Saving for yourWedding Day

Sunny Day Savings text

With the average wedding costing £17,674, getting married is an expensive business. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to cut your costs without compromising on making your day one that you and your partner will look back on and cherish forever. With our tips, you could reduce your spending by up to £10,000!

Read on to find out what you can cut out of your day to save money, how to make some décor and accessories yourself, and where to find the perfect wedding dress for less.

Two people on their wedding day with flowers
Saving tip

01

Save the Date

What dates should you avoid to get the best deal?

There is such a thing as the wedding season - the time of year brides and grooms are most likely to tie the knot - and it usually coincides with the warmer summer months when good weather is more likely.

It is also the busiest time and therefore the most expensive for your nuptials. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at the cheapest times of year to consider planning your wedding around to save some money while still creating the perfect day.

Most popular month for a wedding

January

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2%

February

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3%

March

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4%

April

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9%

May

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9%

June

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11%

July

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15%

August

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17%

September

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16%

October

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8%

November

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3%

December

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3%

According to research by Bridebook, 44% of people get married in the summer, 26% in autumn and 22% in spring. As such, you can expect to pay more for a wedding in these seasons as venues and suppliers are in higher demand.

Only 8% of couples opt for a winter wedding, so if you’re keen to keep your nuptials on a budget, winter months are likely to come with the best venue availability and the most opportunities to secure better deals from your suppliers. Take advantage of the winter season and plan a festive themed wedding or look forward to spring with easter vibes featuring daffodils and pastel colours.

Most popular day for a wedding

3%

Monday

2%

Tuesday

4%

Wednesday

7%

Thursday

18%

Friday

56%

Saturday

9%

Sunday

Having a weekday wedding could help you land a much cheaper price for your venue and suppliers. Extend the weekend with a Thursday night party and head off on your honeymoon the day after, or plan an intimate Monday wedding with a small dinner after a ceremony with a few friends and family.

Did you know?

Question mark

Research suggests that the 9th September and 26th August are the two dates brides and grooms want to get married on the most. Perhaps this is because these dates coincide with when the kids go back to school - so you may find cheaper honeymoons and even venues.

Images shows woman having her wedding dress altered
Saving tip

02

Dress for Less

Something borrowed or something new

Have you always dreamed of waltzing down the aisle in a beautiful gown to greet your true love and say I do, but are worried about spending as much as £1,378 – the amount the average bride spends on her dress?

Bridal dress shops offer the ultimate experience and the opportunity to try on all kinds of gowns to find out what your dream dress looks like. However, for some, this premium experience and the cost of the gowns may feel out of reach of your budget.

Where to get a gorgeous dress for a little less

Woman looking at tablet

Look online for a dress for a little less

eBay

eBay is the perfect online destination for gorgeous pre-loved wedding dresses, sold by real brides who now want to share the love.

You’ll find dresses on the site from real brides, as well as businesses overseas and bridal dress shops selling ex-display items. Read the descriptions carefully and ensure you’re happy with what you’ll be getting before placing an order.

If it looks too good to be true, it likely is. Steer clear of listings claiming to sell top-end designer dresses for a drastically lower price to avoid receiving something very different from the picture.

Tips for looking for a dress on eBay:
  • Look for real sellers – A pre-loved dress from someone who has worn it for their special day is the best way forward. You’ll see lots of business sellers advertising online, but sometimes it’s best to avoid these to ensure you’re getting the right product and not a replica.
  • Buy it a size bigger – This ensures you have the extra material to play with and can have it taken in if necessary.
  • Speak to the seller directly – Ask them questions about the dress via direct message. For example, if it needs cleaning or if it’s true to size.
  • Expect and factor in the cost of tailoring – The dress will have been adjusted to fit the person who wore it before you, so it may need tailoring to fit you perfectly when it arrives.
Facebook Marketplace

Facebook is the perfect platform to catch up and share news with family and friends but it’s also become a great place to sell pre-loved items too. On the Facebook Marketplace, you’ll find listings for wedding dresses being sold in your area, often on sale for a reduced price.

Tips for looking for a dress on Facebook Marketplace:
  • Ask if you can see the dress first – If the seller is local, they should be able to accommodate you and offer you the chance to look over the dress before buying it. This ensures you get what is shown in the picture.
  • Take a friend with you – You’ll likely be picking the dress up from the seller’s home, so take someone - but not your partner - along to stay safe and give you a second opinion.
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle – While you don’t want to go in at a ridiculously low price, you can ask to shave some pounds off the total, particularly if you’ll need to have the dress cleaned or if any minor repairs, such as fixing loose beading or missing sequins, need to be made.
  • Factor in the cost of tailoring – The dress will have been tailored to fit the original bride so you may need it adjusting.
Wedding dresses lined up on a rack
Gumtree

The listings site could be the place to find the perfect wedding dress for less. Look for listings with photography from the bride’s day and images of the dress hung up to ensure you’re getting the real thing. Some sellers offer the option of trying the dress on before buying, ensure you take someone with you if you want to do this.

Shpock

The boot sale app has seen an increase in the number of wedding dress listings, with brides selling their dresses for a much lower price than originally purchased. Search around your local area but if you find the perfect dress expect that you may need to drive to get it. However, the overall savings could be worth it! Shpock can be downloaded as an app on Android and from the iPhone app store.

Depop

Depop is an app dedicated to selling clothing and accessories and you may find someone selling a wedding dress in your area. It’s worth downloading the app and keeping an eye out in your search for the perfect dress for less.

Head to the high street

Two friends carrying multiple shopping bags

Head to the high street

Charity Shops

Your local charity shop may stock wedding dresses donated by local brides. Look around the town centre for window displays or head in store and ask if there are any in the back that haven’t been processed or on display yet. Leave your number and ask them to call you if they have any new dresses arrive.

Bridal Clearance Shops

Look around your local area to see if the bridal stores are hosting a sale anytime soon. You may find the perfect dress for a much lower price, but expect that it will require tailoring to fit you properly. Check out their Facebook page to see if there’s any mention of a clearance or take a walk by the window; many have sales throughout the year to make room for the next season’s lines.

ASOS

The online fashion brand branched out into bridal wear in 2016 with the intention of creating beautiful yet affordable dresses for the modern bride that don’t cost more than £400.

Many of the dresses are their own brand but you’ll find evening dresses on the site that can easily translate to a walk up the aisle from other brands such as French Connection and Chi Chi London.

Price range:

£65 - £400

Department stores

Department stores stock a wide range of evening gowns and bridal dresses that can be picked up for a cheaper price and enjoyed on your big day. You could even ask one of their personal shoppers to help you find the perfect dress. These stores stock designer gowns from the likes of Phase Eight, Chesca, Ghost and Y.A.S.

Sizes vary across the ranges so you should be able to find a dress that fits and looks beautiful and the great news is that you can buy the dress, try it on and return it if you don’t like how it looks!

Price range:

£60 - £695

Woman carrying flowers on her wedding day
Dorothy Perkins

The brand’s wedding dresses are simple but stunning. They have styles that are available in a range of prices to suit all budgets. From shorter, vintage-inspired designs to separates for brides that want to mix and match their looks - and wear them after the day too - there’s something for every bride.

