How to plan your dream wedding for £5,000

Don't believe it can be done? Read on...

How to plan a wedding for £5000

by Katie Byrne |

With the average UK wedding currently costing somewhere in the region of £30k, it’s safe to assume that for many couples, their W-day budget will be decidedly smaller.

Whether for financial reasons or because they simply don’t want to spend a fortune on - whisper it - one day, there are a myriad of reasons why couples might choose to keep their wedding spending low. "Decide what you want to spend first and then use this to set your budget," suggests Megan French of "Once you know your budget, you can then decide how you can have the best possible wedding within that limit."

Whatever the scenario, you can absolutely plan the day of your dreams without the price-tag of your nightmares. With organisation, preparation and a clear figure in mind of what you want to spend, you’ll be able to nail it - promise. Ready? Let’s do this!

How much should you spend on the wedding planner book?

If you’re a stationery nerd (hello - aren’t we all?) a wedding planner makes a savvy purchase at the very beginning of your journey, helping you keep on top of spending, priorities and a zillion-and-one to-do lists.

"Use it to write down all the things you need to spend money on," advises Megan. "Once you've worked through the essential spends, see what else you can afford, working out what's important to you both. Talk to people who've recently married to see if there was anything they felt really wasn't worth the money."

Whether you opt for an actual planning bible or simply a gorgeous ring binder or notebook you can scribble ideas in, it’s an essential. Plus, it makes a cute souvenir to keep long after the big day, too. Paperchase has some great options, whilst TK Maxx and its Aladdin’s Cave-style stationery aisle is also worth a visit.


How much should I spend on the wedding stationery?

Keep things cheap by swapping paper save-the-dates and invitations for online equivalents - for example, a private Facebook event. Websites such as allow you to create your own free ‘wed-site’, where guests can access all the information they need; you can also keep on top of RSVPs, too.

In terms of stationery on your wedding day: if you have an artistic friend who can help hand-write place-settings or design a ‘welcome’ sign, great; if not, turn to Canva, where you can create, download and print beautiful designs with ease. Side note: don’t forget to buy ‘thank you’ cards for after the wedding, too.


How much should I 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 I spend on the wedding venue?

The venue and catering will take up a significant chunk of any budget, so look for a place that could combine the two. Think local pubs or restaurants where you and your guests can eat, drink and be merry without having to spend a fortune on the menu or decor. (Remember: if your venue isn’t legally able to hold your marriage ceremony, you’ll need to head to the registry office beforehand - meaning a friend or relative can perform an ‘unofficial’ ceremony at your venue.)

Think off-peak. Prime-time wedding dates are Fridays and Saturdays, from late spring through to early autumn; August is the month most Brits plan to get married in, so if that’s you but you want to do it for a fraction of the cost, steer clear of a weekend celebration. "The venue is usually the biggest cost so here’s where it can really pay off to think outside of the box," says Megan. "You could pick an unconventional day, Mondays to Thursdays are usually much cheaper, or even a Friday 13th if you’re not superstitious. You could also go for a totally different style of venue, such as a sports club or even a friend’s garden if it’s big enough and they’re happy to help. Consider your guest-list: it can very easily spiral, meaning a big saving could be to have fewer day guests and more evening guests."

Finally! Marrying at a religious venue that could also double as a reception space? Enquire if there’s any scope for a two-in-one discount. If you don’t ask you don’t get, and all that...

Around £2,000

How much should I spend on wedding photography?

When looking for your photographer - whatever the price tag - it’s essential to see examples of their work and check you like their style. It’s your only wedding day (in theory, at least) and the photographs will be a lasting souvenir, so you need to like them. Actually, no - you need to love them! Do your research and ask for recommendations from friends and family, as well as on bridal Facebook groups, too.

Don’t forget to ask guests to take lots of their own photos and share with your personalised wedding hashtag - hello, instant online photo album!


How much should you spend on your wedding dress?

Head online to ASOS, Phase Eight or Chi Chi London to find a beautiful dress for less than £200; have a little more money to play with? Browse the gowns from Wed2B and consider a visit to your local store for a fun trying-on experience, complete with a literal pedestal for you to stand on as your #bridetribe coo.

Other ideas: consider hiring a gown for the day

(swerve this if you don’t want to worry about keeping it clean), or make your dress your ‘something old’. Wear your mum’s if she had one, or scour local charity shops for a hidden gem that you can make your own.


