So… it finally happened. That special someone got down on one knee, fetched out a sparkling ring, and said those four magical words aloud. Or perhaps they didn’t. Perhaps they asked you over a sloppy kebab at 4am. Either way, you’re engaged to be married now and it’s a glorious thing.
While you’re still trying to get over the glee of this milestone, there’s something niggling at the back of your mind. You may try to block that voice out, but you know the truth of the matter just as well as anyone else. Weddings don’t come cheap.
In fact, just last year, the Independent reported that the average cost of a wedding in the UK was… wait for it… £27,000. Ouch. (What’s more, if you happen to be a Londoner, that amount rises to a remarkable £38,666.) The article also noted that you could nab a house in the north for the same price.
While you may have tens of thousands of pounds lying around in your bank account, it’s unlikely. And even if you do, the last thing you likely want to do is blow the whole damn lot on 24 hours of fun… for your nearest and dearest.
It should go without saying that having a wedding on a budget is the smart, financially savvy way to go. It’s got nothing to do with romance. You can’t put a price on love and don’t you dare let anyone back you into a corner and make you. Love is priceless — your wedding is not. End of story.
So, if you’ve just got engaged and are fumbling toward planning your big, special day, take a step back. Realise that you don’t have to spend a small fortune on the event. You can keep things calm, low-key and, most importantly, affordable too. Not sure where to start? Let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can save yourself some pennies.
Keep your guest list ‘intimate’
One of the biggest mistakes people make here is thinking that they are obliged to invite certain people. You may draft up a list and find yourself writing down the names of people who a) you couldn’t give a damn about or b) you kind of know but not that well. Stop it. Put down that pen right now.
In truth, one of the easiest ways to keep the costs low on your wedding day is to only invite the people that really matter to you. Much of the time, the catering costs and venue hire will rely heavily on the number of guests you have. The less people you have there, the more pounds will be left in your bank account.
When it comes to choosing people to invite, ask yourself whether you actually want them there or whether you’re inviting them because you don’t want to ‘offend’ them. If it’s the latter, you need to reconsider your priorities. This is your wedding day and you get to make the rules.
Choose an off-peak date
Just like train tickets are cheaper during slow periods, so are wedding venues and other added extras. Choosing to get married in ‘peak wedding season’ (June until August), will cost you a pretty penny. That’s something that you ultimately want to avoid. Instead, you should opt for a date that is not terribly popular so that you can save yourself some cash.
Also, you’re likely going to want to get married on a Saturday. (Everyone wants to get married on a Saturday because it means that most people can come and everyone can drink. Duh!) Don’t do it. Get married on a Friday instead as it will be far, far cheaper. At the end of the day, if your guests can’t spend one day’s worth of annual leave on you, they probably don’t deserve to be invited to your wedding anyway.
Make your own invitations
There are certain added extras which can easily cost you over the odds when you start saying ‘YES’ to them. One such extra is the wedding invitations. Don’t pay someone a whole load of money to make you a ‘custom’ wedding invite. Doing so is a silly move. You can literally make them yourself online for nothing. Then all you have to do is pay to have them professionally printed. That will come at a fraction of the cost of the overall package.
So, where can you design your own wedding invitations? Well, I am glad you asked! There are a couple of places online that you may well want to try. Canva is an easy-to-use design resource that has a whole load of templates on it that you can try for free. (There are also ‘premium’ ones too, but avoid those.) There are also sites like eVite where you can make and print cards too.
BYOB for the bar
This tip depends on the venue you go with. If you choose a venue that comes with a bar and staff, you have no choice. You’ve got to pay the extra few hundred to cover them and everyone has to pay for their own booze. Nightmare.
However, if you have a venue without this facility, you have all the options you could possibly want. You can literally BYOB for the bar. Buying a load of wine or beer in bulk is the best way to go. You could either have all the booze laid out on a table at the side of the reception hall (risky move) or pay one member of staff to serve it. Doing so gives the feel of having a full bar experience without you or your guests having to pay over the odds.
Get a little crafty (with the decor)
When it comes to wedding decorations, everyone wants their reception to look ‘unique’ and ‘different’. There are two ways to make that happen. Either you pay someone a whole load of cash to do it for you. Or you do it yourself.
Of course, the DIY wedding decor can look tacky. No one is denying that fact. But, if you get it right, you might just find that you make something incredible. The key here is to keep things as simple as possible and only attempt things that are within your capabilities. Attempting to make a masterpiece for the event will do nothing but stress you out.
So, where should you start? You don’t want to go into this blindly. There are loads of examples of craft centrepieces, signs, and even banners that you can make on Pinterest. Spend some time looking at them for inspiration. Then try, try, and try again.
Check out: Wedding Decor on Pinterest
Create your own photo booth
Spoiler: Wedding photography costs a fortune. If you don’t want to spend too much money on this part of the event, you don’t have to. You could ask one of your close friends to do the photography for you throughout the day. It’s a nice idea, but could mean that their attention is always divided and may stress them out.
Alternately, you could have all of the guests take part in this activity. You could make a photobooth yourself, get some cheap props, and then buy a couple of polaroid cameras that people can use. You may want to pop some disposable cameras too. (It’s a great idea, which I just stole from Friends!)
Of course, we live in a technological world and there are easier ways of doing things. Since everyone will be taking snaps on their phones anyhow, this next idea is a real winner. You may not know it, but there are actually wedding photography sharing apps, such as WedPics, that you could use. All you have to do is give everyone the login for the app, and let the candid photos and videos roll in.
Cut the cost of your catering
Caterers will likely be your biggest cost (aside from the venue, of course). For that reason, you need to figure out a way to keep costs low. Face it, if you’re forking out for a three-course meal for all your guests, you’re likely to end up blowing a whole load of your budget before long. Here are some ideas that will help you to cut back:
- Avoid ‘too many’ options
Your wedding reception does not need a full menu. Just opt for two options that will please everyone — one veggie and one meat. Simple.
- Consider a buffet-style meal
Buffets are ultimately way cheaper than a sit down meal. If you want to keep things as affordable as possible, having a relaxed, casual meal could make all the difference. What’s more, a cold buffet can be prepped in advance and just taken out of the fridge when you arrive. Easy!
- Ask your friends and family to help
If you don’t want to pay a caterer, you may consider making the food yourself. Doing so is very costly, though, and so you need to make sure that you have help. Enlist the help of your close friends and family for this job. (It’s your wedding… they can hardly say no!)
- Ask a local vendor
On the other hand, some people find caterers easy, which makes sense. Rather than asking a dedicated wedding company to do your catering, you could get creative and ask your favourite street vendor instead. It will save you cash and look super hipster.
STOP trying to impress everyone
Perhaps the biggest mistake that people make when it comes to weddings is trying to impress everyone and their aunt Sally. Forget it. What matters the most here is how you feel about the wedding day… not whether your snarky co-worker was blown away. Keep perspective on that and you should be fine. (It will stop you spending over the odds and keep you calm when things get stressful. Phew.)