Price range:

£50 - £150

Monsoon

Known for its gorgeous evening gowns, Monsoon has branched out into bridal too. These bohemian-inspired dresses feature gorgeous lace and crochet detail and flattering fits - plus they’re relatively relaxed so can be easily worn to other events too.

Price range:

£140 - £499

French Connection

The brand now offers a small collection of pretty wedding dresses featuring delicate lace, sheer material and diamante details. The best place to find these styles is via their online stores, as limited shops will stock the range. Remember, you can always return the dress if it arrives and isn’t what you envisioned.

Price range:

£170 - £295

Ted Baker

Renowned for its high-end accessories and clothing, Ted Baker’s bridal range offers the same great quality at a relatively modest price. From simple and chic mini halterneck dresses for a casual summer wedding to embroidered gowns with dramatic trains, there is a wedding dress in the range for every bride and every budget.

You can also book an in-store appointment to try on their range of gowns with a personal shopper to hand, who will help you find the right one. At the time of writing, their Manchester Shambles, Glasgow and Covent Garden stores offer this service.

Price range:

£199 - £999

What do real brides recommend?

We spoke to some beautiful real brides for tips and tricks on how to get that all important dress for less.

Head to the high street

Sophie Hamilton took advantage of the great prices in the high street sales and picked up a gorgeous dress at a fraction of the average price, she said: “I had no intention of spending thousands on a dress for one wear only. I also wanted something understated and elegant as it wasn't a first wedding. I searched online and found lots of mainstream sites selling sale dresses or end of line items.

“Eventually I chose between a Phase Eight style which should have been £400 and I bought for £197 and a Coast dress (the one I actually wore) which had been reduced to £170. I loved it.”

Man and woman holding hands on their wedding day

"I had no intention of spending thousands"

Make your dress go further once the day is over

Ruth Harrison-Davies, 31, of Mirfield, confirmed that she had a dress budget of £1,000 for her wedding but took a real value-for-money approach when she found ‘the one’ at a much lower price: “I got my dress for £500 from a little-known shop in Barnsley which has recently changed to specialise in plus-size brides - so they were selling all dresses that weren't plus-size at a discount. Incredible ladies.

“I then put the £500 left of my dress budget behind having the thing ripped apart and made into a number of completely different wardrobe staples which I can wear every day. She [the seamstress Oh-Sew-Whitty] also made my veil into a poncho! I like to get my money's worth!”

Woman in her wedding dress

"I like to get my money's worth!"

Garden wedding venue set up with flowers and chairs
Saving tip

03

Alternative Venues

Make savings when it comes to location

Only a quarter of couples get married in religious buildings these days, so when it comes to where you say ‘I do’, there’s an awful lot of choice.

If you prefer a more hands-on approach - and are looking to save a lot of money - consider booking an alternative venue. We’ve featured some inspiration below: from back gardens to village halls to forested areas, the world is your oyster when it comes to that special ceremony and the celebrations after.

The benefits of hiring an alternative venue for your wedding

  • You can get it at a much cheaper price – Some of these venues are free to use while others come with a much lower cost to rent out.
  • You can arrange your own caterers – That means you get to eat exactly what you fancy and can find a supplier at a price that suits your budget.
  • You can bring your own booze – That means no corkage fees and you can buy what you need from cheaper supermarkets or wholesalers. Just ensure you check it has a license to serve alcohol first!
  • You decide the decor – You’ll need to arrange everything from chair sashes to napkins and will need to ask for help from the whole wedding party to get the place ready but you’ll have total control over how your venue looks.
  • There are few limitations – It’s unlikely you’ll have to turn the music off at 11 pm and you can serve alcohol you’ve purchased yourself.
Things to remember when looking into alternative venues
You will need to ask permission

You may need to ask permission from whoever owns the venue if there is no set way of booking it. You’ll also need to check if there is anywhere people should specifically park or, if it’s a field, if the owner allows people to camp there.

You may need to have a humanist ceremony

If you want to have a ceremony at an unlicensed venue you can do this, but bear in mind it won’t be legal and binding.

Humanist celebrants can conduct a ceremony that looks and feels exactly like a “real” wedding: you can exchange rings, say vows and sign a certificate but you will need to organise a separate legal ceremony at a register office if being legally wed is as important to you as a symbolic marriage.

This can be done relatively cheaply if you arrange to have a ceremony with just yourself and your betrothed, and two witnesses present.

Get it in writing

Local village halls and more unusual venues that require permission may not automatically provide you with a contract or written agreement confirming the date of your wedding. Make sure you get written confirmation that you are allowed to use the venue, along with the duration you can use it for, and any restrictions that may be in place.

Alternative wedding venue ideas
A back garden

This could be your own, your parents or a family or friend’s back garden. It’s free to use (hopefully!) plus you’ll have basic requirements close by such as toilets, a power supply, and running water.

It’s a great location for an easy going wedding. You can have a marquee set up to keep everyone under cover, organise a caterer to come in and cook a delicious meal and play music until late for everyone to dance to. Plus, set up an arch and lay out the chairs and you can even have your ceremony in the space.

What to think about when using a back garden as a wedding venue
  • Is there enough space? You may need to limit your guest list, depending on the size of the garden.
  • Where will you get chairs and tables from? You’ll need to think about chairs or benches for the ceremony and where will people sit to eat if you’re providing food? You may need to hire chairs and tables or ask friends and family if they have any furniture you can borrow for the day.
  • What will the weather be like? If you want good weather for your wedding, then it’s best to plan it in the summer months. June to August doesn’t guarantee dry weather but does improve your chances of enjoying a warmer day.
  • Can you get the vendors in? If you’re hiring out a bar, can they get through the gate and into the garden? Think about access and if this will affect organising people on the day.
  • Does it need any work doing beforehand? Is it a blank canvas with a large lawn or are there elements that need moving or installing before the wedding to ensure it goes without a hitch? Consider this before you decide.
  • Are there enough bathrooms? You’ll likely need at least two, to ensure there aren’t any massive queues later in the night.
A sign saying village hall and sports ground

Village Hall or Community Centre

A village hall or community centre

These spaces are made for parties and if they’re big enough can accommodate a ceremony, dinner and reception. Before hotels stole the show, the local village hall was all the rage as a wedding venue in the 70s and 80s. A wedding in a village hall will definitely be a more hands-on affair, as you’ll need to decorate the venue and set up the chairs and tables, but get your wedding party involved and you’ll be done in no time.

Village halls typically cost a couple of hundred pounds to hire out and you can ask for access the day before and the day after to set up and pack away. Plus, if it’s local you can walk to and from the venue! No need to worry about expensive wedding cars and transporting guests.

What to think about when using a village hall as a wedding venue
  • Is it large enough? Village halls can vary enormously in size. Some larger halls can accommodate hundreds of people, but you really need to think about how much space you will have and how many guests you can comfortably squeeze in for a sit-down or buffet meal. That said, most regular wedding venues can only seat around 60 people, so unless you’re planning a guest-list in the hundreds, you shouldn’t need to cut back too much.
  • Where will the vendors go? If you’re hiring a caterer and a bar, you’ll need to speak to both to find out what they need to do to prepare and serve food and drink for your guests and make sure your venue has a space where they can do their job.
  • Are there time limits for music? Many village halls are in residential areas and have to consider local residents. So it is worth checking if they have a curfew for music and closing the hall before you book the venue and make sure that the times will suit the party you are planning.
  • Will it be cleaned before you arrive? Check if the hall will be cleaned thoroughly before you set up and how much you may need to pay for this.
  • Is there parking? Most offer some parking, but you may also need to ask local businesses if your guests can use their spaces if they’re situated close by, to ensure they aren’t blocking the road.
A field of poppies with a bride and groom in

Field or Piece of Land

Field or piece of land

An empty field is a perfect base for a festival inspired wedding. Encourage guests to turn up in their best festival dress, wellies and play the music loud once the evening rolls around.

