Thinking about budgeting isn’t exactly the most glamorous part of planning your big day. But it is one of the most essential. With the average UK wedding cost now amounting to almost £32,000, you could be forgiven for thinking that you will never be able to afford to get married.

But that fairytale wedding can still be within your grasp. With the savings secrets in our handy wedding cost breakdown, you can plan the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank.

Timing is everything

Let’s start with the basics… setting the date. Depending on when you have your wedding, there can be huge differences in price. Venues are often much more affordable in the off-peak months, such as January, February and March. Yet this time of year could be fantastic timing for a romantic winter wedding.

Mid-week weddings also tend to be less costly than planning the big day for a weekend. One drawback is that this may mean that some of your guests will need to take time off work to attend. But if you plan well in advance, this should be possible for most people. If not, then look on the bright side… fewer guests mean less needs to be spent on catering!

Creative catering

Speaking of catering, this can be one of the biggest strains on your bank balance. Typically, this can make up about 25% of the average wedding cost. But there are ways that you can save.

One popular choice for catering in a fun and affordable way is to get a food van. There are a wide variety of different cuisines available. These range from hog roasts to pizzas, and even cheese toasties! You should be able to find something that will suit both your taste and your budget. Food vans are easily able to cater for large numbers and your guests will love this quirky approach.

Getting the right reception venue

A dream reception venue doesn’t have to cost the earth. Think imaginatively about places that could be done up to make them beautiful for your big day. For example, a local village hall or a friend’s large back garden could be ideal and won’t be too costly. An extra benefit is having complete control over your choice of décor.

Inviting ideas

Inviting your guests to your big day doesn’t need to raise the wedding cost. If you’re feeling crafty, you can create beautifully bespoke invites yourself. These come with the added advantage of being able to make the invites more meaningful to you and your partner. You could think about including a special photograph of you both together. This also gives guests a nice keepsake.

If crafts are not your thing, another way to save is to send email invites. These can be really creative and include photos, links to relevant websites, or even video clips. It’s also a great way to be eco-friendly by saving on paper.

Delightful dresses

There are plenty of luxurious bridal gowns available for a fraction of the price you may expect to pay. It just means doing a little more research rather than heading straight for the nearest bridal shop. Lots of high street brands and online stores offer beautiful wedding dresses for reasonable prices. It is even possible to find some for under £100!

A little help from your friends

Your family and friends can be one of your most valuable resources when planning a budget-conscious wedding. Find out whether anyone you know has any hidden talents that they may be willing to use to help you out.

You may have a brother who is a fantastic baker and could make your wedding cake. Perhaps your cousin is a keen photographer who could take your wedding photos and video. Or how about your friend with the classic car? It’s worth asking them if they would be willing to chauffeur you on the day.

There is a multitude of ways that family and friends can help out with planning your wedding and on the day itself. Ask for their help instead of for a wedding gift. This will help them to save too and they are likely to feel honoured that you want their help. It’s time to call in those favours!

Avoid the W word

If you can, avoid mentioning to vendors that you are getting quotes for a wedding. This is almost guaranteed to mean the price quoted is higher than usual. You could say that you are enquiring for a celebration. This could mean anything from a birthday to a corporate function. Of course, you will eventually have to say that it is for a wedding but try to avoid this until you have agreed on a price.

Don’t budge on your budget

Before you start exploring options, work out what you can comfortably afford to spend and decide on a budget. Make sure that you stick to this figure throughout. A few extra pounds here and there may not seem like much, but it can quickly add up.

Prioritise the things that are most significant to you and your partner. Knowing what is more important can help with deciding where you can spend a little more of the budget and where you can make extra savings.

For handy money saving tips in advance of the big day, check out our article on ‘Family Budgeting’.

Dodging debt

While borrowing money may make it easier to have a swanky do, you don’t want to start your married life by racking up huge sums of debt. If you absolutely have to borrow, make sure that you do your research first. Find deals that offer 0% interest for as long a period as possible so that you have time to pay off what you have borrowed. Always have a plan for how you will pay the money back before you take the plunge. Signing up for a free Credibble account allows you to see your likelihood of being accepted for credit before you apply- you can view your eligibility and apply directly through the website, saving you both time and money! Check it out here.

To sum up…

The key thing to remember is that you’re planning for a marriage, not just the wedding. It’s important that you talk with your partner about the budget for the big day, as well as other financial matters. Check out our article ‘How to not mess up your finances in a marriage’ for tips and advice.

Your dream day doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Following the handy tips in our fairytale wedding cost breakdown could save you £££… leaving extra money to spend on that all-important honeymoon!

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Last updated by Robert Edwards, May 2022