This just in! Whilst we all know marrying the love of your life has the potential to be incredibly expensive, it actually doesn’t have to be. With some prior prep and a bit of determination, you can stick to your wedding budget, whatever the figure, with ease.
'It sounds crazy but having a strict budget and being disciplined is actually the best way to plan a super-stylish wedding, and enjoy the process, too,' says Olivia Knight, founder of alternative gift list and honeymoon fund service Patchwork (https://patchworkit.com/)), which also allows couples to ask their guests to fund or contribute to specific parts of their celebration. She continues: 'Don’t feel pressured into adhering to costly wedding traditions and etiquette if they don’t feel meaningful to you. Just start with a blank page and plan a wedding that celebrates your love and life together - in whatever way feels right for you'.
One key factor that will influence your celebration and budget will be the number of people you choose to invite. 'If you really want 200 people at your wedding you can certainly have them for £10,000,' says Olivia, 'but your wedding will look and feel very different if you choose to spend the same amount of money planning a wedding for just 50 people'.
Olivia also recommends starting your planning with a strict budget in mind and a clear concept. 'These two unmovable facts then act as a filter for all the decisions you need to make,' she explains. 'A clear concept enables you to save money by cutting away anything surplus to requirements, and helps remove the stress of decision-making, sharpening your ideas for maximum impact.'
We've already explored how to plan your dream wedding for £5,000. Have a bit more budget to play with? Read on for the definitive guide to planning your celebration for £10,000...
How much should you spend on the wedding venue?
Whatever your budget, the time of year you choose to marry will influence the base cost of the venue you book. A Saturday in the middle of July, for example, will cost more than a Friday in September, purely because the demand for a high-summer celebration will always be bigger. If you have the flexibility to marry off-season or during the week rather than at the weekend, do! Ideally, find a venue - a hotel, perhaps, or stately home that can offer accommodation, too - where you have the option to build a package that’s tailored to what you want for your celebration. The best wedding venues to consider will offer packages that include catering and all the ‘stuff’ - cutlery, glassware, plates, service and so on - that you would have to fork out for otherwise.
If you need to provide your own catering, don’t go mad trying to impress guests. “Of course, you want good food and for all your guests to feel happy and full up,” says Olivia. “But this doesn't mean you have to splash out on six courses or silver service. We had a fish and chip van at our wedding while our Creative Director had a BBQ and homemade salads. Both these options were filling, fun and delicious and gave people the opportunity to make new friends as they chatted in the queue.”
How much should you spend on the ceremony fees?
There’s no negotiating this one, unfortunately. Expect to fork out between £400 and £500 depending on where you live, with the final figure covering the cost of the registrar and your marriage license. You’ll have to pay £35 each to give notice of marriage, too. Get this ticked off as soon as you can - not only is it £70 you won’t have to find later on but it will also guarantee you get the time you want for your ceremony.
How much should you spend on the wedding stationery?
We’re talking save-the-dates, invitations, reception signage, the Order of Service… And everything in between! If you’re crafty - or have a particularly artistic friend - you could consider DIY-ing it, whether by hand (eek) or with an online design tool like Canva or Vistaprint. If you’re not convinced you can nail it, spare yourself the expense and frustration and browse pre-made designs on Etsy or NotOnTheHighStreet. Prefer to buy in-store? Paperchase has a gorgeous stationery range that covers everything from song request cards to evening-only invites.
How much should you spend on the wedding dress and bridal accessories?
There’s real potential to bag a gorgeous bargain for your wedding gown. Head online and see what the likes of The Outnet, TK Maxx and fairytale-esque Chotronette have; you could also consider cheaper options, too: Monsoon and Phase Eight both have bridal ranges, as do Little Mistress, ASOS and Dorothy Perkins. For an in-store experience, pop along to David’s Bridal or Wed2B, and make sure you keep your eyes firmly peeled for sample sales, too.
When it comes to your accessories, think creatively: do you already own a beautiful (and trusty) pair of shoes you could wear? Could you borrow the veil your mum/aunt/grandmother wore on her wedding day? That said, if you still have a bit of cash to play with, you’ll find gorgeous ideas galore from online or the high street.
How much should you spend on hair and make-up?