Hire a marquee to shelter everyone for dinner and host the ceremony outside featuring fun streamers and plenty of glitter.

What to think about when using a field as a wedding venue
  • Do you have permission? Whether it’s public or private you will need permission from the owner before you proceed. Allow plenty of time to organise this to avoid being let down at the last minute!
  • Is it suitable for a wedding? Is the ground even and dry or does it need some prep before you set up?
  • Is it private? You don’t want the general public to access your wedding and crash the party, so a location that’s out of the way and not readily accessible to the public is a good choice.
  • What facilities are there? Will you need to think about things like hiring out toilets or electrical outlets? Or is there somewhere you can access these?
Bride and groom smiling next to a trainyard

Museum

Museum

What could be cooler than getting married in a museum or gallery venue, perhaps somewhere you and your partner went on a first date? Say ‘I do’ on magnificently tiled floors, surrounded by art, history and maybe even dinosaurs!

There are a wide range of museums in the UK that offer wedding packages; we’ve listed a few that you might not have thought of below.

National Railway Museum, North Yorkshire

Fan of train rides with your loved one? Host your wedding in this stunning setting. For those with large families, it can accommodate up to 500 people!

Great North Museum, Hancock

Get married under a T-Rex in this stunning location with a gorgeous dining space and room for 400 guests. It’s a licensed venue, too.

River and Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames

This quaint museum is ideal for smaller weddings and sits on the River Thames, offering a gorgeous backdrop for those all-important photos on the day.

Clifton Observatory, Bristol

With a terrace rooftop offering 360° views of the city, banqueting rooms and the choice of a tower or the unique Giant’s Cave. This can hold 20 people and overlooks the Avon Gorge, with a viewing platform to say your vows. It’s a venue your guests will remember for years to come.

Man and woman in wellington boots stood in a forest

Forest Area

Forest area

A ceremony under a natural canopy of trees and birdsong as the accompanying music can be incredibly romantic. Bring in a bar and a caterer that can set up anywhere, and you have a party after you’ve said ‘I do’.

You could organise an intimate humanist ceremony, with just a few close family friends in a wooded area near your wedding reception location. You’ll enjoy the natural beauty in a place that is special to you and your partner for a lower price than a traditional venue.

What to consider when planning a ceremony in a forest area
  • Is it secluded? Consider if the location is on a public path or whether you can keep things private and out of the way.
  • Is it suitable? Does the area need any prep, for example, is it muddy or overgrown? You may need to clear some elements.
  • Are there facilities close by? Are there toilets and electrical outlets available or will you need to find a way to supply these?
Man and woman with their around each other sat at a restaurant

Restaurant

Restaurant

Who says you have to hire out a whole hotel for your wedding reception? Once the ceremony is done - whether you’ve opted for a religious venue or a register office setting - you can simply head to a restaurant you love for dinner with your nearest and dearest.

Many restaurants offer a private room to rent out with everything you need, so you won’t have the public encroaching on your celebrations, but it may mean a reduced guest list. If you’re inclined, you can then move onto a bar for drinks and dancing in your fancy clothes. Plus, you won’t need to worry about background music, decorating the tables or elements like linen and cutlery as it is all provided for you.

How to book a restaurant for a wedding reception

Whether you love Italian food, prefer to tuck into a Mexican feast or like to keep it traditional with pub grub, speak to your favourite restaurant about how they can accommodate you.

Chances are they’ll be delighted that you want to celebrate such a special occasion with them! It’s likely that the price to rent out a space at the back or a large table is much cheaper than a full wedding reception location. Then you can meet up with everyone else later and celebrate!

Large LOVE sign lit up in a garden scene
Saving tip

04

Pinterest Dreams

Inspired savings

Pinterest is brimming with gorgeous wedding photography and lots of inspiration but some of those magnificent table settings or elaborate backdrops come at a pretty steep price. Here are some of the most popular themes on Pinterest and some tips on how to recreate the theme of your dreams for a little less.

The garden wedding

Multiple images set in a mood board layout depicting garden wedding scenes and ideas, includes flowers, lights in jars and red colour themes

Nothing is more classic and chic than all white linen on tables outside, twinkling lights as dusk draws in and lots of gorgeous natural greenery. Garden themed and outdoor weddings are rising in popularity so if you’re having your special day in a large outdoor space, such as your parent’s garden or even a field, here are some tips to help you create that stunning scene for less.

  • Pick up foliage from the supermarket, local market or friends or families gardens – You can easily place branches of greenery on the tables, pick up bouquets of foliage from the supermarket or take the secateurs out into the garden.
  • Keep things simple – Basic white tablecloths and napkins create a clean minimalist look and should come with a lower price, whether you’re organising your own or within a linens package.
  • Drape sheer curtains over tables – Pick up some simple sheer curtains and drape these over the tables for an elegant feel that doesn't cost a lot. You can grab these for around £7 a pair, from a homeware store such as Dunelm.
  • Use solar fairy lights – You can buy packs of these for a low price on sites such as Amazon or eBay and they can be wound around tree branches, laid along pathways and woven in between decor on tables to create a whimsical, magical vibe. Plus, being solar powered, you won’t need to worry about trailing wires and finding power sockets.
The rustic aesthetic
Multiple images set in a mood board layout depicting rustic themes and ideas consisting mainly of wooden logs

Woodland vibes, natural greenery and lace embellishments make rustic wedding themes timelessly popular. Hessian fabrics, chopped wood and wildflowers create a theme inspired by the shabby chic and natural world.

  • Create hessian table runners – Hessian fabric is relatively inexpensive for large quantities, grab a roll and cut a long strip to go across the head table to add that rustic, country vibe.
  • Buy seasonal flowers – Flowers in season are generally cheaper and easier to come by at local markets or the supermarket.
  • Keep an eye out for felled trees – Councils do regular maintenance along roadsides, look out for any tree cutters in your neighbourhood and ask if you can take away any large branches or even logs to use in your wedding decor.
  • Recycle pallets, old baskets and crates – Friends and family may be able to help you source some of these items - your Gran may have a wooden crate in the shed you can borrow, for example, or perhaps your mum has an old wooden wheelbarrow you can use outside. You could even speak to your local garden centre about taking away a pallet or two that they’ve received with a delivery - these look great with table plans pinned to them or as a welcome board.
  • Opt for a “naked” wedding cake – Not only can these cakes cost less as there is no fondant or decoration but they can be quickly dressed with fresh fruits and flowers yourself for a stunning, natural vibe.
  • Feature pinecones, acorns and conkers – Bring the outside in and create table decor for very little. Pinecones look sweet with a card label attached featuring the person’s name, while acorns and conkers look cute scattered across the tables.
The geeky vibe
Multiple images set in a mood board layout depicting gaming ideas for weddings with lego, batman figurines and elf ears

Are you and your partner big gaming fans? Love comic books? Or are you major film buffs? Adding a personalised touch and creating a theme doesn’t have to be expensive - here are some ideas for cheap ways to introduce a theme into your special day while still sticking to the budget.

