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With the current average spend of a UK wedding being nearly £21,000 (In the U.S., it’s over $31,000) — not including the rings or the honeymoon — many brides and grooms (or their parents) are wondering how in the world they are going to pay for the big day. The first order of business is to rid yourself of the notion that a wedding must be a lavish, no-expenses-spared affair. It isn’t necessary and besides, as we’ve seen from the example of many celebrities, extravagant spending on the wedding and festivities is no guarantee of a happily-ever-after marriage. You can have a dream wedding without creating a financial nightmare. Planning, creativity and willingness to compromise as needed on details can save you many thousands of pounds.
It doesn’t have to be a summer wedding.
The peak times for weddings are weekends in the summertime, particularly in June. However if you’re willing to consider an “off-season” wedding — say, a weekday in November or December — you could potentially knock thousands of pounds off of the cost. Naturally you don’t want your big day to clash with or be overshadowed by major holidays such as Christmas, although combining wedding festivities with holiday celebrations might be an idea worth considering. An off-season wedding can be a significant money saver for you as well as for out-of-town guests, who will welcome reduced travel and accommodation costs.
No getting around it: you have to make a budget.
Budgeting is the least romantic part of planning a wedding, but it’s crucial no matter when or where you intend to be wed. You must realistically work out how much you can spend for your wedding, and then stay within that budget. About 25 percent of couples end up taking out a loan to finance their big day. Think very carefully before you do this as it isn’t a good idea to begin your married life with a big debt to add to your monthly expenses and any other payments and debts. If you do decide to take out a loan, research your options with care. The Readies site has useful information about loans as well as verified customer reviews of lenders.
Tips for the thrifty
Whether or not you get a loan you still need to keep that budget in mind, so don’t overlook any opportunity to cut costs.
- Don’t be afraid to buy second-hand. Yes, it’s your dream day and you want to be resplendent in your dream gown, but it doesn’t have to be custom-made for you and doesn’t even have to be new. Bridal gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses that were worn only once (or never) can be found on sites such as eBay or preloved, or in local shops. You might be surprised at what you can find.
- Be a DIY-er. The more things you can do yourself the more you can save. Consider using your talents and creativity (or that of family and friends) to create your own wedding décor and favours, music, food, wedding cake and wedding photography.
- If you use vendors, don’t tell them the event is a wedding. Sometimes you might not be able to avoid this revelation, but if possible wait until after they’ve given you a firm bid before you let them know that they’ve bid for a wedding. Although you may think this is a little dishonest, consumer surveys have indicated that many vendors routinely charge more for their services for weddings than for more generic events such as family parties. Also don’t be afraid to negotiate, even if a product or service is listed at a fixed price.
- Time it right. You can generally save money by having a daytime reception and wedding brunch or lunch, which usually cost less than dinner.
- Honor the season. You’ll save even more money if you only use in-season flowers and produce. Also buy local as much as possible.
- Consider unconventional venues. An outdoor wedding (at the right time of year of course), or a ceremony at the home of a friend, or even at an unconventional public venue that has meaning for the two of you, can be a wonderful and memorable alternative to a traditional church or a generic banquet hall. Of course you need to make sure you have all necessary permits and clearance for an event at a pubic venue.
- Rent a castle for cheap(er). If you’re really determined to exchange vows at a lavishly romantic wedding venue, consider a “cancelled wedding” package. The Cancelled Weddings site has a host of “late availability” listings (castles, mansions, and the like) in various spots in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, other European destinations and even various Caribbean venues. In some cases the prices are negotiable but the savings are generally significant over the original costs.
You really can have a magnificent wedding without spending your future grandchildren’s inheritance. All it takes is a little creativity and resourcefulness.