We all know getting married is expensive, so why do we naively believe we can beat the system? However, clever wedding hacks can help save you money and still give you the day you want. Short of eloping (or never getting engaged, like one mate recommended) your wedding day is likely to be an investment once you add together the cost of the venue, the outfits, the food, drink and entertainment. You can slice costs if you're willing to be open-minded and experimental, but even if you don't want to kick tradition altogether, there are ways of getting your dream day for (a little bit) less.
We've rounded up some of the best money saving wedding hacks below.
For many brides, the dress is the centrepiece. We only plan on getting married once, so we might as well do it in style, right? On the other hand, it can be tricky to justify eye-watering multi-digit prices on an outfit we'll wear for one day, potentially ruin, then stick in the attic. These days savvy brides are wise to the fact that the high street have some truly phenomenal options at much more approachable prices. Coast's bridal separates enable you to build an outfit you love, with detachable organza sleeves, statement bow waist belts and skirt overlays, while also offering full dresses at incredibly reasonable prices – whether you're a fun bride looking for a feather trim, or a trad bride interested in a full satin A-line. Likewise, ASOS and ChiChi do some incredible gowns for under £200 and for minimalist modern brides, Reformation offer beautifully tailored dresses for under £500. Want something designer that you can keep in your wardrobe and re-wear? Net A Porter and Farfetch offer dreamy outfits (that just happen to be white). Or get savvy and filter for white and ivory dresses in the bridesmaid section. Pretty Lavish, Duntery and JJ's House do loads of pretty options for less by swerving the actual bride section.
Still have your heart set on a traditional wedding dress? Check in at your favourite boutiques to see if they have any sample sales planned, or you can browse pre-loved sites where brides are selling their wedding dresses for hefty discounts. You can filter by designer, shape, price and location to find exactly what you're looking for.
If you’re willing to be flexible about the time of the week and year you get married, you can get your dream venue for a lot cheaper. Peak times are between April and October (with July and August generally the most expensive), so if you’re open to getting wed between November and March you could save thousands. The same goes for the day of the week, Fridays and Saturdays come at a premium, but if your guests are willing to come on a weekday, you could save a lot of money.
Or, you could consider non-traditional venues (if you're getting married at a registry office prior and want an intimate gathering of under 40 guests). Airbnb and Rural Retreats have some beautiful venues for the reception without the premium that some wedding venues charge. And they also often offer more flexibility in terms of the schedule and even things like corkage. Just be mindful that it will probably take more planning and there might be costs you hadn’t considered. For example, you may have to organise caterers, cutlery, crockery, chairs, marquees and generators.
It’s important not to scrimp on food because no-one wants hangry guests, but you can be realistic about how fancy you’re willing to go. Since most caterers charge per head, to really save on costs you might just have to be strict on numbers. Invite your nearest and dearest to the ceremony and lunch, then your wider friendship group, or friends' partners, for the evening.
As for what you're serving up. You want a meal that's good on quality and quantity but unless you’re foodies, you don’t need to go for Michelin-starred cuisine. Sharing platters, buffets and grazing plates will likely work out cheaper than individual meals for everyone, plus you could offer your wedding cake as the dessert so that it gets the moment it deserves and isn't forgotten at the end of the evening. And, on that note, do you have any bakers in the family or your friendship group? A homemade cake can feel more personal and thoughtful and work out more affordable.
First of all do you actually want flowers? And do you want your entire bridal party to have them?You could switch out big bridesmaid bouquets for a single flower like a plush white rose for more minimalist monochrome vibes. Or if you’re getting full bouquets for yourself and all your squad, set them in water when you’re at the table so they can double up as part of your tablescape.
Another thing to note? Buy seasonally. If you choose blooms that are out of season, they’ll be a lot more. And go for greenery. Foliage can look lush, full and pad out your bouquet for significantly less. As for filling the table, lots of little stems in smaller vases and jam jars work out much cheaper than massive centrepieces.
Obviously, the easiest way to save on costs is to take your glam in house and do it yourself (we’ve got all the pro tips here). Or if your skills aren’t up to scratch, do you have a friend whose skills are? If you do decide to get a pro in, choosing someone local means you won’t have to pay extra for travel or accommodation.
The photos and videos
For some a photographer and videographer are one of the biggest priorities as they create a lasting reminder of the day, but how professional do you need your pictures to be? Can you ask guests to take pictures throughout the day. Perhaps provide disposable cameras around the event and pick the friend who’s the best at taking pictures to be in charge of snapping some nice shots.
If a crisp, pro touch is important to you, how many photos do you feasibly need? You could ask your photographer whether they do express packages, or shorter days, where they shoot for 1-3 hours rather than morning to evening. This means less shooting time and less editing time – but if you only want a dozen or so perfect shots of the day, that should be more than enough. As with your glam squad, a local photographer will charge less for travel and save you paying accommodation costs.
As for video, your photographer or videographer might be prepared to shoot some video and give you the rough footage. That way you or a friend can edit the footage together yourselves. Or if your budget doesn’t stretch to the pros, ask your friends to take as many videos as they can for you to edit it together. There are tons of apps that make DIY editing easier. It might not have the finesse of a pro, but it can be create a charming snapshot of the day.
Really think about what you want, versus what’s traditional. Just because it’s traditional to do wedding favours doesn’t mean you have to. If you reckon they'll just get left behind, ditch them. If they’re meaningful and sentimental to you, go ahead.
Likewise, just because it’s tradition to stay in separate rooms the night before the Big Day, it doesn’t mean you have to. Sharing with your spouse-to-be might help to settle your nerves (and bonus, it’s cheaper).
As for the smaller details, do you need paper invites? Do you need a bespoke design? There’s plenty of affordable templates on Etsy, Zazzle and Cottonbird that can cut down the cost on your wedding stationery. Or you could create your own website with platforms like Appy Couple and Square Space and collate all the info guests need there.