Budget Wedding first pic

How To Have A Budget Wedding & Mistakes To Avoid

With the average cost of a wedding currently standing at £20,500 is it possible not to go into your life partnership hugely in debt? Today I’m going to hopefully give you some tips  and ideas on how to have a budget wedding & mistakes to avoid. Mr S and I got married in 2008 and managed to have a fabulous day for just under £5,000, so it is possible. It’s just a question of how to have your budget wedding  …..

Budget Plan

Yes, I know, budgeting sucks! However, it is absolutely essential whatever your budget to ensure that you don’t break the bank – and stick to it!  Work out how much you can afford to spend and where the money’s going to come from. Who’s paying for what? Talk to your families – the bride’s parents don’t always pay for everything these days. It’s a good idea to ask the contributing parties to specify how much they would like to contribute so that you know exactly how much you’re looking at.  budget wedding

 If you’re planning a year or more in advance perhaps gifts from parents for birthdays and Christmas could be in the form of either cash or vouchers towards a particular part of the day.

Spreading the cost over the months means that you’re not paying a huge amount out in one go. If you don’t want to hand the money over to vendors before their deadlines then putting the money aside in a special account would be a good idea.

List Everything!

Make a list of everything you need or want for your wedding day. In addition to the obvious things such as stationery, flowers, etc., don’t forget things like:

  • Postage for the invitations
  • Accessories such as shoes, underwear, jewellery
  • Thank You gifts for the bridal party – Mother of the Bride, Mother of the Groom, Bridesmaids, Best Man, Ushers
  • Hair and Makeup – trials may not be free, so investigate and compare
  • Ceremony/Church Fees (register office, organist, choir, etc.)
  • Insurance
  • Corkage if you’re providing your own drink
  • Dry Cleaning for your wedding clothes

Think you’ve got it all covered? Add on a 10% buffer to take care of any unplanned surprises! budget wedding

Looking scary? Now’s the time to really look at each item on your list and decide if it’s absolutely essential. When you’re having a budget wedding you need to be ruthless about non-essentials. Do you really need the bagpiper to pipe you out of the church and your guests into the reception venue? If you have Scottish ancestry and you feel that it’s an essential part of the day then keep it in. If it’s something you’ve seen on the internet and quite fancy it then it’s probably one to ditch.

At the end of the day it’s all about you as a couple, your love and commitment to each other. It’s about sharing your happiness with your nearest and dearest. Sometimes, paring things down makes the day that much more enjoyable. There’s less to worry about and gives you more time to spend with friends and family and your new spouse.

Shop Around & Get Quotes

It might sounds obvious, but don’t just go with the first thing you see (unless of course you’ve done your research, know exactly what you want and the price you can expect to pay for it). Get quotes so that you can compare different companies. The cheapest quote may not include certain things, for example some stationers charge extra for RSVP cards, others don’t, photographers packages may vary considerably. Check the price for VAT – if your reception venue is quoted as £5,000 but VAT is on top of that, it’s a hefty £1,000 extra that you may not be expecting! budget wedding

Are there Damages & Hire Deposits to pay up front?  Yes, you’ll get the money back if you return hired items undamaged, and if there are no damages to the venue, but you’ll need to take them into account in your budgeting, and expect not to get them back, that way it’ll be a bonus when everything’s returned undamaged and you get the deposits back!

Venues & Different Days

Investigate getting married on a day other than Saturday to see if it’s cheaper. Sometimes venues will have cheaper rates for a weekday or Sunday wedding as they want to maximise their bookings.

Budget Wedding Marquee

Is your garden suitable for a marquee? If not, perhaps there’s a pretty village hall near you with a garden where you could put up a marquee? Hiring a marquee can be a good way to save on venue costs and have a budget wedding – but do some research, and don’t forget to add on the extras to the basic cost:

  • Tables & Chairs
  • Flooring
  • Table Coverings & Chair Coverings
  • Heaters if necessary
  • Lighting

 We’re very lucky that we have the space for a marquee in our garden. I did a lot of research on prices and styles, and also went to see one that had already been erected.

If there’s no village hall with a garden then consider just using the hall, most of them have kitchen facilities, and can be decorated imaginatively for your budget wedding.

How We Did It

Do It Yourself. – and it’s pitfalls

The Car  Budget Wedding car 

Ok, so a cherry red VW Beetle may not be a traditional wedding car, but it was good fun! Do you have a family member or good friend with a nice (reliable!) car and would they be prepared to drive you? Whilst this can be a good option do make sure that you trust the person, and be prepared to have a back up plan in case the car breaks down.

The Flowers  Budget wedding Table Centrepieces       Budget Wedding Bouquet

Do you have a friend or family member who’s good at flower arranging? Vases can be hired at a reasonable cost – but don’t forget that they will need to be returned immediately after the wedding, so someone may have to be nominated to take charge of that if you’re going straight off on honeymoon. Shop around for prices for the flowers, choosing seasonal flowers will help to bring the cost down. However, make sure that you’ve seen some arrangements by the person before you commit to them doing your wedding flowers. Coloured water can help to give depth to the venue decorations

 The Cake   Budget wedding cake

Are you or is someone you know a secret Mary Berry or Star Baker? If so then go for it! If you’re keen but a bit of a novice, then keep it simple. I made our wedding cake (above) and decorated it myself, but I kept it very simple. You don’t want a complete disaster to mar the day, and get people talking – in a bad way about your budget wedding! In the pics below you can see what they were trying to achieve, but ……….

