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Wedding Day On A Budget

Remember - A wedding is about spending the most important day of your life with the person who you love most and your closest family and friends and should not be about spending the rest of your life worrying about how to pay for it.

Essential ingredients for a memorable wedding should be enjoyment and fun and these can be created without expense and worry. Wedding day memories should not include credit card bills and loan repayments.

Avoid the expense by following some, or all, of the following tips for a budget wedding:

  • Plan early – this can mean that you secure this year’s prices for next year’s wedding. Fix those prices.
  • Calculate your budget. Establish what you can afford and what contribution, if any, will be made by family. Try not to borrow to pay for the wedding - don’t remortgage as this may mean affordable monthly repayments but you may still be paying for that wedding when you celebrate your Silver Wedding Anniversary!

Prioritise your wedding list; highlight the areas that mean the most to you and those areas where you are prepared to compromise.

  • Date - Marry “off peak” e.g. during the Winter or mid week. This can result in lower prices across the whole of your budget. Mid week can also mean that guests may not be able to get time off work which provides you with the opportunity of reducing your numbers or revisiting that “reserve list”.
  • Time – consider having a late afternoon wedding which will run into the evening thus removing the need to have :
    • A reception meal and an evening buffet.
    • An evening outfit as well as your wedding dress

    Guests – fewer guests means lower food/drinks costs. Only invite those closest to you. You may be doing some a favour by not inviting them as they too may be struggling on a budget and may worry about buying that wedding outfit and gift.


  • Have your ceremony and reception at the same venue. This will reduce the cost of transport between the 2 venues; wedding car hire usually covers the cost of waiting and transporting between the venues. It also removes the risk of the bride being caught in the elements if the weather is not too friendly on the day!
  • Research local venues such as village/community halls and local pubs and clubs – these are usually much cheaper than hotels or specialist wedding venues. Facilities are normally good and provide you with the opportunity of introducing many other “DIY” elements into the day (see below) as you are not constrained by venue rules etc.
  • Ask a friend or family member with a large garden whether you could erect a marquee and hold the reception there.
  • Invitations – make your own using materials purchased off the internet or from a local craft shop. You can create your own individual design and also choose light card/paper in order to save on postage costs. Alternatively send invitations to guests electronically saving paper and postage?
  • Wedding cars – look around at the cars that friends or family members drive and ask whether they would be prepared to transport you to the venue. Alternatively consider renting a prestige car from a car hire company for the day – this can be cheaper and leave you with a car for the whole day and not just a few hours which is usual with wedding car hire. A friend will only be too happy to drive the prestige car for you! You may also be able to secure a different form of transport at low/no cost e.g. a tractor from a local farmer, a milk float from the local milkman.

    Wedding Cake

  • Purchase a ready made cake from a supermarket which is considerable cheaper.
  • Ask an Aunt or friend to bake the cake for you – many decorations can be shop bought (high street or online) to give those finishing touches.
  • Contact a local catering college to enquire whether a student would bake the cake for you. The cost will be considerably lower than engaging the services of a local patisserie/baker.
  • Also – use your wedding cake as the dessert at your wedding. This can save money on your reception food costs.


  • Buffets are cheaper than a sit down meal. There is no need to choose expensive dishes – basic food presented well can be just as enjoyable.
  • Cater yourself – forward planning in terms of preparation and storage can make this less stressful than it may first appear. A late afternoon wedding also provides time in the day for family and friends to help contribute and if the wedding and reception are at the same venue then delivery of the food is equally convenient. Ask student children of guests and/or family if they will help in both the preparation of the food and venue and also the serving to guests. This can normally be done at pocket money cost. Crockery etc can be hired from a number of sources – also consider asking local schools/colleges whether they hire this as this can result in a contribution to the school funds and low cost for the wedding.
  • Contact a local catering college and enquire whether they provide buffet services. This can be cheaper than other commercial catering services.


  • Ask a select and trusted group of family and/or friends to take photographs providing them with a list of those special moments that you would like to capture.
  • Contact a local photography college and enquire whether any students would be interested in taking on your wedding as a project.
  • Ask guests to send you electronic copies of their photographs in order that you can view and select some impromptu snaps of the day. A CD of photos taken should be obtained regardless as reprints for family and friends can be carried out at minimal cost.
  • Leave disposable cameras on the tables at the reception and ask guests to take photographs and leave the cameras for you to get developed. You should have a selection of photographs that you would never have thought of commissioning!

    Favours at the Reception

  • Replace with bowls of favourite sweets.
  • Make your own by buying bulk chocolates/sweets and wrapping in organza or florists cellophane tied in ribbon. The traditional sweet almonds or mint imperials are equally as good.
  • Place a lottery ticket/scratch card at each persons place setting.
  • Make a small donation on behalf of all your gusts to a chosen/local charity and produce an information sheet for placing at each guests place setting thanking them for their donation.
  • Write to manufacturers of perfumes, alcohol, make up and ask them if they would be prepared to provide small samples which will promote their produce. Add a gift tag and/or some ribbon to personalise them.


  • Choose “in season” blooms in order to keep cost down.
  • Avoid getting married at “peak” periods where flowers are sold at a premium e.g. Valentines day, Christmas etc.
  • Use cheaper/permanent table settings using candles and ribbon.
  • Recycle – transfer arrangements from wedding venue (church) to reception- don’t buy for both.
  • Consider contacting local art groups, WI groups, colleges to enquire whether they run flower arranging courses and ask whether they would supply you.

    Dresses Brides and Bridesmaids

  • Keep numbers of bridesmaids to a minimum.
  • Establish whether you have a budding seamstress in the family who could make the dresses for you.
  • Many department stores now sell very realistically priced dresses– if preferred these can be slightly altered by adding a sash of ribbon.
  • Purchase a cocktail dress as these can prove to be cheaper than bridesmaid labelled dresses and again can be altered cheaply to give them individuality.
  • Consider hiring for the day.
  • Purchase during the sales – you can get some real bargains at end of Season and all dresses will form a good base even if you want to adapt it slightly.
  • Purchase second hand – ebay or charity shops – arrange to dry clean yourself and again alter to introduce some individuality to the dress. No-one will ever know that it was not brand new!

    Hair and Make up

  • Consider inviting girlfriends around the night before the wedding and spend the time doing each other’s nails and eyebrows and then the morning of the wedding either invite another girlfriend around to do your make up or book yourself in for a make up session at one of the make up counters of a local department store. This can be free or for minimal cost. Alternatively you could take yourself around to the local hair and beauty college in the weeks leading up to the wedding and offer your services as a model – your student may then agree to do your wedding make up on the day for a very small fee.

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