Getting married isn’t cheap. In fact, the average UK wedding costs a whopping £30,111 according to Brides Magazine.
While there’s nothing wrong with splashing this much cash on your big day if you have that kind of money to spare, you shouldn’t put yourself in debt keeping up with the Joneses with your wedding.
So, if you’re planning on tying the knot, it’s important to make a carefully thought-out financial plan to ensure you can afford the wedding you want.
Fail to budget and you might not be able to afford the ceremony of your dreams. However, with a bit of forward planning and the money saving tips we share here, you’re sure to be able to afford your wedding without going into debt.
To help you budget for your big day without the stress, we’ve put together this guide to saving for your wedding. Read on to find out:
The wedding venue: £2,790
Unless you’ve got your heart set on a traditional ceremony in a big church, you can make some serious savings on your wedding venue without losing any of the magic. In fact, if you’re not much of a traditionalist, you may well prefer to tie the knot in a more casual setting.
No matter whether you want a more relaxed wedding or something more unique, one rule holds true: getting married out of season can save you a fortune. June, July, and August are the peak wedding months, so avoid these to make big savings.
Cut costs even more by choosing any day other than a Saturday. This works better for intimate ceremonies, as it’s admittedly a pain for your guests, but it can save you even more money on your venue.
When it comes to choosing the ceremony itself, you can tie the knot for as little as £50 at your local registrar’s office. Many couples would rather spend their money on a bigger reception, a honeymoon, or towards a new house or addition to the family and leave it at an intimate ceremony in the registry office.
The reception venue: £3,919
While a hotel or pub function room is a common choice for your wedding reception, you can make big savings by choosing venue that’s a bit off the beaten track. The more of an open mind you keep when it comes to deciding on a venue for your reception, the bigger savings you can make.
For example, if you’re willing risk the weather holding up, you can ask a friend or family member with a sizable garden if they’d be willing to host your reception. For another totally free option, you can lay out a posh picnic by hosting your wedding reception in the park — simply lay out blankets and bring enough nibbles and booze for your guests.
An inventive way to save money on reception is to book a big house for the night and use it to host your reception. Head to Airbnb and pick a nice, spacious accommodation near your wedding venue. This can often work out significantly cheaper than hiring out a traditional venue. Of course, always double-check that the owner is okay with you throwing a party in their accommodation.
Wherever you choose as the venue of your reception, don’t mention it’s for a wedding, as you’ll almost definitely be charged more to rent the space. If you’re asked what the occasion is, just tell them it’s party until money has changed hands.
Catering is usually one of the biggest expenses at a wedding, coming in at an average of almost £4,000. That’s a lot to pay for a day’s worth of food and drink! Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to bring that figure way down.
An easy way to instantly half your food bill is to push the ceremony to the afternoon and just have one big meal afterwards, rather than a sit-down lunch and an evening buffet. Avoid a three-course meal, and instead opt for the much more cost-effective option of a buffet to keep costs down and make it easier to organise.
To get fantastic food at a great price, go to local restaurants and cafés and see if they can cater for you. If you’re not really one for tradition, you can also cater your wedding without blowing the bank by ordering in takeaway for all your guests — just make sure your takeaway of choice can handle the order in advance.
You can also make significant savings when it comes to booze. You can cut the cost entirely by simply asking your guests to buy their own drinks. If you have your heart set on providing a free bar to your guests, you can still make a huge saving by supplying your own drink. However, if you’re going to go down this route, make sure you take the venue’s corkage fees into account. Of course, these can be haggled down, and you may even want to choose somewhere that doesn’t charge for corkage.
The cake: £300
There’s no doubt that a three-tier wedding cake looks spectacular. But is it really worth hundreds of pounds to you? Remember, your guests are probably going to be too stuffed for cake after the day’s celebrations.
If you don’t fancy spending hundreds on a wedding cake, you can cut costs by making or buying a simple sponge cake and then decorating it yourself. This is a great way to add another level of personalisation to your big day, as well as saving some money.
Of course, if you’re not having a traditional wedding, don’t think you have to have a traditional cake. Why not go for cupcakes, muffins, or your favourite deserts?
Most happy couples want some professional photographs of their big day. Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to save on a pro photographer's bill. First, consider skipping professional photographs at the reception and relying on your guests’ iPhone snaps instead. This way you’ll still have plenty of pictures from after the ceremony and the memories of the celebrations will be captured as well, without having to shell out hundreds extra.
