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;

Flowers,

Balloons,

Decorations,

Stationery,

Gifts,

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.