Weddings on a budget

It’s easier than you think to save money on your big day. Here’s the first part with those easy peasy ways to keep to your budget during the wedding planning process…

Set yourself a budget

It’s essential to have a clear idea of what you can and can’t afford before you even begin any planning. With a strict, set budget you’ll be able to keep track of where your money’s going and you won’t end up overspending!


Before you start planning, think about what’s most important to your on the day. Plan to splurge only on the things that are really meaningful to you and your h2b, and save on everything else.


It’s important that your day reflects you. Don’t try to plan an extravagant wedding if you don’t have the funds! Simple, elegant weddings can still be perfect and you won’t blow the budget. Remember – your wedding day is about sharing and showing your love for your partner, not showing off.

Shop around

Don’t rush into buying anything as soon as you’re engaged. Dress shopping is definitely a planning highlight, and it’s so easy to get carried away and end up buying the first dress you fall in love with. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the best offers and get an idea of different styles that are available. Likewise, get several quotes to make sure you’re getting the best price and research carefully so you don’t end up being overcharged.

Hunt for bargains

You don’t have to splash out on a designer gown if you don’t have the money. The high street has a great selection of wedding gowns and if you search vintage shops you may discover quirky and original finds for a fraction of the price.

Let your bridesmaids wear their own dresses

It can be a nightmare finding bridesmaid dresses that your girls all agree on. If you let your maids choose their own, not only will you cut out any dress shopping drama, but they’re also more likely to foot the bill at the end!

Create a salon at home!

You can still look and feel fab if you do your own hair and make-up. While getting styled by the professionals is a definite luxury on the day, if you’re used to doing your own make up, you’ll still be able to create a natural, beautiful look as well as saving money.

Just remember that it’s important to practise a few different styles before the big day to avoid any beauty mishaps! Why not book an appointment with a beauty consultant in a department store or go to a masterclass as party of your hen do?

Don’t turn into a Bridezilla!!!

We’re sure you already know that wedding planning has its ups, and its downs. Here are the signs that wedding planning has got a bit too much for you (it’s only temporary, promise!)…

Taking over your life

With it being a day that most brides-to-be have dreamed about since they were a little girl, it’s no wonder that it planning your wedding will take up a lot of your time. Even if you’re not actively out shopping for it or actively getting those DIY tasks done, you’ll find yourself subconsciously ‘favouriting’ all sorts of articles and shopping searches so you can come back to them later. Even your iPod that you plug in on the way to work is filled with ceremony classics to help you pick out your playlist.

The one becomes not the one

If you’re starting to question the magical feeling you had when you found ‘the one’, you’ve been thinking too much about it. When the dream-dress-doubt creeps in, it’s time to get a grip! It’s a common thing for brides to feel in the run up to their wedding – they want to look and feel their best after all – but get yourself through the doubting stage, and that magical feeling will return when you put it on. Then you’ll be wondering how on earth you ever thought it wasn’t the one!

Goodbye wedding diet

Sometimes brides and grooms-to-be fancy going on a diet or a mission to get into shape before their big day, and that’s okay! Healthy eating and taking up jogging is all around good for you and we totally recommend it to not only look your best, but also feel and be your best (but no ridiculous dieting please!). But when the stress kicks in, so do the carb and sugar cravings, and before you know it: your head is lodged in the back of the cupboard trying the find that secret stash of Mars Bars you hid away from the healthy-you. Oops.

Your friends stop contacting

Suddenly, conversation becomes just you talking. Why aren’t they replying your WhatsApp’s, texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, emails or tweets? Just why? Because maybe, just maybe, your predominant conversation topic – your wedding – is getting a little too much. Linking to the first point, just because it’s taking over your life (to a degree if you’re careful!), doesn’t mean it has to take over theirs. If you can’t think back to what you and your best girls spoke about before you got engaged, you’ve gone a step too far.

OR they’re constantly asking if you’re okay

Or perhaps you’ve got to the stage where you don’t want to talk about your wedding, in fact, you don’t want to do anything. Like any good friend, they will all be worried about the fact you’re not getting out of bed due to wedding-meltdown. When you actually do make it out of your dressing gown and slippers and go out, you’ll be jumped on with incessant questions like, ‘Are you okay?’, ‘I’m always here for you, you know that, right?’ and ‘If there’s anything I can do, will you tell me?’. If you’re at either of these stages with your friends – them either outright ignoring you or them overly anxious about you, it’s probably a good time to have a little break from planning, we think…

Can the honeymoon hurry up?

