How To Have A Budget Wedding & Mistakes To Avoid

With the average cost of a wedding currently standing at just over £20,000 is it possible not to go into your life partnership hugely in debt? Today I’m going to hopefully give you some tips  and ideas on how to have a budget wedding & mistakes to avoid. I got married in 2008 and managed to have a fabulous day for just under £5,000, so it is possible. It’s just a question of how to have your budget wedding  …..

Rustic venue

Budget Plan

Yes, I know, budgeting sucks! However, it is absolutely essential whatever your budget to ensure that you don’t break the bank! Plan your budget, and stick to it.  Work out how much you can afford to spend and where the money’s going to come from. Who’s paying for what? Talk to your families – the bride’s parents don’t always pay for everything these days. It’s a good idea to ask the contributing parties to specify how much they would like to contribute. This way you know exactly how much you’re looking at.  budget wedding

 If you’re planning a year or more in advance perhaps gifts from parents for birthdays and Christmas could be in the form of either cash or vouchers towards a particular part of the day.

Spreading the cost over the months means that you’re not paying a huge amount out in one go. If you don’t want to hand the money over to vendors before their deadlines then put the money aside. Having a special account would be a good idea as if it’s out of sight out of mind!

Make Sure You List Everything!

Make a list of everything you need or want for your wedding day. In addition to the obvious things such as stationery, flowers, etc., don’t forget things like:

  • Postage for the invitations
  • Accessories such as shoes, underwear, jewellery
  • Thank You gifts for the bridal party – Mother of the Bride, Mother of the Groom, Bridesmaids, Best Man, Ushers
  • Hair and Makeup – trials may not be free, so investigate and compare
  • Ceremony/Church Fees (register office, organist, choir, etc.)
  • Insurance
  • Corkage if you’re providing your own drink
  • Dry Cleaning for your wedding clothes

Think you’ve got it all covered? Add on a 10% buffer to take care of any unplanned surprises! budget wedding

Looking scary? Now’s the time to really look at each item on your list and decide if it’s absolutely essential. When you’re having a budget wedding you need to be ruthless about non-essentials. Do you really need the bagpiper to pipe you out of the church and your guests into the reception venue? If you have Scottish ancestry and you feel that it’s an essential part of the day then keep it in. If it’s something you’ve seen on the internet and quite fancy it then it’s probably one to ditch.

At the end of the day it’s all about you as a couple, your love and commitment to each other. It’s about sharing your happiness with your nearest and dearest. Sometimes, paring things down makes the day that much more enjoyable. There’s less to worry about and gives you more time to spend with friends and family and your new spouse.

Shop Around For Quotes

It might sounds obvious, but don’t just go with the first thing you see (unless of course you’ve done your research, know exactly what you want and the price you can expect to pay for it). Get quotes so that you can compare different companies. The cheapest quote may not include certain things, for example some stationers charge extra for RSVP cards, others don’t, photographers packages may vary considerably. Check the price for VAT – if your reception venue is quoted as £5,000 but VAT is on top of that, it’s a hefty £1,000 extra that you may not be expecting! budget wedding

Are there Damages & Hire Deposits to pay up front?  Yes, you’ll get the money back if you return hired items undamaged, and if there are no damages to the venue, but you’ll need to take them into account in your budgeting, and expect not to get them back, that way it’ll be a bonus when everything’s returned undamaged and you get the deposits back!

Venue For Your Wedding

Different Days

Investigate getting married on a day other than Saturday to see if it’s cheaper. Sometimes venues will have cheaper rates for a weekday or Sunday wedding as they want to maximise their bookings.

Other Options

Is your garden suitable for a marquee? Or a blank canvas venue near you, such as Great Betley Farmhouse? If not, perhaps there’s a pretty village hall near you with a garden where you could put up a marquee? Hiring a marquee can be a good way to save on venue costs and have a budget wedding – but do some research, and don’t forget to add on the extras to the basic cost:

  • Tables & Chairs
  • Flooring
  • Table Coverings & Chair Coverings
  • Heaters if necessary
  • Lighting
Marquee in the garden
Marquee in the garden Photo Credit: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson

I was very lucky that there was space for a marquee in my garden. I did a lot of research on prices and styles, and also went to see one that had already been erected.

