Wedding budgets are super important, they keep you grounded and really make you consider what is most important. Budgets are personal, individual and something that should be considered with care, attention and true honesty. So whether you are on a DIY £5k budget (like I was and kept to it!) or couple with £50k to burn this post will help you think about what to spend your hard earned cash on! Planning an amazing relaxed and super fun wedding is completely possible if you’re clever with your choices and make smart decisions. You’ll be surprised how far you can make even the most meagre of budgets go.
Now I quite enjoy a good spreadsheet, however, it becomes a little less fun when you see how quickly that money can essentially disappear. So let me help you have a think about it all, you don’t want to run out of money before you have booked all the essentials!
So here we go….
Talk it out
You both need to be united at the start – be honest and discuss what you can sensibly afford and how you’re going to pay for the wedding. You are building a life together, that is what a marriage is. Yes the wedding is the fun part, the massive party but it is not worth starting married life together in debt, You should also think about how much you actually want to spend. Maybe you can afford a bigger wedding, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend everything you have!
If you have parents that want to help then you need to have an open and honest conversation with them about what is expected from both sides, yours and theirs. It is essential at this stage to make sure that everyone is on the same page from day one to avoid any misunderstandings later on. In return, I think that if parents are contributing then it is only right to ask if and where they’d like to be involved in the wedding. Andy and I paid for our wedding ourselves but wanted everyone to be on board and my own parents were great, they knew that we were on a tight budget, we wanted to do it all ourselves and that we really didn’t want to follow traditional. It was super important to my mum that she was part of finding my dress and my MIL wanted to help out with the food because of her catering background. We were really lucky that we had lots of people willing to help out with ‘doing stuff’ later down the line, and It all worked out because Andy and I made it very clear from the get-go what we wanted to achieve.
Work out how much you can save and start a savings account. You’ll be surprised how quickly it can build up. Write down how much you both earn every month and then make a note of all your outgoings and see how much is left over, but be sensible, you need to still live and enjoy yourselves, you don’t want to live off super noodles! There are also bank accounts and mobile apps out there now that allow you to ‘round up’ meaning that when you buy that morning coffee for £2.80 you can round up to £3.00 and put the 20p into an account. It might now sound like a lot but it really does add up – typically you could save an extra £400, that is money towards any number of things on your wedding list!
List it all
The next thing you should do is to sit down together and write out everything that you would both love to have/wear/do/eat at your wedding. Figure out how much these things are going to cost and then decide which of those are non-negotiable. What can be cut out completely, If things can be DIYed/ what favours can called upon and then have a ‘nice to have list’ This may involve some compromise, but once you have your priorities in order, allocating your budget will be that little bit easier.
Below is a very rough guide of the average costs in the UK
Photography: £1200 – £2500
Videographer: £1000 – £2000
Wedding Dress: £1000 – £2000
Engagement Ring: £2500
Wedding Ring: £400 – £1000
Band/Entertainment: £600-£1500 (depending on numbers of band members)
Catering: £25-£50 per person
Makeup: £200 (bride only + pre-wedding trial) +£50 extra per person
Hair:£150 (bride only + pre-wedding trial) +£50 extra per person
(I haven’t included venues because this can vary so wildly depending on what you have. A back garden wedding is going to be considerable cheaper than a stately home!)
So as you can see, this can all really add up quickly! When I got married we decided that we wanted to cut back on things like stationery (I made everything, invites, the order of service, table plans etc) The cake was made by a friend of Andys mum. We did not have any flowers, we picked lavender from neighbours gardens and dried it out and for the centrepieces we use twigs from the woods and made those into an autumnal feature. We didn’t have fancy cars, we hitched a lift on the back of my parent’s neighbours tractor (true story). We went for really informal food and had a local bistro do it for us. We didn’t do favours (i just dont see the point unless you are dontaing to a charity that is close to you), we arranged all the evening food with a big trip to the cash and carry before the wedding and organised friends of friends to come and serve it all for us so we didn’t have to. We set up and made a Photo Booth ourselves in the evening and got a super, super cheap barman to come in and get all our guests drunk! We basically made and did as much stuff as we possibly could ourselves. By cutting out the things that we felt were less important or the thinhs that were just expected to do or have a wedding, meant we had more money to spend on the things we really wanted and cared about – a relaxed barn venue, delicious informal food, lots and lots and lots of booze and the most important thing, our amazing photographers. *I will say though we didn’t have a videographer and that is one of my biggest regrets. We have snippets from the day from my dads videocamera, but now I see the amazing work of some of the videopgraphers out there… and I wish we had valued the thought more at the time of planning and put that money aside.
I am going to add this bit in because I truly believe that wedding photography is 100% an investment. You need to insure that the person you have chosen to capture your wedding will deliver everything you hoped them to and in my honest opinion, professional photographers (whose sole job is photography) start around £1500+ for all-day coverage. My advice to you is to really do your research if you can stretch that photography budget at all, do it. So many people focus on getting the numbers down and opting for a cheaper option and that sometimes works with decor, flowers, extra add-ons where you can find a cheaper alternative, but to compromise on photography… that’s the physical proof off all your hard work, the visual reminder of all the love that surrounds you on the day and most importantly of all, it’s what you will want to look back on together in many many years to come and still feel the butterflies. Good photography can do that. I’ve heard far too many people say I wish I had not done this and spent a fortune on that and that sucks because really you do this once! So my advice right from the get-go is allow a healthy amount of your budget to find a photographer that you love, trust and who really understands you as a couple. You really won’t regret it. You can read more about my approach and style here.
So don’t be afraid of sitting down together, talking over what is important, setting a budget and sticking to it. Doing this will enable you to have the best day ever and not be faced with gloomy debt once the wedding is over.
It’s so, so important to me that I work with couples who love what I do. If you’d like to have a chat about how I work in more detail, please get in touch and I’ll send you a brochure, and we can arrange to have a chat over Skype to find out a bit more about each other.