Of course, if you know a professional or even a hobbyist with an SLR camera, it can be well worth asking them to be your photographer for the day instead of getting you a gift.
Don’t be afraid to haggle on the price of your wedding photographs. If you’re already getting married in an off-peak season or on a weekday, you’ll have plenty of room for negotiating the price down. Even if you aren’t, the photographer will be expecting to negotiate on the price, so always ask. Every pound you shave off your photography budget is a pound you can spend elsewhere — keep this in mind when trying to settle on a price.
In the age of the iPhone, most of your guests are going to be snapping away all day. For a great way to get some candid photos of the celebrations, ask them to send over the snaps and videos they took throughout the day. While every picture isn’t going to be a keeper, this is great way to get some fantastic photos for absolutely nothing. Just make sure to encourage your guests to take plenty of pics if you’re relying on this alone!
Flowers are another area you can make some big saving with a little ingenuity. If you’re green-fingered and up for the challenge, you can even grow them yourself — although you might need to enlist the help of some friends and family.
If you want to go the grow-your-own route, make sure to start in plenty of time. Choose your flowers wisely, and do your research into how to rear each variety. If you’re splitting the duties between several willing guests, make sure to set up a proper schedule that everyone can stick to. Plus, don’t forget to arrange transport on the big day!
If you don’t fancy yourself as the next Alan Titchmarsh, you can still make savings on your wedding flowers without getting your hands dirty. You can do this by hitting up Amazon and eBay for cheap decorations for the venue, meaning you won’t need as many flowers.
If you love flowers but balk at spending £600 on them, you can make huge savings by going for artificial flowers. These can look just as good as the genuine article, but they’re a lot cheaper. You can also keep your bride’s bouquet as a memento, and you can sell on the rest of the flowers to make back some of the costs, unlike with real flowers. Some companies even offer artificial flower rental, which can work out as an affordable and hassle-free option.
In the digital age, there’s absolutely no need to shell out hundreds on a DJ for your reception. Instead, simply take your laptop to the venue, plug it in to the sound system, and be your own DJ. In the lead up to the big day, ask your guests to send in their requests. This will make sure every taste is catered to and everyone spends the night partying.
The bride’s outfit: £1,677
The average bride spends more than £1,500 on their outfit, with the vast majority going on the dress. While every woman wants to steal the show on her wedding day, you can still feel a million bucks without spending a fortune with these tips.
As more and more people shun an expensive wedding in favour of a less flashy ceremony, the high streets are beginning to cater for women looking for a beautiful dress for less. You’ll find wedding gowns for less than £100 at Debenhams, ASOS, and Missguided, giving you plenty of choice for a gown that doesn’t cost the earth. After all, you’re only going to wear it once!
Another option is to buy second-hand. They’re only ever worn for a day, so a pre-owned wedding dress is practically brand new. Scour eBay, Gumtree, and your local charity shops to find a bargain. Oxfam even have a dedicated bridal shop, where you can pick up some amazing bargains. You can also buy directly from women no longer in need of their wedding dress at sellmyweddingdress.co.uk.
The bride’s makeup: £301
The bride’s makeup is one of those expenses that can fly under the radar when budgeting for your wedding. However, with the average bride-to-be shelling out £300 on their makeup for the big day, it’s not an expense that can be ignored.
If you’re having your makeup done by a professional, don’t mention it’s for your wedding. As with the venue, they’ll hike up the prices if they know you’re a bride. Just say you want to get made up for a party, or even that you’re a bridesmaid, and you might well see significant savings. They’ll never know the difference!
A great way to cut down this expense is to get your makeup done at a cosmetics counter. Many counters at department stores will give you a free makeover if you buy a few items. For the price of some lippy and mascara, you can have your full wedding makeup done.
If you know a makeup artist, it might be worth asking them to do your cosmetics for you instead of buy you a wedding gift. If you use makeup you already have (and borrow any you don’t from friends and family), this will cost you absolutely nothing. So, if you’re lucky enough to know a makeup artist, save yourself £300 and them the bother of getting you a gift by asking them to do your makeup on your big day.
The groom’s outfit: £439
When it comes to the groom’s suit, there’s plenty of scope to save on the £439 shelled out for the average wedding outfit.
The cheapest option is simply wearing a suit you already own. This is the perfect choice for men who already have a well-stocked formal wardrobe, and it’s an easy way to shave hundreds off your wedding bill.
