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Planning a wedding on a budget

Congratulations, you’re getting hitched! Once you’ve finished celebrating the wonderful news, you’ll soon be day-dreaming about your big day - but reality often steps in when you start thinking about budget. If the costs of cakes and cars has you concerned, take a look at all the areas you can make big, or even smaller savings - they all add up!

According to Harpers Bazaar / BrideBook.co.uk, most couples pay an average of £17,913 for their wedding - but planning your big day really doesn’t mean you have to have a big budget. We've put together some ideas on how you can have a beautiful big day for less than you think...

Where’s the cheapest place to get married?

First things first, and especially before you book a venue, you actually need to make sure that you'll be legally married - and that means getting that wonderful Certificate of Marriage. And here’s the good news, it’s only about £46, and you can even get a package deal at your local registry office which can even include room hire for a small group of your nearest and dearest, as well as the service itself (from just £129)Check with your local council for details of your closest registry office and it’s prices.

Bad news? Unfortunately you can’t just get married anywhere; it has to be approved premises and you’ll need to hire a registrar to perform the wedding ceremony - and that’s where it starts to get expensive! However, it’s the cost of religious ceremonies like church weddings that tips the scales at £441 - but if that's where you want to get married, then you can always make savings elsewhere.

Top Tip: Book your local registry office for the ceremony for best value (and on a weekday for added value!).

How to find a wedding dress for less

Finding ‘the dress’ is likely to be one of the hardest things to find and choose, no matter what size budget you have. But it may pay to have a more open mind about where and how you get that beautiful gown! Here’s a few ideas on where to find a cheap or second-hand wedding dress:

Choosing the perfect reception venue on a budget

One of the biggest costs of your wedding day is your venue - but planning a wedding on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you have to compromise on that. If you’re not too choosy about having a date with sentimental value, then you can grab a real bargain at even the most fanciest of places. The trick? Plan your wedding for an unconventional day, such as mid week, during colder seasons or even Friday 13th - you'll see big savings!

It may be a little sad to think about, but perhaps you could consider booking a recently cancelled wedding venue at cancelledweddings.co.uk? But remember that the dates for these are usually quite close -so just make sure your other vendors and guests can also make it.

Want to take it a step further? Why not try something completely different and book out your favourite restaurant, or if the weather is nice, have a posh picnic instead!

It’s all about DIY - Makeup and hair, designed by you!

With the likes of YouTube and Pinterest at your fingertips, it’s never been easier to create something professional-looking in the comforts of your own home. Watching video tutorials on wedding hair and makeup will have you looking a million dollars in no time (and with your own fair hands no less!) - plus, you can achieve all this without the big price tag that comes with hiring in a team of professionals to do it.

This is also the perfect excuse to treat yourself to some professional cosmetics that you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself. The added benefit is - now you can look ‘wedding day glam’ whenever you like!

If you’re not confident doing your hair or make-up, why not ask that friend who always looks fabulous to do it for you - or get on Facebook and ask for recommendations?

Alternatively, most beauty counters at department stores like House of Fraser or Debenhams offer a makeover service - just make sure you book in advance!

Professional wedding photography - for less!

The best way to make a wedding on a budget look great, is choosing the right photographer - but that doesn’t always mean “the most expensive one”. There are thousands of amateur and trainee photographers, just a Google search away, that you can hire for your special day. Some may even snap your wedding for free for the experience - just make sure you remember to feed them!

If professional photos aren’t on the top of your priority list, why not encourage guests to bring their own cameras to snap pics on their phones? Or why not create your own social media hashtag, so you can find all of your lovely guest photos and pick the best shots for your wedding album.

Or for a fun (almost retro) touch, you can leave disposable cameras on the tables and develop them at a later date for a surprise.

The cake - a sweet treat that won’t leave a bitter taste

One of the big attractions of a wedding is ‘the cake’, everyone wants that dream cake that’s personal to them, and represents the relationship that the happy couple share. However, you’d be forgiven for getting carried away and finding yourself ordering a 5 tier masterpiece, adorned in handcrafted chocolate flowers because “it has to be perfect!”. But what if we told you, you could have the perfect cake for a fraction of the cost?

  • The big cake - Want a 4 tier masterpiece? Ice polystyrene bases and just have a real cake at the top for cutting - buy some sheet cake for serving and noone will know the difference!

  • The real cake - Pretend cake not for you? Most supermarkets, such as Waitrose, Tesco, and even Asda, now stock plain white wedding cakes in different (tiered) sizes that you can use to build your own wedding cake. Cake decorating not your strong point? You can even buy edible decorations too.

  • The ‘I don’t have time for this’ cake - Since the Great British Bake Off first aired back in 2010, a new wave of home bakers were born; and if you know someone who’s particularly good, why not ask them to make your wedding cake for you?  You could even ask them to bake you a small cake as their wedding gift!

You can apply this to almost any aspect of your big day! Know someone who’s good at card making? Ask them to do your invites. If you’re really trying to keep costs down, be cheeky and ask them to do it as their wedding gift to you too. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Asking for money, without asking for money

Back in the 1950’s most couples wouldn’t move in together until after they got married, which meant that they were in need of all the home essentials. Fast forward almost 70 years and most people already have everything they need around the home - before they're even a couple. So, your guests are likely scratching their heads and wondering what to get you? Don’t feel cheeky by asking your guests to gift you cash towards bigger items such as your honeymoon - they'll be relieved to have a gift already picked out.

Having trouble wording it? Hitched have a range of quirky poems that you can send along with your invites in replace of a gift list; more and more couples tying the knot are doing this, so don’t worry - you’re probably not the first to ask them!

Looking the part

 Woman arranging pink flowers in white cage with red scissors

Are you planning on a seasonal or themed wedding? If you are, you’ve probably already priced up decorations from various vendors and wondered "is the cost really worth it, or am I wasting my money?".

Having a beautifully decorated venue doesn't have to cost you the earth, especially if you’ve still got a year or two to go before the big day - just plan ahead and start stocking up on discounted decorations when they go out of season in the shops.

Winter wedding? Grab those reduced Christmas items in the January sales - you could also check out ebay and join some wedding groups on Facebook, to see what other brides are selling off (that you can snap up for a bargain!).

Budget wedding favours and giveaways

Are your guests really going to notice if they don't have a program of events, a copy of the menu each or even table favours? Nope, probably not! Your guests are there to celebrate your special day with you, not judge on how much you’ve spent on it. You can always just tell everyone you’re doing your bit for the environment by reducing the amount of wastage!

If you're set on having wedding favours, why not double them up as place names - two birds with one stone, and a lovely personal touch too!

The big day doesn’t have to come with a big price tag - just remember to take a step back and ask yourself "do we really need this?" and "is there a cheaper way?" before making a decision. Focus on investing in what really matters to you - then you can have the wedding of your dreams without the nightmare bank balance to go with it. Congratulations again!