UncategorizedWedding planning

Wedding budget tips

Okay, so you and your fiancé have worked out your preferred maximum spend that you can both afford for your wedding.  In this blog, I’m going to walk you through your wedding budget and how to get the wedding you want…

AFFORDABILITY TOP TIP:  Keep a tight rein on your credit cards!  This is one of the most expensive ways to pay for anything if you don’t pay off the card at the end of the month! 
Here’s a reality check – weddings can cost silly money – from £27000 (average) to £38000 if you live in London.  With student debt, car loans, rent and so on, having the wedding of your dreams can feel completely unattainable.

Don’t despair!  I’m going to go through some great tips where you can save costs, spread the load and still have a magical day!  I’ll look at spreading the load, food and wine, and THE DRESS.  Let’s do this!

So – who pays for what?

Traditionally, when the bride was leaving her family home for the first time, the groom would pay for the ceremony fees, boutonnieres and corsages, transportation and bride’s engagement and wedding ring, and the honeymoon.  The bride’s parents would pay for everything else.
Today, things are very different, with many couples already living together, or living independently of mum and dad, and both working, and preferring, or expecting, to pay for their own wedding.
Of course, some couples may be still be living with mum and dad – and factoring in the cost of a rent deposit for a flat or small house, furnishings etc once you are married will affect availability of funding for the wedding.

Mum and dad

Are they able, and willing, to contribute to the costs?  It may be awkward to ask (if they don’t offer straight away), but go for it and get it out of the way.  Make sure they know there is no expectation on your part, just gratitude for any help they might be able to give – most people are happy to help and parents (as I know from personal experience) love to be included in some way.

What costs the most?

According to Bridebook, food and drink and the bride’s dress take up the biggest chunk of a budget.  So let’s look at how these can be manageable without sacrificing quality.



Every bride is seduced by the belief that there is THE DRESS waiting for her, somewhere ‘out there’, ‘you will know when you find it’… and so on.  Here’s another reality check – the dress you always dreamed about as a girl may look awful with your adult shape, or be a ridiculous price!   Wedding dresses can range in price from £1300 to £4000 plus – but there are less expensive possibilities to consider.  When choosing your dress, remember ‘cheap’ is not the same as ‘inexpensive’!
  • Check out sales – some bridal shops give great discounts on dresses before introducing new ranges
  • Department stores have wedding ranges during the peak wedding season and are worth exploring as their off-the-peg dresses can be a great price and may be exactly what you want in terms of style and fit.
  • TOP TIP – bear in mind that your weight may be different between the day you buy your dress and your wedding, if you buy several months in advance.  Find out if the store has a fitting service that you can use nearer to your big day, if you need to.  Top Tip re storage  – If you decide to buy your dress several months before the day, click this link for sensible ways to keep your dress pristine (this is a wedding insurance website so expect the plug for their services at the end of the page.  I’m not endorsing their products – but their storage advice makes sense!)
  • Mothers and grandmothers sometimes have their own wedding dresses packed away and may be thrilled if you ask if you could try it on.  Again, the style, size and general condition may not be right but how wonderful if they are!  Could this be the start of a tradition?
  • Do you know someone – local dressmaker, friend or family member – who could make your dress for you? Of course, you must feel confident that the outcome will be top quality and fit properly – but if all this comes together, the saving could be significant and your dress would be a real original!
  • Some charity shops have wedding dresses at knock down prices – you may find an absolute gem that can be adjusted here and there to make it truly yours, and you’ll be supporting a charity at the same time!
  • Be wary of buying online – cheaper dresses shipped from abroad have been known to be a huge, and costly, disappointment.
  • Take your mum (who will be your most honest critic) and your best friend/bridesmaid to your ‘dress trying-on’ trawls – they will help keep you grounded! Make sure they know what your top price is.  (Take tissues – someone is bound to cry!)
  • TOP TIP ABOUT YOUR SHOES:  This is great advice from a lovely bride I know, called Claire:   ‘Don’t worry too much about your wedding shoes: they won’t be seen and the most important thing is that they are comfortable.  I am a shoeaholic, but decided not to spend hundreds on my wedding shoes that I would only wear once, and instead bought a pair of ivory sandals that were the perfect heel height for my dress to fall just right – and now I don’t feel guilty that I’ll never wear them again. ‘
  • THE VEIL One of the great traditions, rooted in religious and ancient symbols and practices.  They look beautiful, they complete the whole ensemble – and are, strictly speaking, unnecessary if there is no religious requirement.  Your veil can add £150 – £250 to your costs and this can be trimmed by having a circlet of flowers to match your bouquet, or beautiful hair accessories.   Again, wearing mum’s veil could be a lovely tradition – I know of one family where each of the four daughters wore their mother’s veil!


