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.
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 also general elements to a wedding 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!
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!
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.
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.)
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!
What do you think you could cut back on without compromising the big day? If you’re already married what was the biggest expense that you wish you had cut back on?
- Would you sell your wedding dress?
- My top 10 list of budget make up products
- Staying positive whilst paying off debt.
Sources for this article:
- UK wedding average costs – Ideal Bride Magazine and UK Wedding Belles
- US wedding average costs – CNN Money