This is it: you’re tying the knot, you’ve found the venue of your dreams and you’ve got the most important day of your life to plan for. There’s a lot to plan, and it can be a daunting prospect with some big financial implications. But fear not – there are all kinds of ways you can cut the cost of the big day without anybody missing out on what matters.
1) Don’t do it on a Saturday
This is, of course, the most expensive day of the week for a wedding reception. But if you can opt for a Friday instead, or even better, earlier in the week, you can save thousands. Most friends and family will be happy to take a day out of work, and those who can’t do that can join you straight afterwards.
2) Don’t rush
Sure, getting engaged is seriously exciting – and you’re probably counting down the days. Leaving yourself more time to plan, however, can translate into big savings. You’ll have time to do your research properly, and book an awesome venue at its lowest price, when it has maximum availability. Booking your honeymoon further in advance will be cheaper too.
3) Don’t book at peak-time
Everybody wants to get married in high summer. But whether it’s worth paying thousands more to get married in July is a matter of opinion. Booking in the winter months of December, January and February can make a huge difference – and nobody’s going to mind bringing a coat. If you’re not happy to do that, booking at the end of the off-peak season can still cost much less.
4) Write the invitations yourself, or enlist a friend’s help
Rather than budgeting for somebody else to write the invitations, buy some top quality paper and fountain pen and get cracking yourself. With the help of a couple of others – what are friends for? – you can easily get it done in an afternoon.
5) Rent an entire place
Do you really need to hold the reception in a big hotel? A quick glance on Airbnb reveals some stunning properties capable of hosting a couple of dozen guests, located all around the country, for a far lower price than you’d pay elsewhere. Hire some caterers for the evening and it’s time to party.
6) Get local help for the dinner
If you do end up renting a property, research the local eateries to see if they could cook for your guests en masse. Who knows what kind of culinary delights they might come up with – and it’ll be an experience to remember.
7) Do away with wedding cake
Everybody loves cake. But who said you need a three-tier, £800 centrepiece? Forget the traditions and serve your guests something equally delicious that doesn’t cost the earth. Alternatively, you could buy a small wedding cake and keep a larger normal cake out of sight to feed the majority of the guests.
8) Keep the drinks options simple
Spirits can send your drinks tab skyrocketing. Sticking to beer and wine, bought from a wholesaler if possible, can keep the prices down. Plus your uncle is less likely to get too drunk and do that dance again.
9) Don’t go crazy with the invite list
Of course, everybody important to you needs to be at the wedding. That doesn’t, however, mean everybody you’ve ever met needs to come along too. Don’t be afraid of keeping numbers down – people know it’s just something you have to do.
10) Do the flowers yourself
It sounds impossible. But it’s actually completely feasible to do it yourself; flower arranging courses can be cheap and fun, and if you have the time, you could save a fortune. And when it looks awesome, you’ll get the bragging rights too.
11) Go alfresco
If you live near a beach or wide space like a park, consider renting out tables, chairs and gazebos, or even a marquee, and holding the reception outdoors. Garden heaters can keep everyone warm if the weather takes a turn for the worse, and it’s something a bit different.
12) Take recommendations for photographers
Ask all your friends whether they know any freelance photographers. Somebody will do, and chances are they’ll give you mates rates.
13) Finding the ring
Well, gents, it’s a big investment, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Go to a specialist in a jewellery district rather than your everyday high street dealer, and you’re likely to find more competitive prices. Searching for a pre-loved or handmade ring on sites like Etsy can be worth it too – but check the seller’s background carefully.
14) Let your friends showcase their DJ skills
Building the quintessential wedding playlist is not difficult. Start with some Robbie Williams, throw in a bit of Maroon 5, include the YMCA song if you’re feeling particularly cheesy – and off you go. Why pay a professional DJ for their time?
15) Buy your dress second-hand
Let’s be honest – you’re going to wear it once in your life (well, let’s hope so). So you may as well find a beautiful gown that’s been worn already; nobody will know the difference.
16) Or, at least, take advantage of the sales
You’ve got a lot of time to plan, so if you’re set on buying a new dress, hit up the summer or Boxing Day sales to get a big discount. Asos have some amazingly cheap, but beautiful wedding dresses!
17) Sell everything on afterwards
There’s a good chance you can recoup lots of the money you’ve spent on things like DIY. Ask you friends or get on eBay!
18) Hold the stag or hen do where you live…
A lads’ blowout in Vegas or a girly weekend in Greece will set you back some serious money. Getting married is about the big day itself – so opt for a big night out or a spa weekend somewhere closer to home.
19)…or head somewhere exotic off-season
There’s no hard and fast rule on when your stag or hen parties have to be. If you can dodge the school holidays, it’s a must – and there won’t be any kids around to see your inevitable misbehaviour!
20) Shun the wedding planner
You can do this. There’s a lot to think about, but your friends will probably be falling over themselves to get involved – so accept their help.
21) Escape the pressure
If the planning is all getting too much for you, think about hopping on a plane and tying the knot somewhere romantic – just the two of you. There’ll be no awkward situations to deal with, no stress, and some picture-perfect memories. And you won’t have to deal with your difficult stepmother.
22) Lets the servers do the serving
If you leave the wine on the table, your guests will drink it just because it’s there – sending your booze bill higher. Instead allow the waiters to bring it when necessary.
