How to save money on your wedding; how to get a cheap wedding without the cheap look!

I was so excited when I got engaged - I couldn't wait to start planning my wedding! I had all manner of things racing around in my brain; huge castles, designer shoes and  a long honeymoon in Bali or Fiji - or both. It wasn't until I started checking out all of my potential plans on google that it really dawned on me how expensive weddings can be. My ideas began to fizzle up in smoke when I realised that most of my fantasties were budget bursting. Deciding not to give up and to investigate further I began trawling the internet for ways to save and to make my (or should I say - "our") money go further.

I don't have a magic wand I'm afraid and I have no super alogorithms that will predict the lottery numbers over the next few weeks. The most I can offer you are some tips and tricks that I have come across which may help you save money - it might only be £10, it might be £250 but in the end it all adds up!


The Basics

  • Open a savings account that you and your partner contribute to either monthly or weekly. This is a much better idea than scrambling for cash or having to take out loans to pay for things in a rush when payments are due closer to the wedding.
  • Put your savings into an ISA - if you put your money into an ISA you can earn interest on your savings and despite what many people believe putting your money into an ISA doesn't mean that it is locked away! You can still withdraw your savings when needed but there is a maximum amount of money that you can put away a year tax free. 
  • SET A BUDGET! I know, I know...everyone keeps raining on your parade by telling you to set a budget? And a realistic budget at that? It is important...there is no point in trying on that beautiful Reem Acra or Vera Wang gown if you don't have the £3,000 plus to pay for it. There are various tools that you can use to help you with this and certain wedding sites have budget calculators for you.
  • After writing down your budget with your other half, sit down and prioritise what you both want from your special day. After chatting you might find that both of your are really keen to have an amazing band, a nice dress and a hog roast and that neither of you are particularly bothered about bespoke wedding stationary or fancy catering. I would write down your list of priorities so you can come back to it later. 

The Date

  • You can save a fortune by having your wedding outside of the peak wedding season. If you avoid dates from May - September then you could easily save yourself a tidy sum. I have know people get married in early April and the weather be glorious, and other have taken their vows in August and experienced the downpour of torrential rains. 
  • It is not just the date but the day that matters. Saturday weddings are often more costly so think about getting married during the mid-week or even a Sunday and you may cut your bill.
  • If you don't need two years to plan a wedding then you always opt for a last minute deal on your wedding date - you can save heaps by having your wedding at short notice. 

The Venue

  • How about getting married abroad? You can save a fortune by having your big day overseas. This is partly due to a smaller wedding party in most cases but there also some great deals to be had from tour operators and hotels.
  • Think outside the box for a venue... Don't chase that castle or dream manor house if you can't afford it. Venues such as Village Halls can look amazing when dolled up with venue dressing and an imagination.
  • Look at package deals. Some venues have package deals available - often out of season. Keep an eye out on Groupon - packages sometimes come up at amazing locations.
  • Be cheeky - HAGGLE! If you are getting a package deal get them to chuck something in for free - whether it be to take away the price for coloured linens or an extra glass of champers. You never know - they might just say "yes". 
  • Check out my "Cheapest Wedding Packages" post

The Wedding Party

  • Nobody likes to hear it but it is true - keep your numbers small. Opt for an intimate wedding if you can. I feel that weddings sometimes bring out the catty sides of some family members when it comes to the guest list. Be realistic - if you can't afford for all of your great aunt's sisters cousins to go - then you can't. Weddings can sometimes cost £70 per person or more, so if you haven't got the funds then only invite the people that you truly want to be there to spend your special day with you.
  • Keeping you numbers low counts for groomsmen and bridesmaids too I'm afraid. If you can't imagine your day without all 7 of your best friends walking down the isle with you then make a cut somewhere else in your budget. Just remember you are not just paying for their dress..shoes, accessories, hair, make-up etc. all add up. If you bridesmaids are happy to pay for their own gladrags then go wild! ;)

