10 ways to reduce the cost of weddings without compromise

reduce the cost of weddings

Even the little things add up!

I’ve been reminiscing about our wedding lately, which is probably something to do with all the love and engagements that are in the air within the PF community! And this got me thinking just how much a wedding can cost and how many couples get into debt over it. Is it really possible to have a cheap wedding?

Weddings these days can cost between £5K to £25K with the average wedding in England costing in excess of £16K this year (down from £20K in 2012), probably due to the economic climate. We spent around £10K on our wedding including the honeymoon. Amazingly, this is one thing we didn’t get into debt over! We actually managed to save up for it and even postponed it for a year so that we could afford it. (Maybe our mindset around debt was starting to change even back then!)

The average cost for a US wedding in 2012 was reported to be around $28K USD, if averages are anything to go by. I say this because wedding budgets are quite variable with each wedding being different and unique – some couples may spend more in one area than another couple for example.

Weddings are special no matter what the budget is

It should be the most special day of your life! Whether you’re getting married in a church, registry office, on a boat or at a country house, most couples want a day they’ll never forget. However, there are so many little things to think about when planning any wedding and it’s amazing how such little things can add up.

When you put the word ‘Wedding’ in front of the everyday things that you need for the big day, funnily enough the costs seem to triple. Take flowers for example. A generous scattering of flowers or a couple of huge bouquets may cost in the region of £50 to £100. Use flowers for a wedding though and you can kiss goodbye to £300 at least! That’s just for button holes, bouquets and modest table centres. Some budgets for flowers stretch to more than £600!

The wedding cake is another costly element. The average cost for a wedding cake is £290 although I’ve seen some really fabulous cakes at wedding exhibitions that are selling for around £800. For cake! A birthday cake doesn’t cost anywhere near that and if you make one yourself, it could be a fraction of the price.

There are certain elements to a wedding which are very personal to the couple, such as the venue, wedding dress, wedding rings and honeymoon. Cutting down on such costs may result in significantly altering the happy couple’s dream wedding. But there are ways to save money on weddings – general elements across the board which can be cut back on without compromising the main theme of the wedding itself. Costs that can all add up but which most couples and guests won’t notice if they are cut back on!

How to reduce the cost of weddings without anyone really noticing:

1. Invitations and stationery

Wedding stationery such as save the date cards, invitations, menus and table place cards can be quite expensive. However, if you make them yourself, you can cut the price right down. Head down to your local craft store or big craft retailers such as Hobbycraft where you can find all the materials you’ll need. Ask your other half or family members to help make them – it’s loads of fun and means that you’re spending quality time together whilst making them!

2. Wedding beauty

In England, a professional make up artist can charge between £60 to £150 just for the bride’s make up, never mind other members of the bridal party. Then there’s the all important hair do to consider and other beauty treatments like nails, tanning etc! So if you can do any of this yourself, you can save yourself a significant amount in your wedding budget. Wedding hair styles are definitely harder to achieve yourself but doing your own make up and nails can be done! Of course, people will notice if you turn up to your wedding looking like a clown so taking lessons in make up application is a cheaper option if you’re not feeling that confident about applying it yourself ready for the big day!

3. Tiara and veil

Your wedding dress is a very important choice – everyone wants something different and many want their own dress instead of getting one second hand. But would you feel the same way about your tiara and veil? You can hire both these items at half the price of buying them from wedding dress shops or you could buy them second hand and grab yourself a bargain.

4. Bride’s wedding shoes

If you’re wearing a floor length wedding dress, the only time someone will really see your shoes is if you show them off! Only the toes of shoes will be visible! Is it really worth spending a couple of hundred pounds on posh shoes when only a tiny part of them will be seen? One of my friends wore trainers to her wedding as she wanted to be really comfortable. No-one noticed! I’m not saying to go to the extreme like she did, but maybe the shoes don’t have to be too expensive! However, if you’re wearing a shorter dress then nice shoes are definitely required!

5. Wedding cake

As mentioned, wedding cakes can be extraordinarily expensive! Can you bake or do you know someone that can? If you make your own wedding cake, it’ll probably cost around £50 to £100 in ingredients depending on how many tiers you fancy making. You might even find a wedding guest who’s prepared to make a wedding cake for you in respect of a wedding present!

6. Music

Bands, DJ’s and String Quartets all take a good chunk out of wedding budgets. And lets face it, DJ’s nearly always play something that you don’t like in order to get everyone on the dance floor. Sorting out your own playlist using an iPod or iPad (or other music playing gadget) and the venue’s speaker system will not only save you money but will mean you’re in control of the music. Yay!

