We all know that getting married is an expensive business but it doesn’t have to cost the earth, with a host of clever ways to stretch your big day budget further.
So, what are you waiting for? Discover how to save on all aspects of your day, from the venue and catering to bridalwear and transport, with SoBristolWeddings’ indispensable money-saving guide.
There’s no denying that venue hire eats up a considerable portion of wedding budgets, but there are some clever ways to cut costs on what is easily one of the most expensive outlays for couples.
Tying the knot on Saturday during the peak summer season is a fast way to notch up costs, so if you’re not precious about the day you say ‘I do’ then consider having your wedding on a weekday or even a Sunday, or go for the quieter months of January, February and March.
Not only a stress-free option, wedding packages can offer exceptional value for money, with many including venue hire, day and evening catering, entertainment, cakes, flowers and much more.
If you’re looking for something a bit different for your reception minus the huge price tag then opt to hire a non-wedding venue such as a village hall, pub, or restaurant. And, if you’re hankering after an alfresco wedding, consider whether any friends or family members have gardens they would be willing to let you use to host your big day celebrations.
Holding your ceremony in a register office with just a few guests is a good way to cut costs, giving you access to additional funds that can be put towards a more lavish evening do.
With the average cost of a wedding gown over the £1,000 mark, it can be an eye-watering purchase to make, especially with everything else to consider when planning a wedding. While looking fabulous is a priority, there are still ways to save on your dream dress without scrimping on style, along with clever solutions for bagging affordable bridesmaid dresses and accessories.
If you’ve found the perfect dress but the price tag is out of reach, a sample sale could be the answer to your prayers. Keep an eye out for sales at wedding boutiques which often sell off ex-shop stock at a fraction of the original prices in order to make way for new season arrivals. And don’t let Monica from Friends put you off as most sample sales are a far more sedate and less competitive affair!
Also, don’t forget to shop the summer and winter sales on the high street where you might just find bargain bridesmaid dresses, shoes and accessories.
While some brides choose to treasure their dresses after the big day, there’s also a growing trend among financial-savvy newlyweds who decide to sell on their dresses for others to walk down the aisle in. There are a host of online sites, including Still White and Preloved, where you can find second hand designer gowns, from the likes of Jenny Packham and Maggie Sottero, for less.
There’s no need to break the bank when shopping for a dress as the high street has an impressive choice for brides on a budget. Head to the likes of Monsoon, Phase Eight and BHS, along with H&M and ASOS which recently unveiled affordable new bridal collections, while Reiss and Whistles are ideal for those looking for shorter styles.
Those with their fingers firmly on the fashion pulse should cast their search online to Net-a-Porter where you’ll find alternative bridal collections from British brand, Needle & Thread, and celeb favourite, Self Portrait, for under £800.
Veils, jewellery, bags and more, before you know it the finishing touches to your wedding day look can add up. Family heirlooms, such as vintage earrings, dainty necklaces and pretty bracelets, make a nice sentimental touch and also count as your ‘something old’. It’s also worth asking recently married friends if they have a veil you could wear, ticking off your ‘something borrowed’ at the same time as saving money.
Hiring a wedding photography is a big expense and can cost up to £2,000 depending on the photographer and package you opt for. But it’s something that many couples don’t want to skimp on; after all you’re going to have them for the rest of your life, so avoid the temptation of going DIY. It’s also worth remembering that fees will include post-production editing, which can be very time-consuming, so think of how to save money without compromising on quality.
To avoid the disappointment of finding your dream photographer and realising you can’t afford them, start by deciding how much of the wedding pot you’re going to set aside for photography. Do you research and find out what exactly you get for your money, such as whether albums and engagement shoots are included, so you’re not surprised by any additional costs.
A good way to make your budget go further is by choosing to have a half day photography package, with most photographers giving couples the choice of when to have the coverage, which normally last around four hours, on your wedding day. Not all photographers offer this though, especially during the summer months, so make sure to check beforehand and remember that it’s worth negotiating discounts if you’re getting married in the off-peak season.
Providing endless fun for guests of all ages, photo booths are definitely an entertaining talking point on the big day, but if you’re trying to stick to a budget, consider making a DIY photo booth. You can find lots of tutorials online or search on Pinterest for ideas, with a host of suggestions for comedy props guaranteed to make memorable pictures.
There’s a high chance that your guests will post pics of your day on Instagram, so why not embrace it and set up a hashtag for your wedding day? You can then see all the moments of your wedding from a guests’ perspective – giving you chance to relieve the celebrations after the big day. When picking your hashtag, ensure you go for something memorable and easy to read and don’t forget to let guests know with tasteful reminders dotted around the venue.
From beautiful bouquets to stunning centrepieces, there’s no doubt that flowers add a romantic touch to the big day proceedings. While it can be tempting to go overboard and blow the budget, discover ways to get stunning wedding flowers without splashing too much cash.
