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How much to budget for your wedding? - and when to blow it!  If you're planning a wedding on a tight budget, this will give you all the top tips for where you can cut costs and where you need to focus your spending. Wedding details are important but sometimes compromises have to be made. Just be sure that you don't skrimp on something that you will regret. Find out how to plan your wedding budget, how to prioritize it and where you can save some money on your wedding...

Everyone now is ‘planning a wedding on a budget’.  Actually, we’ve all got a budget, mine might be £1000 and yours might be £100,000 (can we be friends if it is?) but why has everyone taken ‘on a budget’ to mean they want everything cheap? Why should your wedding be ‘cheap’? We’re not talking about putting on a buffet and having a few friends over here, we’re talking about your wedding day!  You will likely only get one. That’s just one time that you’ll choose a venue in which to commit the rest of your life to someone.  Just one time to wear the big white wedding dress that you’d imagined since being tiny and just one chance to have to have the entire day photographed and documented as memories to cherish forever! Why the hell should you do that on the cheap? Have you not earned 1 day where everything is about you (and the groom)? You work hard, you earn your money so stop thinking you have to get everything as cheap as you can in order to throw a bargain wedding, have the day that you want. 

Understanding What You Want From Your Wedding Day

Now the truth is, you can plan an amazing day on £500 or on £30,000. It’s just a case of working out what is important to you both and what you can go without if push comes to shove. So once you’ve worked out a rough figure for your overall budget, sit down with your partner and find out what each of you want from a wedding. If you fiance wants an amazing band and you want a beautiful cake and designer wedding dress, then be sure to make them your priority spends. Allow them more budget but be prepared to compromise on other details. Hiring the town’s biggest band for 2 hours might mean you get to the church in taxis, but if you have no interest in posh cars then this is a worthwhile compromise.

Who Will be Contributing Towards Your Wedding?

Now, the first factor to consider when working out how much to budget is: who else will be contributing. My fiance and I decided to spend our savings on the wedding. It wasn’t a lot but it was a lot to us. This was decided after a conversation where I kindly helped my partner understand how important a special day was to me. I’m not a materialistic person, but a nice wedding day is something I’d always dreamed of, I didn’t want to sacrifice that when we had a little money sat in the savings account for boring grown-up stuff like car breakdowns. This meant that we had £5000 to play with. Then when we told my parents our plans we were lucky that they are very traditional and announced that they would be paying for the wedding. Score! This obviously lightened the load massively and gave us a lot more flexibility (though we still ended up making some bad decisions -hence the reason for this blog).
We started to make a list of everything that we needed for the wedding and put in some rough numbers. Wow it stacks up quickly doesn’t it?

Tips on Deciding Your Wedding Budget:

  • Work out who is contributing and how much
  • Add up how much you have saved and are happy to spend on the day from your own bank account
  • Decide when you want to get married, would you be happy to hold on for another 2 years if it meant you had an extra 3k to put towards it?
  • Count how many people you want to invite, then if your budget is being stretched too far to cover your ‘must haves’ consider losing work colleagues or great uncles that you haven’t seen for years.
  • Talk to your partner, understand what is important to each of you and work your budget around it. Don’t spend £500 on a photo booth if neither of you are that bothered about one!
  • Grab this detailed, free ‘wedding budget and spends tracker‘ so you can see exactly what you’ve spent, to whom and how much you have left:The Clued up bride - Ultimate wedding spend tracker checklist FREE!

The Importance of Good Suppliers

Another very important point that I want to make is, a good wedding supplier is absolutely worth their weight in gold and don’t judge the price of their product or service before you’ve seen what they can do. I made the HUGE mistake of assuming ‘photographer’ meant ‘man with a camera’. I therefore couldn’t understand why some charged thousands on one when I could find one for £200. This is the most common mistake that brides make when planning their weddings, you can read more about it and grab some tips on finding a good photographer here – ‘Why you Absolutely, Definitely Need to Hire a Professional Photographer and how to Find a Good one‘.


Budget or Blow it?

This brings us to the budget or  blow it list. What I mean by that is where you should look for ‘budget/bargain finds and where you should blow the budget in order to have that 1 amazing day that you totally deserve.
Now, remember this is my list based on my wedding and my experience of being involved with the wedding industry, so if something is important to me but you have no care for it at all, then obviously work your budget accordingly. You’ll see that I’ve put professional make up as a priority spend but if you don’t wear make up, drop it from your budget and add something that is important to you!

Venue and Venue Decor – Budget one and blow the other

For example, if you go for the local town hall which was cheap as chips to hire, you could hire a venue decoration company to transform it into something beautiful that matches your colour scheme or theme. If however, you book a fairy tale castle, let it’s natural character be the focus and lose the bunting and balloons all together.

Photography – Absolutely blow it!

Spend time browsing lots of photographer’s portfolios (see full weddings not one amazing shot that they could have got lucky with) and choose one that you really like, then look at the price, you can always pinch some budget from somewhere else but I can’t say it enough, don’t scrimp on your wedding photographer. Those memories are so important and an experienced and reputable photographer will capture every precious moment.

The Wedding Dress – Blow it!

But, shop around!
Yes you can do all of the fancy bridal shops and I absolutely encourage this, (How NOT to buy a wedding dress) but I also found my perfect dress for £300 at a local ‘off the peg’ type shop. The dress was perfect for me and had I spotted it for it’s RRP in a bridal shop at £1200, I’d have still bought it. So yes, looking and feeling amazing is important, but be sure to shop around before blowing thousands, you might get lucky with the one you had your eye on.