23) Find your decor on Etsy
There are some extremely talented people on Etsy, the online marketplace for arts and crafts. Often though, they’ll provide their services for a fraction of the price of a wedding specialist. Take a look for yourself.
24) Rent the tuxes
Few men dress like 007 on a regular basis, so it’s unlikely everybody will own a tux already. You can rent tuxedos and dinner jackets from shops everywhere, which will be in impeccable condition at an affordable price.
25) Buy local
Visit your local butcher for the meat and your local greengrocer for fruit and vegetables. As you’re buying in bulk, they’ll give you a better price than the supermarkets.
26) Bring your own booze
Holding the reception somewhere without a bar means you can head down to the supermarket and load up the car with alcohol for a far lower price. That might make room in the budget for somebody to pour it for you too.
27) Don’t buy anything that may not be noticed
It’s lovely to have throwaway items like napkins personalised – but they’re called throwaway items for a reason. Skip the stuff that ends up in the bin and focus on what matters.
28) Don’t bother with placeholders
Your friends are intelligent people. They can read a map. Save on hand-designed individual placeholders and display the seating plan at the door.
29) Keep on top of things
Using free project management software like Trello allows you to keep track of your to-do lists and get the important stuff on time, so you don’t end up paying exorbitant fees for leaving things until the last minute.
30) Find people with many talents
Found a well-priced florist? Maybe he or she is baking whizz, cocktail genius or hobby photographer too. Ask around, and you might be able to bag a package deal.
31) Go digital
Traditional camera film is pricey, and physical photos can be lost or destroyed. Opt instead cheaper digital photos – the quality will be just as high and they can be duplicated for free.
32) Reuse the bridesmaids’ bouquets
You don’t need two sets of expensive floral decorations. Once the bridesmaids’ bouquets are done, they can become centrepieces for the reception
33) Choose the cheaper veil
The differences in price can be crazy when choosing a veil, but you can rarely tell the difference in terms of style – and since you’ll only wear it once, you may as well go for the more affordable option
34) Get your favours online
Wedding favours don’t need to personalised. Amazon, Etsy, Confetti etc. sells all kinds of keepsakes at a reasonable price; it’s the thought that counts. Check out this round up of cheap wedding favours under £1 each.
35) Reuse your suit
If one or both of you is buying a new suit for the ceremony, look for something you’ll be able to wear again in the future – perhaps for other weddings or even the office. Check out these suits from Asos.
36) Check if you can pay for what you eat
Some venues offering a buffer give customers the option to pay the bill based on consumption. There’s a risk your bill could be higher than expected this way, but if you provide smaller plates your guests will likely eat a little less, saving you money.
37) Plan a non-traditional dinner
There’s no reason that you have to have an elaborate sit-down dinner. A BBQ or picnic on a summer’s evening could be just as fun, and you’ll save a colossal amount of money. Read more about saving money on wedding food on a post I contributed to on Prima.co.uk.
38) Hire student freelancers
Searching nearby universities and colleges for freelance photographers and videographers can be a win-win. Student freelancers have the skills and the knowledge to get the job done, but they’ll be much cheaper than a more established professional, and glad of the experience too. You could also hire student make up artists and trainee hairdressers to save yourself a ton of money.
39) Refuse the extras
Lots of venues charge little fees on top of the overall bill for things like cutting the cake. Do it yourself and you won’t get caught out.
40) Delicious favours
There’s no point wasting tons of money on wedding favours that will be thrown away anyway. Perhaps instead, your guests could remember the evening by taking home a piece of mouth-watering dessert – which you’ve already paid for anyway.
41) Spend the honeymoon somewhere cheap
Sure, Paris and Rome have the grandeur, the romance, but they’re expensive. Why not head instead to Riga, Belgrade or Budapest? They’re all equally beautiful but everythng costs a fraction of the price. You could save big bucks.
42) Don’t even look at dresses you can’t afford
Once you’re actually trying on a gown, it can tempting to splash the extra cash in order to get a partcular style (I mean – you look great. It’s fair enough). But then the costs begin to sprial out of control, and you’re suddenly left with a bill a thousand pounds higher than planned. So only try on the dress that’s within your budget.
43) Get everybody to chip in
If the cost of feeding 100+ people isn’t very agreeable, perhaps your guests could each bring their speciality dish – and make the dinner as eclectic as possible. You could repay them in wine.
It’s 2017 and everybody has access to email. So maybe you can save on printing costs by sending the invites digitally instead – they’ll be just as pretty.
45) Fake your cake
If your heart set on an a three-tiered masterpiece, consider tasking a baker with creating a genuine cake for the top layer, and then realistic-looking lower levels made from cardboard. Many will be happy to do this – sneaky!
46) Don’t bother with a map
Tradition dictates that a wedding invite comes with a map – but do your guests really need one? Just give them the address and they’ll still make it.
47) Keep the bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts simple
Great gifts don’t have to cost the earth. Use websites like notonthehighstreet.com to find something quirky and memorable that won’t break the bank.
48) Block-book hotel rooms
If you’re staying somewhere big and you have lots of guests, booking large numbers of rooms at once can make for big savings.
49) Go for in-season flowers…
Your bouquets can be one of the costliest elements of the big day. But if you opt for flowers which are in season at the time, you can reduce the bill by at least half.
50)…or fake flowers