Image result for wedding cake disasters

The Photographs  Budget Wedding photos

Our photographs were taken by my husband’s ex-wife and ex-mother-in-law – yes, you read that right! Both are virtually professional and we are very good friends with them. I would urge you to exercise a HUGE amount of caution here though. If you’re tempted to let a friend or family member take photos then you should think very carefully if it’s worth the risk. This is one thing that you really need to think about carefully – you may need to have a budget wedding, but you don’t want to end up with “cheap” photographs.

Photographers charge what seems to be a massive amount of money, but there are reasons for that. Firstly you are paying for their experience. Your photos are a permanent reminder of your special day, so they need to be memorable in a good way. You don’t want blurred pics, photo bombed pics or pics that appear to show a tree growing out of Aunty Mary’s head or other monstrosities!

Secondly you are paying for top quality professional equipment to be used. Togs have backup cameras, spare batteries, spare memory cards, and a whole host of other equipment to ensure that your photos are top notch.

Thirdly with a professional you’re paying for their expertise in making sure your photos look good. Many people think that they just turn up, shoot a few pics and send them over afterwards. However, there’s a great deal of post wedding work that goes into making the photos ready. budget wedding

If like us you know someone who is a photographic geek and you’ve seen their work and like it then go for it. If you decide to hire a professional then shop around, view past wedding shoots, choose someone who’s work and style you like. Compare prices/packages, don’t just go with the cheapest, make sure you’re getting what you want.

The Stationery Budget wedding stationery

I spent hours and hours making our wedding invitations (the one shown above isn’t it, stupidly I didn’t take a photo at the time! but it’s similar). I had a stamp made up of our initials and embossed them onto the card, one either side of the gatefold. I can’t tell you how many I ditched because they weren’t up to standard! Either I managed to get a spot of the embossing ink where it shouldn’t have been, or I singed the card with the heat tool. It was a steep learning curve and there was a lot of wasteage. However, it was eventually very satisfying to have made them all.

Whilst I’m not going to advise you against making them yourself there are some pitfalls to be aware of. Making one perfect invitation is not too difficult, but making 50 or 100 to a high standard is not so easy. Be prepared to over order on materials, for paper cuts, for sore fingers after tying 200 tiny bows and for thinking that you’re NEVER going to get it finished! Make sure you have the room to undertake such a big project – you can expect to lose the use of your dining table for a while! Whilst it’s tempting to get your BMs round for an evening of making invitations and drinking wine I would advise against that. Making anything like that is best done in daylight with natural light, and definitely sober if you don’t want the ribbon skewiff! budget wedding

If you do decide to make your own stationery and would like some help in sourcing materials then please contact me and I’ll be pleased to advise on what you will need, how to do it and what sort of quantities of materials you will need. Or alternatively why not consider our All In One budget wedding invitations? They are great value and high quality.

Hair & Makeup  budget wedding hair and makeup

Whilst my hair and makeup was done by a professional, I didn’t pay for it. A friend kindly paid for it as a wedding gift to me. If you’re going to DIY this or have a friend do it for you, then make sure you practice plenty beforehand. I would say don’t do something totally different – you want to feel special, but you also want to feel and look like yourself. Use good quality products that have staying power – the last thing you’re going to want to be doing is touching up your makeup all day! budget wedding

Table Decorations   Budget wedding table decorations

We didn’t have a seating plan, we just wanted everyone to mingle and feel free to sit wherever they liked. The tables weren’t laid up, we’d bought aluminium pots from Ikea to put napkins and cutlery in and I tied ribbon with little crystal bead decorations sewn onto them around the pots. You could get table crystals or paper petals to scatter over the tables to add to the decorations.

Food    Budget wedding Food

Whilst a buffet might seem to be old hat it’s something that can help you to keep the cost down whilst giving a wide variety of food for your guests. I’m not talking about sausage rolls and sandwiches, but an inviting array of salads, cold cuts of meat and quiches. I made what I could a day or so ahead of time, such as Moroccan cous cous, homemade pesto sauce and pasta. The rest of the buffet was ordered in from the Waitrose entertaining range, arriving in bowls ready to put on the table with a peel off lid.

Obviously you’ll need to be able to store the food in suitably cool place as it will need to be collected or delivered the day before. If you’re hiring a hall with a kitchen they usually have a fridge to use and you’ll want to hire the hall for the day before the wedding in order to set up the tables and decorations etc. Friends and family might help out with a bit of fridge space for 24 hours.

We hired the local deli/coffee shop to supply half a dozen large cakes, glasses, crockery and cutlery and most importantly the waitresses. I was banned from the kitchen for the entire day and the girls were told that if I so much as stepped foot in there they had the authority to throw me out! You don’t want to be running around on your special day instead of chatting to your guests and having fun.

Drink  Budget wedding Drink

We ordered the drink from Tesco and had it delivered in. You get good discounts when ordering in bulk and you don’t have to worry about transporting and carrying the boxes if you order it in. As we’d moved into the house six months before we got married I ordered it all at the beginning of December when there was a special price on Cava as we were having a house warming/Christmas party. Store in the garage or a lockable shed and try not to raid your stash before the wedding!

However you have your day, whatever your budget and style the most important thing is to enjoy it. It will go by in a flash so take a few minutes with your new spouse at different times during the day to just take a breath and enjoy. There are bound to be things that go wrong even if you’ve planned every detail with military precision, but don’t let that spoil the most special day of your life. If you (or your chief bridesmaid/best man) can solve the problem then do, if it can’t be solved it probably isn’t the end of the world so let it go and try to forget about it.

I’d love to hear your ideas and money saving tips for a budget wedding so please do leave me a message below and share your ideas!

Photo credit: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson