Getting Married on a Budget

It’s widely reported that the modern UK wedding costs on average between 15 and 25 thousand pounds, I’m not totally sure how accurate these figures are, and sometimes think they’re exaggerated by a wedding industry trying to pressure you into spending more than you can afford. In my experience a figure of 15k to 18k is getting close to the top end of most wedding spends and an average would be closer to 10k to 12k. I often talk to brides who are planning a wedding on a budget of under £1000, and for the average to be 18k then for every £1000 wedding there would have to be someone somewhere spending about 35k which is not what I’ve experienced. For the purpose of this article we’re going to use a £12,000 wedding example, obviously if you’re spending more or less then the savings will be adjusted accordingly.

About a third of the cost of getting married is spent on the reception venue, food and drink, so if you take our example cost above that’s about £4000. So how do we reduce this and still have our dream venue. There’s a couple of things to bare in mind, remember there’s a recession and venues need your business, especially if your weddings on a week day, don’t be afraid to negotiate a better price. You’d be surprised just how much profit a venue has on a wedding day, and just how much they want your business. Another consideration is the drink, most wedding venues will offer you the option to serve your own wine (which you can buy at a fraction of the cost from supermarkets or off licences) and they will charge you a fee for this, the fee is normally so high you won’t save anything, the secret here is to negotiate this fee before you finalise the deal for the venue, in fact be sure you’ve done a deal on all the extras before signing on the dotted line. If your venue is a hotel make sure you’ll have the bridal suite for your wedding night either free or heavily discounted. All in all you should be aiming to save about 20% on your total spend for the reception venue, food and drink. As I said earlier the venues do very well out of your wedding so don’t be afraid to bargain and if necessary quote what another venue have offered.

The second biggest expense is usually the honeymoon, now this is a difficult one, and depending on what you plan, making savings here can just be down to searching the Internet for the right deal. I’m not going to recommend individual travel companies but in my experience the best package deals are had when bought directly from the holiday supplier rather that through one of the many companies who claim to offer discounted deals. The other alternative, depending on venue is to travel independently, now this does bring up some major savings, and with the price of package holidays rising sharply it’s always worth looking at. The thing to remember is that for your honeymoon you probably don’t want to leave it to the last minute, with this in mind booking as early as possible can often bring the best savings here.

Amazingly we’ve now accounted for about 50% of your wedding budget. The next big expense is the brides dress, priced in our £12k wedding at about £1200. Without giving away to many trade secrets the actual cost of making this £1200 wedding dress in the far east (where the vast majority come from) is only about $150-$200 US dollars (£90-£125), yes you didn’t read it wrong, the little factory in china who makes your dress only get $150-$200 for it. Now don’t forget the price of the dress is made up of many factors and the cost price is just one of them. The biggest problem for the dress shops is they have to carry stock and spend time and money serving you. If you’re the sort of person who wants perfection the only advice I have here is don’t be afraid to ask for a discount, again there’s loads of competition and the dress shops know you have other options which I’m just about to tell you about. OK it’s going to be impossible to write a guide to saving money and not mention eBay, you almost certainly don’t need me to tell you about it, and hopefully this is the only reference I’ll make to it. With the current recession, many of the far east factories are now selling directly on eBay. My advice here is to be careful and allow yourself plenty of time, most will quote 6-8 weeks delivery, but if your wedding is within the next 4 months pop along to the dress shop and forget about buying it from China. The other thing to say if you’re going the eBay/far east route to getting your dream dress is get the yellow pages out and find a good quality seamstress, your dress will almost certainly need some adjustments.

I’m going to group the next few expenses together, although they’re all paid for separately the advice to saving money on them is the same. The group of products we’re talking about here are;






Many years ago when I was starting out in the wedding industry I though about selling a range of personalised wedding stationery online, I never actually got round to doing it but did learn some valuable lessons while doing my research. One day I paid a visit to a large card manufacturer, these guys produced cards on a huge scale, birthday, anniversary, Christmas and of course wedding invitations. While waiting to negotiating prices I was looking at some foil printed birthday cards on a display just across the room which had a cost price of 40p each, the wedding invitations I was interested in were the exact same size, foil printed with probably less foil and priced 90p each. Of course I queried why the wedding invitations were more than double the price of the same sized birthday cards as surely the production costs would be the same. The reps simple answer was that they were wedding invitations, no other reason, once they printed wedding on it the price more than doubled.

So how does this little bit of insider knowledge help you save money? The answer is be sure to checkout websites that don’t just specialise in wedding supplies, if your looking for balloons for example check out general websites that sell balloons, for gifts look at general gift website, ‘wedding flowers’ are inevitably more expensive than just ‘flowers’….

The next group of expenses I’m going to call services, not to be confused with the actual wedding service, services here are the services such as entertainment, transport, photography, video, hairdresser, suit hire shop and just about anyone else who you’ll be forking out your hard earned cash to. The message here is bargain, bargain and bargain, competition for these services has never been higher, use this to your advantage, ask for a discount and if refused politely thank them very much for their time, tell them you’d love to have used their service but no harm done. It’s surprising just how often the thought of loosing a customer changes their mind.

I hope you’ve found this little article helpful and hope your wedding plans go well. I haven’t covered every expence you’ll be faced with, there’s things like the actual wedding service and the stag and hen nights which all have to be paid for but the general advice is always the same, practice you negotiating skills and for that crazy hen night just drink a few less glasses of wine.

Getting Married Overseas

Finding myself single again at a later age was not much fun. Back to living in a small apartment was a very lonely experience. To help things in the evening I would go online and email ladies all over the world. We had all met through an international dating site and it was a way for me to keep my sanity. One lady I met was in the Philippines and we became very close online.

Some people find it difficult to accept that people can become very close online but it is happening more and more now. I think because you are not face to face you can feel safer revealing more of the real you. Anyway, we eventually decided to marry so I arranged a return airline ticket for her and sent it over. I arranged a wedding celebrant and booked the honeymoon suite. She left her job and applied for a tourist visa. The idea was for her to come for 30 days and we would get married and then she would return home while we applied for a spouse visa. However, they refused her visa on the grounds that she was an unacceptable risk of non-return.

So much for that. It took months to get a refund on the air fare. I finally arranged to get away for a couple of weeks to go over there to get married. She met me at the airport with one of her daughters and we piled into a taxi for the ride back to her house. I was absorbed in the place and enjoyed the taxi ride as I just watched out the window at everything that was so different. I found it fascinating to see all the different things in this strange new country. Eventually we arrived at her house but only to drop my bag because she had arranged our government interview for that afternoon. This was to get a permission to marry and so it was back into the taxi and off down town. Another fascinating ride for me through the city in a place where there didn’t seem to be any road rules. The taxi driver seemed to be quite skilled as he could maneuver through four lanes of traffic all going in different directions, while he was texting on a cell phone. Sometimes we were in two lanes and sometimes we were in three as he commandeered one of the other lanes so we were technically going the wrong way.

We arrived safely and into the government office and filled out the quick questionnaire. I passed that OK which gave us entry into the full day seminar that was on the next day. This was a compulsory seminar for all couples intending to marry. That was interesting as most of it was in Tagalog, the local language and not much good to me anyway. But it covered everything from relationship issues to birth control and was a really good idea. This gave us a certificate at the end of the day and from there it was back into the taxi to catch city hall before they closed. That was interesting in itself. We went into the marriages section and there must have been 20 or 30 ladies there all sitting at old typewriters. Not that they were using them as most seemed to be having a coffee and chatting or texting on their cell phones. texting is a major industry in the Philippines as it is very cheap and is the main way Filipinos stay in contact.

