Tips for Saving Money on Weddings

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Getting married can cost a considerable amount of money, but if you budget and plan well you can save thousands. Here are some of the main ways to make savings:

Venue

When it comes to the venue there are a number of ways you can save money. You could have your  wedding at home – either your own, a family member or friend's home. Perhaps a marquee in the garden or a temporary conversion of their downstairs would be the perfect setting for a small, intimate wedding.

If you have your heart set on hiring a hotel, country home, barn or other venue for your wedding reception, how about having the wedding out of peak time? Weekdays and daytime hire can be cheaper; as can hiring a venue out of season.

Budget

Set your budget early on in the planning stage and work out the rough costs of each expense using a checklist guide such as Just Wedding Plans' to make sure you don't forget anything when budgeting. Once you have set a budget be strict on yourself  – don't choose that huge, bespoke chocolate cake from a boutique chocolatier over the equivalent from your local cake maker if it costs double the price! Supermarkets like M&S and Waitrose now make beautiful and delicious wedding cakes which won't break the bank and certainly don't look like they have been bought in a supermarket! It also pays to shop around – most things can be found and compared online.

Guest List

Save money by cutting down the number of guests you invite. A venue capacity limit of say 50 people is the only excuse you need to leave out those you'd rather not invite. One way to cut down guests can be to leave out children and distant relatives; limit you and your fiance to the same number of friends and family members to make it fair. It is inevitable that someone will be upset if you are having to cut down the guest list but remember that it is your big day. Afterall, you can always invite less people to the whole day and more to just the evening do.

Food & Drink

Why not opt for a buffet, hog roast or BBQ style dinner which will be much cheaper and less formal than a 3 course meal – especially if your priority is being able to invite everyone you want over the type of food served.

If you definitely what a sit down meal, as mentioned above, you may have to invite less people to the wedding breakfast part of the day. Another money saving option is to have just two courses – leave out the starter or dessert. Why not just have the wedding cake for dessert? At least that way it'll get eaten!

You could also buy your own wine bottles and, if you start looking in plenty of time, get them when they're on offer at the supermarket.

You could also opt for an alternative to champagne such as Cava or a sparkling wine like Prosecco or Asti. Alternatively, shop around, Aldi and Lidl sell cheap but tasty champagne and other supermarkets will often have bottles on offer.

Utilize who you know

If you are friends with a hairdresser or makeup artist ask them if they'll do yours on the day and I'm sure they'll feel honoured. If you father or fiance has a friend with a flashy car perhaps they could use it to escort you to the wedding. Maybe your mother has a friend who can make delicious cakes? Sometimes we know someone in a band, a great singer or DJ wannabe who would only be too happy look after the music. Alternatively, if you put a playlist on your i-pod the venue may have a sound system you can plug it into. The possibilities are endless!

Bridesmaids

If you have four sisters, five best friends, three nieces and two god daughters you really can't have them all as your Bridesmaids! Bridesmaids' dresses can be pricey so opt for one or two. If you really can't decide between sisters and friends why not have none of them and instead choose just one little Flower Girl?

Beauty Savings

Opting to do your own hair and makeup, perhaps with a friend or bridesmaid to help, is one way to make a saving.

See our sister site's Wedding DIY Makeup article for advice on doing your own wedding makeup.

Borrow Something

'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue' – why not borrow something important and expensive from a good friend such as your shoes or veil; better still, if one of them has got married recently and you loved the dress – why not ask if you can borrow that?

DIY

Do what you can and ask friends and family to rally around and help. One popular thing to do is to make your own stationary such as wedding invitations, place cards and thank-you cards. Craft shops like HobbyCraft have everything you need to do so at an affordable price.

You may want to do your own bouquet and reception flowers (if you are even having them) with the help of an artistic friend or family member –this can work particularly well if you are going for a natural look, beach or country wedding theme.

Favours can also be more economical when made and bought yourself (as opposed to through a wedding company). Depending on what you want them to be, you may find bits and pieces such as china in a bric-a-brac shop. Sweets, chocolate and candles are easy to get hold of, while little presents such as wine stoppers, soaps or coasters can be bought in bulk. If you are having a Christmas wedding why not give into the festivities and go for crackers, baubles or mistletoe? Favours don't have to be pricey – just something fun that sums up the theme of your wedding or something about your relationship. To really make a saving why not just go for sweets, streamers and heart and sequin decorations?

Perhaps you could make your own cake with the help of your mum, aunt or god-mother; or make your own veil by buying the material and some sequins from a fabric shop? Other wedding accessories like jewellery and tiaras are usually cheaper when not purchased from a wedding shop.

Photographer

Do you know anyone good at taking photos you could ask to be the photographer? Another great idea which covers both photography and favours is to put disposable cameras on the tables – this way you can get some fantastic action shots of your day.

Wedding Dress

Wedding dresses can blow a major part of the wedding budget but don't have to if you spend time shopping around. Look in wedding boutiques first and try on some dresses to see what style, colour and size you require then look for something, if not the same dress from the same designer, online where you are likely to get something much cheaper. Online shops like Ebay are particularly popular with those selling both used and new wedding dresses. It doesn't pay to be a snob when great savings on beautiful dresses can be made. On the high-street, shops like Monsoon and BHS have a wedding range for the bride and bridesmaids' dresses which is very well priced.

Venue Decorations

Aside from table favours, usually the venue will require some decorating even if it is just a little to give it a personal touch. Doing this yourself with friends and family will save money. You needn't go for pricey flowers on every corner but why not use balloons, banners and fairy lights? Remember, most things you need will be cheaper if bought from non-bridal shops.

Honeymoon

Something which is growing in popularity is to ask guests to contribute to the cost of the honeymoon rather than buy presents. This is particularly useful for couples who have already been living together and kitted out their home. Although some guests may not be familiar or like the concept,  it is the ideal way to ensure you can afford that dream holiday.  If you know of any guests who may be offended, you could always leave it open on your invite so that they can opt to buy you a present. Plus, to ensure that those with less spending capacity don't get offended you could book your honeymoon with a tour operator which offers a Gifting Service, such as Thomas Cook.

Stag and Hen Do's

It can be the things you do prior to the wedding that can add up, in particular the stag or hen do. With many stags and hens now opting for a whole weekend away these parties can cost a small fortune. Although traditionally those invited will foot some of the bill for the bride or groom, it can still be very pricey. Not only may you be unable to afford such pre-wedding indulgence but some of the people you wish to invite. Make sure that the Chief Bridesmaid or Best Man arranging the do are aware of any money constraints, and that you'll find a few hours out just as much fun as a whole weekend away! Here are some Beauty Hen Do Ideas.