If there’s no village hall with a garden then consider just using the hall, most of them have kitchen facilities, and can be decorated imaginatively for your budget wedding.

Do It Yourself – and it’s pitfalls!

The Car

Cherry Red Beetle
Cherry Red Beetle
Photo credit: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson

Ok, so a cherry red VW Beetle may not be a traditional wedding car, but it was good fun! Do you have a family member or good friend with a nice (reliable!) car and would they be prepared to drive you? Whilst this can be a good option do make sure that you trust the person, and be prepared to have a back up plan in case the car breaks down.

The Flowers

Wedding Flowers
photo credits: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson
Wedding Flowers
photo credits: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson

Do you have a friend or family member who’s good at flower arranging? Vases can be hired at a reasonable cost – but don’t forget that they will need to be returned immediately after the wedding, so someone may have to be nominated to take charge of that if you’re going straight off on honeymoon. Shop around for prices for the flowers, choosing seasonal flowers will help to bring the cost down. However, make sure that you’ve seen some arrangements by the person before you commit to them doing your wedding flowers. Coloured water can help to give depth to the venue decorations

The Cake

Wedding Cake
photo credits: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson

Are you or is someone you know a secret Mary Berry or Star Baker? If so then go for it! If you’re keen but a bit of a novice, then keep it simple. I made my wedding cake (above) and decorated it myself, but I kept it very simple. You don’t want a complete disaster to mar the day, and get people talking – in a bad way about your budget wedding! In the pics below you can see what they were trying to achieve, but ……….

Cake wreck

Photographs & Videography

Wedding couple

I would urge you to exercise a HUGE amount of caution here. If you’re tempted to let a friend or family member take photos then you should think very carefully. Is it worth the risk? You may need to have a budget wedding, but you don’t want to end up with “cheap” photographs. Your wedding photos are a permanent reminder of your special day, they’re worth spending money on.

Photographers charge what seems to be a massive amount of money, but there are reasons for that. Firstly you are paying for their experience. Your photos are a permanent reminder of your special day, so they need to be memorable in a good way. You don’t want blurred pics, photo bombed pics or pics that appear to show a tree growing out of Aunt Mary’s head or other monstrosities!

Secondly you are paying for top quality professional equipment to be used. Togs have backup cameras, spare batteries, spare memory cards. There is a whole host of other equipment to ensure that your photos are top notch.

Thirdly with a professional you’re paying for their expertise in making sure your photos look good. Many people think that they just turn up, shoot a few pics and send them over afterwards. However, there’s a great deal of post wedding work that goes into making the photos ready. budget wedding

If you know someone who is a photographic geek and you’ve seen their work and like it then go for it. If you decide to hire a professional then shop around. View their past wedding shoots, choose someone who’s work and style you like. Compare prices/packages, don’t just go with the cheapest, make sure you’re getting what you want.

The Stationery

Invitation by
Invitation by

I spent hours and hours making my wedding invitations. The one shown above isn’t it, stupidly I didn’t take a photo at the time but it’s similar. I had a stamp made up of our initials and embossed them onto the card, one either side of the gatefold. I can’t tell you how many I ditched because they weren’t up to standard! Either I managed to get a spot of the embossing ink where it shouldn’t have been. Or I singed the card with the heat tool. It was a steep learning curve and there was a lot of wasteage. However, it was eventually very satisfying to have made them all.