  • Create confetti out of comics or pages from your favourite book – These look effective when spread across the tables, all you need is a heart-shaped hole punch, a strong arm and some time. Pick up a copy of the book or comics you don’t mind destroying then get punching to create confetti that can be recycled too!
  • Ask guests to create the table centrepieces – Fill a bowl with LEGO™ building bricks and leave a note asking guests to make their own creative centrepieces! Fun for them, less effort for you and you can either keep their creations or pop the bricks back in the box at home.
  • Create your own cake toppers – No need to opt for the usual Mr and Mrs style topper, have fun with dinosaur toys spray painted gold (with an added Sharpie bow tie if there is a groom), a LEGO™ wedding couple, or Funko Pops of your favourite characters sat on top of the cake.
  • Have fun with table settings – LOTR fans? Buy basic napkin rings, spray paint them gold then carefully copy Elvish script onto them or create Harry Potter inspired wands with sticks, hot glue and some paint.
A colourful affair
Multiple images set in a mood board layout depicting bright colours including balloons, multi-coloured bridesmaid dresses and origami

Rainbow themed weddings are rising in popularity as more and more couples want to celebrate their sexuality or add vibrant colour to their big day. If you’re erring towards featuring a wide palette of colours within your theme, here are some ways to do it for less.

  • Create your own streamers – You’ll see coloured streamers all over Pinterest wedding boards, these pretty additions add a simple but cheery touch to wedding venues. Create yours by taking tissue paper, cutting this into long strips and securing it to a long piece of fishing wire or string.
  • Have a range of flowers – Don’t just stick to one colour when it comes to bouquets, feature all varieties, sizes and shades. Each groomsman can also wear a different coloured buttonhole on their suit to create a fun rainbow effect. You can find out how to make your own buttonholes here, in our DIY guide.
  • Choose different coloured bridesmaid dresses – Have a lot of bridesmaids? Get them to each pick a colour of the rainbow and choose a dress in that shade for the day. They can be similar in length and style but they’ll create a stunning visual when grouped together in photos.
  • Feature balloons – Multi-coloured balloons grouped together on tables create a striking effect, add height to the room and look amazing in photos, plus they’re relatively inexpensive to source. Have some on stand by for your wedding shoot with your new husband or wife after the ceremony.
  • Add food colouring to floral table displays – Feature one or two simple flowers in a jar or bottle and drop some different shades of food colouring into the water, to create a rainbow effect across the tables.
  • Create watercolour table place names – Follow our DIY decorations tutorial to create table names in an array of colours.
  • Add colour with napkins – If you have a blank slate, with white tablecloths and minimal decor, bring in a pop of colour with a range of coloured napkins. Create a rainbow effect around the table with one of each shade, for very little cost.
Three Pinterest inspired decor ideas on a budget

There are a range of Pinterest trends you can do for less; here are three of the most popular to try.

  • The doughnut wall – Doughnut walls look great and double up as dessert, but you don’t need to pay a fortune to rent one. Look at a site such as Ginger Ray, which sells relatively cheap but stylish ways to display doughnuts from £14.99 to £24.99 - then grab the doughnuts from your nearest supermarket for 60p a packet. In total, dessert could cost you around £30!
  • Personalised neon signs – Pinterest is inspiring couples to write their surname in lights. You can buy strips of bendy neon lighting that you can shape to spell out a word. Look on Amazon, Argos or eBay for kits that you can play around with to spell out your preferred word - they cost around £10 - £20 per kit.
  • Flower garlands – Searches for flower garlands have increased by 1,154% on Pinterest in 2019 proving that when it comes to wedding flowers, the more the better. Pick up bunches of flowers with larger heads from the supermarket or market, think carnations, posies and gerberas, and gather these on tables and along windowsills to create a striking effect.
Man and woman on wedding day posing for photos while lots of people take pictures on their phones
Saving tip

05

Cut it Out

Lose the want, keep the need

Many of us have an idea of what our dream wedding looks like and while flying in by helicopter or having a Maserati deliver you to the church door sounds great, budget doesn’t always allow it.

The average cost of a budget UK wedding now sits at around £17,674 - a large amount but not quite the astronomical figures of recent years. Weddings with all the trimmings can be as much as £27,000. When it comes to cutting costs, there are some elements that can definitely be taken out to save you some pennies.

These savings could mean you have enough to expand your dinner options or add some fun activities to your honeymoon plans. Check out our suggestions below.

What to cut out of the wedding plans to save money

An extravagant venue

Many people conjure up images of grand barn venues, magnificent skyscraping teepees and extravagant hotels with manicured lawns when they think of weddings. But, your wedding doesn’t have to take place in one of these. The average cost of the venue alone in the UK is around £2,790.

Now with humanist celebrants allowing you to conduct a ceremony wherever you have permission, the options for wedding venues has really opened up. But bear in mind that you will need to organise a separate legal ceremony beforehand at a register office. This won’t cost very much if you take along two witnesses - the cost to give notice of your intention to get married - this is a legal requirement that notifies your local authority that you're getting married - is around £35 and £50 for a small ceremony.

We’ve explored this in-depth in our alternative wedding venues guide, but here is a quick list of just some of the options available:

  • A back garden
  • A village hall
  • A local field or piece of land
  • A forest
  • A public garden
Woodland with large tree that has a wedding sign on

You could save: £2,790

Matching robes for the bridesmaids

Sure having all your bridesmaids in matching, personalised dressing gowns or silky robes looks great in photos, but they can set you back a fair amount.

With most weddings featuring around 3-5 bridesmaids, the costs can quickly add up when you’re giving out fancy, personalised robes for them to wear in the morning to get ready.

Average cost of bridesmaid robes
  • eBay – £5 - £15 each
  • George at ASDA – £8 - £12 each
  • Etsy – £10 - £15 each
  • Amazon – £10 - £20 each
  • Boohoo – £10 - £20 each
  • ASOS – £20 - £40 each
  • John Lewis – £28 - £100 each

This means if you have three bridesmaids and the robes you choose cost £15.99 each, you could be spending nearly £50 for them to match in a few snaps. That’s money that could definitely be better used elsewhere in your celebrations!

What to do instead?

Ask your bridesmaids to wear their best (cleanest) pyjamas or ask them to wear a certain style of PJs if you’re worried about how they’re going to look in the photos. That means leaving the trackie trousers worn during Netflix and pizza marathons at home.

Alternatively, simply ask them to wear pyjamas in the same colour.

But what if I really want those robes?

If you’re set on buying those robes and they’re doubling up as your thank you gift to your bridesmaids for being there on the day, here are a few options to consider to get them cheaper:

  • Buy plain robes and personalise them yourself – You can order personalised clothing decals, use a sharpie or even acrylic paint to write your friend's names on the back. Plain robes are generally cheaper than those you can buy personalised already.
  • Buy them out of season – The prices go up for wedding related products in the spring and summer, this means if you can plan ahead and buy the robes in the off-season you may get them cheaper. November to April are good months to look around for bridal wear in the sale section.
  • Ask your bridesmaids to put money towards them – Tell them about your vision for those morning photos and ask if they’d be happy to contribute towards some pretty robes to wear while they get ready and to keep after the day.
Women in a circle touching champagne glasses

You could save: £50

Don’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen

Maybe a controversial suggestion, but don’t have any bridesmaids or groomsmen at all - or maybe just your sister or brother if you and your partner have siblings.

