I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that weddings are expensive. Since getting engaged, I think I’ve probably googled ‘how to save money on a wedding’ at least once a week! And there are some really great articles out there, but they all start with the same idea: Don’t have your wedding on a Saturday. They’re right, of course – getting married in the week instead can save you thousands in venue fees. If you can do it, by all means, do!
But what if that’s not possible? What if you can’t get time off in the week, or you don’t feel right asking guests to take holiday to come to your wedding? For us, it really wasn’t an option. My fiancé and I work together, and wouldn’t have been able to have all of our lovely friends from work there on a weekday, and on top of that our chosen venue only does weddings on a Saturday.
Through a bit of research, I’ve managed to source some pretty great ways that you can save money regardless of which day you pick. Hopefully, some of these will be useful to you too!
First Things First – The Wedding Budget
There is a reason that ‘Set a budget and stick to it!’ is the first piece of wedding planning advice you’ll hear. Be very clear how much you are happy to spend on your wedding before you cough up a single penny, and try not to let yourself go over. This makes you really evaluate whether those little additional things are worth splurging on, so you only spend on the really important bits.
Wedding stationery costs so much more than I realised it would before I got engaged! If you’re on a budget, why not try and make your own? Don’t worry if you’re not very arty. I have no graphic design experience, but I did ours and they came out very pretty if I do say so myself! There are plenty of free templates online (check out my Pinterest board for inspiration) or if you feel a little more confident, try searching Pinterest or Creative Market for free vector designs that you can play around with. You can then get your designs printed using a service like Moo, or just use your own printer and some nice paper.
Save the Dates
Sending out a Save the Date may seem like a huge wedding etiquette checkbox, but do you really need to? I don’t think so. I don’t see any issue with sending out an email to ask your nearest and dearest to keep the date free and posting out your invitations later on. My fiancé’s family live overseas, so we sent out theirs via email, using the Save the Date that I designed as an embedded image instead. The money you save on printing and posting the Save the Dates can then be spent on food and drink, and I think we can guess what your guests will appreciate more!
Hair and Makeup
Like any other service, hair and makeup artists can charge a premium for weekend work. If you’re a dab hand with the finishing powder, why not do it yourself? Or if it’s really not your forte, why not ask someone in your bridal party if they’d like to have a go? Get together for a few practice runs in advance of the wedding and have some fun with it. Lisa Eldridge has some bridal makeup tutorials on YouTube which are beautiful and easy to follow if you’re short on inspiration. And don’t believe the myth that you need to treat yourself to expensive, high-end brands for your bridal makeup. There are plenty of budget options which do a brilliant job. In fact, I’m planning to do a post on some very soon!
Why not have afternoon tea instead of a full sit-down meal? Many caterers will offer this as an option and it’s significantly cheaper per head. Or you could go for a late afternoon ceremony. This means you only need to provide your guests with a lighter evening meal, like a hog roast or a barbecue. Plus you can really take your time getting ready in the morning!
And for the sweet-toothed guests? Why not rope in some gifted friends and hold a Great Wedding Bake Off? This is a trend I see a lot on wedding blogs and it’s really lovely. Just ask anyone you know who makes a great cake to bring something sweet with them. Then simply set up a table filled with homemade goodies instead of forking out £100+ on one giant fruit cake. Another great tip I read recently is to buy fancy chocolates and serve them instead of pricey canapés straight after the ceremony.
The easiest way to save money here is obviously to let your guests pay for their own drinks. But if that’s not for you, and you’ve opted to provide your own drinks, don’t feel the need to put on a full bar. Provide wine, beer and a couple of personalised cocktails and save on the spirits. Keep an eye out for supermarket deals, especially in Aldi and Lidl, or find a friend with a Costco card and bulk buy. You can even try thinking outside the box a little bit. For example, I recently gave up alcohol (I just can’t handle the hangovers!), but have amassed a pretty great gin collection over the last year. Instead of letting it go to waste, we’re planning on doing a small ‘Gin Bar’ at our wedding, with a few flavoured tonics and bowls of sliced lemon, lime, and cucumber!
The easiest way to keep cost down is by keeping it simple. That way you won’t need to stress too much about setting up the venue beforehand, or spend money on bunting you will never use again. Buying decorations you can reuse it a great idea. A friend of ours used fake flower arrangements instead of real and invited guests to take them home after the wedding. She loves to see her wedding flowers in her guests’ homes. She even has a bunch in her living room!
If you like the idea of fun quotes and signs, why not try finding some free printables on Pinterest? Or if you’re the creative type, you could even have a go at some calligraphy yourself. Calligraphy is something I tried purely for the wedding and fell in love with – I even have hand lettering Instagram account now!
One more last weird tip: Enter every wedding competition you see going. A while back, I entered a competition to win personalised Love Heart sweets to use as favours. I never thought I’d win in a million years, but last week I received an email telling me I had! That’s our favours sorted for free, and one less thing to worry about.
Unfortunately, It’s an inescapable fact that weekend weddings will cost more than weekday weddings. But by thinking outside the box, you can find plenty of ways to save a little here and there. And those savings really add up! Above all else, remember it’s your wedding day. If you don’t want to spend money on something you don’t think is necessary, then don’t! Your guest will be happy to spend the day celebrating with you, and that’s the most important thing.
Do you have any more budgeting tips for future brides? If you do, leave me a comment – I’d love to hear them!