Whilst I’m not going to advise you against making them yourself there are some pitfalls to be aware of. Making one perfect invitation is not too difficult. However making 50 or 100 to a high standard is not so easy. Be prepared to over order on materials, for paper cuts, for sore fingers after tying 200 tiny bows. Oh, and for thinking that you’re NEVER going to get it finished! Make sure you have the room to undertake such a big project. You can expect to lose the use of your dining table for a while! Whilst it’s tempting to get your BMs round for an evening of making invitations and drinking wine I would advise against that. Making anything like that is best done in daylight with natural light, and definitely sober if you don’t want the ribbon skewiff! budget wedding

If you do decide to make your own stationery and would like some help in sourcing materials then please contact me and I’ll be pleased to advise on what you will need, how to do it and what sort of quantities of materials you will need. Or alternatively why not consider the All In One budget wedding invitations from Lilguy Designs? They are great value and high quality.

Hair & Makeup

Hair and Makeup
Photo credit: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson

Whilst my hair and makeup was done by a professional, I didn’t pay for it. A friend kindly paid for it as a wedding gift to me. If you’re going to DIY this or have a friend do it for you, then make sure you practice plenty beforehand. I would say don’t do something totally different. You want to feel special, but you also want to feel and look like yourself. Use good quality products that have staying power – the last thing you’re going to want to be doing is touching up your makeup all day! budget wedding

Like photography, hair and makeup costs more than you might think for a reason. HMUAs are constantly keeping up with new trends and training. The makeup used is not cheap stuff, and the brushes are professional quality. There’s also disposable items to take into account.

Table Decorations

Table Decorations
Photo credit: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson

I didn’t have a seating plan, we just wanted everyone to mingle and feel free to sit wherever they liked. The tables weren’t laid up, I’d bought aluminium pots from Ikea to put napkins and cutlery in and I tied ribbon with little crystal bead decorations sewn onto them around the pots. You could get table crystals or paper petals to scatter over the tables to add to the decorations.

If you do go for a seating plan your stationery can be used to add colour, as can flowers.


Colourful Buffet
Colourful Buffet
Photo Credit: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson

Whilst a buffet might seem to be old hat it’s something that can help you to keep the cost down whilst giving a wide variety of food for your guests. I’m not talking about sausage rolls and sandwiches, but an inviting array of salads, cold cuts of meat and quiches. I made what I could a day or so ahead of time, such as Moroccan cous cous, homemade pesto sauce and pasta. The rest of the buffet was ordered in from the Waitrose entertaining range, arriving in bowls ready to put on the table with a peel off lid.

Obviously you’ll need to be able to store the food in suitably cool place as it will need to be collected or delivered the day before. If you’re hiring a hall with a kitchen they usually have a fridge to use and you’ll want to hire the hall for the day before the wedding in order to set up the tables and decorations etc. Friends and family might help out with a bit of fridge space for 24 hours.

Hiring waitresses is virtually essential. You don’t want to be running around on your special day instead of chatting to your guests and having fun. Don’t forget to add the cost of the waitresses, hiring crockery, cutlery and glassware into your budget!

A word of caution: If you’re doing your own food or buying in, it is essential to keep a list of ingredients. If anyone has any allergies you MUST be able to tell them what is in a given dish. I cannot stress this enough! Having a guest suffer an potentially lethal anaphylactic shock really would be terrible.


Photo Credit: Dawn Towns & Jo Ireson

I ordered the drink from Tesco and had it delivered in. You get good discounts when ordering in bulk and you don’t have to worry about transporting and carrying the boxes if you order it in. Ordering it all at the when there is a special price on is a good idea. Store in the garage or a lockable shed and try not to raid your stash before the wedding!

Enjoy Your Day!

However you have your day, whatever your budget and style the most important thing is to enjoy it. It will go by in a flash so take a few minutes with your new spouse at different times during the day to just take a breath and enjoy. There are bound to be things that go wrong even if you’ve planned every detail with military precision, but don’t let that spoil the most special day of your life. If you (or your chief bridesmaid/best man) can solve the problem then do, if it can’t be solved it probably isn’t the end of the world so let it go and try to forget about it.

I’d love to hear your ideas and money saving tips for a budget wedding so please do leave me a message below and share your ideas!

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