We’re always looking for ways to show our brides how to make the most of their wedding budgets. And we had a brainwave!

Why not ask wedding planners how they think brides can save money? You see wedding planners know all the short cuts, know when it’s worth saving money (and when it’s better to pay the going rate), where you can save money and how to ask for discounts.

So we contacted the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners who asked their members for their top tips on saving money. Some of their ideas may surprise you!

wedding budget ideas

“Save on confetti or flower petals for throwing,” says Sue from Eleganza Weddings & Events. “Instead think about making lovely coloured ribbon sticks for guests to cheer the happy couple instead of throwing flower petals from cones. If you’re having a lot of guests that can work out to be quite expensive, as can showering the bride and groom with lots of confetti.

Continue reading below…

Ribbon sticks are simple to make and can be made in co-ordinating ribbon colours and given out to guests after the ceremony. They look really good when being waved like a wand by guests to demonstrate their happiness for the newly married couple.”

A piece of cake

A wedding cake is such a central part of your big day but a fabulous wedding confection can take a big bite out of your finances. So what can you do if you want an impressive-looking cake on a fairly standard budget?

One idea is to have a tiered cake – but only have one or two tiers that are actual cake. Instead ask your baker to replace the third (or fourth and fifth) tier with a polystyrene cake shape and ice that as well as the real cakes. (Your baker won’t think you’re mad by the way, it’s not an unusual request for those in the know). Your guests will be none the wiser and you’ll have an amazing tiered cake to show off that looks like it cost a lot more than it actually did. Just make sure you remember which is the fake tier when you’re cutting the cake for the camera (and make sure your groom is in on the secret too)!

“A very good way to make a big saving on your wedding cake budget (so you can spend it elsewhere) is to buy a simple, plain, traditional iced three-tier wedding cake in fruit or sponge from a reputable store such as Marks & Spencer or Waitrose,” continues Sue. “These can look lovely when decorated with flowers in your chosen colours between the tiers and displayed on the top or finished with matching ribbons or a themed cake topper. The taste won’t be compromised either!”

Rachel of Serendipity Wedding Planners also has some thoughts about wedding cake: “Think about using your cake as dessert – there’s nothing more heart-breaking than ordering a beautiful wedding cake only for it go untouched because guests are too stuffed from a three-course meal.”

Saving on your venue

Think carefully before choosing what time of day you get married and where you decide to tie the knot, as this will also affect your spending.

“Try to avoid venues that are a complete blank canvas (a bland hotel meeting space for example),” says Rachel. “It will take a lot more money to make a nondescript place look dressed up for your big day than somewhere that already has a bit of styling or character to it.”

You’ll cut down on decoration and transport costs by having your ceremony and reception in the same venue. Also think about marrying later in the day so you can go straight from the ceremony into a glamorous evening reception. That way you’ll save on hefty catering costs by only needing to feed your guests once.

On the food front, you could always offer up canapés in place of a starter. Naturally the number of people you invite will impact your budget, particularly if you’re planning to serve a formal sit-down wedding breakfast.  It’s tough to do but setting rules such as no plus-ones for single guests, work-mates being invited to just the evening celebration or even an adults-only guest list are all great ways to help keep the numbers under control.”

wedding flowers

Flower power

“Opting for seasonal flowers is a sure fire way to save money – you’re not having expensive blooms flown in out of season,” says Rachel. “You could also reuse your flowers throughout the day. Pew ends from the church can double up as reception décor. Or why not use your table settings as thank you gifts?”

Dried flowers are much cheaper than their fresh counterparts and are perfect for a relaxed, bohemian wedding theme.

Finally, if you really feel you can’t afford the dress of your dreams that’s in your local bridal boutique, don’t despair. Instead hit the sample sales where dresses can be often be snapped up for around 70% of the retail price. Dresses are likely to be sold as seen, so check for faults & factor in the costs of repairs, cleaning or alterations to make sure you’re still getting a good discount.”

So to sum up, here’s a useful checklist of budget tips from top wedding planner and Wedding Ideas Awards 2014  judge Alison Tinlin of Plans & Presents…

  • Each make a wish list; see what you can compromise on and what you can’t.
  • Consider venues that you may not have considered as ‘weddingy’.
  • Consider a midweek wedding, as this can work out cheaper than a weekend event.
  • Utilise the talents of friends and family – cool car, great baker, musician, crafty person.
  • Subscribe to wedding forums like Wedding Ideas, where like-minded cash savvy people will share their tips.
  • Look out for sample sales and seasonal sales at your favourite bridal boutiques.
  • DIY some parts of your day – stationery, decorations etc.
  • Always get wedding insurance, it could save money in long run.

Great tips from wedding planners! And why not see what our Forum brides have to suggest about budget planning?