The Money Saving Guide to Getting Married

Your wedding will be among the most important days of your life, so it’s no wonder you want to start planning it as soon as you’re engaged. However, the lead-up to your big day can be stressful, especially if you’re worried about how you will afford it all.

Help is at hand, though, and We are here to offer you top tips on saving cash when you get hitched. Yes it’s possible – you really can have the day you want without breaking the bank.

What’s really important?

Before you make a single booking, sit down with your partner and carefully and honestly discuss what’s most important to you both on your wedding day, and what you can live without. I think it helps to list everything in three sections: must-haves, want-to-haves, and like-to-haves.

Obviously, the must-haves section will include the cost of hiring a religious building (if you’re having a religious ceremony) or a registrar and a licensed building if you’re not. These and things like your marriage certificate and giving notice of your intention to marry are the real essentials, which you can’t get married without.

Then there are the want-to-haves: the elements you have always dreamt of having at your wedding day and that you’d be unhappy to go ahead without. These might include the perfect dress, sumptuous food, beautiful flowers and a fun reception for all your friends. Don’t worry – there are still ways to save money here.

Finally you have your like-to-haves: the things you’d love to have at your wedding if you can afford them, but that you’re happy to sacrifice if money gets too tight. This might include canapés, a champagne reception, a videographer or fireworks in the evening. By having everything you need, want and would like to have written down in priority order, it should be much easier to control your spending.

Now you have your priorities, here are some ways to save on every element of your wedding day:

Get married on a week-day or out of season

The UK’s wedding season typically lasts from April to September, so if you want to get married then there will not only be a lot of competition for dates but they could also be quite pricey too. Dates out of season are often cheaper because venues want to ensure they’re full for the year by enticing couples with a great deal.

Saturday is the most popular day to get married, so again you can expect to potentially make a saving if you book a Sunday or a date during the week. Just keep in mind that guests may be unable to get time off work to attend – although if they do, their overnight accommodation could also be cheaper as they’re not looking on a weekend.

Scrap the save the dates

Save the dates are a relatively new addition to the wedding stable. Basically, they are simple cards listing the date and venue of your wedding so that guests can make sure they have the time off, and they are usually sent six months before the date, while the invitations are sent three months before.

To save some cash, why not scrap the save the dates and just send your wedding invitations early?

Don’t mention the ‘W’ word

When you start shopping for services for the event, like flowers, a DJ or band and decorations for your venue, there’s a chance you could save a bundle by not mentioning that it’s for your wedding. There are certainly some cynics who claim that certain wedding service providers up their prices when they hear you’re getting married as they know you’ll be more willing to pay a premium.

Except sometimes

Of course, sometimes it pays to say you’re getting married, especially if you can haggle on the price of a package deal. If you choose a venue that exclusively hosts weddings, they will probably have a choice of packages in place covering a range of budgets. If not, see if you can get the venue owners to provide you with an all-inclusive quote for everything they offer, which could work out cheaper than paying for it all separately.

Call in favours

If you have any friends or family members who have a particularly useful talent, now’s the time to take advantage of it. Ask if they’ll consider helping out on the day rather than getting you a gift and you could save a fortune.

For instance, if you have a friend who’s a wiz with a camera, asking them to take charge of your photography could save you hundreds – or even thousands – of pounds. Similarly, you could save a bundle by asking your uncle to drive you to the venue in his fancy Jaguar, rather than forking out to hire a luxury wedding car. Just be sure to thank these people during the speeches.

Get crafty

Choosing to get crafty with your wedding and adopt a do-it-yourself attitude could save you a tidy sum – and ensure your big day stands out from the crowd. Two easy ways to do this are with the favours and venue decoration.

If you consider yourself a culinary master, you could make chutney, jam or marmalade to give away as favours. The raw ingredients don’t cost much in total, and you don’t even need to make that much if you’re splitting it into tiny batches. Other favours you could have a go at making yourself include pin cushions, lavender bags, herbs you’ve grown from seeds, badges or CDs containing some of the music played during the day.

You can also turn your skills towards decorating the venue. You’d be surprised at how much it costs to hire chair covers, kit out the place with fresh flowers or pay for fairy lights. Instead, why not have a go at making your own bunting, paper pompoms or floral arrangements using silk blooms or flowers you purchase the day before from the market. Not only will you save a bundle, but it will also ensure your wedding has the personal touch.

Another tip is to make your own bridal and bridesmaid bouquets. It’s estimated that fresh flowers make up 10% of the average wedding’s total, but buying silk blooms can be a lot cheaper. You can use these to make your own decorations and bouquets – and best of all you get to keep them forever.

Looking good

It’s your wedding day – of course you want to look good. However, there are ways to do this without spending a fortune.

Groom: You might think hiring a suit is cheaper than buying one but that’s not always the case. Carefully shop around so you know what all the prices are and then decide whether to hire or buy – and remember that if you buy a good-quality suit you can wear it again.

Bride: Many brides dream about their wedding dress for years before they’re even engaged. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get your dream gown. Start looking in the lower-priced shops first rather than heading straight to the designer stores, as there are often imitation versions to be found here.

You could also save money by not buying a new dress at all. There are lots of websites where you can pick up a second hand wedding dress, like eBay, Sell My Wedding Dress and Oxfam, and even with the cost of alterations included you could make a big saving.

If wearing second hand isn’t your cup of tea, how about a dress that’s one-of-a-kind and completely new? You might be surprised to know that in many cases, hiring a dressmaker to make you a frock from scratch is cheaper than buying off-the-rack – plus you have the fun of designing it yourself.

Another tip is to borrow items from friends who are already married. Veils can be expensive, particularly as you’ll only wear it once, but you may have a friend only too willing to lend you theirs.

Best men and women

The main way to keep the cost of clothing your groomsmen and bridal party down is to only ask a couple of close friends or family to act as best man, ushers and bridesmaids. However, if you’re desperate to have a posse of people around you, ask them to wear an outfit they already own.

You can ask your ushers to just wear a suit they have, and your bridesmaids to wear a dress in a particular colour so that they all match. That way they stand out as playing an important role, but you save money on having to buy all of them new outfits.

Food glorious food

One of the biggest expenses of your wedding day will be paying to wine and dine all of your guests. However, by thinking outside the box you could save yourself some money.

Rather than having a three-course meal, why not have an afternoon tea of sandwiches, cakes and other nibbles? Or, you could put a hamper on each table and fill it with picnic food for the table to share. This will also get guests talking as they tuck in.

And remember, if you’re paying for everyone to eat a slap-up wedding breakfast, you probably don’t have to spend a fortune on a mighty buffet later, especially if you’re getting married late in the day. There’s every chance your guests will still be full.

Let them eat cake

Wedding cakes can be surprisingly expensive, and often guests don’t want to eat it on the day as they’re full from the wedding breakfast. You could therefore kill two birds with one stone by serving your wedding cake as the dessert. Alternatively, ask some of your guests to bake a cake and bring it along. You’ll then have a full table of tasty cakes, and it won’t have cost you a penny.

Haggle, haggle, haggle

There’s almost always room to haggle on price whether you’re buying flowers or hiring a wedding car. Remember, these are businesses and while they want to make a profit, they also want your business. Work out how much you can afford to spend and barter with the supplier to secure that price.

To give you the best chance of success you should always shop around before you start choosing your suppliers so you can work out what you can afford along with a rough estimate of how much your wedding day will cost before you’ve bought anything.

As you can see, there are countless ways you can save money and still get your dream wedding. If you’re already married, why not share your own tips below?