Our guide to an out-of-this-world wedding that doesn’t cost the earth! Read on for top tips on how to plan a budget-friendly wedding with wow factor…
With the cost of saying ‘I do’ in the UK now at a record all-time high (with some estimates at a whopping £30,000 plus!), we follow the course of a bride’s big day to bring you a beautiful wedding that’s big on everything, except the bucks!
9am: Beauty prep
• A drop of bubbly early doors with all the girls is an obligatory must. But opt for Prosecco rather than Champagne and ‘prettify’ your Prosecco with home-picked blackberries, frozen in Prosecco in advance and picked – for free! – from wedding friendly and obliging bushes nearby (ready to be picked from early-July onwards, perfect for a Summer wedding).
• Make soon-to-be-mother-in-law’s day and ask for her help by baking a tray of cupcake treats for all the girls. This will go down an absolute storm and is a sure-fire way of involving your mother-in-law and making her feel part of the gang. This is absolutely not the day for the diet!
• If you can’t call on friends’ expertise on your wedding day, then when can you? Do you absolutely need to employ a make-up artist? Remember all those years experimenting with your BFFs and bright-blue eyeshadows when you were 12? Those important practising years were there for a reason… could one of your trusted friends do your make-up? There’s an aficionado in every group of girls…
11am: Stepping into the dress
• 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.
• Remember that bridal separates are an oft-overlooked yet affordable way to wow. Mix and match options give you flexibility, a personally tailored look to suit your style, as well as beating the budget. Think sensational, stand-out vintage skirts teamed with a simpler corset or cami-effect top.
11.30am: Adding the accessories
• Your ‘something borrowed’ could also be your little money-saving lifesaver. Consider borrowing heirloom jewellery from family members and friends – even your veil or headpiece could be catered for here. Make a beeline for friends who’ve recently got married and don’t be afraid to ask. Remember that your loved ones will also have emotionally invested in
your big day; they are likely to be not only willing to help, but honoured to have been asked.
• Don’t be afraid to break with tradition and try something new. Capes, for example, are fast becoming this season’s on trend alternative to veils, and can be a less expensive alternative to the more traditional ‘wedding’ full-length veil.
• Make like Meghan and DIY. Meghan sewed into her wedding veil a thread of a blue dress she wore on her first date with Prince Harry. Absolutely inexpensive and gloriously romantic (just when we thought we couldn’t love this couple any more…).
12pm: Your carriage awaits you…
• A Baroque-style carriage drawn by eight immaculately white horses may have been the fairytale dream, but there are cheaper ways to travel. Remember almost everyone will be seated awaiting the ceremony when you arrive; is this the time to splash out on an American-imported hot-pink Cadillac? If travel is involved from the ceremony to the party, spend the money here after the service and enjoy a classic ride sat next to your new husband instead.
• Call in the ushers! Ask any groomsmen not needed to direct people to their seats to help drive the bridesmaids to the service.
1pm: Arriving at the venue
• Choosing a midweek date could dramatically cut your venue costs and chances are you’ll have less competition for suppliers. Just make sure to give guests plenty of notice so they book the time off.
• Reduce your guest list without the burden of guilt: if you’re inviting colleagues, think carefully about plus-ones who you may never have met before, and have a frank conversation with both sets of parents well in advance about their expectations of inviting ‘family friends’.
• Do you even need to ‘arrive’ at the venue? Have the ceremony and reception at the same place! Not only will the venue fees cost less but this will also save you and your guests transport fees.
• Think carefully about timings. Many couples choose to have the vast majority of their pictures taken upon arriving at the Venue. Consider what your guests will do in the meantime. Will you provide drinks and canapes? Be clear with your photographer about your expectations for how long this ought to take to keep guests happy and canape costs down! 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.
3pm: The wedding breakfast and table decor
• Easy switches and careful consideration will save you money and time on your table decor. Upcycling different sized jam jars and adding tea lights, as well as sourcing shabby-chic-style mix and match decorative china will reinforce a vintage or Bohemian-inspired theme. Huge, oversized floral arrangements as centrepieces are 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.
• With regards to food, remember your own experiences as a guest. We are all of us looking for hearty and filling food that can match the wine intake, and that fuels an all-night danceathon. Ditch all thoughts of expensive high cuisine and opt for a fabulous and substantial home-cooked vibe. Meals such as Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers ’n’ Mash, and ‘Grandma’s Sunday Roast’ (our favourite meal at a recent winter wedding), is pitched to crowd-loving perfection… and these are all much cheaper options.
7pm: The evening
• The evening doesn’t have to cost much at all! The biggest expense is food. With roughly 75% of your guests still feeling relatively full from the wedding breakfast, there’s no need to go over-the-top here. Put on a hog roast to feed everyone, or put on a sweet and savoury buffet for guests to tuck into.
• The entertainment for the evening could be expensive. Check out local bands in your area trying to build their portfolio. Can’t afford a DJ? Some big amps and Spotify should do the trick!
Main image credit: Lavenham Photography