Tips for a Wedding on a Budget - How to lower your wedding costs
Just to start
First of all 'Congratulations!' if your reading this then the likelihood is you're planning your wedding (or that of a loved one). So 'yay' you are one step closer to the most amazing day of your life! Now you get to start the fun part - THE PLANNING!! I am not a wedding planner so these are just tips I used in my wedding or found whilst I was planning for my wedding. I can't give you a wedding planning guide sorry, but i can try to save you some money when you are planning.
Now so many people will tell you that wedding planning is hugely stressful, but it doesn't need to be, and in my personal experience it wasn't! The most stressful part for a lot of people is, as you would expect, the finical side of the wedding (although in-laws are a close second!). That is where my tips will hopefully come in helpful.
I got married in May 2010 and although didn't have a extremely tight budget (thanks to my amazing parents), there still was a budget and I really wanted to try and save as much money as we could on the wedding whilst still making it as personal as we could, and an amazing day for everyone involved.
Wedding costs can majorly spiral out of control if you do not keep an eye on them and at least try to keep them down (unless of course you have an unlimited budget - in which case why are you reading this hub! lol). What with cakes, dresses, stationary, food, venue, suits, favours and a million more things, plus the fact that for some reason you add wedding to the title of anything and you can also add a '0' on the end of the price.
So here are just a few ways I have found to help save money and lower costs of your wedding:
Top Colour Scheme
What are you planning on having as your colour scheme
My Black and White
There are a number of ways you can save money on the Venue where you hold your reception (or your whole wedding if your not using a Church or registry office). Sadly you can't really save money on Church's or Registry Offices as the fee is usually standardised across the country (at least in the UK).
The Date - Ok now I know most people will think that choosing a date is the first important thing to do, but I found that being slightly flexible on the date when visiting wedding venues helped greatly. Firstly so you are aren't disappointed if the venue is already booked for your chosen date and secondly because certain dates might have slightly different price points to others. Yes just moving your date one week forward or back could save you hundreds (or thousands in some cases) if you are on the Summer/Winter season bordered. But a lot of venues won't tell you this if you give them a specific date.
I shall explain more, using my wedding as an example - For my wedding venue any wedding taking place Oct 1st - May 31st were classes as Winter Weddings and weddings 1st June - 30th September were Summer Weddings. This is because June - September are the peak season for weddings, so are the busiest time of year for most venues. Now this may not work with every venue but it is worth looking out for.
For a Summer Wedding, at our venue, the price was double that of a Winter Wedding. It was similar to this:
- Winter Wedding Breakfast £24 per head and free evening buffet, £8 per head for extra guests at evening buffet.
- Summer Wedding Breakfast £30 per head and £9 per head for evening buffet.
This is obviously a drastic price different, and well worth having my wedding in May instead of June, as really what difference does the date make.
Still on the date point - also look at days other than a traditional Saturday as they can also be drastically cheaper.
All inclusive - If you are not having a church wedding, look at venues that offer all inclusive weddings - so wedding, breakfast and reception (some even offer wedding planning for decorating the room too) as these will often offer very competitive prices as a inclusive deal. And often include a nights stay for the bridal party too.
Think Outside the Box - Look at venues that aren't the first go to place you think of. Look for the more unusual more obscure places, these will often be cheaper as they are less well known but will also add a more individual element to your wedding as it won't be the same as everyone else who lives in your area. Converted barns, village halls, historical buildings or tourist destinations like museums and theatres will often offer wedding services.
Down Size - Ok I know this sounds harsh but if you are on a really tight budget then you simply have to downsize on the number of guests at the wedding, as this is often where the largest portion of your budget will go. So why not down size to a small intimate wedding in the day but then invite all those extra guest you want to the evening reception.
Self Cater - If you can find a venue which allows you to bring in your own food you could save a fortune by self catering the event. Obviously this is a lot of work but if you have a great group of family and friends who are willing to help with sandwich maker this could be a winner. If you are only having a small wedding then having it in a family home or garden will make this easier and very personal to you.
Invitations and Stationary
Until you start looking at how much all the tiny details cost, you will have no idea how expensive some things are. Invitations and Stationary is one of these things. I was truly shocked when I started looking at having invites made, I was quoted prices ranging from £350 - £850 for 60 day time and 60 night time invites plus order of service. This price didn't include table cards or a seating plan or Thank You cards so I would have had to folk out more again for them too.