Some couples are opting for a select few family and friends for an intimate ‘wedding breakfast’ rather than a full scale wedding reception on the day, with a party for everyone else planned for a later time – the ‘two-tier wedding’.  I’ll investigate this in a later blog, but for today let’s consider the traditional post-marriage reception.


Sparkling wine for toasts
TOP TIP:  Check with your venue FIRST if they are happy for you to provide your own wine and champagne – they may insist that you use their wines (you can specify how many bottles) or you may be charged corkage on every bottle you bring in which can significantly add to your budget costs.
  • A 750ml bottle will give you 6 full glasses, so you can easily calculate how many bottles you need, assuming 2 glasses per guest.
  • Explore price comparisons between champagne, sparkling wine, prosecco, clément etc
  • Buying from wholesalers on line is an option – Costco, Makro, and Majestic are three names I found when searching through Google for UK wholesalers.
  • UK couples – consider taking a trip across the Channel to Calais to get your wine, if you can  – the savings could be really worthwhile.  Be careful of over-buying and make sure you have the space in the car!


Finding a venue that has a complete wedding package can take the strain out of finding caterers and can also keep costs down, depending on the season.  I’ll be looking at this in a separate blog, so let’s assume you have selected a venue like a village hall or a marquee.
  • Canapés – are they really necessary?  No – cost them out, and add them to your wish list, to be included only if finance allows.
  • Tea/coffee – often welcomed by older guests especially on a warm summer’s day after an afternoon wedding.
  • Bottled waternot an essential and pricy – but flagons of iced tap water with slices of lemon would be welcomed at tables, and made available on arrival at the reception on a warm afternoon!
  • Buffet or sit down meal? 
    Location, numbers and season will all have an impact on price.  My research suggests that £40 per head is pretty average for a fully catered, sit down meal, with a variety of services provided that include waiters, cutlery, crockery, table linen, water at tables, tea and coffee.

    A pig/hog roast or fork buffet can work out less expensive than a sit down meal, with some menus I found being costed at around £20 per head.  However, it is important that you do your research, try and get samples – and don’t be tempted to go for a low cost caterer to save money without checking exactly what is on offer (services, crockery, linen etc) and the quality of the food. You don’t want to be disappointed, discover you’ve got food but no-one to serve it, or feel you’ve been ripped off!
  •  Finding a local caterer who uses local produce also makes sense – the further the caterer has to travel the higher his charges are likely to be!
  • For the evening party, keep it simple – cheese board, fruit pieces, crackers, dips and crudités do not have to cost the earth.  Guests will graze through the evening and waste should be minimised.
Hiring table linen, crockery, cutlery and glass wear separately
There are lots of companies that offer these at a wide range of prices, if your venue is a ‘dry hire’ – ie venue only, without the catering and services, or if your caterer doesn’t include these items.
Questions you must ask before deciding on this
  • Have you or your fiancé got the time to take on board the intensive organisation that sorting out this level of detail will require?
  • Who will act as coordinator when these arrive at the venue? Sorting out cutlery, crockery, glasses, table cloths, laying tables are the last things you want to be doing on your wedding day!
  • Will you actually save anything in your costs?
  • Do you need to reconsider your choice of venue or caterer?
CATERING TOP TIP:  Keep a record of all the offers you have found or received (I’m a fan of spreadsheets but any sort of ordered record will do – whatever works for you!) … and don’t rush into accepting any until you are both happy that it ticks all the boxes – cost, quality, services, and availability!


Browse through Pinterest and you will be blown away by the stunning cakes that are created for weddings!  They are works of art – but … the prices can be eye watering!
  • Decide if you want the traditional fruit cake or something softer like sponge cake
  • Go for something that is simple and elegant, rather than gloriously ornate.
  • Avoid weird and wonderful ideas – like cheese towers, for example! They sound modern and funky but could take your breath away with the cost!  It’s also an expensive item to be wasted if it’s not generally to people’s taste.
  • Wedding cake suppliers will be able to advise you how many tiers you need to ensure each of your guests gets a small piece, depending on the size of each tier.
  • Consider high street food suppliers – for example, Waitrose offers a very reasonable range of elegant cakes that can then be decorated with flowers to match your bouquet or your colour theme.
  • Investigate local bakers and cake makers – small businesses are likely to charge less than the big glossy suppliers
  • Is there someone among your family or friends who is a champion cake maker and decorator? This could be her wedding gift to you – at least in part (I would expect to pay for the ingredients at least!)




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Let’s do this!