Do you need to rein in your spending but don’t want to compromise on your dream wedding? Rachel Southwood shares 26 ways for you to save money in style…
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Find out if any friends or family have a luxury car that you could borrow. Does your uncle have a vintage Rolls Royce tucked away in his garage? Does your cousin drive a flash Range Rover, or perhaps you have a few more unique options up for grabs? Ask them if they would be happy to drive you to your wedding – they will probably be delighted to be asked and to perform those chauffeur duties.
If you’re not superstitious and not fixed on a mid-summer Saturday wedding, you may find that some dates are better priced than others. Days of the week, too. Tuesday the 13th of June this year might be available and a good price, for example. We love the idea of Monday weddings, so that your guests can make a really long weekend of it. Venues and suppliers are also more likely to be available if you choose an ‘obscure’ day or date.
Keep your eyes open
Join your local Facebook buy and sell groups. Couples often sell off pieces from their wedding after the event. You might pick up candles, décor items and even chair covers there. Alternatively check out the Wedding Ideas Shop where you will find affordable gifts, key decor pieces and favour ideas!
Delay the dining
Having a late ceremony is a good way to save. If you get married at, say, 4pm, there is less time to fill with entertainment and food! Plus you can do something really lovely in the morning instead of waking early and it all being a bit of a rush.
Save on flowers
Choose seasonal flowers. Your bill could be reduced by hundreds of pounds – talk to your florist about what works best at what time of year and buy British if you can. And if you have set your heart on one type of flower – peonies, for example – then you are going to have to book your wedding date accordingly, because flowers like this have a very short window of availability! Find out more about how you can save on your flowers here.
Choose suppliers who are just starting out – these will often be more competitively priced compared to long-established companies, but being new doesn’t mean that the skills aren’t there. You might also find more passion, commitment and creativity in a new business. These businesses will be building their portfolio and might make an extra effort for you as a result.
Getting married overseas is a great option if you’re relaxed about who attends… Costs will invariably be lower because of the number of guests (though be careful how many people you invite – you might be surprised how many say yes) and also you are already on honeymoon before you start! You may also find that the hotel or resort you choose have some amazing wedding packages that your favoured UK venues just can’t beat.
Venue with a difference
Look for independent, quirky venues. A friend of mine took over her favourite creperie and it cost just £1,400 for a three-course meal that we will never forget! She hired a marquee for the dancing and it all worked really well. Thinking outside the box will always work wonders!
Don’t be scared to negotiate with your venue, especially if their set packages are not exactly what you’re after. For example, they might agree on a two-course meal to replace the three courses they have, but add an extra glass of wine per head. There is always room for negotiation in life…
Don’t go crazy on your centrepieces – details like this won’t be remembered forever. Simple candelabra or candles in votives or Kilner jars filled with a few stems are more than enough to pretty-up your reception venue.
Sit down savings
The biggest cost of any wedding is feeding people. But do you really need to go all-out on a three-course wedding breakfast? Why not have a barbecue, hog roast or buffet? I went to a wedding recently where they had lots of delicious canapés at the drinks reception and then a buffet much later. It worked really well and no-one was left feeling hungry.
Ask close family to contribute to a specific part of your wedding, rather than buying you a present. Try patchworkit.com and buyourhoneymoon.com for ideas.
DIY as many of the details as you can. You might surprise yourself, even if you didn’t think you had a creative bone in your body! You could make table centres, bunting, create sweetie tables, you could even bake cupcakes for a cupcake tower… Hand paint large letters for your dance floor, make photo booth props, favours. You could enlist the help of your bridesmaids in a craft-filled, wine-fuelled evening.
We don’t recommend that you scrimp on stationery too much, but perhaps order of service sheets and menus could be self printed and RSVP cards could be replaced with an email address. You could also make your table plan yourself.
Share the price
If you’re having a church ceremony, find out if there are any other weddings that day or even that week – you might be able to share some costs like church flowers. Similarly, if your venue is hosting other weddings that week, ask for contact details for the other couples – you might be able to share decorations or ideas.
Bring your own
If your day is to be laid back and informal, you could ask people you know to be good in the kitchen to bring a dish to create a yummy, relaxed buffet. People love to contribute to weddings; to feel part of it all. Honest!
When you give notice at your registry office you should ask if they have a Privilege Card to give you. These will lead you to lots of local suppliers, many with great discounts to offer their cardholders.
Why not ask your guests to compete in a wedding day bake off? Ask your guests to bring their signature cake along with them, then have your guests try them and vote for their favourite, which you could announce at the end of the night or let people know by email afterwards!
We always recommend a professional photographer – there is simply no substitute, and it’s not worth the risk, but now everyone with a smartphone can take photos too, you don’t want to miss any of them. Make sure they all use a hashtag that you create when posting to social media and ask your guests not to post too much on the day – you don’t want details leaking out without your approval!
Instead of buying those who helped most on your big day a gift, why not ask them to take home a table centre or a floral arrangement each at the end of the night? Even a hand written card will be welcome.
Take out a credit card with cashback to use for your wedding purchases. Some offer up to 5% and those wedding bills soon mount up.
Don’t go paying everything out at once. Ask your suppliers if you can pay in instalments by direct debit, which will really help with that all-important cashflow.
Don’t fuss around with and shell out on unnecessary extras. For starters (excuse the pun!), don’t provide bread rolls with your starter – your guests will only fill up on carbs and not finish what is on their plate. Use wedding cake as a dessert – you could serve a lovely sponge cake with a fruit coulis, for example, which will save on one course.
Buy a Fuji Instax or a digital Polaroid camera and set up your own photo station with props (more on how to do it here). Ask your guests to leave you a snap with a note for the perfect guest book, which you will enjoy for years to come.
Go frugal on favours
Instead of shelling out on favours for each guest, why don’t you give one favour between each couple? Just make sure that it’s something that is shareable (obviously)! Let us point you in the direction of sweets…
Enlist the help of one of your guests to transport your ceremony flowers to the reception so that they double up – that way you get two decorations for the price of one!
For more advice on your wedding budget – covering everything from ways to save to insurance and who pays for what – you’ll love our ultimate guide of wedding budget tips.
Have you found any smart, savvy ways to save money on your wedding? Hit ‘like’ on our Wedding Ideas Facebook page, and ‘follow’ on our @wimagazine Twitter account to join in the conversation.