Bride on a budget? HELLO! has teamed up with the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP) for their expert advice about maximising your wedding budget and the biggest money-wasting mistakes to avoid. This month, UKAWP Member Emily Andrew answers your question: How can I save 10k on my dream wedding without compromising on what I want?
Whenever you think about weddings, the sheer expense of them springs to mind. With the average wedding in the UK costing £24,000 (according to 2021 figures from Bridebook), keeping control of your wedding costs and looking at ways to save can be a real concern.
Make your big day cheaper these simple hacks
Rethink your guest list
By far the biggest impact on your budget will be your guest numbers. This will influence the venue you need to hire, the catering you provide, transport, drinks, the number of invites you need to send – literally everything! So, choose wisely. Is it more important to have your closest friends and family and really be able to treat them to an amazing celebration, or would you rather have larger guest numbers and forego the free bar, or a premium menu?
You may wish to have smaller numbers of guests on your day then invite larger numbers for the evening; this is a great way to save some costs on the most expensive part of your celebration. Intimate weddings have grown in popularity, and you could easily halve your wedding budget with a carefully curated guest list.
Possible saving: £5,000 +
DIY your décor
One of the hardest areas to budget for is décor. It is so easy to use Pinterest as inspiration for some amazing floral installations, elaborate table designs and high quality stationery but in reality, achieving these looks is costly. There are a few ways you can minimise the costs of décor; firstly, you could DIY it.
This is not for everyone and (be warned!) it can cause undue stress, but if you're realistic about what you can create in time for your wedding then it can be a really rewarding experience and a great way to make your day even more personal. You can also DIY with friends and family members, for example do you have a great baker in the family who could make your wedding cake?
Rethinking your timings and décor could save you thousands
Another idea is to multipurpose your décor; for instance, move flower arrangements from the ceremony area into your reception area, use your bouquets to dress the cake table or the bar. Also consider stationery – do you really need to send save the dates as well as invites? There are so many great electronic stationery companies, so you could digitise it all (it's also super easy to track RSVPs this way).
Possible saving: £1,500 +
Reassess the timings
Think about the timings of your day. As I mentioned above, catering for your guests will take up a large part of your budget so you might want to consider having a later wedding ceremony and therefore a later wedding breakfast. By pushing your start time back, you'll be catering for your guests for a shorter period of time, so less would be spent on drink, entertainment and you may even only need to offer one meal, rather than a wedding breakfast and then an evening meal.
Another way to save some money on your food bill is to use your wedding cake as your dessert, or even as your evening food option. If you wanted something less sweet then what about having a cheese tower as your wedding cake? This then converts into a delicious cheeseboard for the evening; just add some crackers, chutneys and fruits and you're done!
Possible saving: £1,200
WATCH: 7 most expensive royal weddings of all time
Go for a sustainable dress
Have you considered a pre-loved bridal dress? This is also a great way to support a sustainable wedding. You will need to budget for alterations, but you can make substantial savings on bridal designers. Also consider hiring your groom's attire, rather than buying a whole new suit.
And, on the subject of clothing, what about your bridesmaids – have you considered only having one or two or asking them to purchase their own dresses and shoes? You may wish to broach that request sensitively and perhaps offer to pay for their hair and makeup instead.
Possible saving: £2,000 +
Be savvy with the season
What about the time of year you get married? Some venues will offer specific price savings or lower cost packages during the winter months or mid-week so it's definitely worth exploring whether this would work for you, your guests and the sorts of venue you have shortlisted. Other wedding suppliers, for example hair and makeup artists, will have a minimum number of people they would require to be booked for their service during peak months (usually May – September) so picking an off-season date can also help with this cost.
The time of year may also come into consideration when you pick your wedding flowers e.g. if peonies are your thing then a June wedding will be when you want to aim for to ensure the best quality, UK produced, seasonal blooms. Selecting locally grown and seasonal flowers will certainly help your budget.
Possible saving: £2,500
Pick the right suppliers to avoid pinching the pennies
Think about your priorities
Make sure you are only paying for what you actually need. It's all too easy to get caught up in the exciting bubble of wedding planning and before you know it you have overspent on extra things you don't need. This is also where picking the right suppliers for you can come into play.
Researching your suppliers and their service thoroughly will help ensure you are getting the best service for your budget, with no unnecessary expenses. Being brutal about what is actually going to enhance your day, and therefore is worth spending money on, can really help trim the costs. So many couples forego traditional favours and prefer to put that budget towards their food costs.
Possible saving: £200 - £2,000
Without a doubt, doing ample research and allowing yourself enough time to curate your wedding without making any knee-jerk decisions will help you make the most of your budget, seek out the best deals and create the most memorable wedding day you could possibly have, without breaking the bank.