This could save you hundreds of pounds
Unless you're applying for Don't Tell The Bride and leaving fate into your groom's hands, then you know how stressful planning a cool wedding can be, especially when you're on a budget. Because unfortunately, as soon as you mention the 'W' word, things get very expensive indeed.
I got married a year ago, and although I'll admit mine ended up costing more than the average wedding cost (by choice mostly), there were a few tricks I learned along the way to cut down on costs, and these can easily save you hundreds of £££.
Choose the right date to get married
Everyone wants to get married on a Saturday in summer, which makes it a super expensive option. Our venue was booked up every Saturday for the whole of summer, however there were some Sundays left, so we took the plunge and booked it, figuring people could take the Monday off if they wanted to, but could easily get to work the next day if not.
That saved us £1,000 compared to the Saturday, and if we'd booked it on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday then it would only have cost us £1,000 for the whole venue. Of course, it's a risk as not all your guests will want to book two days off work during the week, but it's worth thinking about.
Winter dates are also cheaper (apart from around Christmas and New Year's), with January being perfect for snapping up wedding venues at a discount of 50%.
How to find a cheap wedding venue
It's worth thinking outside the box for wedding venues. The obvious ones (which usually come up when you Google 'wedding venues') tend to be the more expensive ones, but if you look for places that don't usually host weddings, then you might be able to strike a deal. Think local pubs, Grade listed homes, industrial venues like old factories and so on.
How to haggle on catering
A lot of money saving sites tell you that the key to cheap catering is telling the caterer it's for a big party rather than a wedding. I wasn't quite so bold, but I haggled anyway. Remember the price list they give you is a starting point, no one really pays the full price. We saved 20% on our total feels by saying we only had a £xx budget for the food and they could take it or leave it.
If you can't haggle, try and see if they'll throw in anything for free. A friend of mine got her dessert upgraded, which doesn't seem like a lot, but saved her £100s.
How to find a wedding dress on a budget
I'm very lucky in that I got a brand new Carolina Herrera dress for 60% off the normal prices. Why? Because I bought it from a bride on PreOwnedWeddingDresses, who had simply changed her mind and gone for a different style. Of course, there are second hand dresses on that site too, but if you don't mind that, then there are some amazing designer wedding dresses you could get for a fraction of their original cost. Think Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier and Vera Wang.
But if you're not willing to spend hundreds or even thousands on a dress, that's totally understandable, you'll only wear it once after all. The good news is there are plenty of high street wedding dress options that look designer, and that you can easily wear again.
If you're willing to sift through a few racks, then did you know charity shops like Oxfam have dedicated wedding sections? Some of them are brand new donations too, including end of line stock from actual wedding dress shops.Cheap bridesmaids dresses
I personally didn't want to spend more than £100 on bridesmaids dresses, and also wanted styles that my maids could wear again should they want to. So I just looked on the high street. Top tip: search around prom time/wedding season as it's prime time for embellished and floral dresses. I got some gold sequin dresses from H&M at £60 a pop, so had enough left over for shoes.
Ask friends to help organise your wedding
This may not always apply, but ask friends if they have any skills that could help. My sister, a keen baker, made our wedding cake, while two other friends did photography and DJing (we asked them not to give us wedding presents and paid for their accommodation), so we saved more money here, especially as photographers can cost upwards of £1,500.
Make a list of your priorities
At the end of the day, you've got a budget, and there will be sacrifices you have to make to not go over it (which I don't recommend, you don't want to spend more than you can afford). We decided food and drinks were more important to us than a flower wall and a popcorn station, for example.
Be brutal with the guest list
We decided not to have evening wedding guests, so that cut down the guest list massively, and we only invited people we saw more than once or twice a year. It sounds mean, but just because a distant cousin is family, doesn't mean you should invite them if you don't see them.
We also opted not to have children (controversial, I know), which helped bring the cost down, especially as a lot of our friends have children now. It's quite a common thing to do now too.
Cheap wedding decorations
Why spend a fortune post boxes and table numbers when you can buy them second hand for cheap? Check out sellmywedding.co.uk, where brides get rid of the items they won't use again, and you can usually haggle too. Also, ask already married friends if you can borrow any of their decorations. One kind couple gave us all their fairy lights and candles.
Save on wedding transport
If you're not ready at the same venue you're getting married at (for example, if you're having a church wedding), then you'll probably need a car to take you to the venue. Now I'm not that bothered with cars, and didn't fancy spending loads on a vintage Rolls or other, so I asked my uncle, who had a nice BMW, to drive me instead, and it was perfect, as it helped with the nerves too.
Remember everyone will already be waiting for you in the ceremony room, so won't see the car anyway. It's only good if you want pictures.
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Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.
Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).
Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at MoneySavingExpert.com, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.
However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.
Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.
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