Talking of a little break: the honeymoon! You just cannot stop thinking about the honeymoon. The happiness of the thought of just utter relaxation and having nothing to worry about is so much that you even start to curse the wedding because it’s getting in the way of it! It’s the one obstacle between you and that sunbed.

You’re ticking all the boxes.

If you’re ticking any of these boxes of 10 signs that you are an un-cool bride to be, you only need a quick reality check and you’ll see the monster you’re turning into!

Wedding costs

Having a clear idea of your budget is essential for any wedding day. Sit down together, or with your parents if they’re going to contribute, and work out what you can afford to spend.

Write down the estimated costs in a budget planner.

As a guide, here are the average amounts that Brides readers spend. (Of course, it’s up to you where you decide to save or splurge!)

Wedding venue: £2,500

Reception venue: £4,000

Catering: £3,000

Photography/video: £1,500

Flowers: £500

Cake: £300

Entertainment: £700

Dress: £1,300

Shoes: £100

Stationery: £240

Headdress/veil: £100

Attendants’ outfits: £450

Mother-of-the-bride outfit: £300

Groom’s outfit: £300

Beauty: £250

Engagement Ring: £2,500

Wedding rings: £650

Other wedding jewellery: £200

Honeymoon: £4,000

Gift List: £2,000

Total: £24,890

If budgeting is a big concern, you may be interested in tips for setting your wedding budget.

DIY weddings

Menu Cards

Handwritten Menu cards are a perfect place setting piece of design and for weddings on a budget whether created by yourself or someone else, can be a cost effective way to stylise your order of day in a way that ticks the boxes of your theme and decor too!

Welcome/Introduction Boards

Whether on chalkboards, mirrors or wooden boards, welcome words at the entrance to your reception are great ways to give your guests directions, enforce style or simply share the love of the happy couple. Finish off with soft and silvery foliage with stems of flowers in your bouquet to carry through your colour and look.

Reception/Table Decor

Source vintage and unique decor pieces to frame romantic messages to personalise your reception venue and decor. Your Wedding is a beautiful day, adorn it with beautiful things!

Planning your own handmade wedding is deciding where and how you can add personalised touches. It’s so enjoyable to create your own pieces and its great for everyone to try it themselves.

Modern Signwriting creates a beautiful, simple effect, and once you have mastered the basics you can apply it in many ways and across many other occasions!

TOP TIPS Mastering faux calligraphy is essential to achieve beautiful Modern Signwriting.

Practice individual letters over and over before tackling words to get a feel for how the letters flow.

Lightly sketch your design onto your item first with a soft art pencil – This will be easy to remove afterwards and less likely to scratch your item.


A Wedding Under £1,000

With wedding dresses alone averaging out at over £1000, is it really possible to plan the perfect wedding under £1,000?!

Given that the average UK wage is just under £28,000 per annum, it’s clear that getting married is an expensive pursuit. Not only that, it’s one that puts many couples in a huge amount of debt, and at a time when life should be a carefree bed of roses.

It may not surprise you that it’s possible to get married without breaking the bank, and it is, in fact, possible to have a perfect wedding day for less than £1000. Being savvy in your choices and concentrating on what really matters can mean you still have the day of your dreams, as well as enjoying a debt-free marriage! Start married life wedding debt-free with a guide to wedding planning for less than £1,000!

1. Do it yourself

You can delegate almost every job to a wedding planner, other than saying ‘I do’ and spending the rest of your life in marital bliss. Save the cost and do it yourself.

2. The Guest List

The idea of a lavish crowd might excite you, but keep it to close friends and family and you’ll be saving thousands of pounds. Aim for a list of 40 for starters and do your best to stick to it.

3. Use the talents of your guests

Do you have a keen photographer, DJ or cake baker amongst your friends and family? Then use them. Although professionals will tell you differently, there’s not an awful lot to baking three wedding cakes and stacking them on top of each other.

4. The Venue

Have a budget, shop around and source your own venue – village halls are a good starting point – then decorate it with the help of friends and family. Go local and save time and money on a wedding car – delegate a friend to drive and glam it up yourself.

5. Food & Drink

Many wedding venues will allow external catering, and buffet food is cheaper. Marry later to avoid serving two meals. And does anyone really want vol-au-vents and finger food, when a massive plate of serve-your-own hot dogs will fill the hungry.

6. The Outfits

Purchase or hire suits from the high street, ask the best man to wear his own and colour co-ordinate with matching ties. High street brands are all jumping on the wedding attire band wagon and offering affordable ranges of wedding and bridesmaid dresses for under £100, and for some of them, no one will be able to tell the difference.

