How To Stay Within Your Wedding Budget

There’s nothing quite like a wedding to-do list. Even for those of us that happily plan and coordinate things on a daily basis, the sheer volume of things to organise for your wedding-day can feel daunting, even more so when you have tight budget to stick to. With a total wedding budget of just over £7k (excluding honeymoon) I share with you some easy tips for making decisions that will help you make the most of a meagre wedding budget.

10 budget wedding planning tips

10 Practical Budget Wedding Planning Tips

Of course there are obvious ways to save money on your wedding, which include things like choosing to get married in winter or off-peak, choosing a cheap wedding/reception venue and getting married on a week day.

For most, expecting large numbers of people to take a day or more off work just isn’t viable, so our tips focus on more feasible ways to save money, without having to compromise on venue, season or day of the week.

1. Chop down your wedding guest list

This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s really not as easy as you think it might be! In fact I recently wrote about this being the most difficult aspect of planning our own wedding.

Of course you don’t want to leave people you care about out, but if you haven’t spoken to a friend in the last year, didn’t go to their wedding or have distant relatives who’s names you barely know and you need to save money, then cutting down numbers for the wedding breakfast is the easiest way to do this.

For most couples the wedding breakfast represents the single most expensive aspect of a wedding. Inclusive packages that include things like drinks, wine on the table, venue hire etc. will often charge £70 or more per head, so if you’re on a tight budget, keep wedding breakfast guest numbers down and perhaps bump up your numbers for the cheaper evening do.

2. Don’t have a traditional wedding breakfast

Wedding experts predict that in 2020 we’ll continue to see an increase in the number of weddings that choose alternative options to the traditional 3-course wedding breakfast with grazing tables set to be the biggest trend for the coming year.

Alternatively, couples are going for cheaper day-guest options like buffets and afternoon tea, so if you can’t stretch to wedding breakfast costs and still want to invite 50 or more guests to the day, choosing something less traditional, and cheaper makes sound financial sense.

3. Don‘t bother sending ’save the dates’

As long as you send out your wedding invitations (physical or email) in plenty of time, save the dates in my opinion are an unnecessary extra cost.

Of course you’re excited to finally have your date, but really, just stick to sending the wedding invitations out early to let people know or email your guest-list save the date information to save money on stationery and postage costs.

4. Let them eat cake

If you are keen to go for a more traditional sit down meal, then instead of paying for a dessert, serve your wedding cake as the third course! Otherwise, really, what’s the wedding cake for if people aren’t actually going to eat it?!

This is an easy way to shave a few pounds off the cost-per-head for each guest and means your wedding cake serves more than the purpose of looking pretty.

5. Don’t waste money on wedding favours

The general consensus from wedding planning Facebook groups, is that wedding favours are generally a waste of money. Firstly, it’s hard to find something that everyone will like, secondly, they can easily cost an extra £5 per person, and finally, many guests forget to even taken them home with them! So if you’re already on a tight budget, giving gifts away is a totally unnecessary extra cost that’s easy to drop.

If you’re already providing generous, good quality food and drink on the day, extra gifts are just not necessary.

Save on bridesmaid dresses

6. Ask bridesmaids to chip in for their own dresses

This one is controversial, but recently both Bridebook and The Knot have stated that bridesmaids should be responsible for buying their own dresses and shoes for the big day.

In my opinion, if you want them to wear a very specific or expensive dress, then you probably should pay for it, however, if your dresses are relatively cheap and something they will genuinely love or wear again, then asking them to buy their own is perfectly normal and acceptable.

If the thought of doing this makes you uneasy, then make it clear that you don’t want or expect a wedding gift and that them buying their shoes and dresses will be regarded as their contribution or gift for your wedding.

Check out What Your Bridesmaids Should & Shouldn’t Pay For.

7. Don‘t waste money on elaborate bridesmaid or maid of honour ’proposals’

Bridesmaid and Maid of Honour proposals seem to be a recent addition to ‘essential’ wedding planning prep, clearly dreamed up by the wedding industry to extract yet more money for wedding extras that are totally unnecessary.

I’ve seen some crazily elaborate gift boxes and surprise proposals being thrown for bridesmaids which I find frankly ridiculous. I messaged my bridesmaids and told them I’d be delighted if they’d be my bridesmaids. They were delighted and of course said yes. That was that. No elaborate party, surprises or gift boxes. It’s simply not necessary.

8. You don‘t need to spend a fortune on wedding rings

Of course if having something bespoke and unique is important you might want to spend more on your wedding bands, and whilst I’m not a fan of rings from dull, uninspiring high-street jewellers, you can find local artisans who can make stunning wedding bands at a fraction of the cost.

If you do want something ostentatious and expensive, ask yourself why. Is it because you genuinely love it, or is it because you think it will impress people or look good on Insta? Buying things to impress other people is a very, very silly thing to do.

Our wedding ring budget is just £160 for both rings and both are handmade, and exactly what we want, so don’t be fooled into thinking you need to pay hundreds for a wedding ring. You really don’t have to and can easily save money buying from an independent local or from an online seller somewhere like Etsy.

Cost of an engagement ring UK

9. Make a spreadsheet and have a dedicated wedding savings account

Who doesn’t love a good list and a wedding planning list is perhaps the ultimate! Set up a spreadsheet to keep track of all costs and make sure you aren’t going over what you can afford.

Move money into a dedicated savings account (make sure it’s an instant access account that you can make payments from) which means again, you can keep track of everything you’ve saved and it also means you can make payments direct from that account to wedding suppliers, again helping to keep track of all of your wedding related expenditure.

10. Make the venue your own

It’s more and more common for couples to choose to DIY their wedding venue decor. Not only does this save money on hire costs, but if you’re crafty, it gives you plenty of lovely craft projects to take on!

Talented friends and family members will love being asked to lend a helping hand, and this way, it means your venue can be decorated exactly how you want it to be and you won’t need to use expensive wedding planners or florists, whose prices can frankly be sky high and well beyond the means of the average budget wedding!