Weddings on a shoestring

Published date: 6th May 2019

Not everyone has the cash (or the parents with the cash) to fund the full production wedding, from hand-made designer dress to honeymoon in Tahiti. But your big day doesn’t have to cost big bucks – check through this site for plenty of budget options, and consider a few of the thoughts below.

One Inverness couple recently made the headlines for a wedding where the total expenditure (excluding the unavoidable £70 fees to make it all legal) was £1, spent on a vintage dress sourced via Freecycle. And very lovely it looked too. That creative couple showed the way to do it: made their own rings; had the ceremony at their Scottish home, got each guest to bring a dish towards the meal; enjoyed music played by her dad; swapped the photographer’s services for the bride doing work for him in return; and ate a cake supplied by a baking aunt. It can be done, though it takes charm, generous friends, and clearly a lot of effort.

There are less extreme ways to reduce costs. The biggest tip is wed on a weekday, ideally a winter weekday, when venues have less demand and lower prices. And don’t restrict yourselves to big name local places – look for out-of-the-way spots keen to generate business. Photographers, cars and caterers likewise – they will be booked out on Saturdays, busy on Sundays, and available on weekdays.

Searching for a bargain package can yield dividends: Premier Inn for a limited time had a £199 offer! Other chain hotels have their own all-in deals that won’t break most budgets – and you don’t want to start out married life with debts, recriminations and a grind to pay off one big party day. A package may be limited in menu choice, numbers, and venue, but you can customise the day in so many other ways, and spend the £19000 (or a fraction of it) saved in stuff of longer-term value.

Of course the way the £1 couple did it has its attractions – DIY weddings can be romantic, creative, clever, and memorable compared to yet another off-the-peg over-planned £20,000 version. If the weather looks good, go for a picnic reception in the country, park or on a beach – though you may need permission so check. But DIY is hard work.

Few have the skills to sew a decent DIY wedding dress, but many families have heirloom ones in the attic; you can find them in vintage stores or on eBay; or buy a new one – with fingers crossed – cheaply on the internet. Or buy something beautiful but not white and meringuey and use it again later. Bridesmaid dresses can be found at some of our chain stores for not very much, or you could ask them to come in their own best dress and go eclectic.

Rings can cost a fortune. So use heirlooms again, or buy the simplest, thinnest most elegant silver ring for a few pounds. If you’re flush later in life, upgrade then with the big diamond and platinum job.

Walking is cheaper than hiring cars if you live nearby or stay at the venue. Hire just one, book a friend’s cleaned black cab, or get a mate with a fancy motor to be chauffeur for the day.

Most of us want to celebrate with friends and family. But with 300 or 500 of them? How many really matter to you?

Do you need to fly first class and stay in a 5-star hotel when the customarily most important aspect of the honeymoon, however long you’ve been together, is free and can be enjoyed during a few nights at a nice UK hotel?

In the end – or at the beginning – you need to ask yourself what you want from your wedding. The legal aspect is important, so you can’t avoid that fee, but pretty much everything else is peripheral. Cut out the unimportant stuff (do you really need those hand-made centre-pieces?), then find bargains for what remains – and this site is a great starting point for that!

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