If you have any friends who might be able to help you out with this, ask them. Now! Whether you’re enlisting a pro, a friend or your own skills, make sure you have a few trial runs. With your make-up, consider how it will look on camera; book a trial session with a makeup counter in a department store for expert advice for creating a photo-finish look. For your hair, consider how it will look with your wedding dress. For example: if your gown has an intricately beaded back, there’s little point in wearing your long hair loose and covering it up.
How much should you spend on bridesmaids’ dresses?
If you want to buy your girls their dresses, you can easily find a gorgeous frock for £50 or less. Countless online and high street brands offer bridesmaid ranges at the moment: we’re talking Dorothy Perkins, Little Mistress, Boohoo, ASOS, Missguided, Next… To save yourself a little extra £, consider asking your ‘maids to buy their own frocks: that way, they can pick something they truly love and you won’t have to foot the bill. Win-win!
How much should you spend on wedding flowers?
Think seasonal: picking blooms that are easily available will help to keep prices down. Opt for simple posies that involve lashings of foliage and smaller, cheaper blooms (hello, gypsophila). Also consider decorations that can offer a double usage and can be easily transported from the ceremony space to your reception room; for example, pew ends could be recycled as table centres.
How much should you spend on the wedding rings?
Keep your eyes peeled early on for sales, discounts and offers on wedding bands; if nothing catches your eye, head to Argos for a bargain.
How much should you spend on the wedding favours?
Feeling crafty? Handmake packets of seeds for your guests to plant; for something edible, wrap sweets in cellophane for a tasty table treat.
If you want something ready-made - and depending on the size of your guest-list - bulk-buy cheap and fragrant candle votives, investigate personalised M&Ms (no, really - Google it) or consider serving up miniatures of your favourite tipple. Another option to consider is the charity donation: give the money you’d spend on favours to your favourite good cause.
How much should you spend on groomswear?
Does your man want to buy or hire his suit for the day? Obviously both have their advantages: namely, the first means he’ll have a great new suit in his wardrobe, whilst the latter should be cheaper and open up a wider range of stylish possibilities (check out Moss Bros, Slaters and Debenhams to consider options).
Whatever he decides to do, remind him to keep money aside for accessories: namely, tie, socks and shoes.
How much should you spend on reception decor?
Work out how you want to style your venue before you start buying decor. After all, there are so many gorgeous ideas out there that it can be all-too easy to lose sight of what you actually want to do! Sign up for email alerts from the brands whose decor you love - think Ginger Ray and Hobbycraft, for example - and make sure you check with your venue what decorations they have available for use, too.
How much should you spend on the wedding photography?
As tempting as it might be to enlist a snap-happy friend to be your photographer for the day, don’t do it. “It's a skill, it's stressful and you want your mates to have fun - drunk photos are rarely good!” says Olivia. “With all the love and effort you're putting into you day you really want to capture it properly so you can treasure your memories forever.” Use a site such as Bridebook to shortlist a few photographers whose style you love and find out who can best match your budget and wishlist.
How much should you spend on the wedding cake?
For a cheap option, explore offerings from supermarkets - Waitrose and Marks & Spencer both offer wedding cakes, and can be the centre-point of a display topped up with donuts and cookies. Want something a bit more bespoke? Ask friends and family for local baker recommendations; of course, the cost will vary according to the size, flavours and level of intricacy involved in your design but if you have a strict budget in mind you can work out what you can (and can’t) afford.
Read more: check out these alternative wedding cake options:
Cheese Celebration Cake, Tesco (£30)
Calling cheese addicts: this five-tiered cheese cake comes with a wheel of Coastal Cheddar, Red Leicester, Blue Stilton, Wensleydale and St Endellion Brie, and it's a snip at £30.
How much should you spend on the entertainment?
Consider your options here. You could compile an excellent Spotify playlist of your very favourite songs, meaning you could spend your entertainment budget on something else (for example: a magician or a caricaturist). Alternatively, you could provide cheap games for your reception tables and splash out on a brilliant DJ or wedding band. The choice is yours: before you consider either, find out how much you’ll need to pay to hire audio equipment, which will most likely be essential if you decide to be your own DJ.
How much should you spend on the honeymoon?
Keep your eyes firmly on travel sales and offers to bag yourself a bargain. Alternatively, hold off until after your wedding to top up your budget with any extra cash gifted by your guests. Also look into a service such as Patchwork, where guests can contribute directly towards your dream getaway. “Many of our couples say cash gifts via Patchwork cover their entire honeymoon cost,” says Olivia. “This enables them to concentrate their entire available budget on the wedding itself.”