Your wedding day should reflect your style, your personality and of course be the best it can possibly be for your budget. Here’s how to save, and what to splurge on…
Choose a week day or an off-season date and you might find that everything is that bit cheaper, and that suppliers are more open to offers. We’re not suggesting that you barter, but it might be worth simply asking your preferred suppliers if they offer a reduced rate on your chosen date. You never know! It’s fair to say that Fridays have joined Saturdays as premium spots, given that couples and guests like to make a long weekend of their celebrations, but you’ll definitely find much better availability and probably better prices for an early-week, early-year celebration.
The best venues will offer flexible packages, with price ranges to reflect what they can offer. To secure your venue on an exclusive use basis will always attract the highest prices, but what about if you were more flexible in your approach? For example, if you chose to have your wedding reception at your favourite restaurant (which will keep costs down in itself), would you be willing to share the space with normal paying customers? Or perhaps you might consider holding your reception somewhere that is open as usual during the day? If the venue can take bookings as normal, it’s going to keep costs down. That said, if you do choose to get married and have your reception in the same place, guests won’t need to be transported, you might be able to stay there too keeping accommodation prices down… it’s all in the planning, which includes negotiation with your venue.
Your guest list
We all know that the big cost of any wedding is in feeding your guests. Your venue will talk about a ‘per head’ cost. There is absolutely no shame in making it clear to everyone from the start (including your parents and anyone else who thinks that they are going to be allocated invitations to give out!) that you are having a small do. Far better to feed fewer guests with an amazing meal that they will remember than lots of guests with food chosen purely because it was the cheapest option. The general rule is that if both of you haven’t met someone, they shouldn’t be on the list, but actually by eliminating big groups like ‘colleagues’ and ‘cousins’ and standing firm on your decision, this will make a huge difference. Manage expectations from the start. Tell everyone at work that you’re really sorry but, much as you would love to invite everyone, you’re on a really tight budget (and you hope they understand?). Enlist the help of a friendly relative to spread the word that the wedding is small and intimate, but the family is big so not to expect – or demand – an invitation.
We never ever recommend that you save on your dress! Buying your wedding dress online, or from an imitation dress site, or from anyone that tells you that they can copy a designer dress for a fraction of the price is tantamount to disaster! We have heard oh-so many stories of devastated brides who took a risk and it didn’t pay off. Your wedding dress is an investment, something that you will look back on for the rest of your life. You need to get it right, and the only way you can do that is by buying from a bona fide bridal boutique. Good boutiques will work with you and your budget to make sure that you are happy and comfortable with your choice, and show you that you don’t have to re-mortgage to get the dress of your dreams.
Do you even need bridesmaids?! Well, yes, of course you do, and it makes sense that you want them to look right, happy and comfortable, too. Bridesmaid dresses are best bought from proper bridal shops too, and there are many options available, but once again, it’s not worth breaking the bank over. Again, it’s about managing your girls’ expectations. If they don’t understand that you are on budget, are they the right person to be your bridesmaid at all? Also, don’t get carried away and have your 15 closest friends… Instead, you should stick to the few that have always been there for you, through the good times and the bad. They are also supposed to offer practical help and support, so think it through carefully!
It’s another thing that you need to fork out for, so get a professional who can interpret your style and work with your budget. That said, there are clever ways with flowers… They can be moved, for example – church flowers can appear again in the evening; bridesmaid bouquets can form table centres – the possibilities are endless. You could even enlist the help of the church flower team, or speak to the venue about sharing the costs, maybe with another event or wedding. There are some incredible silk flower options around – it might be that your out-of-season peonies are better value in silk, for example. Talking of peonies, did you know that they are on average five times more expensive than roses? You should always buy flowers that are in season.
Saving money by hiring someone cheap, or by relying on friends who take good photos will not work. We’re sorry, but you simply can’t take a risk, or rely on, anyone else other than a professional photographer who has a wealth of wedding experience. Taking quality photographs of you on your big day is not the same as taking Facebook-worthy selfies.
Of course your best budget bet would be to choose a venue that doesn’t need much decoration, or that already has a huge stock of items you can make use of to decorate. Or you might have some friends who are really good at making things, all of which would keep your costs low. Once you have decided on your theme, you can start to stock up – each shopping trip could include candles, or confetti, or fairy lights. Start a wedding cupboard, and you will be surprised how quickly it builds up! The sales are always good, too, even if your wedding seems like a long way away. And of course you might find that if you get married in December, for example, your venue will be decorated well anyway.
Again, your venue will be the best people to tell you what’s possible because they will have seen it all before, and they know their venue’s potential better than anyone! Alcohol is the other big budget issue. Don’t offer your guests endless alcohol options, simply provide the welcome drink and a drink for the toast and take it from there. Or buy some kegs of cider or beer and offer these… In the same way, don’t feel you have to offer a sit down meal based around a chicken dish main course. Hog roasts, barbecues, buffets, canapés or pizzas are all good budget options.
When it comes to the entertainment, you should use an entertainment agency, like Warble Entertainments, who – like a bridal boutique – will work with you to find the perfect act for you for your budget. Warble have a huge number of connections and contacts. If they don’t know the best people for the job, no-one will! Again, your venue will know what and who works best and will be happy to recommend an act to you. That’s how this industry works!
While we would all love a designer cake, you have to be realistic. Cake makers are professionals and hours and hours are spent creating the masterpieces you lust after from celebrity weddings. Have you thought about enlisting the help of friends who bake in a bake-off scenario, asking them to bake and bring a cake to form a dessert table? You could add in a coulis, or ice cream to make the cake ‘the’ dessert? Any which way, the cake is definitely a corner you could cut.
They are in your life for a reason… If they offer help, accept it. If some of them have nice cars, ask if they will drive you to your wedding. If you love the way that someone styles their hair, ask them to do yours! If they’re a whizz with a sewing machine, why not ask them to make some bunting? You’ll be amazed how much people love to be asked, and how nice it is for them to be involved in making your day special.
You might be surprised how good you are at making things! We’re not suggesting you become a stationery designer overnight, but favours, decorations, personalised items that can be used to pretty up a guest book table, or baking treats for a sweet buffet? You’ve got time to practise, and you could rope it some crafty friends to make an evening or two of it?
Fore more fabulous wedding inspiration, browse our website – we have tons of information to help you plan your big day…