Updated: Apr 3, 2019
Here's some ideas you could try to cut down on the cost of your wedding without diminishing your experience or that of your guests.
Plan, plan, plan.... There's so many things you can splash out on and also many that you can take the frugal route on. The key is to plan and prioritise! When you’re trying to have a wedding on a budget, it’s important to plan ahead. List everything you can think of.
The earlier you get started – and the more things you think about early on – the less “last-minute stress” you’ll have, and the more time you’ll have to find sales and discounts and research other good ideas. Let's get started with that list...
1. Avoid guest list bloat.
You might be tempted to throw everyone you know on your guest list, but that isn’t always a great idea. With each addition you make, you are adding additional costs while also making your wedding less intimate.
Everyone falls into this trap – the guest list grows and grows to the point where you are inviting people that you don’t even know well simply because you feel obligated.
To save as much as you can, try inviting fewer people and making the event more intimate. Start by whittling your list down by 20%, then another 20%. Then see if you’re happy with it.
2. Go minimal with the flowers.
Instead of spending boatloads of money on flowers that will die shortly after the reception, keep it simple but elegant
A single rose for each bridesmaid and a cute, small bouquet for the bride. If you know someone with a rose bush, you can actually make your own bouquets the day before the ceremony by cutting the roses yourself and trimming away the thorns.
Or why not go with fake flowers instead. It’s likely that no one will even notice, and you could save a bundle by making the arrangements yourself well ahead of time. And as an extra bonus, you'll get to keep them forever as a beautiful keepsake.
3. Ask for wedding help instead of wedding gifts.
Asking your closest family and friends to offer help or services in lieu of a gift is a great way to keep your wedding on a budget.
Get together with a group of your absolute favourite people to brainstorm cheap wedding ideas. Quite often, they’ll have surprisingly good ideas that can save you money and effort. For example, they might know a vendor that would offer you a deal, or have something you could borrow for your special day. Good friends and family are always there to help, and they’ll be especially happy to contribute to such a joyful occasion — so you might as well take advantage of their generosity. It's 100% ok to ask for help and you'll probably find most people are delighted to get involved. If your best friend has a great eye for design, could they find some lovely table decorations that connects to your theme? Do any of your friends have musical talents that could add a personal touch to your ceremony?
4. Do the catering yourself, or hire a family-owned restaurant.
You can drastically reduce the food costs if you handle your own food preparation. You would need to enlist a lot of help from family & friends.
Why not ask around if anyone has a catering size BBQ or even a pizza oven you could borrow? But if this isn’t your forte, check around your local community for a family-owned restaurant and ask the owners directly to cater your wedding. Family-owned restaurants will almost always go the extra mile to make your wedding special and are generally more understanding of your particular budget needs.
5. Skip the groomsmen and bridesmaid gifts.
If you want to stick to tradition and buy gifts they don't have to be designer label. Shop wise and plan ahead, get yourself to the sales and bag a bargain.
While it’s considered customary to give gifts to your groomsmen and bridesmaids, it really isn’t necessary. Instead of buying gifts they may not even want
, consider writing them a special note to say “thanks” instead. If your friends know that you’re trying to have a frugal wedding, they will understand.
6. Contact the local University
For live musical accompaniment at the ceremony (and perhaps for the reception), one place to look for lower-cost musicians is your local university’s music department.
Ask if there are any students who might like to develop their resume and are studying the particular instrument or style that you are interested in. This could really save you £££'s on this typically pricey part of your wedding.
7. Display ‘vendor cards’ in exchange for reduced rates.
It's worth asking anyone you're hiring for your reception, (musicians, DJ, florists, caterers, photographers, etc.), if you advertise for them would they reduced rates their rates in exchange.
You can put a small card by each person’s place setting that lists the businesses responsible for each service at the wedding, along with their contact information. This tends to be very effective advertising so many businesses will happily provide services at reduced rates in exchange for this opportunity.
8. Buy dresses off the rack – and on sale.
You can save on bridesmaid dresses by buying dresses that compliment each other but aren't identical. Head to stores with dresses on sale and see if you can all find something “off the rack"
This works best if your colours are chosen ahead of time and to make sure you don't miss out on a bargain either take your bridesmaids with you or have their measurements with you. Shop ahead of time and only have them try on dresses you have already approved.
Another cheap wedding idea: Instead of buying new dresses, tell your bridesmaids what colour theme you are having and ask if they already own a dress in this colour. And if you want to, perhaps your budget could stretch to bridesmaids Pashminas or a gorgeous Ruffled Stole to tie the look together.
9. Choose affordable wedding rings.
Wedding bands are traditionally an important part of the marriage ceremony, symbolic of your commitment to each other. That doesn’t mean they have to cost you a fortune.
A typical 14-karat wedding band can cost upwards of £1,000, and wedding website TheKnot says couples tend to spend about 3% of their overall wedding cost on the rings (plus thousands more on an engagement ring). If you’re trying to pull off your wedding on a budget, this is an area where you can trim costs pretty easily.
Unlike the wedding itself, which is over all too quickly, you’ll (hopefully) be wearing this ring every day for the rest of your life – so it’s important you like the way it looks and feels. But again, that doesn’t mean it has to cost £1,000's or more. Titanium, sterling silver, and other materials are less expensive, durable, and can be personalized for even deeper meaning. Check out some affordable wedding ring options here.
10. Plan a simple honeymoon - it's taking time to be together that really matters.
A huge, over-the-top honeymoon might sound fun, but it’s far cheaper and just as fun to stay closer to home.
Whatever you do, just enjoy this time together. Instead of planning a big, expensive trip, focus on what matters: Unwinding together after those hectic weeks leading up to your wedding, and savouring some time alone with your new spouse. A long flight across the world with multiple connections might not be as much fun as just hopping in the car and spending a week or two seeing all of the local sights you haven't had time to see until now.
Related: 8 Cheap Romantic City Getaways
11. And finally... breathe - Don't stress!
Something may go wrong at the last minute – a little detail of some sort won’t work out and that's ok.
Don’t worry about it. Just assume something little will probably go wrong and avoid the urge to throw money at the problem. Most likely, no one will even notice the little issue, and quite often someone in your wedding party (or someone helping out) will come up with a pretty good solution to fix things. You'll all have a good laugh and get on with the party!
If you need to discuss a tailored quote for your photography, get in touch and let's work it out.
Good luck (and congratulations)!