tailored to you as a couple.
The time of your ceremony could also have an impact on your budget – by booking a ceremony later in the day means you could bump your timings along, therefore having less food and drinks to pay for.
DRY HIRE WEDDING VENUES
Please always carefully consider a DIY or dry hire venue. Whilst we love the freedom and flexibility these venues allow and it might also seem like the obvious choice for cutting costs, do some sums on what you’ll need to bring in (tables/toilets/caterers/décor/staff etc) before you commit.
GO MINI ON THE MOON
You’ll absolutely need time to decompress after the wedding, so a mini-moon is a brilliant idea. There are some absolutely dreamy hotels, cottages and cabins dotted around the UK or why not jet off for an affordable getaway in Europe? You can then save, plan, and properly enjoy a honeymoon later down the line.
From the food to the flowers, everything is much easier and cost-effective if you work with the season. Flying exotic flowers around the world and requesting strawberries in winter comes with a cost; to your purse, and the planet! Have a chat with your suppliers and see what they would recommend, and don’t forget to source as much as you can locally too.
RE-USE YOUR FLOWERS
This isn’t a new hack, couples have been doing this for years. But there’s a reason why…because it’s a fab idea! Re-use floral displays / décor items in various areas around your venue throughout the day. You know that beautiful floral display you commissioned for your top table? Why not use it on the table where you sign the register too? If you wanted to cut costs even further we’d recommend going big with the greenery. Foliage is considerably cheaper than flowers and still looks amazing. Ever considered foraging?
CHOOSE AN OFF-PEAK DAY / DATE
The hire cost of wedding venues can vary wildly through the year. You can still get married in your dream location for a fraction of the cost though by choosing to get married on a summer weekday or an out-of-season weekend. Chat to your venue about off-peak options and enquire whether they have any packages / deals they offer during the quieter times.
Work out the priorities in your budget first, so that you know what the most important parts of the wedding are. You might love good food whereas your partner’s really into live music. Sit down together, work out what’s non-negotiable and then get the calculator out. The next step is to keep track of spending – once you’ve set your budget it’s so important to keep on top of mounting costs because you need to make sure that the carefully considered budget works as hard as it possibly can for you!
DON’T SKIP THE EXPERTS
As we mentioned in the intro, it might feel like you’re saving a load of money by doing your own stationery or growing/picking your own flowers but sometimes it’s honestly worth just paying the experts. It will save you heaps of time, stress (you don’t need any more of that on the run up to a wedding), and probably cash too. They’re the experts for a reason…
KEEP THE BRIDAL PARTY SMALL
Of course some couples have 10 bridesmaids and groomsmen but can you imagine the shopping / gift buying / hair and makeup costs?! Keep the bridal party small where possible but get your best people involved in other ways – ceremony readings, speeches, ask them to be a witness etc. If they’re a good friend they will always be happy to help so don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for their assistance when needed. ESPECIALLY if they’re a dab hand at baking, or signwriting, or if they have a cool car, or are a DIY expert!
Much like a house renovation, always get multiple quotes. The key here isn’t to go with the cheapest, but it’s to assess the value for money.
GO YOUR OWN WAY
Don’t follow the rules of what a wedding is considered to be. Don’t want a formal sit-down wedding breakfast, don’t have one! Don’t eat cake? Skip it! Think favours are a waste of money? Don’t have them. There’s not a formula to follow, so only choose and pay for the bits you know you want, you’ll actually enjoy, and you’ll remember long after the big day.
We LOVE the fact that couples are searching for more sustainable wedding options such as pre-loved or hired gowns and suits these days. Be savvy with your fashion choices by shopping around for pre-loved pieces, designer sample sales or high-end hires. Also have a little nose on the high street – we happen to know that Whistles have a super stylish bridal range and ASOS is a great place to shop for bridesmaids’ dresses.
Try not to buy something that you can only wear once though – purchase dresses for your best women that they can wear time and time again, and if you can upcycle, dye, shorten your dress after the big day then you can end up gaining multiple outfits in one. Sounds like a win win to me!
ONE FOR THE BOYS
Another option for cost-effective fashion would be to ask the groomsmen to wear their own suits with white shirts and simply buy them matching ties / buttonholes to tie the look together.
KEEP THINGS SMALL
The rise of the micro wedding post-pandemic is a beautiful, intimate option for couples still wanting to spoil their guests but remain within budget. The small wedding packages that venues created with restricted numbers in mind may still be in place…or why not elope?
WATCH OUT FOR VAT
Along the way you will likely come across a few smaller (but integral) costs that could add up to quite a big chunk of your budget. Firstly when receiving quotes from venues, caterers, photographers etc make sure to read the small print and check whether VAT is included in the quote. If you end up having to add up to 20% on to each of your invoices your budget could be swallowed up more quickly than first expected!
STATIONERY VS. DIGITAL
We love a beautifully crafted invite, but we know it’s not always a realistic option. Why not mix it up by having a professionally designed and crafted Save-the-Date that then directs guests to your own personalised wedding website? There are plenty of gorgeous free options out there. But if your heart is set on a stationery suite, then save by printing one order of service per couple instead of one per person, and just one or two menus per table.