Newsflash. Weddings are expensive! I’m sure if you’ve only even dipped your toe into the world of wedding planning, you already know this. Here’s a little insider secret though. The best weddings are almost never the most expensive ones. You can get married on a tight budget and have an amazing day if you’re prepared for a little bit of creative thinking and maybe getting your hands dirty. After photographing nearly 100 weddings here’s a few of my top tips to save some pennies on your wedding day.
What day is it?
Traditional Saturday weddings are fast becoming second place to Friday or midweek weddings. Choosing a mid-week or off peak date is often a sure fire way of saving some serious money. Check with individuals venues as they often have their own specific ‘off peak dates’. Pros – you can get your dream wedding venue at a fraction of the cost. Cons – some of your guests might find it tricky to get the time off work.
When is a wedding venue not a wedding venue?
Another great way to save money on your big day is by choosing a non wedding venue venue. Some of the best weddings I’ve photographed have been village hall weddings. I just love them. We are very lucky to have some seriously pretty village halls dotted around. They are something of a hidden gem. Pros- You can get a beautiful venue in a lovely location for a great price, you can choose your own caterers and suppliers and in some cases even provide your own drinks making it a very cost effective option! Cons -one of the things you pay for when you book a wedding venue is the support of the wedding team which can be worth it’s weight in gold. A good wedding team will ensure that everything is decorated and ready for the day, suppliers know where they are going, guests are looked after, food arrives when it should and basically that everything goes to plan. They work their hearts out in the background to make sure your day runs smoothly. If you choose not to go for a traditional wedding venue you have to be aware that you wont have this level of support. You’ll probably be the ones responsible for decorating the venue and clearing up the day after. You’ll need to have someone on hand to coordinate suppliers and perhaps even help the day run smoothly. For some couples this makes village hall venues more hassle than they are worth but if you take all this in your stride they can be the perfect budget solution to your wedding venue. To see lots of lovely village hall weddings please visit my blog.
I wrote a whole blog post on The Dress and how to save money finding your perfect wedding day attire but the options now are vast. Choose bridal shop, choose high street, choose vintage. There are so many different places you can find your wedding dress. Of course, going to the bridal shops ensure you get the best service and advise as well as the latest designs. But if you’re budget is tighter there’s still no need to compromise on your dream. Check out second hand shops, hire services and vintage retailers. This applies to the boys too. Morning Suits and hired outfits are no longer the only option. You can pick up a seriously dapper outfit in all the high street stores for crazy good prices. Pros – you can save some serious pennies by buying online, second hand or off the high street. Cons – you wont have access to the same level of expertise and assistance that you’ll find in a bridal boutique.
I’m a massive, huge fan of the details. For me, they can make or break a wedding look. I’ve seen guests walk into a room and ooh and ahh at the styling. Money does not equal success in this area though. The best details and decor are always the ones that have been given thought and effort by the couple. Pros – you have the ability to create something really personal to you that your guests will love. Cons – it can be very time consuming and you might become addicted to Pinterest.
Change your timeline.
One of the biggest expensive of the wedding day will be the food. There’s no getting around it, feeding 60 plus people a three course meal and wine is costly! One way to save money on this is to re-jig your timeline. Instead of having a very early wedding and a sit down meal you could have a later start and serve a hot buffet, hog roast or afternoon tea instead. Pros – you can totally change the feel of your day into a very relaxed and informal party event. Cons – having a later ceremony might make you feel like you’re missing part of your day.
Prioritise what’s important to you
This is a biggie. Sitting down and spending time discussing this with your partner can make a massive difference to your spending. Do you care about arriving at church in a fancy wedding car? No. Then why spend £400 on it? Get a taxi instead or a mate with a lovely car to drive you. Is food really important to you? Then it’s probably best to spend extra on this to make sure you’re happy. Do you have your heart set on a particular supplier, venue or dress? Then work your budget to make it happen, even if that means you give up something else you’re not too bothered about. Don’t buy something just because you think you ‘should’ have it for a wedding. Only spend money on things that will bring you joy.
Ask for help.
Sometimes we can be afraid of asking – we assume people don’t want the hassle. But actually people loved to be asked for help and more often than not your friends and family will be delighted to pitch in to help you create your day. The best examples I’ve seen of this – talented designer friends who’ve created the wedding stationary as a gift to the couple, enthusiastic bakers who’ve helped create the wedding cake (and made it extra special in doing so), crafty pals who’ve helped make favours, friends who’ve pitched it to help decorate the venue or drive the bride around on the day. Don’t forget to give them an extra special thanks and maybe a nice bottle of wine for their efforts. Pros- you get some seriously talented assistants for free. Cons – be careful not to take advantage of people’s good natures!
Ebay is your friend.
Who doesn’t love Ebay. Even when you’re not planning a wedding. But when it comes to the big day it’s an absolute goldmine of second hand treasures. Want 15 Hurricane lamps for your centre pieces? It’s a good bet someone else is trying to sell theirs. Decided on wooden log slices for the tables? Yep, they’ll be on there too. I mean, what else are you going to do with wooden log slices after the big day? Job lot of vintage tea cups, bunting or even chair covers. If there’s something you’d like to get for your wedding but you’re trying to hold back the spending then Ebay is the first place to look. Pros – bagging a serious bargain obviously. Cons – the usual hazards of buying online or second hand applies.
It would be remiss of me to ignore the cost of your photographer. I know – we’re not cheap. But honestly, we’re worth it. A good photographer can take a terrible venue and make it look amazing, can photograph a £10 bouquet of flowers and make it look like it cost hundreds. On top of that we know how a wedding runs, what to do in a crisis situation and how to handle anything that might occur during a wedding day. We hear a lot of horror stories in the industry about cheap photographers ruining a couples day because of their inexperience. Good photography comes with a price tag. But, it’s not everyone’s priority and that’s ok. If it’s not your priority then you should spend your money elsewhere. You can save money on your photography by booking someone newer who is looking to expand their portfolio. Be aware of the risks of doing this but if it’s something you’re ok with then go for it. All the best photographers were newbies once and we did a pretty good job of those first few weddings. You should still check a few things out before you go down this route though. Have a read of my guide to choosing your wedding photographer. You can save money by booking your photographer at the last minute. This is of course a risk, there’s a very high chance that the ones you like are no longer going to be available and you’ll have to settle for less than perfect but there’s also a chance you might be able to negotiate a great little discount for a last minute booking. (Not all photographers will offer this). Or you could choose to have only part of the day covered by a professional photographer and save some pennies this way whilst still ensuring you get those all important moments covered.
I hope you’ve found some of these tips helpful. Please leave a comment below and share you’re own budget tips. I’d love to hear them.