We admit, it’s not the most romantic thing to think about. Yet with average wedding costs now standing at over £30,000 (a 12% rise on 2017) it’s worth considering whether there are ways to bring the wedding bill down without compromising the magic of the day.
As financial advisers, a large part of our job is to help our clients maximise their income and investments. However, another important area is looking at your expenses, and how to keep unnecessary expenditure down.
Typically, the most expensive wedding costs are as follows (starting from the most expensive):
- Wedding reception venue (about £4000+)
- Honeymoon (£4000+)
- Catering (nearly £4000)
- Engagement ring (£3000+)
- Wedding gifts (£2400+)
- Wedding ceremony venue (over £2000)
- Wedding dress (£1400)
- Photographer (over £1000)
- Wedding rings (£800+)
- DJ / band / entertainment (£800)
- Flowers (over £600)
- Bridesmaids & ushers (£500+)
- Groom outfit (£500+)
- Hair and makeup (£300+)
- Cake (£300)
- Stationery (£300)
- Shoes (£200)
So, without compromising the special nature of the day and cutting drastically on quality, here are some ways to reduce some of the most expensive wedding items:
#1 Keep the guest list down
If it is really important to you to have a big wedding, then you might disagree with this advice.
However, if you are prepared to keep your guest list down to close friends and family, then you should consider limiting the total to under 100 people. You will find that doing so will reduce your costs across the board by thousands of pounds.
Fewer guests means a smaller reception venue, fewer mouths to feed through the catering, and fewer invites to send out (meaning lower stationery costs).
#2 Cheaper reception venues
If you are having a small wedding (i.e. less than 100 people), then it’s entirely possible to hire a local community hall and decorate it beautifully for less than £200-£400.
If you want a larger wedding, that does not mean you are stuck paying over £4000 for a fancy hotel. Some hotels, such as Holiday Inn for instance, have been known to offer wedding venues at around £1000 at certain hotel locations.
#3 The engagement ring
If you are currently at the stage of getting ready to put out the big question, then think carefully about where the ring will come from.
Many people will splash over two months’ salary on an engagement ring. Yet there are ways to spend far, far less without compromising the meaning behind and significance of the ring.
You could pick up a second-hand ring on eBay. Or, if that feels strange, you could try a bargain at a jewellery quarter such as Hatton Garden.
There are also family hand-me-downs to consider, or you could use vouchers. Tesco have at times offered points in exchange for Goldsmith’s vouchers, for instance.
#4 Pick an unusual time of year
The day of the week and month you choose to have your wedding ceremony has a big impact on costs. Fridays and Saturdays during the summer, in particular, come at a premium.
So, consider holding your ceremony mid-week and at an unconventional time of year such as during the Christmas holidays.
#5 Use your friends
If you are lucky enough to have capable, talented and helpful friends, then consider asking them if they’d be prepared to help – possibly in lieu of a wedding present.
For instance, do you know any capable photographers or videographers looking to build up their wedding portfolio? Are there any good bakers who could provide your wedding cake? Does your grandfather have a classic car that you and your beloved could be chauffered in?
#6 Avoid borrowing
It’s not always possible to afford everything for the wedding up front, even with the help of parents. However, as much as possible you should try and avoid getting into debt to pay for the wedding. Trust us, the last thing you want is wedding debt hanging over you into marriage!
If you absolutely must borrow, make sure you can pay it all back in under a year. Make sure you shop around different loan deals to get the best possible rate.
#7 Food budgeting
Catering is often where couples overspend. Tally up your total food budget, and divide this by the number of invited guests for the reception. That will give you the cost-per-head.
If you opt for meals, then this will be more expensive than a picnic, buffet or hog roast. Moreover, if you are catering for lunch and dinner, your costs will be much higher.
One option could be to consider having your wedding ceremony in the afternoon, after everyone has already had lunch. Once the ceremony is over, you could have a hog roast for dinner.
Another idea – if you are not desperate to have wedding gifts from your guests – is to ask them to bring cheese, wine or salads to the reception instead. This would help you save further.
#8 Plan your honeymoon carefully
If you are not desperate to go abroad and have a luxurious honeymoon, then this is an area where you could save a significant sum.
For instance, you could drive to a cottage in Cornwall for a long weekend. Or, you could book an Airbnb in the Peak District or the Cotswolds.
#9 Find a deal on the dress
You do not need to spend huge sums to find a lovely wedding dress that suits you. Again, you can look into online solutions like eBay, but you can also check local small bridal shops to try and find some good deals.
If you are comfortable with this option, there are also second-hand dress sites offering very nice dresses at discount prices. There are also charity shops offering bridal ranges. Oxfam, for instance, offers its own bridal range with costs as low as £50.
#10 Buy your own alcohol on sale
If the reception venue will allow you, then a big area where you can save money is through bringing your own alcohol.
Often, supermarkets will give you a discount if you buy beer or wine in bundles. Wine at wedding reception values often carries a big price tag, so avoid this is you can.