The average cost of a UK wedding in 2013 was £16,000. As the economy gets better, expect it to creep towards the 2012 figure of £20,000. It seems crazy that we’d spend that much on one day, but people do (we visited the National Wedding Show to look at costs – read our blog entry here). To help you find ways to get more for your money without cutting back on everything, here are our 8 ways to afford the wedding you want.
1. Don’t Go Crazy
You want it to stand out, but there’s no need to make everything unique or a top brand. People won’t notice. Choose a couple of things that you really love (but don’t break the bank), and remember the little details or something handmade can make more of an impression than serving Taittinger or having a really expensive cake (more on those later).
2. Restaurants vs Caterers
If you are a foodie like me, any meal is going to be important. But many of the caterers have incredibly high prices per head for the quality of the food you get. I’ve two alternatives which give far better value.
First look into restaurants you know and love. They will probably have a high minimum spend but no venue hire cost. This could make it more or less the same but with far better food for the price.
Another cool option is to bring in street food stalls. Used to catering for large numbers all at once, Urban Food Fest don’t charge to bring them in as some others do. They just have a minimum spend, and prices aren’t inflated just because you mention the ‘W’ word. Obviously it’s more if you wanted waiting staff & crockery.
3. Worthwhile Favours
Unless couples have lots of money, I often see sugared almonds or chocs as favours. All very tasty but largely left behind as people have eaten so much at the meal. Cancer Research sell pin badges for £2 or £2.50 with the bulk of your money going to charity. Certainly better value.
4. Don’t Risk The Dress
Brides Beware are a retailer group set up to warn against dodgy internet gowns. Apparently there’s a huge rise in counterfeit designs with poor quality work and materials, particularly from China. What you see might not be what you get. There are bargains out there, but do your research on the seller and return policy.
Alternatively many shops sell off previous seasons dresses at wedding fairs, so there are plenty of bargains to be found.
5. Friendly Bakers
Cakes can go for £300 to £500, if not more. They may look lovely, but with home baking all the rage, you’ve probably got some pretty accomplished friends who could deliver the goods. Or as my friends did, asked a few to contribute a dozen mini ones each, all arranged on home made cake stands.
Where else could you take advantage of a friend’s passion or skill? Photography? DJing? Hair and make-up? Doing the flowers? Just make sure you are confident that they can do what they say.
6. Set A Budget & Keep To It
You need to know what you can afford and what you can get for it, not what you want and how much it costs. Set the figure and stick to it. Follow the tips, deals and guides tagged Save Money and Make Money to help you get more from your savings. It’s a big day, but not worth going into a debt spiral for.
7. Set Rules & Don’t Get Pressured
If family are helping with the money, be clear about their expectations. If you can only afford to cater 60 people, you’ll probably rather have a friend there than a relative you’ve hardly met. I’ve heard horror stories where parents have threatened to take money back unless the colours were how they wanted. Remember it’s your wedding, so it should be what you want.
8. Friday I’m In Love. Not Summer Lovin’
I’m not saying go for 10am on a Tuesday in February, but you can save money on venues and possibly more by avoiding Saturdays, bank holidays and the Summer. Plus it’ll probably be raining or sweltering in June & July knowing Britain.
Similarly, your honeymoon could be cheaper if you avoid the school holidays.