The ever-increasing cost of weddings and how to avoid breaking the bank

The ever-increasing cost of weddings and how to avoid breaking the bank

It’s no secret that weddings can be expensive. From the rings to the dress to the table decorations, they all come with an extortionate price tag. In 2018 the average cost of a UK wedding soared to £32,000 –  or £41,500 if you’re tying the knot in the capital.

Whether it is you, your child or your grandchild tying the knot, with a ‘modest’ £30,000 to spend or doing it like the Royals with an extravagant £2 million to blow, careful planning is needed. Here are a few tips to help you avoid breaking the bank:

Work out your wedding budget

wedding budget

Work out how much money you can afford or are happy to spend on the big day. Think about:

  • how much you have saved to spend on the wedding
  • how much your families are planning to contribute (if anything)
  • how much your income can pay for

Remember not all costs will come at once. The costs might be spread out over the 12-18 month wedding planning period. This means you still have time to save for costs that come at the end. Be realistic, because being too ambitious about much you can save may leave you eating baked beans on toast (or even avocado on toast) for your first year of marital bliss.

Traditionally, the bride’s family was expected to pay for the venue and the reception, which usually ends up being over half of the total bill. But times have moved on and the cost of has weddings increased, so these rules are now more fluid. Common sense and circumstances – not tradition – now dictate.

According to National Wedding Survey 2018, 62% of couples receive a contribution from the bride’s parents, compared to just 45% from the groom’s. On average the couple’s parents fork out two thirds of the cost of the wedding. The groom’s parents contributing around 24% and the bride’s parents contributing around 43%,. The couple are then left to make up the 33% remaining. Speak to your family in advance so you aren’t overestimating how much they are willing to help with.

You don’t want to begin married life skimping and saving without a penny in the bank. Just because you have a certain amount in savings doesn’t mean you should spend it all. So consider how much of your savings you want to use for your big day.

Once all the contributions are decided, you have your budget.

Now shave 12.5% off this number


This money will act as contingency money, to cover any extra costs or charges you haven’t anticipated or overspends. So, if your budget is £30,000 then make it £26,250. That way you have some flexibility within your budget without going in the red.

Split your budget in two


The venue is almost always the biggest expense of a wedding. A common rule of thumb is half of your total budget (minus the 12.5%) will be the cost of your venue. This should include:

  • Reception venue
  • Catering: – canapes, wedding breakfast and additional food
  • Drinks: -welcome cocktail, wine for the table, the champagne for the toast, or money for the free bar

The National Wedding Survey found that fewer couples are choosing to marry in a place of worship. 67% of weddings are now taking place at the reception venue. This can sometimes help to reduce the cost of separate florists, specific music and additional transportation required for a location change.

To cut the cost, many couples are now opting for a non-Saturday wedding.

Look at the luxurious venues fit for celebrities in the UK in Confetti blog here.

Calculate your price per head


Many venues will quote you a price per head, so it’s a good idea to be prepared with this budget. Once your guest list has been decided, divide your venue budget by how many guests you have invited.

Bear in mind that extras like room hire, wine, corkage, or additional menu surcharges won’t be included. If your budget is £150 per head, then look for venues around £120 to cover these extras.

Budgeting for the small stuff

The outfits, the band, the doves, the flowers, the string quartet, the decoration, the invitations…the list goes on. Make a list of what you need for the big day and prioritise the items from must have to insignificant.

Armed with your list of priorities and your wedding vision, you are ready to research and gather quotes from different suppliers. Always check the price includes everything, like VAT, delivery, and service fees. Once you have an idea of the costs, you can allocate a budget to each item on your priorities list. Make sure all the allocations add up to your total budget (or under).

Hamish Shephard, Founder of Bridebook, said “the millennial couple care more about every little detail of their wedding than any previous generation. The hyper-personal wedding has arrived”. This means that the list may be pretty extensive.

Some couples also include their honeymoon in this list. If you already live together and have everything your heart desires, why not ask your guests to gift money for your honeymoon instead of buying ‘stuff’. Alternatively, you could ask for donations to your favourite charity.

Be organised


Keeping track on your spending can be the trickiest part. Not to worry, there are plenty of handy resources to use when planning your wedding.

Some couples may be happy with a simple excel spreadsheet and a note pad. However, if you want to take your wedding planning into the 21st century then give one of the many apps such as WeddingHappy a go.

WeddingHappy asks for your wedding date then builds a customised schedule, along with a to-do checklist so you can work out exactly what needs to get done and by when. Alongside that is payment tracking, a spending summary, options for coordinating vendor contact details and the ability to sync with other users.

What’s next?

Well, enjoy the day and live happily ever after. One thing you can be sure of – images will be everywhere – Facebook, smartphones, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter etc. Try hard and keep smiling.

If you need some help calculating what you can afford, contact us today, for an impartial second opinion (not on your choice of partner, simply the budget).

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