If you’re a bride-to-be with a creative streak then it’s worth looking into the option of DIY flowers. Many florists run DIY bouquet courses and there are infinite tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube, while making simple floral table decorations with recycled jam jars for vases is an affordable way to decorate your reception.
Not only will they look lovely and fresh but plumping for seasonal blooms is a nice way to save on flowers without compromising on style. Chat to your florist to find out what’s in season and discover alternative options that could maximise your budget and also remember that going local will reduce transport costs.
If you’ve got your heart set on having a show-stopping bouquet bursting with premium blooms then consider making the bridal posy the focus of your wedding flowers by saving money elsewhere. Consider simple gypsophila arrangements for your bridesmaids or bulk out flowers with greenery such as eucalyptus.
Rather than leaving your ceremony flowers at the venue, think about how you can repurpose them for use at the reception, whether you transform aisle flowers to the top table or use bridesmaid blooms to decorate the gift table, it’s a simple cost-saving trick.
After the venue, food and drink is likely to be one of the biggest wedding day expenses for couples. While limiting guest number is one of the easiest ways to reduce costs, it’s not always feasible, but a bit of clever thinking and DIY touches can make a difference.
If you’re having a summer wedding then there’s nothing nicer than a barbecue which offers the opportunity to save money on catering while still serving your guests delicious grub. Depending on your venue, picnics are another budget friendly option to consider and are perfect for couples wanting a relaxed vibe.
Take inspiration from The Great British Bake Off and ask any baking-mad guests to bring along their signature creations, whether it’s a classic carrot cake, a plate of chocolate chip cookies or some gooey brownies. Not only will you save on dessert catering but it’s also a lovely way to get your guests involved in your big day.
Whether you’re planning an open bar all day or for just a few hours, a simple way to reduce the bar tab is to limit the alcohol options. It’s a good idea to choose a red and white wine that’s in your budget, along with offering beer and some house spirits so guests don’t end up ordering a Cognac and vintage Champagne.
While it’s tempting to offer guests a three-course feast, why not consider starting the meal with a selection of bread and olives instead of a formal course? Guests will have tucked into canapés beforehand, but if you’re worried about a hungry wedding party you could always increase the number of canapés.
Whether you’ve dreamt of a classic car to ferry you to your ceremony or a vintage bus to take guests from A to B, travelling in style is a lovely way to add a special touch to the day, but it can be expensive so discover some simple ways to save on your transport budget.
Whether your dad’s a classic car fanatic or you know someone with a vintage motor, it’s definitely worth asking if you can borrow it for your wedding day. You’ll be surprised how honoured people will feel to be asked but just remember if it’s a two-seater, whoever is driving will need to be insured for the day.
Cut out the need for transport altogether by choosing to have your ceremony and reception at the same venue. If you feel like you’re going to miss out on potential photo opportunities, chat to your photographer about the props or backdrops at your venue that you could incorporate into your wedding shots instead.
If you’re planning on hiring a coach to ferry guests, a wedding car for the bride and groom and another vehicle for the bridal party, it’s worth speaking to suppliers to see if they can do package deals that caters for all your transport needs rather than having the headache of booking multiple suppliers and paying each time.
There are infinite ways to get the party started on your wedding day, from bands and magicians to string quartets and caricaturists, and while you don’t want to scrimp on entertainment, there are ways to stretch your budget that bit further while still ensuring you get everyone in the celebratory spirit.
With multiple musicians and often years of experience, it’s not surprising that bands can charge up to £2,000 to perform at weddings. If you’ve got your heart set on live music, consider having a duo or soloist play on the day or ask the band if they can offer a scaled back version for less.
A simple way to save on DJ fees is by creating a playlist of your favourite tunes, with this option offering brides and grooms the chance to have full creative license over the music. It does take a bit of preparation but it can be fun for couples to spend time compiling different lists for the ceremony, reception and evening do.
Open mic nights can be a great opportunity to spot burgeoning music talent, with the chance that acts will be willing to negotiate on fees if they are looking to build up their wedding portfolio. Going to gigs is also a fun way to spend pre-wedding date nights your partner.
Travel time will be factored into the cost of hiring your wedding entertainment, so do your research to find a local band or musician that won’t have to venture too far to perform at your wedding. Choosing off-peak dates is also a sure-fire way to save money.
While looking and feeling your best when you walk down the aisle is a priority, bridal beauty can be an expensive game, especially if you factor in bridesmaids, so find out ways to claw back a bit of your wedding budget with the help of a few clever hair and make-up hacks.
Take the lead from Kate Middleton and opt to do your own wedding day make-up. If you are in need of a bit of guidance, book an appointment at make-up counter, with many brands offering dedicated wedding services including Bobbi Brown’s Bridal Beauty lessons, while many make-up artists also offer DIY tutorials.
