Wedding fever! Tips from my friends on how NOT to break the bank on your special day

So this week’s post was inspired by a wedding I went to last weekend. After last week’s blog about a negative relationship I had in the past that affected my finances, I felt the need to re-balance and write about some happier events!

The couple had been civil partners for several years, but wanted to formally “tie-the-knot” so to speak, so this was their second wedding. Myself and Tom, my boyfriend, were invited to the party afterwards! Tom has been their friends for years, so it was lovely to be included in their special day after only knowing them a short time.

The evening was so loving and genuine. The atmosphere was intimate relaxed, but it still had all the hallmarks and trappings of a wedding, with a few surprises thrown in! I discussed this with the Bride herself, and she was very open in the fact that she kept to a strict budget to put together the day. She has very kindly allowed me to share some of the highlights to hopefully inspire you too. If you know someone who is getting married soon, you might want to show them this…. (or if you’re hoping to get married, send it to your other-half for a not-so-subtle hint!)

UK Weddings

I’ve mentioned this statistic before – 42% of couples in the UK now end up divorced. Whether this will increase who knows. So then, with this in mind, how much would you be prepared to pay for your wedding nuptials? Brides Magazine suggests £30,111.

Image Courtesy of have a survey every year, and in 2017, the average cost was a huge £27,161. And the top five things couples shell out for?

  1. Venue Hire
  2. Honeymoon
  3. Catering
  4. Engagement Ring
  5. Drink

With figures like that, coupled with a country that is on the whole littered with debt, and rubbish with savings, you have a recipe for financial disaster!

As someone who has never been married, I decided to ask newly-wed, and newly-engaged women what their best money savings tips are for wedding planning. They have very kindly let me share their pictures and ideas. Thank you to everyone who responded!

Wedding Tips from those who’ve been there, done that

1. Sami Gregory-Smith (of the wedding that inspired this post!) has recommended:

On Food

Registered home bakers save you £££ – “our cake was epic and it saved me over £100 than if buying it from a bigger supplier!”

“my cousin did the evening buffet as a gift so that saved a lot”

(I have to add that one of my favourite things she did was to have a self-pour prosecco bar with optional extras you could throw into your drink like effervescent shimmer powder, jelly balls and strawberries!)

On Getting ready

“call in favours with friends who are hairdressers – often they will do it as a wedding gift”

“don’t be afraid to give it a go…YouTube and Pinterest will give you ideas”

On Decorations

“Recycle, upcycle and borrow – we visited the local charity shop at the tip, bought a bunch of old pictures and turned them into chalk boards”

“the table cloths were fabric from Ikea!”

(table mats were a blank canvas for drawing on – great for kids of all ages! She also hid 10 scratch cards under random chairs)


On who to invite

“cut the guest list – our first wedding had people at it that didn’t respect my family’s opinion on our situation and were generally inappropriate. The list got cut for the second wedding and I enjoyed the evening so much more”

One last thing

“Decide what is important to you. Some things may have to give, and you want to make sure they are not at the top of your list”

2. Justine Baroux got married in 2016, and she had a very well-budgeted wedding, paying only £6,500 in total!

On the wedding venue

“we decided not to have a big country manor – registry office weddings are £284 and the certificate and notice to marry is another £100” – they also had their wedding party in the local rugby club (which fitted with the theme of their wedding – they had a bouncy castle!)

On food

“we paid £25 per head for the wedding breakfast, and had burgers and hotdogs in the evening which worked out £2 a person!”

“the cake was made by a family member, so I just paid for the ingredients”

On Photographers

“our photographer was someone we accidentally came across when talking to a friend. Photography is something he does on the side and is referred by word of mouth. He didn’t print pictures, but we got everything on a USB stick to do our own album”

On getting ready

“My dress was from wed2be. Many dresses are under £600 and are brand new”

On decorations

“we knew a florist so got mates rates!”

“our friend had a nice car which we used and put ribbons on it to dress it up”

One last thing

“its very easy to get carried away if you don’t keep a close eye on things”

3. Amanda Yates is a nurse in London – I’ve know her since I was a wee-first year doctor! She is now director of her own company doing cosmetic proceures – Finesse Aesthetic. She got married in 2016.