Your friends will be there to celebrate for the whole day anyway, they can still help you organise your hen party or stag do celebrations and being part of the wedding party is a big responsibility that many people feel obliged to take on out of love for you, but would actually prefer not to have.

Plus, no bridesmaids or groomsmen means no dresses, suits or shoes to buy, you don’t need to think about their hair and makeup and you won’t need to find the cash to purchase thank you gifts. Less stress too!

Average cost of all three bridesmaid dresses:

£314

Average cost of all three groomsmen suits:

£171

Group of people in a huddle looking down onto the camera

You could save: £485

Having your photographer for the full day

You can save some money by booking your photographer for just the ceremony and to take some pictures after. The average wedding photographer cost in the UK, for a full day, is £1,560. Reducing their time could see you paying around £400 for three hours. .

You can still get the classic cake cutting snap, the posed wedding car shot and plenty of pics of you and your loved ones in this time - plus there will be no awkward dinner shots of people eating or of grandparents frowning when the best man tells a particularly rude story about the groom.

You may need to discuss this option honestly with your photographer and some may be more inclined to agree to this smaller time slot in off-peak seasons. We’ve pulled together a guide to ‘haggling’ here featuring tips on how to approach it and save some money.

What can you do instead?

Leave disposable cameras on the tables. You can pick up a batch of disposable cameras and have the films developed after the wedding for nostalgic physical pictures to keep in a classic album. Want to share snaps from the day on Facebook? Simply scan the pictures into your computer.

Cost of disposable cameras for weddings:

  • Confetti – £5 per camera
  • Amazon – £50 for 10 cameras
  • eBay – £55 for 10 cameras
  • Argos – £5 per camera

So if you have 10 tables and decided to pop two cameras on each one, you would be spending around £100 - enjoying a massive saving of £1,060 for the day.

Photographer takes pictures of the bridge and groom

You could save: £1,160

Ask guests to take lots of pictures and video

Many couples say their favourite wedding pictures are those that their friends and family snapped throughout the day, so you could consider foregoing the professional completely and making a point of encouraging your guests to snap away on their own cameras and phones. Ask them to send the images over to your email address, via Whatsapp, or set up a Google Drive folder they can contribute to.

You can also set up a wedding hashtag and encourage people to add this to any photos they share on Facebook and Instagram so everything is in one place.

Here, we’ve taken some of the latest phones on the market and snapped a shot of a lovely bride and groom to compare the quality of the most popular smartphones.

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The Wedding Car

If you really want to save some cash, skip the fancy wedding car. Many brides and grooms opt for a more traditional looking car, something like a Rolls Royce or a Viscount model but is this really necessary?

What affects the price of a wedding car?
  • How many seats you need – More seats = more money.
  • The distance travelled – If your wedding ceremony is a fair distance away from your home, this will increase how much your wedding car costs.
  • If you need to be transported from the ceremony to another venue for your reception – You’ll need to factor in the distance between these, which can increase the price.
  • If you want the car decorated – Many will provide the bunting and bows as standard but if there are any other decorative elements you want including this will increase the price.
What can you do instead?

Use a friend or family member’s car – If a close friend or family member has a nice car, perhaps ask if they can take you to the venue and park their car somewhere for pictures after.

A brand new Mercedes or an old school sports car will look great in photos and you can pick up some ribbon to add to the bonnet for a small price. If you want to pay them, offer to cover the cost of petrol for the trip.

Jump in a taxi – If you really want to keep things cheap and low key, book a taxi and take this to the venue.

Book a minibus – Look into booking a coach or minibus to take everyone in the wedding party to the venue together. There's a trend for hiring vintage London buses for this very purpose!

Choose a location within walking distance – Get those steps in, save some money and look great while doing it as you stroll to the venue.

Wedding car with ribbons on

You could save: £300

Paying someone to do your hair & makeup

You and your wedding party know how you like your makeup to be done for a special occasion - so ensure you’re happy with the final result and do it yourself. You can still treat yourself to some luxury makeup brands to enjoy on the day and long after.

You can save a lot of money doing this - the average cost for just the bride’s hair and makeup sits at around £250, while the same service for the mother of the bride and the bridesmaids can be up to £100 per person. Plus, you’ll all be ready much faster if you’re not waiting on the make up artist or hairdresser to make their rounds - more time for prosecco!

How to perfect your hair and make up if you’re doing it yourself
  • Practice your hair and makeup in the run-up to the big day – You don’t want to wing it on the morning of your wedding, so practice your look a few times beforehand to ensure you’re happy.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help – A hairdresser auntie, a makeup artist sister-in-law, if there’s someone close to you who is good at hair and makeup ask if they can come and help in the morning.
  • Choose simple looks – Wearing your hair down and curled or neutral makeup ensures very little can go wrong. If you’re after an updo that lasts all day you may need to speak to a professional.
  • Buy or borrow the right tools – Ensure you have everything you need to achieve that professional finish, on a budget. Look at what tools and brushes the tutorials you’re checking out are using and find versions of these within your budget.
  • Look after your hair and skin – Try to factor in some hair and skin boosting routines in the run up to your big day. Drink plenty of water, eat lots of fruit and veg and moisturise to ensure your skin looks great for the big day.
Where to find hair and makeup inspiration
  • Pinterest – You’ll find lots of inspiring looks on the site, that you can add to a board to reference later.
  • YouTube – Look here for tutorials on how to contour or achieve the perfect smokey eye for your big day.
  • Instagram – There are a huge range of beauty bloggers offering tips, tricks and looks to try out for yourself.
  • Rock ’n’ Roll Bride – This wedding site features stunning alternative wedding ideas for those brides who want something a little different.
  • Hitched.co.uk – This prestigious wedding site features lots of real looks and inspiration.
Woman having her make up done

You could save: £250 + £100 per bridesmaid

Serving welcome drinks and nibbles

Unless they’re part of your package, you can easily skip the bubbles and canapes for your guests on arrival at the venue. Guests will happily buy their own drinks at the bar if it’s open and will be eating soon enough after the ceremony and photos that they shouldn’t need pre-wedding snacks!

This could be part of a package or added to your booking, but expect to pay around £200. Cutting it out means you can keep this nice amount in your pocket.

Guests drinking champagne

You could save: £200

Favours for guests

You’re likely already covering the cost of their dinner - no need to pay out for something else too! Wedding favours are a tradition steeped in history, but they aren’t an essential part of your big day. The average cost of these typically sits at around £650.

Where does the wedding favour tradition come from?

The tradition of handing out favours dates back to before the 13th Century, when European aristocrats would give wedding guests porcelain boxes filled with sugar or sweets. Sugar was expensive back then and so handing it out as a gift was a sign of your wealth.

As the years passed, sugar was swapped for almonds, and then the two combined into the sugar-coated varieties you likely remember from weddings in the 60s through to the 90s.