There was only one thing for it
DIY - Now I am lucky enough to be a fairly crafty person and have a crafty mum and sister so we knew we could handle making all the stationary. Finding the time to do it was the only problem, as it takes hours, but it was so worth it to see all the beautiful invites and to receive the complements from everyone afterwards. I believe we spent closer to £225 all in so we saved a fair amount and had the most perfect invites for us.
Now even if you are not particularly crafty you could still DIY your stationary as there are so many things you can buy pre-done and you will simply have to glue or attach them to cards. And it can all be found on Ebay for a fraction of the cost. The best thing to do is look for a few designs you like and then work out the parts you might need to build them yourself.
Look for blank cards with envelopes in the colour scheme of your wedding. Then 'Wedding Invitation' stickers and what ever topper you fancy using. Whether this be a sticker, hearts, flowers, ribbons or beads, or maybe you want something more personal like a photo. Then all you have to do is construct the cards and write the insides. You can also buy all the items to make complimentary order of service cards, save the dates, Thank You Cards, Place Names and a seating plan.
It all just takes a bit of time to search for the best prices for items on Ebay and the time to construct them all. But believe me it will be worth it when you see the finished product.
Printing - I have recently seen a number of people simply having wedding invites in the form of a printed card or photo. Take a fun photo of you and the other half holding up the details of your wedding written on something and them just get them all printed out as photos and send these instead. Its fun and quirky and very different from all the other invites people will usually receive. Its sure to make your guests remember yours.
E-Invites - Yes its cheap, but isn't that the point. Most people have email addresses and we are nearly all attached to our emails and computers 24 hours a day so getting an e-invite won't come out of the blue. Just make sure you make it all pretty and people won't really care. You can include all the links to the info they will need like, directions, venue, places to stay and your gift list and you can say you aren't sending out paper invites because you are trying to be more green! You will have to get a few cheap invites for your older relatives who aren't online though!
Use Kids Party Invites - If you are known for being a bit fun, childish or eccentric then try buying a load of children's invites and sending them instead. You can often find them in dollar/pound stores or places like Home Bargains or supermarkets.
Note Cards - You can often pick up cheap packs of note cards or blank cards which could easily be used as invites as they have nothing written inside but a pretty picture on the outside.
Post Cards - Another great fun and quirky way to invite people to your wedding. You can find some great cards in your local tourist office or tourist attraction. Plus they are cheap to send.
Dresses and Suits
The wedding dress (and bridesmaids dresses) is probably the most important thing for the bride for the big day. Its something she will have been dreaming about for quite a while and probably something she will be most looking forward to. Its also gonna be one of the things you spend the most money on, or at least it would be if you bought it straight off the rack. Here are some of the other options if you want to try save some money on the clothes.
Custom Made - You might think that having a dress made will cost more than buying a dress from a wedding dress shop but in many cases you would be wrong. Wedding dresses can vary greatly in price from around £200, for sale or cheaper plain dresses, upwards by an infinite amount. Most stores will stock dresses between £500 to £3000 but some can be well over £5000. Now if you find a good well priced seamstress you may be surprised at what price you can get a custom made dress for. This will mean you also get a dress that perfectly fits you and is exactly what you want. I was quite specific about what I wanted and knew I was unlikely to find one off the rack so had it (and all my bridesmaids dresses) custom made by Silk in Skewen. Now I know it still sounds a lot but my dress was £800, but a lot of work went into it as it was hand beaded and had 30 lace covered buttons that were also hand made. Then my bridesmaid dresses worked out at around £135 each (I had 5) which is the same as if I bought something from Coast except they were perfectly fitted to my girls and exactly the design I wanted.
Second-hand - What about buying second hand? I know many people don't like the idea of second hand items but wedding dresses are only worn for one day and cost so much that getting a second hand one can save £100's. Then you can get it fitted by a seamstress so it fits you perfectly.
Looking at second hand also means vintage dresses! If you are a fan of vintage styles then why not look at vintage wedding dresses too and get them altered to fit.
You can also keep a look out for wedding dress charity auctions, which are now becoming popular in some places. There you will not only find second hand dresses but also designer dresses donated by wedding dress shops and seconds.
