The day you get married is one of the most memorable of your life, and probably the most expensive. The average UK wedding now costs £20,000. That is almost as much as the average full-time UK salary, currently £26,500 before tax. If money is tight, don’t despair, you can get hitched for much less and still have an amazing day. The following tips may help.
Do your sums
Start by calculating roughly how much you can afford to spend then work backwards. Aim to undershoot your budget in case costs overrun, as they inevitably will. Think twice before borrowing money to pay for your wedding, as one in five newlyweds do. Half regret it later, according to research from the Debt Advisory Centre.
The wedding dress
You could spend thousands on your dream wedding dress, or pick one up second-hand for a couple of hundred pounds. If you want something cheaper, try keying in the words “wedding dress” on eBay. I found presentable dresses from around £50, shipped from China. Alternatively opt for something a little different, spruce up a dress from a high street store. H&M presented an affordable wedding dress at £59.99, and quite beautiful it was too. Designer dresses don’t come in cheap, but compared to the price of a wedding dress, you could cut hundreds from the bill. Don't forget the groom, he also needs a suit and new shoes, again it may be time to turn to the high street.
Dress for success
The bride will also need shoes and accessories, which will cost several hundred pounds, and maybe a beauty treatment, which will add another £100 or so. Any bridesmaids will also need dresses, shoes and make-up. When it comes to make-up, a wonderful solution could be to do it yourself! MAC makeup counters offer make-up tutorials for a price tag of £50, the best part is that you get to use that £50 on make-up in store once the tutorial is finished. This also makes a fantastic gift.
Plan your reception
The reception will be the biggest cost of all. You can hire anything from a country castle to your local McDonald's (people aren’t as snobby about these things as they used to be). Say you invite 100 guests at £75 a head, you’ve just blown £7,500. Many venues have different price options, so you may be able to cut that down. Alternatively, trim that guest list! You can save money by asking guests to buy their own booze, at least after the meal. A free all-night bar could prove expensive.
Don’t forget to budget for extras such as a marquee, flowers and decorations for the reception room. If you or your friends are crafty, an easy way to do this cheaply is to do it yourself! The beauty of this is you really do get to add a personal touch. Check out Kirstie's Homemade Britain for some inspiration.
If you want music, a string quartet will cost you between £400 and £600, or you could get a solo classical guitarist or harpist for around £200 to £300. Website Functioncentral.co.uk is a great source of bands, musicians and DJs for weddings. Alternatively, ask a talented friend, but it takes more than an iPod to fill a dance floor.
Or if you are looking for someone to take the weight completely off your shoulders, that's where Alleycat Entertainment's wedding band hire team can help. With their vast network of talented musicians across the UK, they can quickly identify bands that are perfect for your event.
If you need taxis from the church to the reception, talk to a couple of local cab companies to get an idea of the cost, and be prepared to negotiate. A professional photographer will cost from £500 to £1,000. Search for wedding photographers in your area at at Findaweddingphotographer.co.uk. Personally I always think it’s a nice touch to place disposable camera around the venue and have your family and friends document the Wedding Breakfast and reception.
You could spend hundreds or even thousands on buttonholes, invitations, church fees, the cake and wedding night venue. But there is plenty of scope to trim costs, say, by doing without those carnations (nobody will miss them!), emailing invitations, or home-baking cupcakes instead of having a wedding cake (and you get to choose your favourite assortment of flavours!). Mary Berry can help you out there!
Finally, there's the honeymoon
It’s your day, so how much you spend is ultimately down to you but you can find plenty of affordable solutions by clicking here. If you’re looking for the holiday of a lifetime but don’t have the money to spend, you could suggest cash donations from your guests instead of the usual presents.
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