Getting married? How to watch out for mounting costs and tackle them

Big bills can ruin your big day; don't let wedding costs get the better of you

Wedding season is here again, and while it's a happy time for couples and their guests, it can also prove very costly. Here’s how the bills pile up – and how you can make clever cutbacks without it leading to wedding woes.

How costs mount up

A couple planning their wedding together (Thinkstock/PA)

The average cost of tying the knot is now £8,000, according to a survey of married UK couples from Nationwide Building Society – with 11% splashing out more than £20,000. With big costs to cover, some couples could be tempted into debt. Website MoneySuperMarket recently said it has seen a jump in people applying for wedding loans – including applications for over £20,000.

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Nationwide also puts the average cost of being a wedding guest at around £400 – of which roughly £150 is spent on the stag or the hen party, and £250 goes towards the ceremony itself.

What to cut first

The wedding breakfast (Thinkstock/PA)

Couples looking to cut the cost of their wedding may want to consider how those who are already married successfully trimmed their budgets. Nationwide's survey found the wedding dress was the most likely item to be "downgraded" to save money, followed by the number of guests, the invitations, the venue and the food. Many high street stores now sell wedding dresses, or brides on a budget could go for a more vintage look by trawling second hand and charity shops, or auction websites for a bargain.

When it came to the aspects of the wedding most likely to be ditched altogether, canapés came out on top, followed by favours, cars, suit hire and a paid-for bar. Perhaps for some people, having home-made canapés with a personal touch, rather than ditching them altogether, and swapping champagne for cheaper forms of bubbly, could be a compromise.

If you need to go into debt, do your research

You won’t have to spend all your money on your wedding (Thinkstock/PA)

If you can't see any way of avoiding getting into debt, at the very least it's important to compare loans to get the best deal. Kevin Pratt, a consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, says: "As with any borrowing, it's also wise to set a schedule following the wedding to make sure you can repay it in good time."

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How to cut the cost for your guests

Guests don’t have to pay loads of money on your wedding day (Thinkstock/PA)

While trying to keep a tight rein on their own budgets, nearly two-thirds (63%) of brides and grooms actively consider how to reduce costs for guests attending their weddings, according to research from American Express. It found the top three ways brides and grooms try to reduce costs are: choosing a venue within a close distance to family and friends to reduce travel costs, selecting a stag or hen do that won’t be too pricey, and asking guests not to buy gifts.

Here are some tips from American Express for couples planning a cost-conscious wedding for their guests:

1. Alert international guests early. Once you know the date, ensure any guests flying in to attend the wedding know as early as possible, so they can secure the best travel deals.

2. Negotiate room deals. Many accommodation providers will provide a discount on rooms if you make a block booking for your guests.

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3. Consider the venue carefully. If you don’t want your guests to break the bank, look at the price of drinks your venue is providing to ensure there are some budget-friendly options.

4. Make gift lists affordable. If you are sending out a gift list, ensure there are items that fit all budgets, so guests don't feel concerned about not spending enough on you.

5. Points can make presents. Check how many rewards points you have on your cards. There may be enough to buy wedding favours for guests with them, so they have a small gift.

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