Wedding favours are considered to be a token of appreciation from the newlyweds for attending their big day. But as weddings get more expensive and much of that cost is going on entertainment, food and drink for guests, brides and grooms are increasingly cutting them out, seeing their investment in making sure they have a good time as enough of a show of appreciation. Will anyone really notice? For the cost saving this is definitely one to consider foregoing.

Parcels wrapped in material and string with rolled notes

You could save: £650

Bespoke invites with lots of inserts

You may have seen extravagant invitations on magnets or in a range of shapes and sizes. There’s no doubt that such fancy invitations are great to look at and can help set the tone of your special day, but honestly? Your guests probably won’t read them properly or will lose the inserts, meaning they might miss important information. Inserts and additional designs also cost more, so keep your invitations as simple as possible to save money.

All your guests really need to know is who’s getting married, where to go and at what time and if there’s a particular dress code. The average cost of wedding stationery can be as much as £500 - money definitely better spent on that luxury honeymoon, right?

How to save money on your invites
  • Design and print them at home – You can use a range of online tools to create your own invites and print these at a lower cost using your home printer. Canva, Crello and BeFunky are worth checking out.
  • Invite people via an online resource – Some brides and grooms are opting to skip physical invitations altogether and use a wedding website to invite guests to the wedding and share other information about their big day. Gettingmarried.co.uk and withjoy.com are two to look into. Plus, you’ll save lots on the cost of posting out invites - which always catches people off guard.
  • Use Facebook events – A Facebook event could be set up if your guests are all on social media, saving you lots of money while still providing all the information needed.
  • Ask people face to face – If it’s a smaller affair, you could even visit those who are invited and ask them to come along face-to-face over a cuppa. If they live further away, a phone call works too. No expensive stationery and a nice catch up at the same time!
  • Send it via email – Almost everyone has an email address and while it might take some work to get hold of these, it can save you a lot of money sending your invites electronically. Plus, you can still feature a fancy design in the email body.
Fancy invite with small flower bouquet

You could save: £500

Paying for everyone’s dinner

Food is perhaps the most expensive element of a wedding, with some wedding sites claiming that an eye watering £4,151 is spent on catering, on average. It’s also the area where most couples overspend.

Savvy brides and grooms are now finding new ways of feeding guests and saving money at the same time. Many of these suggestions could slash that cost in half, while still ensuring guests enjoy a tasty meal.

Only have very close family eat with you

Invite everyone to the ceremony then invite them back in the evening to celebrate later. You and your wedding party can then have a small, intimate and still delicious dinner somewhere special before joining the party later.

Ask guests to bring a dish

If you have a venue that allows it, ask guests to bring along a cooked dish and lay these out in a buffet style. When dinner time comes around you can dip into lasagne cooked by your auntie, a pie made by your Grandad and a pasta bake whipped up by your new brother-in-law.

It also means everyone feels like part of your day, contributing a little something - and you can save some pennies too.

Have a late wedding

Planning a wedding after dinnertime is an easy way of skipping the cost of the meal. A ceremony at 5pm and party straight after means you won’t need to worry about serving up both a wedding breakfast and evening refreshments. By serving only evening nibbles, you’ll be able to save a considerable sum.

Wooden table set out nicely with plates and flowers

You could save: £2,000

Hen or stag parties abroad

Hen and stag dos have become more and more extravagant over the years - and more expensive too. What started out as a night out with friends ahead of the big day has grown into weekends - if not longer - spent in sunnier climes. The average hen party abroad costs £998 per person, with £118.75 alone spent on drinks. Stag dos abroad cost around the same amount.

The cost of attending a wedding can be expensive on its own, as you need to pay for accommodation, a new outfit and a gift for the couple and so an expensive hen or stag do on top of this can stretch people’s budgets.

Staying in the UK is a good way to help keep costs under control - a weekend away with your mates is great but perhaps plan it for another time when your money isn’t tied up in wedding planning! Plus,this means it suits the group’s budget as not everyone has the same amount of spare cash to hand.

Kye Harman of Stagweb.co.uk also confirmed that you can save even more money by using a stag and hen company to arrange the event. He said:

Quotation marks

The quality stag and hen companies work like the big supermarkets. Because agencies book huge numbers of groups each year, hotels and suppliers are keen to offer them discounted rates to ensure their custom.

These are rates the agencies then pass on to consumers to ensure the bride/groom get a better deal than booking direct. The more you book through an agency (hotel, activities, nightlife, meals and extras) the more you can save.

Plane flying through sky

You could save: £1,996

Staying in a hotel on the wedding night

If your chosen venue doesn’t provide accommodation, consider skipping the cost of booking a hotel room for the night and simply go home for a romantic evening if you can.

If you have children, arrange for them to stay with a family member, change the bed sheets the day before, dot a few candles around the room to light when you return home and leave a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge. You’ll save around £100 that can be used for the honeymoon or a lavish date night to soften the “back to reality” bump when you start life as newlyweds.

Plus, you can unwrap all those lovely wedding gifts at home so no lugging them back the day after!

Towels on a bed that have been folded to look like swans heads forming a heart

You could save: £100

With all these savings under your belt, you could keep back an incredible…

£10,321!

That means you’ll save as much as half of the original estimated cost for your big day.

Guests throwing confetti in the sky sat around a table
Saving tip

06

Thinking Thrifty

Your dream wedding for less

Planning a wedding on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality. You can organise a stunning day at a fraction of the price with these tips and tricks.

Don’t tell potential suppliers you need a quote for a wedding

If it’s a DJ or a caterer, tell them the quote is for a party instead of a wedding. Sometimes just mentioning the W word can up the final price.

Plan your wedding in the off-season

Wedding season - May to October - bumps up the price when it comes to venues and suppliers. We’ve looked into which times of year are the cheapest for weddings here. Save some cash and book your special day around those quieter periods.

If you really want to save money, don’t plan your wedding on a Saturday. Weekday ceremonies and receptions are much cheaper - plus your guests can book a little mini-break during the week to really enjoy themselves. Just ensure you give them plenty of notice!

Don’t be afraid to haggle with suppliers

Suppliers, from wedding photographers to florists, understand that everyone has a budget, so if you’re open and honest about the maximum you want to spend they may be able to accommodate this or even be haggled down.

We’ve written up a guide to haggling for your wedding here, with tips and tricks from real wedding suppliers.

DIY your decor

A little DIY adds a personalised touch and can save you money. Have a go at creating your own table centrepieces, whip up favours for guests to enjoy or create the table plan sign with your own two hands. Take a look at our DIY decorations guide on how to create some of the key elements for your big day on a budget.

Hand made flowers on a wooden table next to some scissors and a hot glue gun

DIY Your Decor

Shop second hand

You can find second-hand wedding dresses, decor and accessories online, for a much lower price than originally purchased. Some people sell packages of wedding decor in a particular theme, as they have no reason to keep them and you could swoop in and get everything you need for a bargain. Here are some great places to look for second-hand wedding decor and clothing:

  • eBay
  • Gumtree
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Depop
  • Shpock
  • Vinted
  • Freeads
  • Preloved
Buy your gift bouquets from the supermarket

Pick up bouquets as gifts for mothers and bridesmaids for a fraction of the price. Many cost anywhere between £5 and £20, compared to £35 - £50 from a florist and look just as lovely. You could even use these to create bunches for your bridesmaids and to feature in table arrangements and buttonholes. Click here to find out how to make your own buttonholes at home.