If you don’t own a suit or would rather not get married in the clothes you wear to the office, there’s still plenty of ways to save. First, consider renting rather than buying — a great choice if you doubt you'll wear the suit again.
If you’d rather own your wedding outfit, skip the tailors and head to the high street. If you want a really special suit on a budget, take the one you’ve picked up on the high street to a tailor for alterations. This will work out a whole lot cheaper than having a tailored suit made from scratch, but will still have you looking fantastic on your big day.
The mother-of-the-bride and attendants’ outfits: £785
Never mind their own outfits: the average couple spends almost £800 on clothes for other people on their big day. Cut this cost entirely by explaining to the mother-of-the-bride and your attendants that it would really help if they could cover the cost of their own outfits.
However, if you’re going to go this route, don’t pick out outfits worth hundreds of pounds and request that your attendants buy them. Instead, don’t set a theme so they won’t have to buy anything new if they don't want to.
Engagement and wedding rings: £3,836
The average couple spends almost £4,000 on wedding rings, with around £3,000 of that going on the bride’s engagement ring alone. Of course, there’s plenty of ways to bring that cost down.
Jewellery is actually one of the best things to buy second hand, as it’s almost always impossible to tell a pre-loved item apart from its brand-new counterpart. Despite this, you can expect to get a discount of up to 50% on a pre-owned ring, making it the perfect option if you don’t want to blow the bank.
For rings fit for your big day, make sure you buy second-hand jewellery that has been refurbished and restored by a professional, such as every item of jewellery in our stores. This way you're guaranteed to get rings that look good as new. Find your nearest H&T branch with our store locator to find the perfect engagement ring and wedding bands for your wedding.
While many couples love the idea of choosing a cost-effective pair of wedding bands, a lot of husbands-to-be think they need to stick to the tradition of shelling out a whole month’s wages on an engagement ring. However, this idea was actually popularised in the 1930s by De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer, so you can certainly take it with a big pinch of salt!
Instead, spend whatever you’re comfortable with on an engagement ring, keeping your wedding budget firmly in mind when shopping around. Keep these money-saving tips in mind when you’re on the lookout for an engagement if you want to make a savvy purchase:
- Avoid rings with platinum bands. Go for gold or silver instead, which are just as beautiful and durable, but not nearly as expensive.
- The bigger a ring’s main gemstone, the more it will cost you. Get more sparkle for your money by choosing a ring with a smaller main stone surrounded by smaller accent stones.
- Gemstones jump significantly in price at the carat and half-carat point. Choosing a 1.8 carat diamond instead of a 2 carat one can cut costs significantly, and unless your proposing to a gemstone expert, they won’t be able to tell the difference.
- Diamonds are the traditional choice for an engagement ring, and because of this you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck with less common stones like emeralds and sapphires.
Combine these tips with buying second-hand and you’re sure to get a great deal on your wedding and engagement rings.
Those custom-printed invitations make a nice keepsake for your guests, but let’s be honest — most of them are going to end up in the recycling. Cut costs by using one of the free customisable wedding invitation templates listed on The Balance, and then print them off at home.
Even better: cut costs completely by emailing them out instead of sending physical copies. This one simple trick will shave nearly £300 off your wedding bill without having any real impact on your big day.
The honeymoon: £4,413
After all the stress of planning, when your big day is over, there’s nothing better than jetting off on a getaway to enjoy the company of your new spouse. However, coming in at an average of almost £4,500, the honeymoon is one of the most expensive parts of any wedding. However, there’s plenty you can do to cut that cost.
First, decide on your priority. What’s the one thing you want above all else from this holiday? If it’s a fortnight lounging beside the pool, Spain is a lot cheaper than Mexico. If you want to be pampered, consider a long weekend in a local spa — your money will go a lot farther when you take out travel costs. If you want to explore some exciting new destinations, a trip to East Asia or South America will be a lot cheaper than one to Europe or the USA, even when you factor in your airfare.
Once you’ve settled on a destination, it’s important to shop savvy to get the best price. To get the best possible deal on your honeymoon, either book well in advance (before all the cheap rooms have been snapped up) or at the very last minute. Of course, booking a last-minute trip isn’t for everyone, especially alongside the stress of planning a wedding. However, if you can handle the pressure and you don’t have your heart set on a particular destination, you can find some fantastic deals on sites like lastminute.com and Expedia.
