13 ways to save money on your wedding

Image by Katsu Nojiri

If you really think about it, you already know how to have a cheap wedding. Getting married at the local register office with only your closest friends and family, and then a bring-your-own-bottle celebration at your house with everyone contributing towards a takeaway meal.

If you'd prefer a grander, more traditional affair, be aware that the average UK wedding costs over £15,000. The following money saving tips should allow you to go a little fancier without forcing you into bankruptcy.

  1. Shop around for every supplier or product you need. Get multiple quotes, and ask for recommendations from friends and family or on messageboards like cheap-wedding-success.co.uk Wherever possible, don't let suppliers know you're planning a wedding. “Wedding cake” is more expensive than a standard three-tiered iced cake, “wedding bouquets” are more expensive than ordinary bouquets, and “wedding photographers” charge more than event photographers. They might find out it's a wedding eventually, but see if you can get a quote out of them first.
  2. Decide on a total budget and prioritise your list of expenses in case you have to cut back. Keep 10% of your budget unallocated for unexpected expenses.
  3. Use free money management software to keep track of how much you're spending and make sure you don't go over budget. There are also wedding-specific budget planners like weddingchaos.co.uk or pinkweddingdays.co.uk.
  4. What can you make yourself instead of buying? Cake? Invitations? Decorations and table centrepieces? If you have the time and ability, there's no need to spend the money.
  5. Do your own catering. Set up a buffet of cold meats, sliced cheese, bread and butter, or other easy-to-prepare foods. Serve your wedding cake as the dessert, perhaps with a fruit platter. If you don't have time to make the cake yourself, you can buy a multi-tier iced cake from the supermarket and decorate it yourself with ribbons or flowers.
  6. Buy alcohol in bulk from the supermarket or a cash-and-carry and look for the special offers. Sparkling wine is cheaper than champagne and serves the same purpose. If the reception is in the evening it's OK to have a pay bar, as long as you let your guests know in advance that they will need to bring cash.
  7. If your family and friends have skills they can contribute, ask for their help in lieu of a wedding gift. Who do you know who can bake the cake, arrange the flowers, take professional photographs, create a music playlist for the reception, do the bride's hair and make-up, etc? People won't think you're cheap, they'll be happy to be involved in your big day.
  8. Wedding favours are nice but not necessary. If you want to give all your guests a gift, something inexpensive will show just as much thought, such as small packets of sweets that can be bought in bulk.
  9. Try to find a cheap or free venue. Ask a friend or relative who has a suitable house or garden. Try village halls, community centres, local authority buildings, sports clubs, working men's clubs, or any large spaces available for rent. All of these will be significantly cheaper than a church or fancy hotel ballroom. Remember that you might need a kitchen space for catering.
  10. If you want to hire a hotel or country house, it will be cheaper to hire midweek or in the off-season.
  11. Try to be cost-effective with the wedding clothes. Hire or borrow if possible, buy second hand or discount from eBay or charity shops. Look for designer warehouse sales and online dress agencies.
  12. It's traditional for the bride's family to pay for bridesmaid's gowns, shoes and accessories, but if the cost is too much, you could have them wear cocktail dresses or summer dresses from a high-street shop, or just ask them to wear their own clothes.
  13. Instead of buying expensive flower arrangements, choose in-season local flowers, or hire potted plants instead.
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