Speaking from experience, trying to keep the reigns on spiralling wedding costs can be almost impossible no matter how hard you try. From well meaning relatives chiming in with their two cents; to venues instantly doubling every package price when the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned, trying to stop the whole thing from becoming a circus instead of the special day it’s supposed to be, can take some incredibly hard work and difficult decisions.
There are a few key areas however, where you can really work to cut costs and pull back some of the control you thought you’d lost.
I couldn’t believe how expensive wedding invitations were when I first took a look at them. For what is essentially a piece of card sent in the post with a little ‘flourish’ of detail, you can easily pay up to £1000 depending on the design you choose. I just didn’t have the budget for it.
The way I got around it was to rope in the most artistic of my poor bridesmaids and commission her to make them for me. There are plenty of free websites that allow you to mock up and print a template for free. It won’t have the same polished finish, sure, but seeing as people only need to use it for a map and a calendar planner, it doesn’t need to the statement piece you’re told it does. Once the day starts people won’t ever look at those invitations again.
Another person I know just created a wedding website which she then sent out on a collection of cool seaside themed postcards. Pretty, relaxed, and for £1 for a box of ten, she really saved on her invitations by paring down the glamour and going digital.
It really depends what type of bride and groom you are here, but if you are trying to save money on your big day it is really worth taking stock of how much you actually need to spend on a gown or a suit. £3,000 is a lot for a dress that will only be worn the once, and there are plenty of other options out there.
Similarly, bridesmaid costs can also spiral. Having to buy dresses for 3 or 4 girls, all with varying heights, sizes, and tastes can be stressful enough without the hefty price tag. You'll be happy to know that there are a few ways round this too.
One way is to set a colour and a style (ex. navy, mid length, capped sleeves) and then give your bridesmaids all a set amount of money and tell them to go and find their own dresses. It means they will all have slightly different dresses, but they will be able to cater to their own specific tastes, and, if the dress if slightly more expensive than the budget you have set, they can make up the difference with their own money.
Alternatively, you can ask them to buy their own dresses, at, say, a set cost of £50, and that can stand as their wedding gift to you.
You might feel awkward asking people to do this, but as wedding traditions are becoming looser and more flexible, it is getting easier to move away from expensive habits. People are becoming much more aware of the true costs of throwing a wedding (as the industry has famously become extortionate) and so you may find they are much more supportive and willing than you expected.
It won’t come as a surprise that the smaller the guest list, the lower the costs. Keeping a handle on the guest list is actually far more difficult than it sounds, especially if you are from a large family (experience speaking here).
It’s up to you, obviously, to decide how many people you would like to attend your big day, but don’t overstretch yourself financially in order to keep everyone happy.
Don’t let people push you into inviting aunt Mabel because she’s part of the family, if you haven’t seen aunt Mabel since you were 6 and don’t know her from Adam. It’s not your relative’s wedding, it’s yours. It can get complicated, especially if they are contributing to the costs, but you need to find the balance between keeping people happy and still identifying the wedding as ‘your day’.
One way to handle a large extended family is to keep the invitations to each individual family to two people. That way, you play fair across all families and no one can be offended. It means everyone is represented but the list is pared down considerably.
It's one of the key ingredients to a good day. We all know that most people expect free flowing booze all day when they attend a wedding. A lot of venues charge hefty prices for an open bar, or an even bigger corkage fee to stop you bringing your own booze onto the premises.
Depending on who your friends and family are, the alcohol price can become extremely expensive. It is worth looking for venues with a low, or no, corkage fee. If you can secure this then slim down the menu to: beer, wine, and 2 soft drinks.
By keeping it simple you can roll in a few kegs of beer at a good price, and either buy wine at cost price from large warehouses, or spread out the purchasing throughout the year and get the best supermarket discounts as you go. If you do this though, you need a place to store it.
If you can't bring your booze on site then you may need to bite the bullet and tell people that there is a bar, but they will need to pay at some point in the evening. Set the price that you know you can afford to pay, put it behind the bar for your guests, and when it runs out it runs out. People have come to see you get married, no one will begrudge you a few drinks.
Weddings are wonderful days, and there’s no getting away from the fact that they are going to cost you a fair sum of money. It's important not to sweat the small stuff though. The people who you invite are supposed to love you - so trust them to have your best interests at heart. Don't let the stress of money and budgeting consume your joy in planning the biggest day of your life!