Filled with hidden costs and absolute must-haves, the cost of weddings can certainly spiral. But a spot of careful planning with these expert money-saving tips is all you’ll ever need…
From the flowers to the transport, the bridesmaids to the bride herself, refuse to let yourself get sucked into the financial black hole of spiralling wedding costs. Follow these expert money-saving tips and you could be surprised how much you’ll save…
Shop the sales
Sample sales and trunk shows are a great way to get hold of a designer dress for a fraction of the price. Follow your local bridal boutiques on social media and keep an eye on their events pages to find out when their sales are taking place, and be ready to take away your dress on the day.
Not only is your ‘something borrowed’ a bridal tradition, but it can help you save money on your wedding accessories, too! Consider borrowing heirloom jewellery from family members, and ask any friends that have got married recently if they’re looking to sell off any of their finishing touches such as veils and headpieces.
If you’re confident in your beauty skills, then why not consider doing your own makeup on the big day? It may sound scary, but with the right products and practice, you can get a look that you know will work for you. You can book lessons and makeovers with many department store makeup counters, and in some instances get the money back to spend on products. If you’re nervous about doing it yourself, then you can always consider asking a talented friend to help you on the day.
Mix and match
Mix-and-match bridesmaid dresses not only look on-trend, but it’s also a great way to keep your bridesmaids happy and potentially keep costs down, too. Instead of shopping around for multiple matching dresses, give your girls a budget and a colour and ask them to pick out their own gown. If they’re happy with the style and are likely to wear it again, then they may be more amenable to contributing to the cost.
It may be tempting to ask all your female friends and family members to stand up with you on the big day, but don’t rush when to comes to picking out your bridal party. The cost of dresses, accessories, hair and makeup, bouquets and gifts can really start to stack up, so be sure you have your bridesmaid budget sorted before making a costly social faux pas. If you’re seriously worried about the expense, why not keep your party small and stick to only a best man and maid of honour?
Wedding photography deals
We’ll never recommend skipping wedding photography, because it’s one of the only reminders of your special day that you’ll have, but if you’re struggling to find a photographer that fits in budget, consider cutting down the hours. Many photographers will do deals for shorter photography sessions, such as four or five hours instead of the traditional eight or nine, which means you can cut the prep photos in the morning or the evening reception photos to get yourself a more budget-friendly deal.
Visit wedding fairs
Local wedding fairs are a great place to find nearby recommended suppliers and see potential venues all set up, and many exhibitors will have exclusive discounts if you book them on the day. Bigger events will even have fashion shows and dresses available, so you could scoop up your dream wedding dress for less.
Prepare for sales
Depending on how long your engagement is, you can plan around sales that you know will happen at certain points of the year. Bridal boutiques tend to have sales around the start of the new year and in the summer time, to prepare for new collections arriving in store. If you’re supplying your own alcohol, then take note that champagne and Prosecco tends to go on sale around Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. There’s plenty of occasionwear to choose from before Christmas parties, so Black Friday and Boxing Day sales are a great time to pick up bridesmaid dresses. Sign up for email newsletters at your favourite online stores, and you can expect discount codes to be sent on your birthday, which means you could pick up your wedding shoes, perfume or lingerie for less.
Cut the guest list
Ask any recently married couple and they’ll tell you that one of the biggest ways to cut down on wedding costs is to keep the guest list small. Your venue, food and drink are likely to be the biggest expenses on your list, so cutting down the number of people you have to feed is the simplest way to stop the budget spiralling out of control. Limiting plus ones, making your event adults-only and keeping day invitations to just your nearest and dearest are all ways of cutting down catering costs.
Take a hike
If your church or ceremony venue is close to your reception venue, then skip the transportation altogether and walk, instead! A wedding day procession lead by the bride and groom makes for amazing photographs – just be sure to have a back-up plan (or umbrellas!) in case you experience bad weather.
Hitch a lift
Instead of hiring an expensive limo, ask around family and friends to see if any car enthusiasts are willing to play chaffeur for the day. You could even try a local car club depending on what style of car you’re after – you’ll still have to pay, of course, but it may be cheaper than a dedicated wedding company.
Go for a midweek date
With Friday and Sunday weddings costing pretty much the same as Saturday weddings these days, couples are wising up to the midweek wedding. Not only will this dramatically cut the hire cost of your venue, but you’ll have less competition for suppliers, and you may find that vendors such as photographers and bands will be able to give you a discount. Be sure to give your guests plenty of notice so that they can book time off.
A quick turnaround from engagement to wedding can be the key to securing a great last-minute deal on your venue. Some venues will advertise any spaces they have left over (particularly in winter months), but it can be worth calling up your favourites and asking whether they have any last-minute packages if you’re willing to tie the knot in a matter of months.
Summer may be the most popular wedding season, but it’s also by far the most expensive. Generally, peak wedding season tends to be from May to September, which means if you’re marrying during these months then you should expect to pay the highest prices. The ‘shoulder months’ (April and October) fall somewhere in the middle of pricing, while December fluctuates between peak and mid-season, depending on how close you are to Christmas. For the cheapest prices, consider tying the knot in January, February, March or November.
Favours are another area where you can accidentally rack up the pounds, but luckily there are plenty of ways to give back to guests without it costing you a fortune. Consider homemade sweets, such as iced biscuits, scones or fudge, small tins of mints, decorative baubles or candy canes for a Christmas wedding, brightly-coloured sunglasses for a summer wedding, artisan tea bags, scratch cards or seed packets. If you’re really struggling, then we suggest skipping the favours altogether!
Making your own confetti is easier than you think – simply buy tissue paper in your chosen wedding colours and a hole punch and you’re good to go! You can even buy biodegradable paper to use if your venue has rules on this. Petal confetti is easy to make too, if you have the time to save up the petals. Just dry out any flowers in your airing cupboard for a couple of nights, then store them in an airtight container until the big day.
If you have keen bakers among your friends or family, then now’s the time to call in a favour! Instead of attempting a three-tier wedding cake for the first time, we suggest you serve several smaller cakes on a cake table. Not only does this mean that you can split the work between bakers, but you can mix up the flavours, too! If cake isn’t your favourite, try a tower of homemade brownies or Rice Krispie treats, decorated with real or pre-bought icing sugar flowers. Just the thought of that has made us hungry!
Decorative table centres
When it comes to putting together your table centrepieces, the key is to avoid buying one-off items that you can’t use again. Instead, go for things like vases, candlesticks and photo frames that you can use in your home afterwards (or potted plants that can live in your garden), so you’ll get enjoyment out of them after the big day, too. As always, upcycling jam jars, decorative alcohol bottles and china with seasonal flowers and candles makes for a cost-effective table centre that will look beautiful in photos. We love this display from theweddingofmydreams.co.uk.
Save with silk
Introducing realistic-looking silk blooms is a fabulous way to cut back on your flower budget, and also means you’ll have a keepsake after the wedding is over. You’d be surprised at how good faux flowers can look these days, but if you’re not fully convinced, try real flowers for the bouquets, and opt for silk in the table decorations, pew ends and buttonholes.
Keep it seasonal
Step away from the peonies on Pinterest! Instead of deciding on exact flowers that you want in advance, it’s often a lot cheaper to tell your florist your theme or colour scheme, and then ask what seasonal flowers will fit into this. This means your blooms won’t have to be flown in specially, which hikes up the price for both the florist and, by extension, you.
For a clever way to make an impact on a budget, all you need to do is choose bigger blooms! Big flowers like sunflowers, hydrangea, protea and amaryllis will make such a statement that you can get away with having fewer stems, which will cut down your flower budget.