We filed our application to marry with the seminar attendance certificate and had it all stamped and authorized which meant now we were free to marry but not for at least 10 days. That gave us time to visit the pastor of my wife to be and arrange for our wedding in her church the following Saturday. We had a week to relax now and get to know each other which was a lovely time as she showed me round some of the city sights. We were walking home one day not long after and the next door neighbor rushed out to catch us and asked could she make our wedding cake because she had heard the wedding was close. No worries. We hadn’t arranged one anyway and she only wanted something like $10.

The big day finally arrived and we were married in my wife’s church by her pastor who was a guy from the US. We were married in the morning and my new daughters sang at our wedding while their big brother played the keyboard. A very talented family and it was all very good. Then it was off to a buffet restaurant for a lunch and the pastor and his wife came too. My wife’s family and friends were there and we had a separate room private from the rest of the restaurant. A lovely meal and the wedding cake was on a table when we arrived. That was amazing in itself. I have never seen one so huge. It was made of many decorated cakes on a spiral system round a pole and stood about 5 feet high. Instead of giving the guests a slice of cake to take home we had to give them a whole cake each. Amazing. A good time was had by all and I went to pay the bill. It was something like $2.50 a head which is incredible.

Everyone headed home and we went off for our first night together as a married couple. We hadn’t got round to booking anything so headed for one of the better water front resorts and just fronted up at reception. Yes there were rooms available. Did we want a basic, deluxe or a resort suite. This is our honeymoon so we wanted the best they had. We booked in for a total cost of about $60. The prices there are really unbelievable. We had dinner in their water side restaurant which was way out at the end of a long jetty in the middle of the water. It was lovely and we had an outdoor roof top table. Evenings there are your typical tropical balmy waterfront heaven.

The room was OK but there was no hot water for the shower next morning and the kettle didn’t work to make a cuppa in bed. Never mind. It can’t be all perfect. The buffet breakfast was good as was the rest of my stay. I will tell some more next time. Nick

Getting Married? Think About the 1950s

With the cost of weddings rising exponentially – the average wedding now costs around £20,000 – and with the age of austerity imposing more and more financial pressure on the average family, perhaps it is time to take a more traditional view of our marriage celebrations. Newly-engaged couples, or those considering whether to tie the knot, could do worse than to think about the way weddings were conducted in the 1950s.

Family Ties

By the 1950s, the younger generation were beginning to move away from their family homes in search of work. However, in comparison to today’s atomised society in which family ties are stretched to breaking point, family structures in the 1950s were far closer. This meant that intimate weddings were far more the norm, with young people seeing the celebration of a marriage as a smaller event which should focus on the family. The extension of weddings to a large group of family and friends has crept up on us in the last fifty years, and stands in sharp contrast to the attitude of the mid-twentieth century.

The wish to make one’s marriage vows before witnesses is an intrinsic part of the process, but doing so in front of more than one hundred ‘close friends’ is perhaps missing the point of this very personal declaration of intent. Refocusing on the heart of a wedding – the promise of emotional and physical support between two people – may well lead to a wish for a smaller event which allows you to share your day with loved ones without diluting that in a bigger party.

Vintage glamour

The 1950s are synonymous with the glamorous look of iconic film stars. Think Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Lauren Bacall. With the trend for vintage clothing at its height thanks to hit television shows like Mad Men, why not take advantage of this and invest in a vintage wedding dress? Style doesn’t come much sharper than the 1950s, and there are a huge variety of show-stopping wedding dresses on the market. You can either surf the web, or enjoy hunting through second-hand shops which specialise in the 1950s for that hidden gem. Not only will you look stunning, with a look which is all your own, but the chances are your dress will cost far less than most modern dresses.

Back to basics

Marriage is a curious mix of the public and the intensely personal. No two marriages are the same, and getting married is a very public declaration of a private relationship. Glitzy weddings should not be confused with the sometimes challenging daily life of a long-term relationship; what counts in a life together is the ability to compromise, and to enjoy the small happinesses which a rewarding partnership brings.

Perhaps, in an age of global financial meltdowns and regular apocalyptic warnings from our media, we should all stop for a moment and consider the important things in life – friendship and families, not large and expensive parties.