Your big day can come with a big price tag – the average UK couple spent £31.9k on a wedding in 2019. But planning ahead can help you save up and cut costs.
Follow these three steps to help you afford the wedding you want:
Step 1: Estimate your expenses
Having a wedding budget will help you set saving goals and make sure your spending doesn’t spiral out of control.
Start off your wedding planning by listing all the costs you’ll need to cover. You can get an idea of how much things are by doing online research and asking for quotes from wedding suppliers. Don’t forget, it’s always worth haggling a bit!
No idea where to start? Here are some average wedding costs in 2019 according to a recent survey by Hitched:
Venue hire – £5,406
Honeymoon – £4,645
Food – £3,887
Engagement ring – £2,419
Drink – £1,587
Wedding dress/outfit – £1,313
Photography – £1,155
Mini-moon – £1,135
Entertainment/music – £1,005
Video – £968
If you want you can spend more than this, if you want you can spend much less. It's all about what you want from your wedding and how much you can afford.
You may want to look into a few options for each item, as this can help you adjust your wedding plan until the budget's realistic.
The sooner you start researching, the more options you’ll have. Things like venues, photographers and bands are often booked more than a year ahead of the wedding date.
Step 2: Consider cutting costs
Can’t afford your perfect wedding? Don’t worry – with unconventional ceremonies and DIY receptions becoming increasingly common, there are plenty of ways to get creative and save money at the same time. Here are a few of our favourites:
1. Pick an off-season wedding date
May to October is when most couples get married, with July and August being the most popular months. As a result, prices tend to skyrocket during this period. So, getting hitched in the colder months could help you get your dream wedding for less. Why not embrace the season and go for a Christmas theme?
You could also look into picking an unpopular day. Fridays or Sundays can cut costs of reception venues by up to half! Other weekdays by even more. There are also usually discounts on less popular days available for florists, caterers and photographers, as well as the reception venue!
Also, the number of guests able to attend will probably be lower if you pick a weekday – that in itself can be another way to keep costs down.
2. Avoid the ‘W’ word
Why is it that sticking the word ‘wedding’ in a product’s name makes it twice as expensive? Whatever the reason, you may save money by going for similar products that aren’t marketed towards brides and grooms to-be. Instead of looking for a wedding cake, you could try look for a general special occasion cake that fits with the theme of your wedding!
A great way to save money on a wedding is doing as much as you can... yourself. When it comes to things like the wedding invitations, doing it yourself is actually easier than it sounds. Designing and making your own invites can be done using a free DIY printing website like Wedding Chicks. You can also look at Etsy, Amazon and eBay for arts and crafts, if you're willing to get creative and pay a bit more.
4. Pick an unregistered venue
In a similar vein to avoiding ‘wedding’ products, why not consider a non-wedding venue? This might be a town hall or even your garden – and you could use the space for both the ceremony and reception. Just be aware, you can’t officially marry at a location that isn’t registered for weddings. But you can always sign the paperwork at a registry office afterwards, which may cost as little as £120.
5. Enlist family and friends
You may be able to reduce stress and costs by asking your loved ones to help out. It’s best to give them tasks that match their strengths. Know a great baker? Ask them to make your wedding cake. Have a ‘Monica’ in your life? Perhaps they could be your wedding planner. Don’t forget to provide clear instructions and thank them with a gift or a mention in your speech.
Family and friends can be especially helpful when cutting costs on things like a wedding band or DJ. Ask your family and friends to send you their top songs, and with their favourites you can come up with the perfect wedding playlist! You might have to rent out speakers, but you'll definitely save money on hiring a band and DJ.
6. Dress for less
Love a charity shop bargain? Then why not purchase your wedding dress, suit or outfit second-hand? You could always get it tailored for a bit extra. Otherwise, consider buying from a sample sale or a high-street store. Even ASOS sells bridal wear and wedding suits!
This applies for bridesmaid dresses too. Outlets stores are ideal for snapping up cheap bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen suits. Also, most fashion sites now also have a bridesmaid and groomsmen section, so make sure you check out your favourite high street designer before looking at the bigger wedding brands!
7. Set up a free website
You don't have to add a wedding website to your list of costs. You can create a free personalised website for your wedding using GettingMarried.co.uk, a wedding website provider. The wedding website lets you update guests on the big day and helps you keep track of RSVPs. You can also share wedding photos!
Step 3: Start a saving strategy
Now you’ve got an idea of your wedding budget, it’s time to do a reality check: how much can you put away and how fast?
Start by reviewing your monthly income and spending. What’s left over at the end of the month? Can you increase this by changing your habits or finding extra income? Remember to take into account any one-off costs or payments that are coming up, like car insurance renewal or a Christmas bonus. Be realistic too – don’t try and live off noodles for 18 months.
Once you’ve worked out what you can put away each month, decide when you need to buy each item for your wedding day. Remember, some suppliers will let you pay in instalments and many require an initial deposit.
If your saving schedule is longer than you’re prepared to wait, you may want to revisit steps one and two again.
Ultimately, you should end up with a clear budget and a series of achievable, time-specific targets.
If you use Monzo, you can set aside your savings automatically every month, so this could be a useful savings plan if you’d like to save for your big day monthly.
Here's how to do it:
Click on your profile photo to see all your Pots
Tap ‘Create a Pot’
Schedule a regular payment into it for the amount you worked out earlier
Set the ‘start date’ to the date you get paid, and repeat every month. That way you don’t even get to touch it, and it goes straight towards your savings goals!
If you’re looking for an easy way to start saving, find out about saving with Monzo here.