Read more: all the best high-street wedding dresses


SHOP: The UK's Best High-Street Wedding Dresses

Whistles wedding dress
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Dorothy Perkins wedding dress
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French Connection wedding dress
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Ghost wedding dress
4 of 13

H&M wedding dress
5 of 13

Monsoon wedding dress
6 of 13

Phase Eight wedding dress
7 of 13

Raishma wedding dress
8 of 13

Reformation wedding dress
9 of 13

Reiss bridal jumpsuit
10 of 13

& Other Stories wedding dress
11 of 13

Ted Baker bridal jumpsuit
12 of 13

Needle & Thread wedding dress
13 of 13

Your much should you spend on your accessories?

Shoes, jewels and extras (earrings, a clutch and so on) are easy to source cheap depending on the brands you shop. Again, head online - or if you’re not fussed about buying something new, ask friends or family members if they have anything you could borrow just for the day.


How much should you spend on bridesmaid dresses?

There are countless online and high street brands that offer cheap and gorgeous dresses that your girls will adore: we’re talking Dorothy Perkins, MissGuided, Little Mistress... If you’re keen to cut costs, tell your ‘maids with enough notice that you’d prefer them to buy their own outfits, emphasising that you’d love them to choose something they could wear again in the future.


How much should you spend on groomswear?

Matalan and TK Maxx sell stylish suits at a fraction of the cost - likewise, Topman and River Island can provide stylish but budget-friendly options. Alternatively, look into hiring from somewhere like Moss Bros or Debenhams. If he already has a few suits, consider options to personalise them for the big day - a tie, pocket square and socks that match the colours of your celebration, for example.


How much should you spend on wedding rings?

Head to a cheap high street retailer such as Argos, where you can get your wedding bands for as little as £50 each. Easy peasy!


How much should you spend on wedding flowers?

From filling vases with bunches of freshly-purchased blooms from supermarkets, to picking an assortment of pretty petals from your very own garden, there are a variety of ways to make your floral experience that little bit cheaper. If you like the idea of sorting out your own arrangements, consider booking into a floral workshop (for example, The Flower Appreciation Society offer a DIY Bridal Workshop for £190, where you can learn to make a bouquet, floral headpiece and a buttonhole.

If you’re not sure about doing it yourself, don’t: it’s not worth wasting money and creating something you’re not happy with. Consider contacting a local college to find out if there are any apprentice florists available who might be able to turn their hand to creating your floral arrangements for a smaller figure. Again, turn to friends, family and Facebook for their budget-friendly recommendations.

Up to £200

How much should you spend on wedding cake?

Have a friend who’s brilliant at baking? Ask them how much they’d charge to whip up your perfect wedding cake. Supermarkets sell cakes too - yep, you really can get a Colin the Caterpillar wedding cake. Alternatively, opt for something that breaks the mould: think stacks of donuts or slices of brownie in your favourite flavours for a cake option that’s budget-friendly and your guests will adore. Final sweet thought: depending on who is providing your wedding breakfast, you might be able to ditch the dessert course and serve your cake instead.


How much should you spend on the reception decor?

Familiarise yourself with what your reception space already has, and what the venue might be able to lend you for the occasion - and don’t forget to shop around in thrift stores or on eBay to find yourself a second-hand bargain.

“Ask yourself what you’ve really got your heart set on and if it’s something that’s really important to you, find the cheapest way you can incorporate it,” suggests Megan. “My friend, for example, wanted fairylights above the dancefloor at her reception and managed to get them at a bargain rate by buying them second-hand.”


How much should you spend on wedding entertainment?

This is important, as it will keep the party atmosphere going all night. If you’re going off-peak with your date, prices might be cheaper; ask around friends and family to find out if anyone has any musical contacts they might be able to introduce you too, or if there are any local acts who you might be able to book. For a more relaxed vibe, a Spotify playlist packed with your favourite tunes will work perfectly; check with your venue if you’ll need to hire AV equipment, as this can bump up the cost.


How much should you spend on wedding favours?

Of course, that figures depends on how many guests you have. Head somewhere like Poundland, where you can buy cute, budget-friendly favours for a fraction of the cost: think miniature jars of sweets, fragrant candles and so on. Alternatively, make a donation to a charity of your choosing and print cards for each place-setting to let guests know money has been given in their name. Sweet and simple, no?


How much should you spend on your honeymoon?

If you asked guests for dollar in lieu of traditionals gifts - hey, there’s no shame in it - you might want to book a short mini-moon for immediately after your wedding before booking your honeymoon. Either way, keep your eyes peeled for travel sales and budget-friendly packages that could match your budget; don’t forget to consider a staycation, too. There are endlessly beautiful parts of Britain you could explore, without having to fork out a fortune - and after all that planning, you’re going to want to take a break!


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