If you want the best possible deal on your getaway, consider delaying it until the off-season. If you book right at the beginning or end of the low-season, you’ll get a fantastic price and great weather. If you’ve already planned your wedding off-season to save on the ceremony, then you’ll also save money on the honeymoon if you jet off straight away too.
No matter when you choose to go away, get a great deal on your foreign currency through our travel money service, which allows you to order online at great rates and then collect in-store at your convenience.
Saving for a wedding
If you follow our money saving tips, you’ll end up with the perfect wedding that doesn’t break the bank.
Make sure to get things priced up well in advance. This way you’ll have an accurate idea of what you’ll be paying for your ideal ceremony and you can start saving up.
To help you make sure you can afford the wedding of your dreams without putting your bank account under any strain, we’ve put together these tips for saving for your wedding. Read on to find out exactly how to effectively put money aside for the wedding of your dreams.
Dip into your savings
Whenever you’re planning a major expense like a wedding, it’s important to look at your savings and see how much you can afford to put towards the cost. The more of your existing savings you can use to pay for your big day, the less you’ll have to put aside from your monthly paycheque.
Of course, it’s not recommended that you spend every penny of your savings on your wedding. You should always leave yourself with a buffer of at least three month’s living expenses in case of unexpected job loss or illness. If you have long-term saving goals, such as retirement or a new home, you shouldn’t use this money to pay for a wedding either.
The more money you can pull from your existing pot without drawing from essential savings, the easier it will be to save for your big day.
Ask parents if they’re planning on contributing
Us Brits are never comfortable talking about money. However, when it’s time to start planning your wedding, it’s important you know where you stand before you put together your budget. If either of your parents are planning on chipping in, this might significantly affect your plans, so you it’s important you know early on.
So, you and your spouse-to-be need to sit down with your parents and explain that you’re starting to budget for your wedding. Tell them you don’t expect them to contribute, but if they are, ask them to let you know so you can plan accordingly.
You should never expect your family to contribute to your wedding, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Create your wedding budget
Once you know approximately how much your wedding is going to cost and how much money you and your family have already set aside, you’ll know how much you have to save in order to afford your wedding.
While it can be tempting to put every penny into your wedding fund when you’re excited about tying the knot, it’s important to be sensible. Here’s how to work out how much you can afford to put towards your wedding:
Take your combined monthly salary and subtract your living costs: your mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, and bills. This is the absolute minimum you could spend in any given month.
In theory, the rest of your paycheques could go towards your wedding fund. However, you’ll realistically have several other things to save for each month, from Christmas and birthday presents to a new house. You’ll also need to put money aside for enjoying life, although you should look to cut down entertainment expenses as much as possible if you’re serious about hitting your savings goals.
Once you’ve settled on how much of your monthly salary you’re going to put towards your wedding, set up a separate savings account and have the money transferred automatically on the first day of each month. This will ensure you always hit your saving goals each month.
Adjust your timeline if needed
Now that you know how much you need to save and how much you can realistically afford to put towards your wedding each month, you might want to adjust your timeline. For example, if you need to save £6,000 and you’re planning on getting married in a year’s time, you will need to save £500 a month. If this is outside your budget, you might want to delay your wedding by a year, meaning you only have to put aside £250 a month.
However, sometimes it isn’t realistic to delay your plans, especially when it comes to a big event like a wedding. If that’s the case for you, consider taking out a personal loan for an extra injection of cash before the big day. This can be a great option if unexpected costs crop up in the build-up to your wedding that require you to dip into your savings.
Another way to make up the difference if your savings aren’t quite going to cover the cost of your wedding is to follow the steps in our guide to decluttering your home to make money. If you and your beloved are planning on moving in together after you’ve tied the knot, this will also help you get rid of the clutter before the big move.
Even the best laid financial plans can fall by the wayside when the time comes to start saving. Here's our tips for keeping on track with your wedding budget.
If you’re new to following a financial plan, stick to the steps in our guide to sticking to a budget to manage your money without the stress. This will not only help you save for your wedding, but also help you keep your finances in order long into married life.
If you’re going to be saving up for your wedding for longer than a tax year, make sure to shop around to find the best available savings accounts. You can make your wedding funds go a lot further with the right account, and you can often do a lot better than just sticking your cash in your current account.
So, there you have it: the complete guide to saving for your wedding. Use these tips to cut down the cost of your big day, create a realistic budget, and save up every pound you need in time for the ceremony. Now the only thing left to do is enjoy it!