Swap real flowers for paper ones

Pretty card is relatively inexpensive and you can create a bouquet that lasts long after your special day.

Pink paper flowers

Paper Flowers

Ask a family member or friend to help with tailoring

Having the wedding dress, suits and the bridesmaid dresses adjusted can cost a fair amount with a professional tailor but if someone close to you is a dab hand with a needle and thread, ask if they can help turn up some hems or adjust some straps.

Enlist the help of the avid family baker

It’s no secret that wedding cakes are pricey - on average they cost around £300 - so if someone you know is a great baker ask if they can help. You may not get the many-tiered cake of your Pinterest dreams, but you will get a yummy dessert made with love.

Hire glasses from your nearest supermarket

If your venue doesn’t supply glasses for dinner, head to a supermarket and ask about their glass hire service. Some require a deposit but allow you to take away glasses to use on the day to return later.

It’s cheaper than buying glasses or renting them from a dedicated supplier. The amount you can borrow varies and some locations may not offer the service so check beforehand to make sure you’re not dependent on this option!

Supermarkets that offer a glass hire service
  • Morrisons – Each store can normally offer around 100 glasses, with wine glasses, tumblers, champagne flutes and sherry glasses available.
  • Waitrose – You can hire out pint glasses, wine glasses and champagne flutes.
  • Tesco – Available in some stores.
Look for venues that don’t charge corkage and let you bring in your own caterers

This means you can buy your own alcohol for a much lower price - saving a fair amount of money in the long run. Lidl and Aldi are great supermarkets for booze on a budget, stick to wine and beer to save more.

Finding caterers yourself can take a little longer, but the savings are worth it. Most venues charge around £40 per head for dinner, whereas an outside caterer can offer something delicious for less than half price - around £15 per head.

Plus, it gives you a little more freedom to personalise your menu based on your favourites - you could have a giant paella dish, serve up slices of pizza or have guests tuck into a yummy summer BBQ.

Skip the DJ

Create an amazing playlist and hire some speakers to play this throughout the night. Task a groomsman or bridesmaid with ensuring the music matches the mood and to control the tunes for the night.

Bride and groom having their first dance with guests around them

Skip the DJ

Head to the high street for bridesmaid dresses and suits

Topshop, ASOS, River Island, New Look - you’ll find gorgeous occasion dresses and men’s suits for a much lower price than those in your local bridal shop. Plus, if it’s a high street outfit it’s likely they’ll wear it again in the future. You can even head to the high street for the wedding dress - take a look at our full guide on buying a cheaper dress here.

Look into buying a cancelled wedding package

A site such as Canceled Weddings could help you save an incredible amount of money as it sells packages at wedding venues for a lower rate to book up last minute availability and cancellations. When we say these offers are relatively last minute, we mean it - you’ll likely have a couple of months to organise everything else before the day - but the savings are huge.

Ask friends and family to bring flowers for your bouquet

The bride can either collect these as they walk down the aisle or have a flower girl or bridesmaid do this, but it’s a great way of saving money and getting the guests involved in contributing to a truly meaningful part of your day. They could be flowers from the garden, supermarket or that they’ve grown specifically for the day.

Order your cake from a supermarket

Supermarkets offer incredible cakes that can be used for your wedding. Tesco supplies a tiered cheese tower that’s great for those who want something a little different, while M&S offer gorgeous tiered cakes that you can pre-order in time for your day.

Serve your wedding cake as dessert

Save some money and have the venue or caterer serve up your cake as dessert once dinner is over - just ensure you get that special cake cutting picture beforehand!

Bride and groom cutting up a cake

Serve up the Wedding Cake

Set up a camera to film the ceremony

Videographers can cost £1,000 at a minimum, so if your budget doesn’t stretch that far consider borrowing a camera or even a top of the range smartphone, set this up on a tripod in a spot that will cover the ceremony and capture those all-important vows. You’ll still be able to look back on it and remember that special moment and there are lots of free apps and software you can use to adjust the brightness and the sound.

Don’t print off order of service leaflets

It’s safe to say the guests will likely leave these behind once the ceremony is over or if they do take them home they’ll end up in a drawer, so if you do want to create an order of service, make a large board that they can stop to take a look at as they enter. This can be done with a large piece of card, placed on a tripod or easel.

Choose wedding shoes you’ll wear again

You can buy these to wear for work or for special occasions, bringing down the cost per wear. A tan pair of shoes that can be worn with that navy suit but also for the office work great for a groom, while a pair of heels in a shade that also complements your favourite party dress is ideal for brides.

Ask other brides if they have any decor you can borrow

You’ll likely get your hands on some pretty Just Married bunting or unused confetti or perhaps some rustic chalkboard signs to direct guests to the venue. They’ll be more than happy to lend them out, knowing their money has gone a little further, while you enjoy the savings!

LOVE sign on a shelf with a clock and some flowers

Something Borrowed

Spread the cost

Don’t leave everything until the last minute, try to buy little bits here and there to spread the cost of everything from the decor to accessories. If you’re buying alcohol, pick up a bottle or two each time you go for a food shop and store it in the garage or a spare room until the day. You’ll build up what you need without having to find all the money at once. The sooner you can start picking up bits for your wedding, the better.

Man playing guitar while wearing a suit
Saving tip

07

The wedding haggling guide

Barter for a bargain

Haggling isn’t something we Brits do all that well. We’re much too polite, less inclined to ask for a discount and accept the cost at face value - or accept it and grumble later.

But when it comes to planning your wedding, every single penny counts and wedding suppliers are actually happier than you may think to haggle over the price of their service or what you get for your money - as long as you’re respectful about it, of course.

Things to remember when haggling with wedding suppliers

  • Be respectful. These are trained professionals who are highly skilled and talented in their craft and they deserve fair compensation for their services.
  • Remember, this is probably their main source of income.
  • There are certain times of the year where you’ll get better discounts.
  • If it sounds cheeky in your head, it probably is.
  • See what extras you can get for free, instead of trying to get a discount.
  • If you do get any discounts or free items, get it in writing.
When is the best time of year to haggle?

You’ll have a better chance of successfully haggling down prices if your wedding is taking place outside of the peak summer wedding season. The off-season is a slower time of year for suppliers, so not only will you likely find it easier to book in with them, they’ll be more flexible on prices when there’s less demand for their services.

We’ve rounded up the cheapest times of year to get married in this guide, so take a look to discover when is considered to be off-peak before chatting to your suppliers.

Jon Fellowes, from Last Minute Musicians says: “As is the case for many wedding suppliers, wedding bands will have their peak times of the year, and offer a better rate at the times they aren't so busy. Enquiries for January, February and March will likely receive a better rate than those over the summer. Similarly, many function bands will get busy with corporate gigs and office parties in December, and so enquiries for October and November may also receive a modest discount.”

Image of Ben Davis

Ben Davis

Cambridgeshire wedding photography

You're more likely to get a better price if you're not getting married on a Saturday in the summer – weekday or Spring / Autumn weddings will have less demand.

