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How to save money on your wedding

If you’re getting married, one of the first things you’ll want to consider is working out your wedding budget. But how do you plan a wedding budget?

What’s the average cost of a wedding?

Google average cost of a wedding, and the infographics from various wedding publications might give you an idea of how much people spend on an average wedding. However, one key thing to note is averages don’t necessarily equate to the reality.

Venue hire for example, might vary a lot dependent on whether you’re getting married at an exclusive use venue, or somewhere that will have other weddings and events on at the same time. Other supplier averages such as photography, floristry and cakes will vary as the statistics may include prices derided from hobbyists or novice suppliers who are still establishing their business, or according to the average coverage which may be less than you need for your day. Likewise, the size and scale of your wedding may impact the cost of the service you’re using on the day.

If you want to get a more accurate picture, it’s worth enquiring with the suppliers before you set a definite budget for your day, or alternatively take the average costs and set them as a minimum spend.

How big is my wedding?

One very big factor is the size of your guest list. What couples determine as small, medium or large weddings varies a lot.

So speaking entirely from professional experience:

  • An elopement or tiny wedding will be anything from just the couple, to approximately 20 guests.
  • A small wedding may be up to 40 guests
  • A medium wedding is up to 60 guests.
  • A big wedding is approximately up to 80-100 guests…
  • And a large wedding is usually from 100+ guests.

If you fall into the category of having a large wedding, then obviously your costs will go up accordingly, and it’s easy to see why the average wedding budget becomes increasingly stretched. If averages are based on 80 guests for example, having a wedding with 120 guests will increase your costs by 50% and that can mean you’ll need to think about increasing your budget considerably, and not just for the cost of the meal per person.

For a start, you’ll need a larger venue to accommodate everyone, and that will likely require more waiting, bar and kitchen staff on hand to serve your guests. If you’re hiring buses or transport, you may need to book an extra bus for those additional guests. If you have more tables, that may require more table linen or chair covers to be hired. You’ll need to increase your budget for centrepieces on tables, wedding invites, place settings and favours, and more tiers on the wedding cake or desserts at a cake table.  Then there’s additional food and drink – a glass to drink on arrival, canapes, a glass for toasts during the speeches, something to drink with the meal, tea and coffee afterwards, and the evening buffet. You may also want two photographers at your wedding to maximise the number of candid photographs of your guests and to catch all the action and fun.

Often at large weddings, the couple extend the bridal party numbers too. More bridesmaids and groomsmen may mean more outfits, shoes, jewellery, bouquets or buttonholes, more wedding cars, hair and make-up. It may also require additional accommodation.

So if you take the average cost of a wedding but increase your guest list by 50%, then of course your budget will need to follow suit.

How much do wedding suppliers cost?

It can be tempting to ask suppliers to cut their quotes to help you meet your budgetary requirements. In some cases they may agree to do so if they desperately need the booking, however it may mean not booking your first choice of supplier. The question is that if you have to settle for less than your first choice, will you be disappointed or wonder ‘what if…’ afterwards?

It may also be tempting to rope in friends and family to help out by filling some of the roles of suppliers. However, while the idea might be appealing in the early stages of planning, it can cause a lot of stress as well for both the person who has volunteered or agreed to help, as well as for the couple who have specific ideas of what they want. With no formal contract in place, it can be problematic to guarantee what they will deliver, and may have insurance implications too. For example, suppliers may be asked to produce liability insurance certificates before they can work in particular locations.

So what to do?

How can I save money on my wedding?

It’s hard to do, but when you can’t afford to increase your budget then a reducing the guest list is the best method to compromising towards an amazing wedding. Even reducing it by ten people could end up giving you the chance to reallocate your budget towards areas that are a priority.

The benefit of smaller weddings, is that the couple still have the opportunity to speak to nearly all their guests on the day, even for a moment. The bigger the wedding, the less likelihood you have of spending time with each person in attendance.

Invite the people you love. The people who when you look up from your table, you recognise and are glad that they came. The people that either you or your future spouse would recognise. The people you’d happily take out for dinner. The people you’d make a beeline to go for a chat. The people you would hug as soon as you see them. The ones you want to drag onto the dancefloor for a boogie. The people who you want to introduce to your immediate families, so they can put names to faces as they’ve heard all the stories about them before. The people you’d post a card on their birthday or send a gift at Christmas. The people you’d invite into your home to stay, or would visit on a trip.

Off peak bookings

If you’re struggling to cut the guest list because you don’t want to offend anyone, either invite them as an evening guest or opt for an offseason or mid week wedding.

Venues occasionally have special offers for winter weddings, while other wedding suppliers – such as a photographers – may be happy to offer a reduced coverage package for midweek weddings. It may mean than some of your guests aren’t able to attend due to work commitments, but it leaves the decision to them rather than you.

couple kissing by the pond Glenapp Castle elopement

Should I have a big wedding or elope?

Another option, of course, is to elope. Ditch the entire guest list, and blow the budget on an elopement. Book the best florist, hair, make up, outfits, photographer, book an incredible venue or location, and have a honeymoon of a lifetime. Elopements are becoming increasingly popular, they’re romantic and wonderful and you can always host a big family party at a later point to celebrate. It’s a great way to ensure you have the wedding you will love without offending people by sending them an evening invite instead of a day invite, or not extending the invite to their new partner or children.

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