The Dress

  • Preloved dresses and second hand gowns may be a good option if your budget doesn't cater for a brand new designer gown. Good examples are Preloved and Still White. 
  • Keep a look out for designer sample sales. You can half the bill for your dress. If you are buying a sample gown then make sure you speak to the retailer properly about the dress. Get them to check the dress over and document for example, where beads are missing, where there are make-up marks etc. You can often get very good quality samples that simply need a clean and some alterations made if necessary.
  • There are lots of wedding dress outlets around these days. Some of the dresses are great value for money. In my experience it can be a bit hit and miss between dresses - some have poorer quality fabric and are made to a lower standard. Have a look of google for an outlet in your area although people often do travel miles to get to these places!
  • High street stores such as Coast, Debenhams and BHS have some lovely wedding dresses on offer. If you hold out and look in the sale you could snap up a beautiful dress for as little as £50!
  • eBay....I have put this last as I was in two minds as whether to mention this or not. We have all seen what look to be out of this world wedding dresses made to measure from China for £99. All you need to do is get a friends to measure you and put in your request right? There are some horror stories online of women who have opened their packages to find complete disasters that look VERY different to the picture they saw online when they bought their dresses. If you feel like taking the risk - it is on your own head!

Wedding and Engagement Rings

  • There is the option of checking out second hand wedding band and engagement rings
  • Jewellery Quarters for example The Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham sometimes have great deals that can save you money. There are some real beautiful vintage pieces out there if you look in the right places.
  • Do you shop at Tesco? If you do then you can trade in your points for pounds! My mum got £200 worth of Goldsmiths Vouchers and bought herself a watch! Madness!

Bridesmaid Dresses

  • Think outside of the box - you don't have to buy your bridesmaid dresses from a wedding shop. Take a look through my "Bridesmaids On A Budget" series - you will find dresses to suit all colour themes from Hot Pink to Sunshine Yellow! I also cover different wedding themes from Polka-dots to Floral Prints!

The Cake

  • You can save money on your wedding cake buy buying plain iced sponge wedding cakes for example from Marks and Spencer,  and then decorating these yourself with flowers (silk or fresh).
  • How about a cheese wheel cake instead of a classic wedding cake? These often add up to be more value for money than the real deal 

The Wedding

  • Get crafty! I don't mean get sneaky, I mean get ready to DIY till you die! This will add more of a personal element to your wedding and will also help you save a fortune. 
  • Print your own invites - there are some gorgeous PDFs available on Etsy that are cheap and chips. All you have to do is buy some decent cards and stock up on ink and you are good to go. If you are up for a challenge and know how to work a programme like Publisher then you could always design your own. 
  • Use the family talent pool - has someone done a floristry course? Do you have an aunty who make amazing cupcakes? Is one of your friends for Uni a DJ in their spare time?
  • Transport can cost a fortune - do you know a relative with a swanky car that could give you a ride to the ceremony? If the church isn't too far away from the reception then you could always do as the French do and walk. You could always hire an old black cab if it fits in with your theme too. 
  • Keep your eye out in bargain basement stores - places like Home Bargains and B&M bargains are always getting new stock in. You can easily save money on items such as small picture frames for table numbers, glass bowls for centre pieces and sweets for your candy table.
  • Shop around! That might sound obvious but it easy to see an amazing photographer online for £2500 and think that there could be no-one else alive who would be able to capture your wedding as well as they could. Keep looking and ring around and get some quotes. You could soon see that £2500 shrink down to £1000 or less. 
  • Make the most of your flower arrangements. If you are getting married in a church and you are having an altar arrangement then why not place it on the top table at your reception. You can do the same with your pew ends and bridesmaids bouquets too!
  • Look on eBay for wedding lots. People often put their used glassware from centre pieces or vintage china online after their big day. 
  • Keep your eye out at the car boot, charity shops and vintage fairs. You could easily pick up glassware for 20 pence a pop or some vintage pieces like an old typewriter for a fraction of the price that you would pay in specialist boutiques. 
  • Round up some cash by flogging your unwanted bits and pieces on eBay, trading in old mobile phones and books. 
  • You can always cut costs on the music and create an ipod playlist instead of hiring a DJ. A great thing to do is to ask your guests to state their favourite song on their RSVP card and incorporate these in your track list. 

Honeymoon

  • One thing that I have noticed has become popular recently at weddings I have attended are honeymoon gift vouchers for example Kuoni
  • Don't book your honeymoon in the school holidays if you can help it! If you are getting married in August wait a couple of weeks and go away in September - you could save a packet. 

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