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20 tips to plan a wedding on a budget - and save thousands

Host your dream wedding without blowing the budget

The average wedding in the UK now costs around £24,000, so it’s no wonder many couples are looking for ways to cut costs on their big day.

RELATED: 34 high street wedding dresses that look more expensive than they are

From your wedding dress to the venue and decorations, it's easy for costs to get out of control, but there are many simple ways to save money when wedding planning so you can pull off your dream day without getting into debt. According to Ocean Finance, there are certain changes you can make to save up to £19k! Read on for our top tips to plan a wedding on a budget…

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1. Marry out of season or on a weekday

One of the easiest ways to reduce the cost of your wedding is to consider marrying out of season, or even on a weekday. According to Bridebook’s 2019 wedding report, couples can save almost £5k by hosting their wedding in January or February rather than the peak months of June to August. You could almost save as much as £6k by marrying on a Tuesday or Wednesday rather than a Saturday.

Hosting your wedding in January or February could save you thousands

2. Keep it intimate

It can be easy to get carried away when choosing who to invite to your wedding, but keeping the guest list limited to close friends and family could significantly cut costs. For example, research by Hitched revealed that the average couple spent £65 per person on food and drink for their wedding guests, which means you'll have to shell out more than £6,500 on 100 guests for catering alone. Reducing this number by just 20 people could save you thousands.

So take the time to really consider who you can’t imagine your big day without. Would you really miss that old friend you haven’t seen for years or the former work colleague you feel obliged to invite? If not, cut them from the list.

3. Say yes to the bargain dress

Choosing your dream dress is a big part of wedding planning, but there are so many more options beyond visiting your local bridal shop if you’re on a budget. While high street retailers including Whistles, French Connection and ASOS all have their own wedding dress lines, you could also look to websites like Still White, a pre-owned wedding dress marketplace, where you can find designer wedding dresses at a fraction of their original retail price.

Or consider hiring a gown from My Wardrobe HQ, HURR and more, which Ocean Finance suggested could result in a cost-saving of £3,524. Plus, who wouldn't want to wear a gorgeous £12,430 Oscar de la Renta dress for just £360?

READ: Best wedding dress hire sites in 2021: Selfridges, HURR & more

SHOP: 21 best bridal lingerie sets perfect for your wedding night

4. Hit the sales

You could save cash on everything from bridesmaid dresses to the grooms’ suit by browsing the sales. Keep a lookout for mid-season and end-of-season sales at your favourite retailers, as well as one-day events at department stores like Selfridges, where you could save money on a selection of brands.

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5. Print your own wedding stationery

The cost of bespoke wedding invitations and the rest of your stationery can soon stack up, but you could save a fortune by taking it into your own hands. There are thousands of beautiful templates you can buy on Etsy and Canva and customise yourself, while websites like Printed.com offer high-quality printing services for as little as £10, for beautiful and luxurious looking wedding stationery on a budget.

Print your own wedding stationery or send virtual invites to cut costs

6. Or send e-vites

Alternatively, you could take the modern route by sending e-vites to your guests. Not only will this save cash on your stationery, but websites like Paperless Post  will allow guests to RSVP online, helping you to keep track of attendees too.

7. Utilise your friends' talents

Is one of your best friends a talented musician, photographer or DJ? Utilise their skills by asking if they would kindly help out on your wedding day, whether it’s performing during your drinks reception or doing a DJ set in the evening. Chances are they will love the opportunity to play an important role in your wedding, and it could save you thousands on booking the services elsewhere.

MORE: 5 ways to save money on your wedding venue

READ: Who should pay for your wedding? Etiquette expert reveals all

8. Look for a venue with no corkage

Bringing your own drinks could significantly cut the costs of your wedding breakfast, and help to avoid pricey drinks packages. However, not all venues allow couples to do this, so look for somewhere with a ‘no corkage’ policy that will allow you to bring your own wine and champagne with no charge.

