Right from the beginning of my wedding planning eighteen months ago, I was determined that I would do my absolute best to keep the costs as low as possible. Of course, I wanted the day to be beautiful, but our budget was small and I didn’t want us to still be paying it off for years after it was over.
Essentially, I wanted it to be as cheap as possible, but I didn’t want it to LOOK cheap.
The problem is, the minute the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned, the prices of everything are automatically increased and there are numerous places that aren’t always upfront about their total prices – we discovered that there were lots of hidden costs in all sorts of different areas.
The key to saving money lies in forward planning, lots of research, asking for help, being patient and shopping around. It also helped that we had a long engagement, giving us sufficient time to work out what we wanted and how much we were prepared to budget for it.
Here’s how I have saved THOUSANDS on my wedding.
I didn’t have a hen party. Many of my friends and family were incensed, I still think it’s the best decision I made! Saved me a fortune and I’ve not had to organise anything extra…
We didn’t send out ‘Save the Dates.’ Those who were invited got a Facebook or text message informing them of the date. Not particularly classy, but saved a lot of money on pointless cards and postage.
I got the invitations from an independent company – Confetti Designs – in the UK that I found online. As a result I paid a lot less, I could speak to the company owner directly and the results were stunning. Rather than sending all of the invitations out via post, we ordered the invitations 6 months in advance and only posted the ones who lived outside of Birmingham. With ordering them so early, it meant that we had time to give the invitations out as and when we saw family, friends and colleagues over the following few months. With the standard Second Class stamp now costing 56p each, we saved about £30 by doing this.
We have kept the guest list as small as possible. If there was a bigger budget then more people would have been invited, but as the food is the biggest cost for the day I had to work to what we could afford and we have had to be ruthless. There are 40 invited for the ceremony and meal, and a further 20 invited for the evening, and we predominantly followed the rule of no children, no partners. I worked out that there are 35 kids between all of my friends, and with long-term colleagues I also realised that my relationship was with them – in some cases I had known them for years but had only met their husbands and partners once (if that). I also didn’t add a +1 to my single friends invitations, and this saved about a hundred spaces overall, thus saving thousands on the food bill. I felt awkward, but I explained the situation to my friends and not a single person complained – most have stated that they are grateful for the child-free time and only a few were slightly put out that they couldn’t bring their partner, but they accepted it all the same and have been supportive.
I have done the centrepieces myself. I asked all of my friends to save me their glass jars from food items they have bought over the last year – preserves, sauces etc – and I went to the Rag Market in Birmingham and purchased materials such as lace, ribbon and burlap for about £20. I also bought some mason jars from a local store for about £15. Consequently, I now have about a hundred jars for the centrepieces and decoration for about £35, but I haven’t needed to use half of the materials I bought, so I could have actually spent a lot less – I worked out that I could probably have done the whole lot for about £25.
We are having a hot knife and fork buffet instead of a three-course set meal saving £26 per person (although, if we wanted to go for the top package they offer it would have cost us an extra £47.50 per person!!) With the hot buffet, the guests are still in a seating plan, but they have a choice of three different dishes for the main meal – two meat and a vegetarian – and a dessert, which means that all dietary requirements are covered, I haven’t had to mess about with lots of different orders for different people and our food cost has been half that of a standard wedding breakfast. In the evening, we are having a hog roast, which is much cheaper than a separate buffet and canapés etc.
Our photographer is a blogger and friend, and he is very kindly covering the whole day for a fraction of the price that most wedding photographers charge, saving us hundreds of pounds.
Instead of spending a fortune on a wedding cake, we have bought a Marks and Spencers single tier cake for £35 that we can use for the ceremonial cutting of the cake bit, and our friend is making us a cupcake tower for free as a wedding present (and she makes the best cupcakes ever – it’s a win-win situation!).
The bridesmaids dresses were bought in the end-of-season sale for £90 each, and my dress was purchased from Wed2Be – brand new but last season and off-the-rack – for less than £600. I am not wearing a veil, instead using a large silver clip at the back of my hair instead. The bridesmaids are supplying their own shoes and accessories. Since then, I have discovered that there are whole host of absolutely stunning dresses to be found on eBay from the same designer as my dress for only a few hundred pounds, and many of them haven’t been worn.
I have also made the seating cards myself – The Bloke managed to get about 300 old keys from a business that was throwing them away for free. I cleaned the keys and bought card luggage labels and some bows from Hobbycraft, meaning that I have a set of gorgeous seating cards for less than £7.
We have purchased an enormous amount of flowers for the venue and centrepieces from a wholesale warehouse in Birmingham for less than £80. I worked out that if we had ordered the same amount from a florist we would have been charged almost three times the price.
The bridesmaids and I are doing our own make-up – both my youngest sister and I are make-up addicts and have quite an extensive collection of products between us, so we are going to do each other’s make-up and my mum’s too!
We haven’t hired a DJ or any musicians for the ceremony and reception. Instead, we have done a playlist on an iPod and we’re using that instead. This means that we can guarantee the music that we dance to is music that we like, and we’ve saved about £400.
For my something borrowed, my friend offered to lend me her wedding shoes (which fit beautifully and match my dress perfectly) and I’m wearing a necklace that belongs to my mum. This means I haven’t had to buy shoes or extra jewellery.
eBay has become my friend. My sister found a brilliant set of photobooth props and a lovely sign with an easel for a total of £12. I also found a stunning blue garter that was half the price of numerous high street stores.
Instead of doing individual favours for everyone, I have created a sweet table. My sister found a company on eBay that does printed small paper bags with our names on them, so they will be placed on the tables. I am using the sweet jars that my friend had for her wedding, and then I will sell them afterwards and give her the money back. I am buying sweets in bulk at a cost of about £3 a box, totalling about £18.
The biggest expense by far has been from the venue and we have managed to cut small things that have saved hundreds from the final bill. We are paying corkage instead of using the wine from the venue. Would you believe that our venue charges nearly £20 for a standard bottle of wine? Even for corkage they are charging £9.00 + VAT PER BOTTLE, but we can buy nice wine in bulk and still pay less. The venue also attempted to charge us several hundred pounds to give everyone a glass of Bucks Fizz, so instead we are just opening the bar as soon as the ceremony ends. We are also not having chair covers, and aren’t serving canapés – the wedding starts later in the afternoon and the food is served an hour after the ceremony so nobody is going to be waiting around for hours.
For the extra decorations, my friend who has recently got married very generously gave me a crate of her left-over craft supplies containing things like scrabble tiles, photo frames, natural confetti etc. We are now using the crate for wedding cards and I worked out that they had saved me about £50 in things that I would have purchased in the last few weeks leading up to the wedding.
After totalling everything up, we have managed to create a (hopefully) beautiful wedding for 60 people and I worked out that we have managed to save more than £5,000 for a standard wedding of this size based on prices I have seen on numerous websites and across high street stores. However, if I’d have known then what I know now I probably could have saved several thousand more… More on that at a later date.
And here’s the thing that most people don’t consider when planning their wedding – I am going to sell as much as possible on eBay afterwards!
What about you guys? Have you got any money saving tips when planning a wedding?
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