On decorations

“we used standard Christmas decorations and hand painted pine cones for table centre pieces – £15 each!”

4. Holly Marshall-Clarke is engaged to my boyfriend’s brother and is due to get married in 2018

On bagging a bargain

“don’t mention when getting quotes that its for a wedding – refer to it as a “party” to avoid suppliers premiums”

“ask locally for recommendations as they tend to be cheaper”

“book in advance to avoid last minute rushes as suppliers will know you’re desperate”

On Food

“buffet meals tend to be cheaper than sit down meals”

On the venue

“avoid a Saturday, or be willing to save elsewhere”

5. Alison King – a lady I have met “virtually” through a joint-money program we both follow! Her wedding wasn’t in the UK, and it sounded very intimate and special

On being super-thrifty

“our wedding is probably an anomaly, we married on a Monday, had eight guests, the venue was a beach and we had nibbles rather than a buffet (was mid-afternoon). My dress was from a highstreet store, flowers from our garden. Including our honeymoon we spent NZ$5000 (about £2700)”

6. Lesley Ann Andrews – a cake making extraordinaire! She had some amazing pictures to share of cakes she had done for weddings as gifts

On D.I.Y cakes

“rope in your arty friends to help with invites, table decorations, cake etc. I’ve made x5 wedding cakes for friends and saved them hundreds of pounds”

7. Clare Benefield (aka my sister!) – got married in 2016. It was a gorgeous wedding!

On budgeting

“research costs and always stick to the budget – its really easy to get carried away….plus budget for the unexpected and random bits that surprisingly add up!”

On Make-up

We got a free make-up trial in a department store, and I paid for the make up that everyone used on the day. Much cheaper than booking a make-up artist!

8. Charlotte Moulding – got married in Mexico in 2017

On weddings abroad

“We originally had a wedding booked but found that people really bump up the price when you use the word “wedding”. The lowest price we could find with everything we wanted was £16,000 (this was with hand-making invites, mum doing the flowers and a friend doing my makeup), so we changed our wedding to Mexico which comes to £9,500. It doesn’t suit everyone and it costs guests a lot of money to come, but it does make it cheaper”

9. Mandy Barnett – is a retired UK doctor who I met through an Ann Wilson’s course Financial Freedom University

On venues

“if you’re looking for a venue and live in or near an old university town, check out if their buildings are licensed. They often charge a lot less than commercial wedding venues”

On the dress

“a lot of designers and wedding stores donate [to charity shops] previous season or samples, so many are actually brand new”

10. Misti Bliss – is an entrepreneurial spirit who I met through a property training course last year. She specialises in many things, but especially the instant alignment method 

On Oxfam bargains

“I’m not getting married, but my daughter saw a programme on TV where they went to Oxfam and there were top designer dresses, some originally a couple of thousand pounds and sold for £150-200”

So my key takeaway “tips” from these lovely ladies are:

  1. Stick to a budget! There are tonnes of tools online to do this, or get out a piece of paper, a pen and a calculator. Work out what you’re willing to spend and stick to it as best you can. Add on 10-15% for contingency costs for things you didn’t accidentally didn’t budget for.
  2. Only spend money on what (and who) you value. There is no point spending money on a toastmaster if you have a loud-mouthed best man who can do it for you for free! Also, do you really need to invite Aunty Sharon’s cousins’ best friend? Trim down that guest list, and don’t be afraid to have “child free” weddings if that is what YOU want.
  3. Enlist family and friends to help and do a lot of things DIY to keep costs low.
  4. Don’t tell suppliers “it is for a wedding” to get better deals.
  5. Shop around, and don’t be afraid to try online or charity shops.

Good Luck with your upcoming wedding, and please share this money-saving post written by the women who have already gone through (or going through) it themselves.

Lots of Love,

P.S. I have a free private facebook group you can join to come and discuss all things money with some lovely like-minded people. Why don’t you request to join us today?

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