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The Definitive Guide to Setting Your Wedding Budget

Agreeing a budget should be one of the first boxes you tick on your planning list. It is vital to have a rough idea of the maximum you want to spend on your big day. Weddings can be wonderful on any budget from £5,000 to £50,000 it is just a case of finding one that works for you. 


Wedding Planning Editor, Susanna Richardson

In order to set a budget you need to think about what you want from the day. Do you want a small wedding with 40 guests or the whole shebang with 250?  Grand_Estate_Building_Venue_Article_2_.jpg

It goes without saying that feeding 250 is never going to be cheap so really think about those people you want to be there rather than those that you feel you should invite. Never assume that you and your partner will have the same ideas in mind for the big day, so make sure you discuss how the money will be spent. You will also need to agree who pays for what. Many couples now pay for weddings themselves although both parents will often help out. Some couples still like to do things the traditional way and check out the Budget Planner to see who traditionally pays for what. 

If both sets of parents do want to help out it can be a good idea to set aside specific items for them to buy, so for example, the grooms parents pay for the cars and wine, while the brides parents pay for the flowers and dresses. This way it’s not only easier when thanking them for their contribution but it makes them feel their money is being spent wisely.  

With any budget it is always a good idea to have a contingency set aside for all those little extras. 10% is usually plenty and it really helps to have that bit extra for when you fall in love with a dress that is way over budget!  

It never hurts to do a bit of homework. Have a look at costs for venues you like and make a rough note. This will give you an idea of the overall costs and won’t leave you shocked when you get a quote.  It’s a good idea to make up a “venue comparison” document so you can compare like for like. Often one venue will look very expensive but it will include a lot of extras, ditto for photographers. Be sure to look at the overall package. The same goes for everything from dresses to cakes, suss out what you like before going ahead and writing the budget out.  

It is never a problem to budget too high and spend less; it is a good idea to base your limits on the maximum and not the minimum, that way you never get any nasty surprises. If you have some cash left over you can always pop it behind the bar and treat everyone to an extra drink or just add it to the honeymoon and treat yourselves. You really don’t need to overdo it at weddings, less is very much more, so look at what you can take away, this is great budget saver. It’s very easy to go overboard on the little things like favours, that actually don’t add to the day, so try not to get carried away with the fussy bits. 

If you are going to be saving for the big day then a separate wedding account can be a good idea. It helps to stop yourself from dipping in when you spot that fabulous new pair of shoes.  You can then see just what you have left to save and you’ll know to keep on track. 

Budgeting Tips 

  • It’s a false economy to go for the cheapest. You are far better going for a better quality supplier and having a smaller package or simpler design. A good supplier will be able to work to your budget so be honest and upfront.  
  • Negotiate! Think of it as a business deal, shop around and if you think a supplier is over priced ask if they can come down a little. Sometimes rather than ask them to knock money off the bill ask if they can include something extra, this can go down better. 
  • Allow lots of time so you can shop around. The internet is great for getting the best deal so spend lots of time looking. You can even order items from abroad which can be very cost effective, just make sure you allow for the customs charge. 
  • Marry out of season or on a week day. Many venues and suppliers offer great deals in the quieter months.
  • Have a late afternoon wedding. That way you can go straight into the evening do with a snazzy cocktail party. You then don’t need to feed your guests twice.  
  • Make a list of everything you want and then prioritise. Cross out the items that are really needed or won’t add anything extra to the day. This way you can be sure to spend your money wisely. 
  • Have CD music for the ceremony and wedding breakfast rather than live music. No one will notice as they will be too busy with other things. 
  • Use items wisely. Things like having the cake as dessert or using the table arrangements as gifts are always good. Really think about what you can double up on.
  • Look on the high street for dresses. Many high street stores now do a great line in wedding and bridesmaids dresses and this can save you a fortune. You can always add some gorgeous jewellery to make it more unique.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy rather than hire items. With websites like ebay it’s really easy to sell them afterwards.

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