Church wedding

How to reduce the cost of your wedding | Plan your wedding

Set a budget

An estimated 350,000 weddings are expected to take place this year and couples spend an average of £32,000 to get married. These prices are expected to rise significantly in 2022 as some couples seek to catch up with the last two years of lockdown restrictions, but you need to be realistic about what you can afford and how many guests you can accommodate.

To budget, consider how long you have until your wedding and how much you can accumulate that fund between now and the due date. Look at your monthly outgoings to see how much you can start saving with simple tweaks to your current lifestyle, says Karen Barrett, founder and managing director of financial adviser website Unbiased.co.uk.

“Create a separate savings account to protect the money you both save,” she says. “You can also earn tax-free interest in a cash Isa, although there are limits on how much you can save each year. The total amount you can save each year across all your Isas is currently £20,000.

If you decide to borrow money on a credit card or through a loan, remember that you could still be paying for a while.

Save the date – but choose off-peak hours

No one wants to have to drag their wedding dress through muddy puddles or shiver down the aisle, so it’s no surprise that summer is the most popular time to get married. But this has a price.

To save money, avoid “wedding season” – May through October. Weekends are also more expensive.

Some venues offer deals for midweek weddings, as well as off-season dates (November, early December, January, and February). According to wedding planning site Hitched, booking a venue from Monday to Friday out of season can save you up to £10,000.

Liz Taylor, wedding planner at the Taylor Lynn Corporation, says changing the time of your wedding can also help you make the most of your budget.

“Get married in the morning and have a family wedding brunch or a 1920s-inspired afternoon tea,” she suggests. “Here you save on an expensive bar bill and reduce catering costs compared to a full wedding breakfast. Similarly, an evening ceremony and then a single party saves, but also leads to opportunities for Exciting catering. Think street food or hot fish and chips wrapped in wedding paper. Simple – and your guests will love it.

Do you want to get married in a church? Photography: Geoffrey Swaine/Rex/Shutterstock

Be smart about the place

You can’t get married just anywhere. Before the coronavirus pandemic, ceremonies had to be held indoors or in a permanent outdoor structure. But the rules have been temporarily relaxed during the pandemic, and since the start of this month, outdoor civil weddings in England and Wales have been permanently legalized. Similar rules on religious marriages will follow. However, the ceremony will still need to take place in an approved location – so forget about exchanging vows on a romantic beach at sunset. If you want, head to Scotland, where there’s just about anywhere and where you could save thousands of dollars on room rentals.

The average cost of renting a licensed wedding venue is £5,406, but you can save a lot by getting married at a registry office (from £57) or at a church (from £500). £).

The reception afterwards doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Think of a pub or a party hall, for example. Or if you are lucky enough to have a large garden, or have access to one, you can rent a marquee. Depending on the time of year and size, you can expect to pay between £650 and £3,000 for a marquee hire.

The bride and groom enjoy a meal at the wedding reception
The average cost of renting a licensed wedding venue is £5,406. Photograph: MBI/Alamy

Be economical with clothes

Yes, the Duchess of Cambridge looked breathtaking in her designer wedding dress, but high street and online retailers have plenty of looks at affordable prices.

Another great option, which is also kind to the planet, is to buy a “pre-loved” dress. Check out sites like Stillwhite, Bridal Reloved or Oxfam’s wedding dresses page. The groom might also consider renting a suit for the day. Hiring a black tuxedo from Moss Bros, for example, costs £69.95. Meanwhile, Burton charges £68 for hire of a two-piece suit, or £110 for packages including jacket, trousers, waistcoat, shirt, scarf and handkerchief.

After the wedding is over, you could make some money by selling items such as your dress, shoes, and other accessories from your big day.

Be frugal with your flowers

Bouquets and other floral decorations can be expensive, not to mention wasteful. Reusing the flowers used for the ceremony at the reception is not only more economical, it’s more environmentally friendly. The same goes for seasonal and local flowers.

Florist and author Judith Blacklock says that if you’re getting married in a popular church, sometimes you can team up with another bride who is getting married on the same day and reuse their flower arrangements.

Alternatively, you can pick your own flowers and foliage. “Think of your loved ones who have gardens and are in good spirits. Go investigate,” says Blacklock. “You want foliage that lasts and doesn’t wilt as soon as you get home. Ripe to last – say from late June. Wild evergreen like ivy is brilliant. But if foraging, be careful and only pick wisely where there is plenty of growth. Be gentle and don’t bare an area.

Empty wine bottles among rose petals
If you choose a corkless venue, you can bring your own alcohol without being charged to open it and drink it on site. Photograph: MBI/Alamy

“Consider using Daucus carrot – Queen Anne’s lace (also known as cow parsley) which grows profusely in April and May. It grows wildly but, even so, only take some a small amount carefully.

Embrace DIY

The average couple spend £65 on food and drink for each of their wedding guests, according to Hitched.co.uk.

Choosing corkless venues allows you to bring your own booze without being charged to open and drink it on the spot.

Meanwhile, skipping formal dining for more casual buffet-style dining stations, where people can grab bites and refill at their leisure, is another way to save money.

Another is to opt for a sweet cart offering customers a selection of cupcakes and desserts to replace traditional – and usually expensive – cake options on the big day.

“Buy kegs of beer from local breweries that tend to offer the pump for hire,” advises Anna Davison, general manager of the Tiny Wedding Company. “Setting up gin and prosecco tables to ‘pimp your’ is also a nice bonus. The fire pits with s’mores and toasted marshmallows in the evening are also great fun after the sun goes down.”

No need to shell out for an expensive DJ: create your own playlist on Spotify (a premium subscription costs £9.99 a month). It will be more personal and match your musical tastes.

Instead of paying for a professional photographer (on average £1,200), give people disposable cameras to create their own wedding memories. Or buy a Polaroid camera, lots of film, set up a backdrop and make props.