How to Plan a Wedding for £3000
Published date: 22nd August 2020 | Author: Hollie Bond
Working to a tight wedding budget of £3000? Don’t worry, you can still have the day of your dreams if you follow our tips on how to allocate each precious pound.
The average cost of a wedding recently crept up to around £30,355 according to Bridebook’s UK Wedding Report 2018, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend that much of your hard-earned money on your wedding day. If the idea of spending the average UK annual salary on just one event makes you feel anxious rather than excited, you can still have an amazing wedding day at a fraction of the cost.
With just £3,000, (or 10% of the average wedding spend!), you can throw a day to remember and walk down the aisle happy in the knowledge that you can start married life debt-free.
We’ve divided up all the main wedding costs to show you exactly how to get the wedding you want with a small budget of £3000, covering everything from the venue and dress to the entertainment and decor.
While you might have to make some compromises along the way, the best bit about a budget wedding is that it makes you focus on the parts of the wedding day that are most important to you as a couple, so every element will be perfectly planned to reflect your personalities.
Wedding venue: £400
The wedding venue you get married in will set the tone and vibe for everything, so this is an area you’ll want to plan first and it will probably account for a fairly large chunk of your £3000 wedding budget.
On a tight budget, you need to look for spaces such as private rooms in pubs, village halls, restaurants, event spaces in boutique hotels and blank canvas warehouse/ arts spaces that you can get creative with. If you’re happy to have a celebrant (with your legal wedding in private another time), you could even look at glamping sites or fields where you can pitch a teepee.
Don’t overlook your own garden or your parents’ gardens too. Using your own space and hiring a small marquee can be a brilliant idea on a small budget to save money.
When it comes to village halls, look beyond your own locale as there can be a big difference in quality from village to village. Search for newer halls or halls that have period features and have the feel of a venue rather than the old-school ones that are more suitable for kids parties. Halls like Cradley Village Hall, Killearn Village Hall, and Hatton Village Hall all have standout features that will make your venue feel extra special.
At pubs and restaurants, there’s often the chance to do a minimum spend rather than pay a set sum for the hire. For example, some pubs with private rooms will simply ask that you spend at least £1500 on food and drink (very doable on a £3000 budget especially with a paid bar) rather than pay for the room itself. Other venues have wedding packages for under £1000 that include the hire and the meal with some drinks.
The Canonbury Tavern in North London offers wedding packages starting at £2000, which includes the venue hire, wedding breakfast, canapes, and a drink allowance per guest. Other venues including Gardeners Country Inn and Chapel 1877 Bar & Restaurant offer venue hire only for a much lower cost.
The smaller your guest list, the more flexibility you’ll have when it comes to finding a venue on a budget, as you can opt for smaller private rooms within larger venues, and the cost per head to feed your guests will come right down.
It’s also worth keeping an eye out for any deals offered by venues. You can find lots of special offers here.
Ceremony fees: £450
One area of wedding planning that costs the same regardless of whether you’re spending £3000 or £300,000 on your wedding is the ceremony fees.
Both church weddings (depending on the church) and civil ceremonies will cost you between £400 – £450 to cover the cost of the marriage licence and the services of the registrar or vicar/ priest.
After the venue and ceremony fees, catering is the next area that you really need to allocate a good chunk of the budget to. After all, well-fed guests are always happy guests.
Less guests mean more freedom within the food and drink budget.
For example, if you’re having a small intimate wedding with just 15 guests, with around £1000 at your disposal you can afford to spend £67 per head, which will get you a delicious three-course meal with drinks, plus something small in the evening if you choose carefully.
However, with 50 guests that comes down to £20 per head and for that you’d need to look at budget-friendly food options like buffets, sharing platters, large sharing dishes like curries, barbecues, afternoon teas, or even something inventive like picnics complete with pretty baskets and rugs (if you’ve gone down the festival-style wedding route).
If you can make the day shorter then you can significantly reduce the amount you’ll spend on food and drink as you’ll only have to provide one meal for your guests and less drink will be consumed.
It’s very unlikely you’ll be able to have a free bar on this sort of budget, so be realistic and don’t worry too much as guests are usually happy to pay for drinks when they’re being treated to lovely food. If your venue allows it though, it is much cheaper to source your own alcohol or even ask guests to BYOB.
The Wedding Cake: £50 - £80
You won’t be able to commission something bespoke and show-stopping, but you can still have a cake that goes with your theme and feels personal to you.
Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have wedding cakes that you can build and decorate yourself (adding a few fresh flower heads, a cake topper and some ribbon in your colour scheme can be a really cheap and instant transformation) for as little as £20 a tier.
This is another area to make the most of any talented friends. If you know someone who is great at baking, ask if they’d do your cake as a wedding present or for the price of the ingredients. If you don’t ask, you don’t get and you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised how many of your friends and family want to help you have the best day ever.
Wedding outfits (overall): £300
Forget Vera Wang, because on a small budget the high street will be your best friend when it comes to your wedding dress.
The brilliant news is that you really won’t feel like you’re compromising on your big day look thanks to the amazing, yet cheap, dresses you can find on the high street.
From Whistles and French Connection to ASOS and Lipsy, there are hundreds of gorgeous gowns to choose from, with really attractive price tags starting at under £100. Check out our edit of the best budget high street dresses here.
When it comes to accessories, it’s time to pull out that classic wedding tradition “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” by asking your mum or a female relative if you can borrow bridal jewellery for the day.
The more bridesmaids you have the more you’ll end up paying for dresses, so make sure to keep that in mind before you ask all 12 of your best mates to walk down the aisle with you!
