Budgeting Budgeting for a Wedding

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and get hitched – congratulations! This is a really exciting time to be enjoyed!

As your thoughts turn to planning your big day, you may be interested to know that the average cost of a wedding in the UK is a whopping £20,700! So whether your wedding budget is £100 or £20,000, it’s important to think about what you are able to afford to spend on your wedding.

The Budget Pro team have put together the top ten tips to help you stick to your wedding budget and keep costs under control.

1. Work out what you can afford

The rule of thumb for budgeting in general is to calculate your total income, minus all your expenses which leaves you with what you can afford to put towards the non-essentials. This is where you should start when planning your wedding budget.

When you’ve worked out the surplus at the end of the month, think about your savings. You both need to agree how much of your savings you are happy to put towards the wedding. Remember, you should still have an “emergency fund” to help cover unplanned, emergency costs.

If your parents or other family and friends have agreed to contribute towards your wedding, discuss and agree the wedding budget with them. Make sure you understand who is paying for what to avoid misunderstandings.

You should delay setting a date until you have your wedding budget worked out. When you have a clear understanding of how much you put aside each month, you’ll be able to work out how long it will take you to save. This will help you avoid going into debt.

Remember, to quote Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis,
"While a wedding is a wonderful dream day, it’s important to remember that one of the biggest causes of divorce is debt and financial worries.

If the cost of your wedding leaves you financially crippled and in debt for most of your married life, it’s a pointless waste."

When you’ve worked out how much you have to spend, it’s time to consider your wedding priorities. These might include:

  • Wedding Dress / Wedding Party Attire
  • Venue – Ceremony & Reception (though for many weddings this is the same place)
  • Food and Drink
  • Wedding Cake
  • Cars
  • Photography
  • Reception Entertainment
  • Flowers
  • Wedding Stationary
  • Make-up / Hair etc

Now you can start looking into the costs of each aspect of the day. We would suggest setting up a separate wedding email address so that you can get quotes and correspond with potential suppliers without your regular email being spammed.

It’s interesting to keep in mind that the word “wedding” can often add a premium to many items. When requesting information and quotes, you might want to consider keeping it vague by saying, “for a special occasion”, and only confirm that it’s a wedding when quotes have been confirmed!

You might also want to chat with recently married couples and ask them to give you an idea of what things might cost.

Once you have an idea of what to expect, it’s time to create your wedding budget. Depending on your budget and the quotes you’ve had, you may need to prioritise the aspects which are really important to you both. For example, if you have your heart set on a popular venue during the summer, you may need to agree a lower budget for the dress and wedding attire.

Make sure you agree and carefully plan your budget together, ensuring it’s as realistic as possible. Add a small amount of contingency if possible just to cover any expenses that you may have overlooked.

2. Make sacrifices if you need to

With the current cost of living challenges, saving for a wedding might seem like an impossible task. If you have agreed what your wedding priorities are and your wedding budget, you may need to make some sacrifices in order to afford your dream wedding.

As we explain under how to start budgeting, you may find you need to adjust your variable spending to direct more of your money towards the wedding. For example, cutting down on your daily coffee fix or reducing your take aways will save you more money than you think!

3. Ask family and friends to help you out

Our wedding in 2011 would have cost much more without the kindness of our family and friends. From our 4-tier wedding cake which was made as a gift by Dean’s Dad, to the wedding car which belonged to and was driven by our neighbour. With many other kind contributions, we were very fortunate to have such support from our guests. It made it all the more special!

So if you have friends and family who can help with things, gratefully accept! It can really make the difference in helping to keep your budget under control. Having your guests involved makes the day so much more memorable!

Guests may also want to contribute to the wedding in lieu of buying a gift.

4. Consider your Guest List

Obviously if the two of you run off to Gretna Green to tie the knot, your wedding budget will be much lower than if you want to invite 100 guests to your nuptials!

Sit down and decide who you would like to invite. When you have a rough guest list, you’ll be able to work out the costs for your chosen venue. If you feel the costs are escalating beyond what is manageable, you may have to prioritise again.

If you would like to invite people but are not particularly close to them, you might consider inviting them to just the evening reception. (Though try to be considerate – guests may not want to travel or pay for accommodation if only invited for a couple of hours.)

5. Consider an off season / Weekday Wedding

Saturdays during the summer months are probably the most popular dates for weddings. Therefore, if your budget is a concern, you might want to consider choosing a less popular time of the year for your big day. A Tuesday afternoon in November could enable you to have all those little extras. You might find that you can get a discount on many aspects of your day as suppliers welcome the business during their quietest months.

Though again, do consider your guests. If they are employed and need to take holiday to attend the wedding, this may be an issue for some – particularly if they need to travel.

At least with an off-season wedding, you can plan for and be prepared for the weather!

6. It’s OK to Haggle

My mum always told me, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get!” and it’s true! With my mum as our chief wedding planner, we got lots of discounts for our wedding including a reduced rate for the corkage as well as the chair covers. For these kinds of things, venues are often open to negotiation as it’s not costing them any extra to supply them.

Likewise, suppliers are often open to throw in freebies to secure a sale. By being a little bit cheeky, you might find you can make some reasonable savings!

Just remember to get final prices confirmed in writing to avoid any disagreements later.

7. Keep track of what you’re spending

As with any budget, it doesn’t work if you don’t know what your expenses are. Keep a note of everything you’re spending, however insignificant it appears to be.

One thing we didn’t really think about was the cost of postage of invitations and thank-you cards. Let’s say you are inviting 70 guests with the current price of a stamp being £1.35. That’s a total of £94.50 just to post out invitations and the same again for sending thank-you cards.

Several of these unaccounted expenses can make a significant impact on your budget so it’s important that you don’t overlook any expenses.

8. Consider Wedding Insurance

Although it’s another expense to add to the budget, wedding insurance is well worth considering. It can protect you against unforeseen circumstances such as illness or injury of the Wedding Party, cancellations by suppliers or even suppliers going bust before the wedding.

Just bear in mind – wedding insurance doesn’t cover a change of heart!

9. Do it yourself – wherever possible

You can cut your budget significantly by doing lots of things yourself. From make-up to flowers, invitations to place cards, there’s a lot you can do yourself as long as you’re organised. Write a list of all the tasks which need to be done by when and see how much you can cut from your initial budget!

10. Stick to your agreed budget

There’s absolutely no point putting a budget together if you’re going to disregard it. But remember – it doesn’t have to be set in stone. If you find that you have overspent on something, sit down and review where you might be able to recoup that money on other aspects. Review your budget regularly to ensure that you’re on track and avoid overspending.

But most importantly, make sure to have a wonderful day!