Wedding Budgets: Setting Them and How to Get the Most Out of Them

It’s time for our final post from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’s covered a different wedding planning topic and this week she’s covering wedding budgets. How to set them and how to get the most out of them!


Before you can go out and start booking venues and buying dresses, you need to organise your budget. This is very important to do because you don’t want to overspend – this can put a dark cloud over the day if it means going without something really important to you.

Who is going to pay?

Table of Champagne

First things first, you need to establish who is paying for the wedding. Traditionally the bride’s parents take care of the bill with the groom chipping in for the ceremony and the men’s suits and, of course, the honeymoon.

However, times are changing and a lot of couples are paying for their weddings themselves. It may be that one, or both, sets of parents are willing to offer a sum to contribute towards the cost of the wedding. These things should be established before any final budgets are made so you know exactly what you have to work with :)

How much should we budget?

wedding planner

A good place to start is considering what weddings cost. The average wedding in 2013 cost over £18,000. This includes approx. 50% of the budget on venue hire, food and drinks. Bear in mind the spending varies from couple to couple and it is important to remember that this is just an average. Lots of couples get married on much less and much more. I recently worked on a fabulous, romantic wedding that had a very small budget :)

The best thing to think about is how you’re going to spend your money. What is it that you really want? It is important that you budget for exactly what you want. Do you have a dream venue that you really want to get married in? Is there a perfect dress that you’ve seen? Do you really want a swing band? Make sure you’ve got enough budget if you have something really special in mind.

A great way to approach setting your budget is to firstly consider how much you can afford. If you are paying for the wedding for yourself you must only budget what you can afford to. You don’t want to start married life in debt if you can avoid it.

Next consider how many guests you want – don’t do this by guessing, write out a rough guest list as you’d be surprised how many more it will be than you initially thought. This is a great way to set your budget. If you know you have 100 guests and the venue you have your eye on is £50 per head, then consider that 50% of your budget.

Use budget planners online as these are very helpful for keeping a track of everything and figuring out how much to spend. A wedding planner will take care of this for you but you may want to keep an eye on it yourself so these are always handy tools to use. I also recommend including a 10% contingency budget for that one thing that was forgotten or for something extra that crops up.

How to get the most out of your money

It's So Shiiiiny

So how do you get the most for your money? It’s all well and good to set a budget but you need to know that you are able to shop around and get the very best deals, without compromising on service and quality.

First of all, create yourself a wedding account, preferably in a high interest account. This could help you get a little bit extra back from your savings, and every little helps!

Prioritise everything that you want. Try writing out everything you need for the wedding on pieces of card, for example; venue, dress, rings, music, etc. Lay these cards out on a table and move them around in order of importance to you as a couple. This can then help you consider what you can perhaps do without, or at least spend a little less money on, and what you might want to splurge on a little.

If you have a very small budget, but still want all of the trimmings, have a look at some of the deals around at the moment. For example, the £999 weddings at places like Holiday Inn, Britannia Hotels and Old English Inns. They may not be the absolute perfect venue for you, but if you’re working to a very small budget, they may be the answer to your prayers.

Weekday weddings tend to work out cheaper, and a lot of suppliers give discounts for Monday-Thursday weddings, however, this isn’t suitable for everyone. Neither is out of season if you are a teacher or similar, but it is a possibility if you can be more flexible.

Tips & Tricks

Get everything in writing! Find out additional costs for absolutely everything when you are talking to suppliers. For example, are there any additional expenses? Do you have to pay VAT on top? Are there clean up costs? Is service included? Do you need to feed suppliers who are there all day, and what will the caterers charge for this? All of these little things add up, so consider them!

Talking about little things, it is inevitable that you will pick things up along the way…decorations, accessories etc. It’s not sensible to assume that you will write down every penny you spend as soon as you spend it, so have a little box at home for wedding receipts. Chuck them all in there and once a month sit down and make a note of everything. If you’re spending and spending from your wedding budget, you’d be amazed how quickly you can lose the value of a supplier.

Lots of people don’t like or want to haggle and lots of suppliers won’t budge on price; but there’s no harm in asking. I don’t get offended when people ask me the question. It’s only natural that couples are looking to save some money and they want to be sure that there’s no flexibility in price.

Just remember – if you don’t ask, you don’t get! :)

Catering is a huge cost for weddings, and, as mentioned above, the venue and catering usually takes up 50% of the budget, although this can be reduced. If you’re on a tight budget, look at what you are offering for food. Perhaps you can do a hot buffet instead of a three course sit down meal? Or maybe you could do something such as platters on each table?

If money is really tight look at having a later wedding and just doing the one buffet option, instead of a day and evening meal.

Going high street is more and more common and is a great way to save money. While most couples hire in the men’s suits, shopping around for the bridesmaid (and indeed the bride) on the high street can be a brilliant way to save a bundle. Even places like Tesco Clothing are offering flower girl and page boy outfits nowadays!

Although there may be an element of bias here, I am a true believer that a wedding planner can also save you lots of money (trust me, I’ve done it for many couples!). You’d be surprised the discounts we can get from suppliers because we put so much work their way. We can recommend who to work with that can deliver within a smaller or larger budget, what to go for that’s in season and can save a few extra pounds, and where to look for the best deals.

So, in summary, when you are looking for ways to save money: shop around, do a little bit of negotiating and, another important tip; be ruthless! If money gets really tight, cut the head count. It’s one of the very best ways to reduce costs.

For more budget saving tips and further advice, contact me directly, or comment here with any questions. I’ll be happy to help in any way I can!

Rachel xx

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