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Big day budgeting: Six alternatives to wedding loans

We know weddings aren’t generally cheap. Just mention the ‘W’ word to any venue, caterer or cake maker and prices magically seem to jump up. Now research shows some newlyweds are starting their married life together paying off big day debt.

Sainsbury’s Bank found its customers are borrowing close to £9,000 on average to supplement their wedding fund – probably because the bank also found the average cost for millennial (18-32 year old) brides and grooms tying the knot is £21,109.

Of course not every wedding is funded by loans - in this example it’s just those who have applied for a loan with Sainsbury’s and stated ‘wedding’ in the application. But it does demonstrate couples are willing to borrow to fund their big day.

Six alternatives to wedding loans

Rather than borrow with a loan or putting things on credit cards, there are ways to stop overspending on your wedding but still have a perfect day. Here are our top six.

1. Set the date based on how much you can save

Rather than pick a date and work out what it’ll cost, take a look instead at how long it will take for you to save up for your ideal day and then set the date.

This might mean the wedding is later than you planned, but at least you’ll know you can start your married life without worrying about how you’ll cover your debts.

2. Be ruthless with the guest list

The more people you invite, the more expensive the wedding will be. If having everyone there is going to put you over budget and into debt, people will likely understand if they don’t get to attend the whole day.

Work out how many people you can afford to invite, then start off with the people you really want there. It will be a difficult decision at times, but it will save you money.

3. Ask for family and friend contributions instead of gifts

It’s far less common nowadays for the bride’s family to pay for everything – if anything – but it’s worth seeing if parents are happy to contribute rather than buy you a gift.

The same goes for the other guests. It’s more and more common for couples to ask for contributions to the honeymoon as a wedding present, helping reduce how much you need to save for your trip.

Did you know?

Parents can give up to £5,000 for their child’s wedding without it counting to their annual “gift allowance”, meaning the money is exempt from inheritance tax. Grandparents can give £2,500 and other relatives and friends can give £1,000. 

4. Make a change from tradition

One of the priciest parts of a wedding is usually the sit-down meal, so consider if you can do it differently.

A buffet doesn’t have to be cold sausage rolls – think big pies or sharing platters. If you’re spending money on a cake, why not serve it for dessert.

You can also save in areas such as the bridal party. The high street is a perfect place to dress your bridesmaids, while most groomsmen will have a suit that’ll do the job.

5. Strip out all the extras

Flowers, favours, invitations… the list of extras you end up buying for a wedding can seem endless. The thing about most of them is people don’t tend to remember those little details. So if your budget is tight, see where you can cut back.

Smaller, strategically placed flowers can be just as impactful as huge arrangements. A free drink at the bar is probably a better received favour than some sugared almonds.

6. Keep track of all your spending

Ultimately though, you need to keep an eye on all your spending. The wedding budget is probably one of the easiest to break – but every little extra you overspend on can add up to a decent chunk of cash.

Estimate how much everything will cost and try to stick to it as much as you can. Then write down the actual costs so you can keep track. You can use our budget planner for this.

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