7. Wedding favours

Traditional wedding favours in England are typically sugared almonds – not sure if that sounds yummy or yukky. Many couples these days opt for something a bit more modern and can spend in the region of £5 – £10 per head. If you have 80 guests at a wedding, that’s £400 – £800 down the swanny for favours which some guests won’t remember. You could buy them a lottery ticket instead – it’s cheaper and they might give you a share if they win! We gave our guests a raffle ticket in an envelope and there were around 10 prizes of various chocolates and wine that they all had a chance to win. Happy days! This also broke up the speeches a little for the guests. Another option is to do away with favours completely. :)

8. Wedding gifts for the bridal party

It’s traditional to present the bridal party with gifts to thank them for all the support and help they’ve given you in the lead up to the wedding (even if they haven’t given you any help and support!). Get around this by making gifts such as jewellery for example or presenting them with a sentimental present which doesn’t cost much – like a photo of you and the bridal party member in a nice photo frame.

9. Bridesmaid’s outfits

There’s one simple way to cut down here and that is to limit your number of bridesmaids! I really wanted my 5 closest friends to be my bridesmaids but that would have put our wedding budget through the roof. I had just two (it was hard picking between them!) and asked the others to do readings during the ceremony and be involved that way. Your wedding guests won’t notice how many bridesmaids you have, but it might be a little awkward telling your friends that you need to keep the numbers down.

To cut down further on bridesmaid outfits, consider getting their dresses made by a seamstress as this can be cheaper than buying them in wedding dress shops and ask the bridesmaids to wear their own jewellery.

10. Honeymoon

The honeymoon is a very personal part of wedding planning and most couples just want to do what they want to do, frugal or not. However, you can significantly cut down on the cost of the honeymoon by accepting honeymoon vouchers for your gift list.

Traditionally the gift list is where your wedding guests buy you presents for the marital home such as toasters, kettles, cutlery, vases etc. But lots of couples already have all that stuff. So rather than suggesting money by way of gifts, honeymoon vouchers can be a great alternative for wedding guests who would prefer to know exactly what they are getting you.

There are lots of honeymoon voucher websites out there like Honey Fund or Honey Miles where you can create your own gift list and include honeymoon elements such as: romantic dinner for 2 – £50, 2 x nights accommodation in luxury villa – £300, etc. We did this for our honeymoon and ended up with most of it being paid for! (We went to Thailand backpacking so it was a sort of frugal honeymoon apart from the flights.)

So there you have it – 10 ways to reduce the cost of weddings without really compromising. I’m sure there are lots more elements that you could shave off depending on your wedding day vision. It all depends on what your priorities are! One element I wish I could change from my wedding was the evening reception food. The hubby and I debated over it for days as to whether we should have nibbles or a feast for the evening guests. We compromised by doing a lot of nibbles! And I never even tried any of them. I was far too busy enjoying myself to eat anything, plus there was limited room in my dress!

How do you think you could save money on weddings? If you’re already married what was the biggest expense that you wish you had cut back on?

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Image © A Disease Called Debt


    • 4


      Eeek! $33,000! I got those figures from CNN Money, I guess it’s hard to put an average on weddings really as they are all so different. Yeah, I think those parts you mentioned are the most important and probably the most expensive too!

    • 6


      I definitely agree with this option being better financially! We considered it, but didn’t want to upset the parents! My mum had been dreaming of my wedding almost as long as I had!

  1. 7


    We didn’t go overboard on our wedding because my parents were out of the picture (one had died, one was very ill) and my husband’s parents, who did contribute roughly half, wanted to keep it simple. As did we, actually. I found my gown in a regular department store and nobody could tell the difference. My sister and her husband gave us our honeymoon as their gift (how sweet is that!?). I love weddings–the simple ones and the extravagant ones–but the best ones are the heartfelt ones, and I feel ours kept to that plan.

    Thanks again for stopping by at my blog, and I look forward to reading more about your journey!

    Joy @ Joyfully Green recently posted…Five Tough Truths I Learned About Myself on Summer VacationMy Profile

    • 8


      Yes the heartfelt weddings are indeed the best! That was really nice of your sister and her husband to pay for the honeymoon. What a great wedding gift! :) Thanks for stopping by Joy and I look forward to reading more on your blog.

  2. 9


    So true.

    I am recently married as well, and went over budget despite our best efforts, but not by much. Even for a small wedding, it’s ridiculous how expensive it’s become.

    Venue / food were the biggest expenses for us. In retrospect, we should have followed my cousin’s example and been married in a state park and catered in the food & tent.
    Jack @ Enwealthen recently posted…The Minimalist Guide to Cashback Rebates (or Coupons Are For Suckers)My Profile

    • 10


      Congratulations on your recent wedding! We went over budget too, it’s so easy done. Everything is so expensive! I don’t regret anything about my wedding, it really was the best day of my life.

  3. 11


    Although I regret going into debt for our wedding, I loved our wedding very much. We maybe should’ve delayed it for another year or so to save up money. Other than that, I only regret little things here and there that doesn’t make that much of a difference in the budget.
    Michelle’s Finance Journal recently posted…Being a CaregiverMy Profile

    • 12


      Weddings are hard to postpone though especially when you’re looking forward to it so much. I cried my eyes out when we had to postpone ours. We postponed because of the debt we already had.

    • 16


      When you think of it like that, you’d be getting a really good deal! We considered it but my parents have never been on a plane (honest) and never will. I really needed them to be there for it so we decided to stay close to home.