7. The Honeymoon

You’ll be exhausted following your big day, and may just want to sleep and indulge in whatever else newlyweds get up to. Save money on a massive holiday abroad for a time when you can afford it after the wedding.

Essential Costs

  • Detailing essential costs will let you know how much you have left to ‘splash out’ on non-essentials, be these hair, jewellery, flowers, decorations etc.

  • Marriage License & Fees: approx. £150

  • Venue: Village hall hire from £20 per hour x 7 hrs = £140

  • Food & Drink: 40 person self-service buffet catering from £5 per head; buy your own booze for £250 (average 50 bottles of wine or 30 crates of beer)

  • Outfits: Men’s suit from £49; wedding dress from £69

  • Rings: Matching titanium bands from £35

  • Total Essential Costs: £893

  • Budget left for non-essentials: £107

Luxury Weddings on a budget

With the average wedding in the UK costing around £20,000, it’s understandable why some couples quiver at the thought of tying the knot. But this shouldn’t steer those wanting to get hitched away from their dream day. Here are some handy tips on how to avoid a five figure bill while still achieving a wedding day to remember

Avoiding an engagement party to cut costs is totally missing out on a valuable opportunity to gather essentials which could help to cover costs otherwise incurred. By being opportunistic and holding a small gathering to celebrate will spark generosity between friends and family which will be needed in the run up to the big day.

Nothing pulls harder on a guest’s heart strings than a handwritten invitation. Scattered with personalised notes and hand-stuck pictures; there is no cheaper way of convincing a guest to join in the celebrations on the big day.

Everyone wants to say their vows on the weekend. Instead pay less and give family and friends the opportunity to take some well-deserved time off during the week to celebrate? It often costs much less to host your wedding on a Friday and means your guests can stay and celebrate with you all weekend long if you choose!

Being in love with a prestige location needn’t mean it has to be ruled out. For example, wedding venues in Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds, the Lake District and other countryside locations can be pretty pricey; however, by doing some homework, modern residencies like the Oxford Abingdon Hotel can cater for a range of sizes and budgets while still being in the heart of the destination.

One of the biggest costs faced is internal or external wedding caterers. As opposed to cutting back on courses or opting for a buffet, why not consider inviting fewer guests and upping the style of dining? Alternatively, a buffet can also be a viable option which will reduce the overall cost.

After stretching the budget to craft a truly fabulous wedding day, it could all have been in vain if one chooses to start a bar tab. Instead, pay-as-you-go to avoid a bad start to the honeymoon.

No matter how many lists or hints received by guests, it is inevitable that a handful of, to put it nicely, non-favourable gifts will be received. By utilising handy sites like eBay and Gumtree, shifting these will help save for a dreamy honeymoon.


Be money savvy

Between the wedding food, the event space, the wedding photographers and the band — you may have spent a large part of your savings on your wedding. If you were lucky enough to receive wedding gift money from friends and family, you can really make this money work for you. Instead of using your cash for a trip to the Caribbean or on a new car, consider the following suggestions:

Start an emergency fund. We know it doesn’t sound as glamorous as a spa package, but starting an emergency fund and help to combat stress when something unexpected comes up. Whether it’s a sudden boiler breakdown or car repair, this saved cash will help if times get tough. It’ll also make you feel better to know there’s a bit of a cushion. We recommend opening an account that offers quick access and storing away £1,000 — you can always add to it.

Pay some bills. You’ve just planned a huge event and you’ve paid your fair share for it, so don’t feel guilty about using some of your gift money for your monthly bills, or even prepaying your mortgage if you have one. If you’ve been carrying around some unwanted debt — credit card, or car loan — consider paying off some of it. Having trouble deciding which to pay off first? Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate.

Watch it grow. It’s a smart idea to save and invest a big chunk of your gift money — this way it can gain interest and over time make money for you. It could be your deposit on a home or a nest egg for retirement. A financial adviser can help make sure you’re putting your cash in the best account for you, whether that be a tax advantaged plan, like a traditional ISA.

Invest in your home. If you’ve been looking for a place to call your own, your wedding money may make a nice deposit payment. As you probably know, the larger your deposit, the less interest you’ll typically end up paying on the loan.

Already have a nest? You could make updates and improvements to your current place, which can potentially increase its property value.

Look into life insurance. Now’s the perfect time to take out life for you and your new spouse. Pushing a plan to the side any further will make it more difficult to attain. Thankfully, this isn’t a huge investment, just a smart one.