Your wedding day should be about you and your loved one making a long term commitment and sharing it with close friends and family. All too often there's a lot of stress, and with the average cost expected to be over £16,000, it could put you into a debt that will stay with you long after the wedding cake is finished.
That sounds a bit of a downer on what will be such a special day but don't worry, there are plenty of ways to keep the costs down and still have a day to remember for all the right reasons.
First of all, set a budget and stick to it. Next, decide what the really important elements are and give these priority. Is it the amazing dress you tried on and felt like a princess or the fairy tale venue? Once you know where you are willing to compromise it gets a whole lot easier to plan. Here are my top tips to reducing costs.
A Saturday in the summer is probably the most expensive time to get married as it's the most popular. If you're in the UK, you can't be guaranteed a warm dry day at anytime of the year so perhaps you pick an alternative date. Why not try a Sunday and out of season. A magical autumn wedding with the leaves turning golden could make a beautiful backdrop to your photographs.
2. The Venue & Reception It can often be more cost effective to get married and have your reception in one place, especially when you take into account not having to hire cars for yourself and transportation for your guests. Keep searching on the internet for special wedding deals. Alternatively, think outside the box and book out a local restaurant for your private event. That way you have the venue for free and only need to pay for meals.
3. The Music A live band is great and adds so much atmosphere but might be too much for your budget. Think about having a DJ instead or how about creating a playlist of your favourite songs to boogy to and playing that over the venue's sound system.
4. Guests This is the time to be brutal and takes some careful planning to avoid long term family rifts. Have a really good think about who you want to invite and remember, if you have too many people you won't have a chance to see and talk to everyone anyway.
Keep these simple and make them yourself. You can buy cards to decorate from most craft shops or get a local printers to print them. You don't need to go to a specialist. A little ribbon can jazz things up.
A skilled friend could always do the hair and make up with great results and it will give you more time to have a practice in advance.
8. The Dress & Suits
Check out charity shops and online for second hand wedding dresses. Remember they've probably only every been worn once and you can have them altered to fit you perfectly. Alternatively try regular clothes shops to see if they have any cream or white dresses. Once dressed up with some jewellery and shoes, you might never notice the difference. If you plan well in advance you could pick up a new dress from a wedding dress shop sample sale.
Consider only having the groom and best man in formal suits and have the rest of your ushers wear one of their own suits. Think about how many bridesmaids you really need as a dress for each one soon adds up.
Once you start dressing your venue with lots of flowers, costs can soon mount up. I once went to a lovely wedding where they had purchased slim vases from IKEA which then only needed a single stem which was put on each table. The effect was lovely and a few candles on the table added to the ambiance.
These can be surprisingly expensive. Check out your supermarket as they often have their own white iced wedding cakes which you could personalise with ribbon matching your wedding colour theme. I was lucky to have my sister and brother in law to be make my wedding cake as our wedding gift.
Don't forget to bargain hard on every element, and have a great day. I'd love to hear what tips you have or share your photos in the comments box.
Try the local wedding expos, you can still go to the big ones, but the ones in the local pubs and the like often have local people advertising their wares. These are often held twice a year. Also check out your local papers for photographers, etc. I also found other people's experiences helped so ask your married friends, neighbours and family for their recommendations.
Our wedding cost around $5000 back in 2001. My mum made my dress, I made the wedding cake (white choc & orange mud cake - looked very impressive, even if I do say so myself!) and the bonbonierre were choc hearts wrapped in tulle. Which cost about $1.20 per guest (70 guests). We hired a local hall, had a spit roast buffet and had a bush band dance. Everyone had plenty to eat and had a great time dancing and drinking till the wee small hours.
My advice is don't get tangled up in all the hype that your wedding must be the biggest thing since Ben Hur. The point is this...it is just single one day out of your whole life...don't try to make it the only important day...you'll have many more and you need to enjoy it! I worked for years in Hospitality at a 5 star hotel and believe me when I say, so many brides didn't seem to enjoy their wedding reception and were disappointed that it hadn't lived up to their expectations. I loved every minute of my simple little wedding and so did my family and friends. And we had money leftover for a 3 week honey moon in NZ and didn't come home to debts!
Also if you're not able to make your own dress or cake, you may have friends who can and they could make your cake or dress as a wedding present. Something made specially for you by family or friends has such special meaning and memories too.