Next week is our fifth wedding anniversary – we were very lucky in that my parents paid for most of our wedding. But even though we weren’t paying we did our best to keep our budget to a sensible level. I think we spent about £8,000 altogether – which is way less than the UK average of nearly £25,000!
I don’t mean to ruin it for the romantics, but did you know what one of the biggest causes of divorce is? Debt, and financial problems. And spending a small fortune on your wedding is the quickest way to get yourselves off on the wrong foot financially.
It’s a fine line to tread, but there is a solution: trimming the costs of your big day, without impacting on any of the fun, enjoyment and memories. Here are some of the best ways to do it:
Do I really need it?
On a special day like this, the natural instinct is to want the best of everything. Five-star this, five-star that. But how can you know what your budget is until you know what you need? Unfortunately, budgeting is a reality, and a good way to stick to it is to decide what’s most important to you, and what’s less important. Maybe having a band is something you really value? Or a world-class photographer? Certain flower types and arrangements? Or the venue? Write all these elements down, and then prioritise them so that you can get a better picture of how to allocate your money.
And when you’ve decided the things you really do need then shop around for the best deals. You can even buy wedding dresses and bridesmaids dresses online, and voucher codes sites like DealsDaddy often have discount codes for online bridal boutiques.
Go against the grain
A Saturday wedding in July or August is the done thing, right? Maybe September at a push? The thing is, by deviating from this norm and getting married on a weekday and/or out of season, you can save you a fortune. Particularly with the weekday option, it may be a handy way of keeping your guest list under control, as those who you aren’t as close with may be less inclined to make a plan to take time off from work. A win-win! Of course if you’re a teacher like me then school holidays or weekends might be the only options. Bizarrely in my old teaching job you were allowed a day off to go to someone else’s wedding, but not your own!
Be ruthless with the invites!
Coming up with the guest list (and chasing RSVPs) was one of the most stressful parts of our wedding. There will always be people who feel put out by not being invited. No one enjoys making people feel bad, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Often writing the names down of the closest family and friends, and then working your way outwards from the ‘inner circle’ is the best way to go. Have consistent criteria so that both the bride and the groom are fairly represented in terms of guests too. We had about 80 people at our wedding and luckily there weren’t too many people we had to miss out. Because of where we were getting married everyone had to travel to get there so everyone came for the whole day, but if you’re getting married somewhere local then just inviting people for the evening reception is always an option.
Play the credit card to your advantage
Credit cards are great if you make sure you always use them sensibly. Aside from being convenient, there are also great rewards like cashback or reward points on offer. We do nearly all our spending on a reward credit card but we always pay the balance in full every month. If you can’t afford to pay the full balance every month then you may end up paying a lot of interest, which means it isn’t worth it in the long run. If you don’t have the savings to cover the costs of the wedding, and you don’t want to use a credit card, then you can be smart about how you finance it – there are currently some excellent deals on personal loans.
Other thrifty ideas
You can do a lot yourself or get friends and family to help you. I did most of the decorations for our wedding, and sourced things like jugs for the flowers myself so we didn’t have to pay the florist to do it. We were very lucky that my sister-in-law is a photographer so she did our fabulous photos (and saved us a fortune!).
I wrote a post a while ago about all the DIY features of our wedding and you can read it here. Also, don’t forget to you can haggle when dealing with all the various parties like photographers and florists. It won’t work every time, but these businesses will likely have built in a premium when they hear it’s all for a wedding. Don’t be shy to knock them down, or ask for a few extras to be thrown in: chances are they’d rather agree a deal than lose your business.
Do you have any top money saving tips when it comes to weddings? Did you have a wedding on a budget or spend a fortune? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.