Tips for haggling with cake makers

Wedding cake design is a fine art but you can discuss lower prices with these talented bakers and designers to save some money. Here are some ways to reduce the cost:

  • Ask to only have one real cake tier – Speak to your cake designer about creating two fake tiers and one real one that can be cut and served on the day. This will save you money as they don’t need to bake two additional cakes, just decorate them with fondant.
  • Avoid extravagant designs – Laborious designs that take hours to sculpt and create cost more, so keep your cake as simple as possible. A naked cake that you then decorate yourself with edible flowers at the venue is a good cost-saving concept.
  • Keep the flavours basic – A victoria sponge cake or fruit cake is traditional, if you decide you want chocolate or red velvet or any other flavour it’s likely this will cost more.
  • Bear in mind their cost not only covers the price of supplies but also their time, skill and training over the years – Don’t undermine this by going in too low.
Tips for haggling with your venue

Your venue could be one of the biggest expenses of your wedding, shortly followed by the food and so haggling could get you some free or cheaper elements.

If you’re getting married and having your reception in a hotel, they may be able to offer you a deal when it comes to the room if you agree to fill so many you could get your room for the night for free.

You could also ask about lawn games or entertainment they offer and ask if this can be included in the package. Some venues have giant Jenga and Connect 4 they usually charge for hire but you may be able to get it included in your price.

Tips for haggling with wedding bands or entertainers

Jon Fellowes of Last Minute Musicians says: “…while negotiating with your wedding entertainment is pretty normal, always be reasonable.

Image of Jon Fellowes

Jon Fellowes

Last minute musicians

Being a professional wedding musician is a lot more work than you might first assume. While you might think that you are paying someone to simply provide some live music, you also have to take into account all the other factors that make up a professional's quote.

"This includes their experience (sometimes higher education training), cost of insurance, travel and transport, equipment outlay and maintenance, rehearsal time and space, advertising costs, taxes, agency fees and many others.

“Try and put yourself in the position of your band when negotiating. If you can improve the conditions for them by providing a reasonable arrival time, cutting down on the amount of time they will have to be hanging around after set up and sound check, providing a space for them to get changed/store valuables and provide them with a hot meal or other food, then they are going to be much more receptive.”

Tips for haggling with photographers
Ben Davis, Cambridgeshire Wedding Photography:

“Try to make a personal connection with the photographer – let them know you love their work and come across as easy to work with. We're all a bit of a narcissist deep down so appeal to their ego. If I instantly like someone and feel that they value my work, I'd be more inclined to help with a discount. If you come across as being focused on the money then the photographer is likely to turn cold and not budge on the price.”

Image of Matty Graham

Matty Graham

All kinds of happy photography

Be bold and ask – all we want to do is help create amazing images and video of your big day so we’re on your side. Many photographers and videographers have fixed prices, but you could ask if there’s an especially quiet time for them and plan your day around it.

“...remember, this person is a professional who has spent years honing their craft. Be honest, polite and up front. Create a list of points to tell the photographer about why you want to hire them, then explain that you have a set budget and ask if they could make a deal.”

Ben Davis, Cambridgeshire Wedding Photography:

“I can make my packages cheaper for couples by removing the USB delivery and replacing it with a download-only option, and perhaps offering reduced hours in the package. Maybe suggest you don't mind waiting much longer for your photographs, as the editing process takes a while and most photographers have a serious backlog throughout the summer and autumn.

“Some may be able to offer a free pre-wedding shoot – it typically takes an hour or so and is a great opportunity for the photographer and couple to get to know each other better. If this is something you'd like to try and haggle for free, then be flexible – choose a location that is close to the photographer and be willing to do it on a weekday.”

Matty Graham, All Kinds of Happy Photography:

“Giving away things like prints and albums often isn’t on the cards, but some photographers might throw in added extras like free re-touching on the images (trust me, there’s always an aunt or uncle blinking in the group shots, or they could be willing to throw in download links of high-resolution images at no extra cost – remember, some photographers will only supply a limited number of high-res images before charging extra.”

What can you potentially get for free?

Many suppliers may not be inclined to offer services for a lower cost but there could be some elements they can throw in for no extra charge. Here’s a quick list of potential things you could ask your wedding suppliers to add to their package:

  • Ask your cake maker if you can pick up the cake yourself to avoid any delivery charges to the venue. They may also be able to provide a topper for no extra charge.
  • You could ask for some extra lights or an upgraded dancefloor from your DJ.
  • Your florist may agree to a bundle style deal on your order, for example, you could ask them to create 10 buttonholes for the price of 9.
  • If you are hiring linen - such as chair covers and tablecloths - dress these yourself to avoid an extra charge from the hiring company.
  • If your venue provides accommodation, they may give you your room for the night for free if you ask.

Be prepared to discuss options such as these with wedding suppliers. As the saying goes, ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ - just remember to be respectful at all times while haggling.

Welcome sign on a large slab of wood decorated with flowers
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08

DIY Wedding Decorations

Crafts that save you cash

The little things add up, so finding the time to do a bit of DIY could save you some money on your wedding day. Here, we have some inspiration and mini-tutorials on how to make your own buttonholes, table numbers and place names. You can make these yourself, or get the whole wedding party involved!

Making your own buttonholes

You will need:

  • Flower of your choice with foliage
  • Florist tape
  • Pin
  • Scissors

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Remove any excess foliage and carefully take off any thorns around the top of the stem.
  2. Cut the flower stalk around 8cm down from its head.
  3. Take some foliage and remove extra leaves until just one large leaf is left, place the flower on top of this until you find a position you like the look of.
  4. Take your florist tape and pinch the leaves and flower head together, begin wrapping the tape tightly around, working your way down to the end.
  5. Plump out the flower petals and push a pin through the tape and stem to secure to clothing.

When to make your buttonholes

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The day before the wedding – keep them in the fridge so they stay fresh!

Make your own watercolour place names

You will need:

  • Place name cards or make your own with a square piece of card folded in half
  • Watercolour paint in two colours
  • Paintbrushes
  • A jar of water
  • Permanent marker in black

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Use your paintbrush to spread water across the card.
  2. Dip your brush in one of the paint colours and tap this into the water, allowing it to spread.
  3. Dip the brush in water, then in a different colour paint, place on the card again and let the colours mix.
  4. Move the card around to encourage the colours to mix, leave to dry.
  5. Once the paint is dry, write the name over the top.

When to make your place names

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Once you’ve received all your RSVPs and have confirmed your table plans.

Make your own framed table numbers

You will need:

  • Small photo frame – preferably with an inner mount
  • White watercolour card
  • Calligraphy or felt tip pen
  • Metallic gold, silver or bronze marker
  • Paintbrushes
  • Green watercolour paint in two shades

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Remove the inner mount from the frame, place this on your card and mark the corners with small dots. If your choice of frame doesn’t have a mount then use the corners of the inner frame to mark your corners.
  2. Take the darker green paint shade and create a row of leaves in two of the corners, copy ours or have fun creating your own.
  3. Take the lighter green paint and highlight the leaves with this.
  4. Grab your marker pen and carefully draw your numbers, practice beforehand if you’re not sure where to start or want to use a certain style of writing.
  5. Use the metallic marker to draw contrasting highlights on the number.
  6. Leave to dry, then place back in the frame with the mount. On the day of the wedding, simply place each table number on the right table!

When to make your table numbers

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Once you’ve decided on a theme and know how many tables you’re having, you can get started.

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