Wedding date | Flowers | Stationery | Dresses | Photography | Food | Photo Booth | Guest List
A little disclaimer before I start this post. I’m aware that a wedding budget is a very personalised thing, and there are some things that we spent money on that others wouldn’t dream of paying for (professional hair and make up for me, the bridesmaids and my mum…) and some things we saved on that might evoke horror in others (DIY flowers anyone?). Whilst we didn’t particularly have a ‘budget’ wedding, we didn’t want to spend money on things we didn’t have to, and thought carefully about the things that were important to us. We didn’t do or buy or hire anything just because other people were or felt we should. We had also spent all of our savings buying our house, and wanted to really enjoy our honeymoon, without having to spend more than a year planning and saving for our wedding.
During our planning I was shocked at just how expensive all things wedding could be. In some cases I couldn’t see a way around spending a huge amount of money, until I did a little research and found some alternatives. Thanks to these little changes, and the huge generosity of our wedding guests, just two months after our wedding and honeymoon, we have nothing left to pay off for either. I would have loved to have had all these tips in one place during our planning process, and thought this post might be useful for other brides-to-be. So here are our tips…
We got married during August, probably the most expensive month of the year. Moving our date a couple of months either way would definitely have saved us a lot of money, but summer just worked best for us. I’m a teacher and the 6 weeks holidays gave me enough time to recover from work, finish the last bits and pieces, and go on honeymoon straight after the wedding.
We did however, find a way to make our wedding date work for our budget. We got married on a Thursday. This saved us over £5000 compared to a Saturday and even £2000 compared to a Friday. I’m aware this might not work for everyone, but it caused no problems for us at all. We gave our guests plenty of warning with a save the date, and no one minded booking time off for our special day. A few even booked the week off and turned it into a holiday, since they had to travel anyway. Getting married mid week enabled us to have a stunning wedding venue, perfectly suited to our tastes and needs, with professionals on hand, which would not have been available to us otherwise. It even ended up costing less than hiring a village hall and literally doing everything ourselves, phew!
This one definitely isn’t for everyone, but I DIYd our wedding flowers and saved so much money! There were a couple of moments where it felt a little stressful and I started to question my decision, but in the end it was much easier than I expected and I was so pleased with how they turned out. I actually felt really proud of myself too. I watched lots of YouTube tutorials and read some blogs, as well as researching types of flowers. I ended up choosing hydrangeas (their size means you don’t need to order as many flowers, and they do a lot of the work for you), baby’s breath (a great cheap filler that looks oh so pretty), carnations (not too expensive and a huge range of colours) and roses (well because, how romantic!).
I looked into wholesale markets, but there wasn’t one nearby that allowed the public to purchase flowers, so I ended up getting flowers online. Triangle Nursery ended up being the cheapest option for the flowers and delivery options I required, and their website is full of useful information too. The flowers for 6 guest tables, top table, gift table, seating plan, corsages, two bridesmaids bouquets and my bridal bouquet came to only £175! I kept my arrangements simple, and perhaps didn’t have as many flowers as I could around the venue, but they were just how I wanted them, and you really can’t argue with the price.
Another thing I DIYd for our wedding was the stationery. Our save the dates were just a photo I took of our date written on a little black board heart. I added more information onto the photo using the ‘a beautiful mess’ app and printed them using 50 free prints I got for signing up to snapfish! The only thing we spent money on was the envelopes.
For our invitations, I found a lovely free printable online, personalised them, and printed them myself onto white card. While this isn’t a free option, due to the ink and card, it certainly worked out much cheaper then paying someone else to print or make them. For evening guests, we just emailed around the evening invitation, saving some trees as well as money. I tweaked the invitation template to make our seating plan and program fans too.
I bought my dress, the dress, from Wed2b where they have end of line designer dresses, samples and their own range, all priced between £60 and £599. They have such a range to chose from, you don’t need an appointment, and you can take your dress away the same day too. My dress didn’t feel or look like a budget option and no one would have known that it only cost £500 (expect that I felt the need to keep telling everyone haha.)
Wed2b also sell bridesmaids dresses but I decided to be even more savvy with these and go high street. ASOS have a new wedding range, but even aside to that, I think any formal dress looks like a bridesmaids dress when more than one woman is wearing it and they stand together holding flowers! These dresses plus belts, which I added separately, only cost us £60 each. I also kept the cost down by only having two bridesmaids and no flower girls.
On seeing the price of wedding photography I seriously considered a change of career! We briefly considered forgetting a photographer altogether, but the thought broke my heart a little. In the ended we did some research and found a brand new, just starting out photographer who wanted experience to build up a portfolio, advertising on eBay. I’m aware this is slightly risky, and we could have ended up without photos we liked of our wedding, but it paid off and we have 500 stunning photos of our special day. Our photographer was with us from me getting ready in the morning to just after our first dance and captured so many special moment in between. She worked on her own, so we don’t have lots of different angles as we would if she has an assistant, and we don’t have any printed photos in a glossy album, but our wedding photography only cost us £200! Booking early also meant we got her starting out price, but she then ended up with nearly a years worth of extra experience before our wedding day came around.
Feeding all of your guests is not cheap! So we decided to only do it once. We didn’t get married until 3pm, so our wedding breakfast was at 5. From previous experience as a guest I knew that no one would want to eat another meal again that evening, so instead we saved thousands and just served our wedding cake with a cheese board and biscuits.
I love a photo booth, I’m that guest at a wedding hogging it and making everyone I know join me for photos. We couldn’t not have one at our wedding (but if you don’t like them seriously don’t get one just because other people do!) but instead of spending hundreds on a photo booth, I collected lots of different props from cheap shops and friends and family, and bought an old frame from a scrap store and created my own. The guests took their own photos and loved the photo booth experience. It was also there for the whole day and night, as we weren’t renting a booth for set period of time.
Just because something is for your wedding, it doesn’t mean you have to get it from a wedding shop! I got lots of little bits and pieces from eBay and even found my bridesmaid’s bags in home bargains for 79p each! When everything comes together it really doesn’t matter where are the little things are from.
Don’t invite everyone you know. Don’t feel pressured into inviting anyone for any reason. We didn’t even invite people’s plus ones if we hadn’t met them, which might seem a little harsh but really did save us lots of money.
Make your own favours
…or go without them completely if you prefer. I made fudge for our favours, bagged it in little cellophane bags from eBay and hand wrote a name label that doubled up as place card! (I made that sound simple, it wasn’t! There were a few failed batches of fudge and a few tears, but I’m stubborn so didn’t want to end up without favours when I’d planned to make them!)
My last tip would be not to get carried away with the little extras. It might be nice for your bridal party to all have matching robes, make up bags, hoodies etc, but these things can all add up pretty quickly, and you really don’t need them to make you special day perfect. Especially towards the end of the planning process, these things can become really tempting, and I definitely got sucked into buying a few, but try to stay strong as ask yourself if you really do need them!
I hope this post has been useful if you are planning a wedding, or an interesting read regardless if you’re not. Any excuse to share some wedding photos right! I’d love for you to share my post if you’ve found it helpful.
What are your top tips for sticking to a budget whilst wedding planning?
Thanks for popping by,