A no corkage policy can keep costs down

9. Prioritise what's important to you

Even if you have a strict budget, you don’t have to scrimp on everything. Take the time to think about what is most important to you and prioritise those things, then aim to cut costs on the less important elements. Perhaps you have always dreamed of that designer wedding dress but aren’t as bothered about the cake, or you want to spend more on that unique wedding venue that doesn’t require any extra decorations. With some savvy planning, you can still create your perfect day on a budget.

10. Have your ceremony and reception at the same venue

More and more wedding venues are now licensed to carry out civil ceremonies, and not only does it eliminate any travel time between two different venues, but it can also help to reduce the cost of wedding cars and transportation for your guests. Win-win!

11. Prioritise your reception decor

Between the ceremony and the reception, there's a lot of space to decorate at a wedding, but you can cut costs by focusing primarily on the latter – where your guests will spend most of their time. Re-use some decorations from the ceremony for other parts of your wedding, such as the aisle floral arrangements and the candles. And you can even move the chairs to the wedding breakfast area!

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Illy Goodall of Illy Elizabeth Weddings suggests changing the chairs, the linen and the lighting if the ones provided by the venue don't fit with your concept. You could also save money by sourcing them from other companies.

12. Make your own wedding cake

The average wedding cake now costs £331, but you could spend as little as a quarter of the price by making it yourself. Stork has launched a DIY ‘Bake By Numbers’ wedding cake kit to allow even novice bakers to make a botanical-design naked wedding cake for 70 guests for £49, or you could try a supermarket wedding cake from the collections available at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose.

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13. Re-think your wedding flowers

You don’t need to spend a fortune on your wedding flowers. Try incorporating lots of foliage and greenery into your bouquet to help keep costs down, or mix one or two more larger headed blooms in with smaller filler flowers to create a striking bouquet or display for less.

MORE: How to get celebrity-inspired wedding flowers on a budget

RELATED: Garden weddings are the biggest 2022 trend – 6 vital things you need to consider

14. Try some wedding DIY

Experiment with some DIY elements to incorporate into your big day such as your decorations or favours. Not only will it save money, but it’s also a great way to add a personal touch to your wedding, and make it truly your own.

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15. Ditch wedding favours

Did you know you could save up to £156 by cutting out wedding favours, according to Ocean Finance? Although they can help inject more of your personality into your wedding day, their costs quickly add up when you're spending £1-2 per guest. Plus, many favours such as macarons, shot glasses and more are forgotten or thrown away at the end of the night. 

16. Buy on the high street

Who says you need to hire a wedding stylist or splash out on expensive decorations to make your wedding perfect? You can bring your Pinterest dreams to life with bargain high street buys from stores like IKEA and even Primark, from striking candleholders to ornate photo frames and lighting, you’ll be surprised at what you could find when you think outside the box.

17. Don’t over-cater

It can be easy to get carried away when catering your wedding, but chances are many of your guests may not want lots of evening food and snacks just a couple of hours after a three-course meal. Consider supplying evening food for around 70 per cent of your guests, to eliminate food waste and wasted money.

Supply evening food for 70 per cent of your guests

18. Don't book the photographer for a full day

The longer you employ their services, the more expensive it will be! Ocean Finance analysed the prices of 15 photographers across the UK and revealed you can save almost £500 by booking your photographer for a half-day (8-10 hours) to capture the most important moments of your ceremony and reception, rather than a full day (12-14 hours). It is ultimately up to you whether you want to get photos of you getting ready and dancing at your reception.

19. Support local businesses

From your florist to your photographer, try to support local businesses and up-and-coming suppliers when planning your wedding. Not only will they likely be cheaper than bigger, national suppliers, but they may also spend extra time and effort working with you to ensure everything is perfect, as it helps to build their portfolio too.

20. Plan just for you

Try not to get swept along by trends, what you think you should have or creating the most Instagrammable wedding. Instead, just focus on what your wedding day means to you as a couple and keep that in mind throughout the wedding planning process. This will help to prevent overspending on unnecessary details that you don’t want or need.

MORE: How to clean your wedding and engagement rings at home - expert tips

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