Outlets and sales - You can often find wedding dress outlets or massive sale/bankruptcy sales going on at the end of the peak seasons, so keep a look out for these as you may find a dress you once saw in a magazine at a fraction of the cost! Try looking online too, as there are many designer wedding dress warehouse stores online, that will again offer hugely discounted designer dresses, like their store - Wedding Dress Factory Outlet
Buy High-Street - Many high street stores now offer evening wear items, so try looking for your bridesmaids dresses from places like Coast, Warehouse, John Lewis, Debenhams and Lipsy to name just a few. They will be a lot cheaper then wedding dress shops and will also be more trendy and fashion conscious than the typical Bridesmaid stuff you get in wedding dress shops.
Shop Around for Suits offers - Not to leave the men out, you will of course need suits, and not just one! You will need the groom, the best man, ushers, father of the bride, father of the groom, paige boys and possibly other family members all to have the same or similar suits. Now most men don't buy the suits anymore they rent, which is far more sensible. If you attend some of the local wedding fairs you may be lucky enough to get your hands on a bulk rental discount offer. The large rental company where we live gave out vouchers at the fair for 5 for the price of 4 on adult suits and 2 for 1 with kids suits. This saved us over £130. It is definitely worth visiting the fairs just to seek out the possible offers.
If you have to decorate your venue it can cost you lots what with chair covers, table cloths, decorations, flowers, balloons and a multitude of other things.
Flowers - Who said that all weddings have to have flowers? If your not really that into them then don't have them, carry a crystal bouquet or a single long-stemmed flower instead.
But if you do want flowers then look at making your own bouquet and table centres. The likely hood is someone in your family will know how to arrange flowers and will be able to help you. We only bought the bouquets from a florist and then made all the button holes and floral decorations using flowers bought from the supermarket (most will order in large quantities if you ask them before hand).
Or think about fake flowers - granted these sometimes look cheap but if you look hard enough online you will be able to find some really beautiful ones. As your table centres will be out all day and possibly in warm weather real flowers will start to wilt so look at using fake ones. Perfect all the time, cheaper and they won't make anyone sneeze! We bought boxes of huge fake white roses and rose heads for the table centres and for the pew ends and they looked amazing, plus most people assumed they were real until they felt them.
Table Centres - Look to build them yourself instead of buying or renting them ready made. Don't just think of flowers, table centres can be many other items. Simply doing a google search will turn up lots of ideas for you to think about. We made ours from Cup-cake stands, bulk bought from ebay, fake rose heads from ebay, black votive candles from ikea and pearl and crystal beads recycled from jewellery in the sale at Primark (I'm pretty resourceful!) Places like The Range will sell great decorative items that can double up as table centres, things like candle holders, cake stands or birdcages are very popular.
Our Pew Ends
Here are a few extra ideas that you should think about before booking anything.
- Call in all those favours people owe you! Helped out a friends by organising her baby shower or kids party, call in the favour and ask her to help make the invites or table centres.
- Do you have any friends who are in a band or that play an instrument or can sing, then ask them to perform at the reception or in the church. Bands can cost a lot of money so this will save you a fair amount. Tell them it can be their wedding gift to you, if needs be.
- Don't make a wedding list just for the sake of it. If you have been living together for a while the likelihood is that you have all the household items you need, so politely ask people for money towards the honeymoon instead. You'll be surprised how generous people will be for a wedding, and every penny counts! It will help you cover the cost so you don't have to worry about it, or cover the spending money
- Or ask family to cover certain parts of the wedding costs as a gift. Got generous grandparents or aunts and uncles then ask if they will buy the wedding cake so you don't have to
- Got a baker in the family? Maybe they can make the cake or even favours instead of buying them in.
- Get favours which are useful, guests will thank you more for them! Sugar covered almonds or chocolates are really quite old fashioned and a bit rubbish in all honesty. We got bottle opener key rings for the men and personalised perfume atomisers for the women. All from an online gift warehouse in Scotland and at just over £1 each and free postage they didn't turn out too expensive. Lottery tickets or scratch cards are fun and exciting. And charity pins are heartfelt especially if the family has been effect by something in specific.
- Aim to work with local independent people as they will be cheaper than any bigger stores and you will be able to haggle the price a little with them.
- On the above note - try to haggle everything! If you can knock even a little off the price it will help! Don't sign anything until you have at least asked about a price reduction or gone away to think about it and look at other options, snap decisions will cost you if you find it cheaper a few days later. Plus walking away will show the supplier that you have other options.
I shall aim to add more ideas to this when I think of them or when I find useful links online. If you have any ideas you would like me to add or you would like to share please leave a comment below.