How to save money when planning your wedding

As someone who has fairly recently been through the pain and the pleasure of planning a wedding, I've learnt a short cuts, money saving tips and ways to keep your guests happy.
One of the most effective ways to save money when planning a wedding is on the guest list, as fewer guests means less cost. However, for those with big families I know that isn't always possible, so how else could you save? Well, be selective on who you have at the ceremony. This is often the most expensive part of a wedding because you're usually feeding and watering guests, plus some venues put fees up depending on the amount of guests. In my experience shopping around, there was a tiered pricing system for under and over 70 guests. 
If it isn't possible to reduce the number of guests, consider whether you need to provide a sit down meal and half a bottle of wine per person that is the industry standard. My hubby felt strongly he wanted a sit down meal for day guests, so we compromised and provided a two course sit down meal, with sharing anti-pasti as the starter, to get guests talking to each other. Our dessert was our wedding cake and also desserts provided by our lovely guests in our very own wedding bake off.

We did, however, provide the wine and a signature cocktail on arrival, as guests generally have a better time when well watered! Also canapes can get very pricey so get creative here. We had yummy homemade cupcakes that our Mistress of Ceremonies made and also provided an 80's tuck shop with crisps, nuts and popcorn grab bags for anyone feeling peckish.
If you want everyone to be at your ceremony and don't want to compromise on food, consider having a later ceremony and just providing one meal for guests. Getting married at say 5pm, means that guests will have had lunch and probably won't expect canapes. It is then entirely reasonable if the evening food is served at around 7pm. Whether this is a three course sit down meal, buffet or a catering van, anything goes in an evening. We had a fish and chip van which as well as providing patty butties, which as an East Yorkshire delicacy, was a very reasonable price compared to the price of buffets. 

Other money saving ideas include:

Involve your guests in whatever ways you can – people often say the best weddings they've been to are those they've played a part in. It's a talking point and creates more engagement if they have had a hand in creating your special day and it turns it into a real community affair. Having friends and family help also takes the pressure off you and can save you money on decoration. Some of my fave friend DIY projects were the bespoke adult colouring station and the wedding bake off. 
Always negotiate for discounts but within reason, as many suppliers are one man bands and there's negotiation and then just being cheeky. Ask what the best price is they can do for you and shop around. If you can offer things in kind, such as your own skills or PR, in return. To really push the boundary and snare the best discount, you could conveniently forget to mention it's a wedding (although be prepared to be asked outright) or just say it is for a party. This may be easier for say, outside evening catering than for photography, though.

Use websites like Sell My Wedding or Gumtree for preloved decorations. I sold a lot of our homemade decorations online after the wedding as not everyone has the time or inclination to make things but want the rustic look. I also upcycled lots of things from our home, for example lanterns, candles, vases, cake stands, glass cloches, picnic hampers, table cloths etc, as they are things that I love and would continue to have a use post wedding. Break the rules when it comes to wedding decor and you will save money.
Use college/ university students to source entertainment.  We saved £400 each on average on our entertainers because we sourced students and they were great. Although make sure they are fully briefed on everything, including if you want them to wear something smart and assign a bridesmaid or groomsmen to look after them. Alternatively, don't feel like you have to have entertainment for the full night. If you only want an hour after dinner or for the ceremony, make sure you say that to avoid paying for more than you need.
Get creatively crafty and make what you can but there genuinely are some things that are cheaper to buy than make, so choose your projects carefully. We undertook so many DIY projects which were cheap and effective, such as the cork menu holders for the tables, distressed wine bottle and jam jar vases, and LOVE letter planters. There was a specific look I wanted to create and I couldn't find these things to buy, so we made them. Other things, like our DIY teepee photobooth saved us around £60 on buying one outright. Some of them are things I've continued to love after the wedding.
Plan a 10% contingency budget for hidden costs (there will be some). Costs have a habit of going over for even the most stringent, budget bride and groom. As ridiculous as it might seem, we had a live budget spreadsheet which we kept on Dropbox so that we each could keep track of spending. Some of the costs that went over included for things like travel expenses for the florist and linens, which hadn't even occurred to us. Make sure to keep asking your vendors if there are any additional extra costs. 

There are ways to save on wedding dresses, suits, bridesmaid dresses and accessories but these are things that have to be right, more than cheap, so take care when budgeting on these things. Accessories like veils and petticoats for underneath wedding dresses can always be sourced second hand, so start looking early for these things. Don't rule out high street buys for bridesmaids and groomsmen. We found bridesmaid dresses which everyone liked online, which saved considerable amounts of money, and we encouraged the groomsmen to use their own chinos, shoes and shirts whilst we purchased the tweed jackets and waistcoats from Asos. 

Finally, make sure to enter wedding competitions. I know we all think we’ll never win but we did and it saved us money on our dream invitations. Many wedding vendors, particularly those that are starting out, use competitions as a way to show what they can do and promote themselves. They particularly like to work with people on quirky or different ideas so if you're having an offbeat wedding, use this to your advantage. If you start early enough in your planning you just might snag something that makes your wedding totally unique.
I'd love to hear your ideas on how to save money when wedding planning. I could go on and on with this subject, as I did a lot of reading on the subject, so I may even do a follow up to this post if it's useful. 

1 comment

  1. The wedding team was very supportive. The Los Angeles wedding venues had everything a girl might need. I highly recommend getting ready in the bridal suite. They lit the fireplaces and the views from the suite were exceptional.


I love to hear from people so please don't be a stranger and say hello!