When I first got engaged, I was determined not to let the cost of our wedding spiral out of control. One of my biggest bugbears of the wedding industry is the pressure to spend your life savings on just one day, making things which usually don’t play a part in your life (or your happiness) seem completely non-negotiable and essential to your wedding and future as a married couple.
However, that’s before I realised what everything cost. It’s easy to gasp at the average cost of modern weddings – which at last check is around £25,000. That’s a deposit on a house. A nice house. Or more than a whole year’s wages. It seems ludicrous before you’re in the planning stages, but the people dropping these ‘extreme’ sums of money are not the bridezillas you imagine, demanding couture gowns and live doves. They’re just average people, who are ticking the list of ‘essentials’ that wedding magazines tell you that you need. We’ve all seen ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’ – their budget is £12,000 and they’re always scrimping and saving by the end of the show.
That being said, it is possible to have a fantastic wedding day without completely bankrupting yourself and your entire family. Here’s how to *really* have a budget wedding:
Limit Your Guest List
This is where we have fallen at the first hurdle, so take heed from my mistake! We have almost 200 people coming to our wedding, and I’m being honest when I say that I can’t imagine cutting it down at all. It’s a blessing and a curse to have so many family and friends, let me tell you. However, if your budget is really tight then this is the fastest way to cut costs – with less people at the wedding you can pay for a smaller venue, less meals and less alcohol. It is, however, potentially a minefield depending on what your friends and family are like, so be prepared to stand strong if you do need to cut numbers.
Avoid the Wedding Industry
There is a huge mark-up on anything which involves weddings, Look for venues that don’t regularly hold weddings (village halls, restaurants and the like), shop for your dress in non-bridal stores (Etsy is a fantastic place to look, but the high street is not to be dismissed!) and try unusual caterers to cut prices (our Mexican street food vendor costs less than half what traditional caterers wanted to charge for a three-course meal).
Have a think about what really matters to you on the day. There are some things you really need – a place to get married, something to wear, a way to get around. There will be some things that you really want – for us it was good food, a big venue and a fantastic photographer. Then there will be other things that people say you need to have a ‘perfect’ wedding, but that actually you probably won’t notice if it’s gone. We’ve ditched wedding favours (be grateful for the free food and booze, bitches), a proper wedding cake, flowers, wedding cars and a super-expensive dress. Everyone’s priorities will be different but it’s worth assessing what you really want, and what you just *think* you want because of social pressure. (I say this like it’s easy – my struggle over whether to pay £1000 on a dress has been very a very real first world problem these last few weeks).
Don’t DIY (unless you’re a crafty wizard)
If you’re an experienced crafter, then DIY-ing your wedding can be a fantastic way to save money and put a personal stamp on your day. However, you should definitely be realistic about your skills. I have none, so we are DIY-ing very little (I’m going to spray paint a few things, and cut out some paper hearts…). I know that it will probably end up costing more by the time I have messed it up a thousand times than it would paying someone to just make it for me. Plus, I’ll be a million times less stressed. Again, Etsy is a great place to look for decorations that *look* like you made them yourself, but without the hassle.
Don’t Have A Wedding
You think I’m joking, but really the only true way to have a really budget wedding is to not have one at all. Elope, whether at home or abroad, and celebrate in a different way – with a month-long honeymoon, a big piss-up in a local bar or a takeaway at your place. Running away to Vegas and staying for a week in an amazing hotel would cost us less than a third of what we’re spending, and it often seems like a more tempting option…
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