Bridesmaid Dresses – Budget.

Sorry Bridesmaids but you’ve got to bare in mind that the day is about the bride, you’ll have your turn. If a bridesmaid has their eye on a particular dress that’s more than you’d budgeted, they can always contribute towards the cost. Otherwise, there are some gorgeous dresses out there that you really don’t need to spend £300 per dress on. All these well-known and brands sell good quality bridesmaids dresses for under £100:

Dorothy Perkins

Marks and Spencer

Chi Chi London

House of Fraser

House of Fraser

Hair and makeup – Blow it.

Again, this all comes down to looking and feeling the part and if you want to look and feel amazing all day, this might mean that you need to hire a hairdresser and professional makeup artist. I did this for my wedding day,  I’m not terrible with makeup but I don’t know the techniques to make makeup last all day and false lashes have always been lost on me. I really did feel like a princess once she’d finished working on me, and that make up didn’t budge all day despite the torrential rain. It was absolutely worth the cost.

Wedding cake – Blow it

This is a tough one for me. I’m not a huge cake fan but I can appreciate the beauty in a wedding cake. We were lucky to have one made by a family member who does this full time. Cakes are expensive if you think of it as just a dessert but actually if you knew the hours and the craftsmanship involved you’d better understand why they cost what they cost. What you don’t want to do is decide that a fancy cake is very important to you both and then try and find one for £100. There are so many things involved, it’s not just icing some sponge. The cake maker will be qualified, experienced, have expensive equipment, overheads, have a food hygiene certificate and insurance. These all cost money. There are too many stories of brides who get shoddy cakes, it’s like photographers and DJ’s, if you want quality, you have to pay for it. A cake can be a real talking point, you don’t want it to be for the wrong reasons.

Chair Covers –  Budget

I’m sorry to the venue dressers out there but when money needs to be found in the budget I think chair covers are something to consider ditching. You’ve got to think, in 20 years time what will you (and your guests) think back fondly of when they think of your wedding day? I’ve never heard anyone say ‘oh the chair covers were beautiful’. They probably were, but unless you really do have a constant flow of cash, it’s something that could be done ‘on a budget’.

Videography – Blow it

Similar to photography, you have the opportunity to watch and relive your day and the emotions you felt during every important moment. So many brides after their wedding will wish they’d booked a videographer, don’t be one of those brides, get it booked and take the time to choose one with amazing work.

Flower Girl Dresses & Page Boy Suits – Budget!

Sorry kids, but as I’ve written above, this day is for mum and dad and the chances are, you’ll be skidding around on your knees within a couple of hours and that’s after you dropped half your dinner down yourself. Plus, you can get amazing kids outfits, without spending a fortune! I recently spotted these beautiful dresses at great prices. Have a look at Amazon as well for more ideas that won’t break the bank…

Wedding Favours – Budget!

You’re paying £40 per head for them to be at your big day, do they really need a little box with mints in? Wedding favours are a lovely personal touch but it’s a sad fact that a large amount just remain on the tables at the venue or end up in the bin! Is it worth the extra £200?

Wedding DJ / Band – Blow it!

You simply won’t get the same atmosphere by just plugging in an Ipod. Music really sets the tone for a wedding. We hired a pianist for the ceremony and throughout the wedding breakfast and I couldn’t recommend him enough. Him and his wife watched the day carefully and adapted the music accordingly. He also made sure that he played my chosen songs whilst I was within hearing distance. It really added that special touch.
In the evening, an experiencef band or dJ will do similar, they will adjust the music accordingly to get the guests  up and dancing. No one wants an empty dance floor or bored looking guests. Same as with the photographer, take the time to find a good band or DJ, look them up on youtube, read their reviews and make sure you’ve chosen entertainment that you’re excited so see. If you’re up and about enjoying yourself, your guests will be right beside you!

Open bar – Budget

Actually no, just ditch it.

If you really want to get all of your guests a drink, consider a drink token each (instead of a wedding favour?) but an open bar could land you a bill of thousands that could be better used elsewhere. Plus you will have the guests who will take advantage of your kind nature and will be having double after double until they can’t stand straight, let them do this using their own cash rather than making a fool of themselves using your bank account! You will probably find they will be better behaved this way too.

Kids Entertainment – Budget

Kids are easily pleased. A couple of colouring books for the speeches, maybe a few games on their tables but you don’t need to spend loads. Bouncy castles are popular for an outdoor wedding but kids won’t care if you’ve chosen the basic castle or the deluxe, Disney princess edition. They’ll just be excited that there’s something new for them to play on and will happily bounce the night away whether you spent £150 or £800 so save the pennies!

Wedding Gifts – Hmmm…

I think this one depends on who has supported you. If you had uninterested bridesmaids or awkward family members, why should you spend extra to buy them a thank you gift when they’ve done nothing but make the planning stressful for you? We had very supportive family around us on both sides, so we wanted to choose something nice as a thank you. I suppose that’s the downside, with a supportive family it means you have to dig deeper into your pocket!


That’s it for now, I hope you found the post helpful, and if you did, I’d love for you to share it with your friends or subscribe so that you never miss a post (though don’t worry, I will only email once a month and I promise to fill it with good stuff)!


If you like a wedding bargain, have you joined the new Facebook group for brides to share their high street wedding bargains and ideas with each other?

Would you like to know whether to budget or blow it for something that I haven’t included above?
Do you disagree with one of my ‘budget or blow its’?
Let me know in a comment, I’d be thrilled to hear from you!

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