Getting married can be expensive... but it can also be affordable!
First things first, set a budget! Regardless of what you think you may want for your big day and how you want it to look, it is SO important not to stretch yourself beyond your means and walkaway with years of debt ahead of you. We all want it to be the ‘best day ever’ and perhaps have had images of what our wedding day would be like for many years. But getting married and making memories doesn’t have to be all about how much you spend and the ‘show’ you put on.
Once you have your budget, next work out what is most important to you. Is it the venue, the photography, the food, the entertainment, the dress…? List everything in order of priority and then start getting ideas on costs for each aspect. Once you have done this, you will get a true reflection of what is and isn’t achievable.
How can we make our money spread further
There are a number of areas where money can be saved. Below are some tips and advice on how this can be achieved. Obviously, these are just a few of the things that can help, there will be many more ways to save money if you do proper research. It is also only fair to say that wedding suppliers, like myself, are experts in their areas and in most cases can and will provide the best quality product or service for you. Where budgets allow, go with a supplier, it takes some pressure off.
Most of us can turn our hands to a little creativeness, or failing that, know someone who can! Couples I have spoken to have told me about their bargain buys online, with the most popular site being eBay. They have also searched around car boots and markets for props and table centre pieces. Some have spent hours on sewing bunting and making seating plans and others have borrowed items from family and friends.
Over the years, I have seen artificial flowers improve ten-fold. Gone is the plastic appearance, they now look and feel more real than ever. So this is the first option… go to a market or garden centre or shop online for options.
Next idea is real flowers but kept simple. Collect jars or pots, or get vases from second hand shops (the mix-match look works beautifully) and buy some flowers from a local supermarket or elsewhere. Separate them into small bunches and pop them in the vases. You can keep the jars plain or glue some hessian round them or paint them, the options are endless. Once you are done with them, gift them on to someone else in need or sell them.
And my last idea for flowers is this… ask your guests to bring one flower each to your wedding. As you walk down the aisle, take the flowers from the guests at the end of each aisle and by the time you get to your partner, you have your bouquet! It’s quite a lovely thing to watch. The remainder of the flowers can be placed in a few vases on the top table.
You can literally get some bits for nothing! Nature can be a lending hand to this. I have had numerous couples growing plants in their gardens and foraging for leaves and ivy and such like.
I have seen giant leaves as place names, home made ivy arches, hand sewn bunting (for miles!) and backdrops made with origami cranes.
Timing is essential if you are making things yourself, or foraging for foliage. If you are making your own invites or bunting for example, this will likely take more time than you expect. Start early as it can always be stored ready for the big day once it’s made (your spare room will turn into a wedding storage area). If you are foraging, this needs to be done as close to the day as possible, as naturally, leaves and such like will die off quickly.
Pine cones, dried petals and pebbles (all of which can be collected by yourselves) make great centrepiece decorations. Homemade pom poms can be hung from ceilings or put in vases for a gorgeous injection colour. Decorate chairs with off-cuts of ribbon instead of paying out for chair covers and use pallets to write the Order of Service and any other venue signage.
Buffet style food is generally cheaper than a sit down meal. Your choice of venue will be the deciding factor on this. Some venues will only offer a sit down meal, whilst others have more options. Venues will also sometimes have their own preferred suppliers you are required to use and others will allow you to bring your own in. If you can bring your own, it gives you the opportunity to ‘shop around’ for menu choice and cost.
Other options are street food vans and hog roasts. They look awesome and offer some scrumptious choices. They can also create a fab atmosphere as your guests will be getting up and talking when getting their food.
Whilst canapés will add to your budget, personally I wouldn’t cut these out. Guests really appreciate pre-dinner nibbles. It stops the stomachs rumbling and can potentially soak up a little of the alcohol that’s being consumed! So remember this when budgeting.
So what else can you do? A popular choice is to stick on a playlist but where do you start? How long should it be, what music styles should you play and when?
Music is emotive, so timing and styles are quite important. I saw a blog recently by the fab Dan from JN Sounds and he offers a service where he will put together a playlist for you, professionally mixed with your favourite music. It means that the right kind of music will be playing at the right time of day. A cheaper option than hiring a DJ or band but with the peace of mind that the music will play smoothly throughout.
Going to a tailors or a bridal shop is a wonderful experience and you will walk away with something pretty darn gorgeous but it invariably comes with a fair sized price tag. So, what are your other options?
You can shop online but that can come with it’s own complications… you could potentially be taking a risk with the quality of the fabric, the fit or discrepancies in colours, so going to see the dress/suit etc in person is a wise idea. Boutiques occasionally have sample sales and ex-demo dresses for fractions of the original cost, so well worth looking into. Also, certain department stores have bridal sections now, so you can head out and see what they have to offer. Likely, you’ll find a dress for less! And who’s to say that the dress you wear needs to be ‘bridal’. Your wedding should be about your style, so if you see a jump suit or a dress elsewhere that you fall in love with and is ‘you’, then wear it!
And for suits… you can either vamp up a smart suit you already own with a fab dickie bow or tie, some funky cuff links and a new pair of shoes. Or, you can weigh up the costs between buying a suit from a department store or renting suits. Again, shopping in the sales will save you money.
The benefit of hiring a suit is that you don’t pay for it to be cleaned after the wedding and all the groomsmen will look the same (if this is the look you are going for). Don’t forget, that it’s your wedding, so your rules. There’s nothing to say that you have to wear a full suit. You can get a cool pair of chinos and a nice shirt and go for an urban casual look. Or you can ditch the waistcoat and just stick with jacket and trousers. Different options for different budgets.
You have grand stately homes, hotels, independent venues, barns, fields and even your own home and back garden to choose from. If you decide on a more costly venue to host your wedding, you will have to be prepared to cut back on other aspects of your day. Or, you can save some pennies on the venue and still get all the other bits you want too.
It is surprising how a little bit of imagination and decor can transform a space. Don’t forget, when considering a venue, think about the outside space and surrounding area too… this will come in very handy for those group and couple shots.
Look at village halls and smaller venues. They will have a lower fee and some may never have hosted a wedding before, so you could get yourself a right result there!
Obviously, doing it at home means you get to do the clearing up, but if you have the space, you save a wedge of money! You will probably still need to hire a gazebo or something similar for shelter (we can never rely on our weather!). But festoon lighting and ribbons and pom poms, amongst many other things can completely transform a space.
Some final bits of advice from brides on a budget
That's a wrap!
I adore homemade, colourful weddings, so if you are looking for a photographer, please get in touch!