If you’re planning a budget wedding, you don’t need to spend tens of thousands to create a wedding day atmosphere that all your guests will love – even small amounts can make a big difference to your day. With a little planning, you can transform your wedding with finishing touches for under £500 – here are some of our ideas!

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Outfits with wow factor

If you’ve got a bit of spare money in your budget, consider adding a little something to your wedding day outfit to really make it pop. Splashing out on a finishing touch like a brooch or bolero means you can change your look from day to night without spending a fortune on another dress – genius!

Eat, drink and be merry

Many venues will ask you to have your menu and drinks finalised long before the big day, but there’s still a lot you can do with a spare £200-500 at the last minute. Serving canapés with the wedding drinks is one option, especially if you’re worried that guests might get hungry waiting for the wedding breakfast. Or, consider serving extra snacks during the evening celebrations, when guests might get peckish. There are plenty of other ways to make your choice of food more entertaining – why not try an ice cream or pizza bar and let your guests’ imaginations run wild?

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Dreamy decor

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When you walk into your reception room for the first time, you’ll want it to be magical – an extra £500 can help guarantee that you and your guests will be blown away by it. Award-winning planner Julie Tooby from Essentially-You says: “I always recommend chair covers! For the cost, the transformation is amazing and they can bring a colour theme together.”

If you’re holding your wedding in a marquee, there are lots of other low-cost decorating options. Scattering lavender flowers on the floor and tables will not only look pretty, but also smell fantastic. Wedding signs are also a great, cheap way to add impact to your decor – for a selection of signs, why not try the Wedding Ideas Shop?

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Brilliant blooms

For many brides, flowers are the ultimate wedding decoration, and a couple of hundred pounds will go a pretty long way.

To add a little more meaning to your flowers, wedding planner Beverly Pearce suggests splitting your bouquet to create three small pieces as a surprise for your family members.  “As you arrive at the end of the aisle, detach one and hand to your father to give to your mother as he takes his seat. At the end of the ceremony, as you walk out, detach the second small arrangement and hand to your new mother-in-law with a kiss, then carry on up the aisle as a Mrs!”

Musical treats

For £500, you can hire talented musicians to entertain you and set the mood for your celebrations. At the ceremony, drinks and the meal, a string quartet is a classic option for a sophisticated feel. Claire Wilkinson at Every Detail says: “Look around for an excellent vocalist – it makes such a difference having someone sing as you enter the church and it’s great for your guests while you are signing the register.”

For a musical idea that costs nothing but will mean a lot to your guests, include something on your invitations asking guests to RSVP with song suggestions – playing them on the day will ensure you get the musical tone right and that everyone hears something they like.

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Evening entertainment

This is the area where your money will make the most noticeable difference to the day. Everyone will remember the fab toastmaster, salsa dancers or casino that made your celebrations so much fun. Claire Wilkinson suggests: “If you are concerned about your guests not mingling, hire a magician, human statue or caricaturist to get people talking. Book them for when guests are due to arrive at the reception venue, to work the crowd as they arrive, when people are quite shy – later on, the atmosphere and alcohol will take over!”

Wedding planner Tamryn Kirby says: “I love Charles Burns, the fab silhouette Roving Artist – all the guests can take home an amazing silhouette cutting of themselves, so Charles is entertainment and favours all rolled into one! He’s really popular at weddings – guests love to watch and they love their silhouettes.”

Lasting memories

At the end of the big day, all you will have to remember those special moments will be your photographs. For many brides, it’s worth spending a bit more to get your wedding photographer to stay all day, from morning into the night so he can capture everything, especially those more relaxed moments at the evening party

Alternatively, Beverley Pearce suggests: “Buy a Polaroid camera and lots of film! Ask guests to take their photo and write a message on the back for you to keep as an alternative to a guestbook.”

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If you’re still looking for budget wedding ideas, why not check out the Budget section of our website for excellent money-saving tips? Or, discuss the best ways to create an incredible wedding day experience and still stay under budget with other brides on the Wedding Ideas Forum? We’d love to hear from you!