If you have a large number of bridesmaids, paying for hair and make-up for your maids can easily mount up. Remember you’re the focus of the day, along with your groom of course, so consider having a professional make-up artist just for the bride and treat your maids to a luxury lipstick to wear on the day instead.
While it’s not always feasible if your venue is far from where your chosen stylist is based, if possible go to the salon on the morning of the wedding to avoid paying the often hefty call out charge which is added on top of styling fees. Salons are usually more than happy to welcome wedding parties, often with a glass of bubbles to calm any pre-ceremony nerves!
If you have a make-up loving friend who always looks immaculate, then you may want to ask if they would consider creating your bridal look. Bear in mind that having a friend do your make-up is a completely different experience to hiring a professional and make sure you get them to have a practice run well in advance.
From big day decor to Instagram-worthy finishing touches, there are a host of additional costs to factor in when planning your special day, with simple ideas for ways to save on everything from stationery and styling to favours and wedding planners.
Even if you’re having a small wedding you’ll be surprised how invitations can mount up, especially if you’ve got your heart set on letterpress or heavy embossed cards. Look for free printables online or check out Etsy for affordable stationery, where you’re certain to find something that fits in perfectly with your theme.
Trawl the charity shops to search for some serious budget-friendly pieces to add to your wedding decor, with everything from affordable cut glass vases and retro china to be found, while vintage suitcases are perfect for displaying on your gift table or transforming into quirky seating plans.
If you’re panicking about the thought of organising your nuptials but can’t justify hiring a wedding planner, it’s worth knowing that many will offer partial planning services to help couples with specific aspects of the day, from sourcing suppliers and finding venues to on-the-day coordination.
Save on paper and postage by choosing to go for the increasingly popular option of online invitations. While not for everyone, there are lots of companies now offering the tech-savvy alternative to traditional stationery, with all manner of customisable designs guaranteed to impress even the most computer shy guests.
The final send off before the big day is a rite of passage for many brides and grooms but before you know it, a fun-filled weekend in the sun can make a huge dent in your wedding budget. Discover ways to celebrate with your nearest and dearest without breaking the bank.
If you’re planning on going abroad for your stag or hen do make sure you don’t rule out staying in a hostel, with many now offering surprising stylish facilities and comfy beds for a fraction of the cost of traditional hotels. Just make sure you do your research and check out the reviews before booking to avoid any hostel horror stories!
While Las Vegas is the dream of many stag parties, the reality is that most grooms and their pals won’t want to fork out for an expensive send off. Cast your search a bit closer to home and look at more affordable destinations in Eastern Europe such as Poland, Latvia and Slovakia, which are serviced by budget airlines.
Rather than asking for a lump sum up front, spread the cost of the hen or stag weekend over a few months to make it more affordable for everyone involved and make sure everyone knows how much to budget for the occasion. And when you’re away, setting up a kitty is a life-saver when paying for rounds of drinks and food.
Choose somewhere not too far from your home town and have a night away or even a day trip rather than a weekend shindig to save money on accommodation, food and drinks. Stag and hens often overindulge on first night so the beauty of just one night away is that you won’t be forced to spend another evening on the razz with a hangover!
After the expense of the wedding, finding the funds to pay for the honeymoon can seem like an impossible daydream. But there are ways to have the holiday of a lifetime without having to worry about racking up debt to pay for your first romantic jaunt as newlyweds.
With most couples living together before tying the knot, the likelihood is that you’ll already have enough bedding and picture frames, so instead ask your guests for contributions towards your honeymoon. Choose from the numerous honeymoon gift lists on offer or consider asking for cash, which is a surprisingly popular choice.
If you don’t mind not jetting off straight after the wedding then you can take advantage of more affordable deals on flights and packages by being flexible on dates. Speak to travel agents to find out how far in advance you can book to maximise on savings.
Think about booking your honeymoon just before or after the high season when the weather is likely to still be glorious minus the price hikes of the peak times. If you’re planning a European honeymoon, consider May or September for more affordable travel, while plan Caribbean honeymoons in late spring for better value.
While there’s no promise of being bumped to first class, it does pay to take a copy of your wedding certificate with you on your honeymoon, with many hotels offering newlyweds free Champagne or room upgrades with proof of a recent marriage.
Do you have any budget-friendly tips to share? Let us know how you saved money on your big day by commenting below
By Anna McKittrick
Friday 06 May 2016
Before deciding where to tie knot, read our ultimate guide to choosing the perfect wedding venue, covering everything from...
If you’ve been tasked with planning your best friend’s hen do and don’t know where to start, fear not as...
After the excitement of the engagement it can seem a daunting task to decide when to host your big day, with our handy guide...
From tropical beaches and scenic snow settings, to Britain’s beautiful countryside and world wonders, SoBristolWeddings...
From flying in on a helicopter to cantering in on a horse drawn carriage, or something altogether more flamboyant, get a little...