Budget weddings: cut the cost of your big day 5 steps to creating an effective wedding budget
When you first get engaged you’re bound to be caught up in a whirl of excitement about getting married. But before you start planning your wedding, it’s important to think about your wedding budget.
The average wedding now costs around £20,000. And planning your wedding or civil partnership will probably involve spending money on a wide variety of products and services – some of which you won’t initially foresee.
Creating a wedding budget before you start searching for suppliers will help you stay in control of your cash, and our essential finance tips will help you to pay for your wedding.
1. Work out your wedding budget
Avoid creating a list of ‘must-haves’ for your wedding until you’re worked out how much money you can spend. Reading wedding magazines, websites and blogs for inspiration makes sense once you’ve created your wedding budget. But don’t start scouring them until you know what you can afford.
Work out how much cash you and your partner can put by before your wedding, and consider whether you have any savings you’d be willing to spend on it. If you need to borrow, don't do so until you've read our expert guide on finding the best way to borrow.
Also – even though this might involve awkward conversations – find out whether your families can contribute to your wedding budget. Remember that if they do, they may also be keen to get involved in planning your wedding with you.
2. Research where your wedding budget will go
If you’re planning a traditional wedding day, you’ll need to think about the cost of far more than a big white dress. Big ticket items like venue hire, clothes and catering will only account for a proportion of your overall spending: you’re also likely to splash smaller, but significant, sums on things like flowers, hair and make-up, shoes, jewellery, gifts for your bridesmaids and stationery.
Think about the weddings you have been to. What did the best, and worst, have in common? Are there any traditions you can downsize or cut altogether? And ask recently married friends and family for their top tips on what to include in your spending plan.
3. Prioritise your spending
Once you’ve got a list of things you’ll want to buy for your wedding and know how much money you’ll have to spend, it’s time to allocate how much you want to spend on each item or service.
As you do this, think about what matters most to you and where you and your partner will see the best value for money.
If you’re a food and wine buff, it’s likely you’ll want to spend a higher than average sum on your wedding catering. Meanwhile, photography lovers might want to splash out on a top professional.
On the other hand, you may decide you’re simply unwilling to spend more than £1,000 on a wedding dress you’ll never wear again. It’s up to you to think about your personal preferences and set the spending boundaries accordingly.
4. Keep an eye on your cash and watch out for extras
While you’re spending on your wedding, keep an eye on where your cash is going. Going over budget on particular items without working out how this will affect your budget overall will mean your spending spirals out of control.
Check the small print in any contracts you sign and be wary of extras you may have to pay for. For example, if you’re planning to book a marquee for your reception, check that electricity, a dance floor, heating and lighting are included in the price you are quoted.
Don't be afraid to haggle. Even if you find it embarrassing at first, simply asking 'is this the best price you can do?' can result in a reduced price.
5. Expect to go over-budget
Finally, make sure you put aside a contingency fund for use in the event that you spend more than you’d planned.
Most couples tend to exceed their initial estimates and go 10 - 15% over-budget. Which perhaps isn’t surprising, considering your wedding will probably be the biggest day of your life so far.