Getting married? Have dreams bigger than your wallet? It’s a common issue. In this post I thought I’d impart some of my expert knowledge and tips to help you get the costs down to within your budget (or closer to it, at least).
There are many ways to bring the budget down and one key thing to do at the start of the planning process is to make a detailed schedule. This way, you think about everything in advance and can make a realistic budget with everything on it. Here is a post I did explaining this process in more detail and here is where you can download some free templates to help you get started.
Then once you know what you have to play with...
7 ways to cut costs at your wedding
1. Use a hotel as a venue
Hotels are handy as they have everything there. Food? Check. Serving staff? Check. Running water? Check. Tables and chairs and linen and glasses and plates and placement boards and a room to get ready in and loo roll and cutlery and you get the picture. Hiring all those things is expensive and time consuming and a hotel will just do you a package deal where everything is included for a certain price per person. And they’ll normally do something like a preferential rate for any guests who stay there too.
2. Go high street for your dress
Does anyone else inwardly groan at the idea of having to go shopping for a wedding dress about a year before your wedding? When you’re spending so much money and then you must wait months and months and months for it? There are so many options now for buying off the rack, with high street chains and designer outlets all having some amazing choices for all budgets so you can really save on this element but still look amazing.
Here are 8 high-street bridal ranges at a variety of price points:
Both of these dresses are under £500 and available to buy straight away, saving a lot of time as well as money.
3. Dress the wedding party in their own clothes
Go to their houses and have a sift through their wardrobe. See what they all have and then put together a range of looks but choose from a tonal colour palette so they still look coordinated. Don't be afraid to mix colours, patterns, textures but maintain an overview of the overall look when they are all close together. Then, use one distinguishing factor like a ribbon in one colour that matches everyone, and then have it tied into the hair of bridesmaids and made into buttonholes for groomsmen to mark them out as being a member of the wedding party.
4. Cut the starter and get creative with pudding
Serve bowls of nibbles like nuts, olives and crisps whilst people are having drinks, have a glorious breadbasket and then crack into the main course. Then, rather than have a seated dessert you could do something more fun and hire an ice cream cart or put out big trays with mountains of Ferraro Roche on them (who else remembers the advert...). Maybe then put out a cheese board later, and thus avoid your guests eating too much at dinner and being too full to dance, and also save money.
5. Bring your own alcohol
A lot of people will say that to save money at a wedding you should have a paid bar, so guests buy all of their own drinks. Personally, I am against this – they are your guests and have spent time and money to be there to celebrate with you so to then ask that they spend more to have a drink is a step too far for me. However, I also appreciate that the cost of 150 people getting completely wasted over the course of 8 hours can be a considerable dent in your budget. A workaround is to ask your venue if you can bring your own wine and beer and bubbly for a toast and then have a paid bar for other drinks? Guests can have some drinks that you have sourced from Majestic or similar (check local supermarkets for promo deals) but your friend who will only drink rare Scotch whisky funds their own party. Venues might charge you a corkage fee, but even with this factored in it will often still be cheaper than using their stock.
It is also worth exploring alternatives to the expensive things like champagne, see some of my tried and tested suggestions here.
Sidebar: I’m not saying that guests need alcohol in order to have a good time, but it sure does make boring Aunt Betty a lot more interesting.
6. Negotiate with your suppliers
When approaching suppliers like a florist or photographer, be honest and tell them your budget and ask if they can work within it to create a package with you. Be nice. Recognise that they might not be able to deliver exactly what you want but if you are willing to negotiate with them it might be you can snag a good deal. Think about what else you can offer them (free wine to take away with them? Free transport? Can they bring a friend?) What else do you have that might be of interest? As long as you are respectful, polite and realistic no one will mind you asking a question.
7. Ask guests to make a party playlist
As amazing as a live band is, it costs. And getting a good DJ is also a cost that can be avoided if your guests are willing to get in the party mood and help you to create a soundscape for your day. That way, all you need to hire is the speakers and you can dance the night away to tunes you already know your guests will love, because they chose them! Tip - test the music ahead of time and make sure you have the right cables etc etc etc as you don't want a last minute panic when the song for the first dance doesn't play...
And there you have it! I will keep updating this post with other tips, but I really hope this helps and please do let me know if you have any questions! For any brides or grooms who want a little bit of extra help with their special day I also offer 90 minute online power planning sessions to kick start them or get them back on track. Find out more here