  4. 21


    My friend is getting married this November and she told me she’s spending about $1,000.00 USD on flowers in the church ALONE! Mind you, this doesn’t include her own bouquet or her bridesmaids’ bouquets, or flowers at the reception.

    Definitely makes me rethink the whole flowers at a wedding thing at all!
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted…Weekend Recap: KoinoniaMy Profile

    • 22


      Say what?! That’s a crazy amount for flowers but I can believe it! We had the bare minimum – bouquet for me, button holes for the boys, corsages for the bridesmaids, table centres (and I’m talking a couple of Calla Lilys in each vase on each table here). That lot was around £300.

    • 28


      Thanks so much for stopping by Marissa! Lovely to ‘see’ you! Yeah, £10K is a lot of money. Less than the average wedding here in England though – and it did include part of the honeymoon costs and spending money! I guess for us, the non negotiable part was the venue, we wanted the ceremony and reception in the same place as we were having guests come up from different parts of the country just for the day and wanted to avoid them having to travel too much. Plus we fell in love with the venue when we first walked in! Apart from that, I scrimped and saved where I thought possible – nearly all of those points on the list here I scrimped on, getting friends to help out where possible and hiring my veil and tiara. We paid a lot for photos, I guess we could have asked a friend to do them, but we wanted nice photos and I think the cost was worth it in the end as I love looking at them! :)

  5. 29


    I used to work as a florist, and I have done some friends’ weddings flowers too. I can only explain the ‘surcharge’ like this – the last things anyone wants on their special day is flowers that aren’t the best – ones that wilt, or are crushed. So you buy extra, and use only the best. I tell you want, it stresses me SO much to do a friend’s flowers, I actively avoid it!!

    I’m tempted by a destination wedding – it weeds out the colleague and acquaintances. Only those that are truly close will make the commitment to come. I just don’t want to ‘waste’ all this money for one day. Thankfully some of the other big financial things in my life are done – buying a property, travelling, education. So I could splurge, but…
    SarahN recently posted…Humourous commentsMy Profile

    • 30


      Thanks SarahN! That’s really helpful to know – of course any bride would want only the best flowers for her wedding day. When are you getting married? I’m sure whatever you decide in terms of location will mean a really special day! :)

  6. 31


    I’ve always envisioned asking family members and friends to help contribute to the wedding day preparations. For example, rather than a cake, I’d like a spread of traditional homemade tortes. And rather than playing games I’d like to use the shower to make invites and the bachelorette party to make bouquets and last minute preparations- all while having fun of course.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…Budget Travel: 6 Destinations, 400 Dollars.My Profile

  7. 35


    I think weddings are important, but definitely not worth going into debt over! We skimped on the invites (I customized a beach-y looking card online and got 50 invites for $38) and no one said a word. But we did spend $800 on the photographer (and he was worth every penny).
    Amanda recently posted…Eating Vegetarian in RestaurantsMy Profile

  8. 37


    We got married last Saturday and decided to keep the costs to a minimum, especially since I didn’t want a big reception, wedding dress and all this stuff. First of all I am not willing to pay so much for it (we’re against getting a loan for it, so debt is out of the question) and second – we’re waiting for our daughter to ‘arrive’ on February, so we have to save money for something more important to us. We’ve been together for 11 years, so this wasn’t the best day of our lives (probably when the baby will be born will be the best or .. who knows).

    So we just went and signed the papers, invited 30+ of our CLOSEST friends/family and then went to a nearby restaurant and had a meal together. We were all dressed nicely (not a wedding dress, though) and it was a great small event. We had a tremendous time and it cost us around $600 (from which almost half was ‘recovered’ since our friends really wanted to give us a small money present – it’s not the norm with this type of reception, this present is usually given at a normal church/big wedding reception). They did feel like they wanted to contribute a little, so it helped us cut the costs even more.

    We’ll probably have some bigger costs with the christening, but we’re also trying to keep it small and nice. We’d rather leave the country for 2-3 months than pay for a day.
    dojo recently posted…Dave Ramsey – The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial FitnessMy Profile

    • 38


      Wow that sounds like a great day! Well done on keeping the costs right down. Saving for a baby is really important, it sounds like you really thought about your priorities. Congratulations – February will be here before you know it! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  9. 39


    We got a simple, yet happy wedding. No need to borrow money or dip our hands to get a loan from anyone. We just keep the essentials, we did our own invitations, souvenirs, program and even taught our faithful friends on how to coordinate on our wedding day.

    Everything turned out great, especially when we realized that we still have some savings left after spending a considerable amount of it to pay for the wedding. I believe that wedding happens in just a day, but what’s important is what happens after the wedding, and if you have more than enough money to start your life together as a couple.
    Nancee recently posted…How To Be Your Own Beauty Expert For Your Next EventMy Profile

    • 40


      Thanks for stopping by Nancee. I agree – what happens after the wedding is definitely the most important aspect of being married. :) It’s possible to have a beautiful wedding day without spending an absolute fortune.

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