Again, you can look to the high street to find budget bridesmaids dresses for as little as £20, or for a really budget-savvy move that most bridesmaids will love you for – simply ask them to wear their own dresses in a certain colour range or shape. Mismatched bridesmaids is a really on-trend look and you can always make them stand out from the rest of the guests with a pretty floral corsage or by giving them a bridesmaid’s bouquet each.
Groomswear is a little more tricky to buy on this budget, as high street suits are usually at least a few hundred pounds. Hiring is your best option here as you’re looking at around £60 for a two-piece suit for the day. If you already have a favourite suit, it’s a great idea to wear that and then make it feel more wedding-worthy by purchasing a special tie or a lovely waistcoat.
Groomsmen can go down the same route as the bridesmaids by wearing their own suit and then you can show they’re part of the bridal party with a buttonhole.
Hair and make-up: £0 - £50
You do your own hair and make-up every other day of the year, so you shouldn’t feel any pressure to save money in the budget for professional hair and make-up if it’s not important to you.
That said, some brides love the feeling of being professionally made-up, but on a small budget of £3,000 you’ll need to get creative. If you’ve got a friend who is particularly good at hair and make-up, why not ask them to do it for you as either a favour or instead of a wedding present.
Or you could enquire about trainee hair and make-up artists at your local salon, as they are often very affordable due to the fact they need to clock up the hours training.
If you opt to do your own hair and make-up you’ll find plenty of tutorials online to help you create a look that is a bit different to your everyday style, plus there’s a bit of wiggle room in the budget to treat yourself to a new lipstick, smart camera-friendly foundation or special mascara.
Photographer (and videographer): £500
You’ll want to capture every magical moment of the wedding you’ve planned so carefully on your small budget, so having someone to photograph each and every personalised detail is key.
Most professional wedding photographers cost at least £1000, which is simply out of reach if you’re on a £3000 budget. You could try and get a just-starting-out photographer or a student photographer for around half that price, but they’re pretty hard to come by.
Instead, think which is the most important part of the day to capture (most couples would opt for the ceremony, plus the couple and group shots afterwards) and ask a pro to photograph that part professionally and then ask friends and family to take care of the rest of the day.
Again, ask around to see if any friends have a hidden photography talents up their sleeves or have a particularly snazzy camera. Having a unique wedding hashtag such as #smithwedsjones2022 can help you collate all the pictures that guests tag on social media and can be another free source of memories for the day.
As for videography, the pros are out of the picture if you’re having a wedding for £3000, but thankfully everyone has a high-quality video recorder on their phones these days, so assign videoing duties during the ceremony, speeches and first dance to a reliable usher or wedding guest. While the finished material might be a little amateur, you’ll still have video evidence of the best moments ever.
You’re not going to be able to afford a flower wall and statement centerpieces at your wedding, but you can still have fresh flowers that’ll give your venue that special wedding vibe.
With £150 to play with, you need to decide which flowers are most important to you and where you don’t need any. Many brides ask a professional florist to do the bouquet/s as it’s part of the overall bridal look and will be photographed many times.
Then the rest of the flowers will need to be a DIY effort to keep costs down. The cheapest way to do your flowers is to visit a flower market the day or days before your wedding (just be warned it’s normally a very early morning!), choose your blooms and then arrange them yourselves (with friends and family).
They might look looser and wilder than if a professional had done them, but rest assured it’s pretty much impossible to make fresh flowers look bad, as they are so naturally beautiful!
Wedding Decor: £100
Not very creative? You will be by the time you say “I do”, as the best way to bring a beautiful wedding in on budget is by DIYing all the pretty details.
Don’t just come up with ideas for decor as you plan and try and fit a whole host of projects into the month before the big day though, as that a recipe for stress and for everything looking mismatched and rushed. Instead, sit down and come up with a visual plan and theme for your day with a few bits of statement decor, and then work together with your partner to see if you have the time and creative resources to achieve the look.
Once you’ve drawn up a list of projects you can rope friends and family in too. Do it in a clever and fun way, for example on your hen do, one of the activities could be garland or pom pom making over a glass or two of bubbles.
Collecting things such as jam jars, vases and teacups from your home, charity shops, and car boot sales is a good idea too. Wrapping lace or hessian round jars can instantly transform them into wedding-friendly floral vases, while mismatched vintage china can double up as favours and pretty decor at an afternoon tea wedding reception. To create a really romantic atmosphere go big on tea lights in a little holder. You can buy these in bulk for next to nothing.
Entertainment: up to £0 - £100
Wedding Bands and DJ’s
Traditional wedding entertainment such as a band or DJ can make a massive dent in a very small wedding budget, so this is one area that you really need to think carefully about.
Good bands with four or more musicians can command around £1500 – £3000 per night (or half to the entire wedding budget if you’re spending £3000). Many couples have had just as much fun (and a full dance floor), by compiling a playlist of their favourite songs on Spotify, Amazon Music or a similar service and playing them for free on an iPad or phone (they already own!) plugged into the venue’s sound system.
RSVP Music Suggestion
To make it more collaborative and to ensure all your guests love the music too, you could ask guests to RSVP (by free virtual invitation) with their favourite dance song suggestion.
With just £100 to spend on entertainment, you won’t be able to afford professional musicians such as a string quartet or harpist for your ceremony (unless you chance upon a real deal), but you could ask a talented friend or family member to perform a song or piece of music during the signing of the register for free.
Fun and Games
£100 will allow you to do something fun like set up a DIY photo booth with props, a make-your-own cocktail station, a glitter bar for an adult take on face-painting, or some giant lawn games.