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Wedding ideas on a budget

Wedding ideas on a budget

Congratulations! You’re going to have a great day with the one you love. Make sure that feeling lasts well into your marriage or civil partnership by avoiding a big bill after your big day.

Cheap wedding reception ideas

The most expensive item on your wedding bill is likely to be your venue hire - here are some tips on getting an amazing location without breaking the bank.

Get married in the low season. Some venues will be cheaper in around October to March. Similarly, weekdays will often be cheaper than weekends. Be flexible with your dates and see what you could save. 

Where can I get married on a budget?

Village halls, church halls, sports clubs, small hotels and pub/restaurant dining rooms can offer cosy and cost-effective options. See what types of spaces and locations are available, and keep an open mind about in the place you get married in. 

Don’t worry if the space is relatively plain, you can still decorate it on a budget.

Avoid mentioning what the celebration is for if you can help it, until you’ve secured the venue. A ‘party’ will cost a lot less than a wedding! 

How much does a typical wedding venue cost?

Read our average cost wedding blog to find out what people are typically paying overall, along with figures for elements like reception venue, photography, cake and flowers.

 

Cheap wedding food ideas

Choose your approach to alcohol

The venue you choose and how you handle alcohol will have a big impact on your food and drink budget. Choosing an all-inclusive venue means that you can haggle on the overall cost, rather than dry hiring a venue and having to negotiate all the supplier bills separately.

Check whether your venue allows guests to bring their own alcohol, and what the corkage per bottle fee is. Sometimes it can cost more to bring your own booze thanks to high corkage costs. 

If you’d prefer to supply the drinks, set a limit on what alcohol you want to pay for. For example, pay for the toasts and alcohol with the meal, and then set up a cash bar. 

How to save on the food bill

For an intimate and vintage feel, consider a summer BBQ or bake-off buffet, where everyone shows off their culinary skills and brings a savoury or sweet dish to the wedding. Get any friends and family who cook particularly well to help you by making their speciality, so you know at least some of the menu in advance.

Go for cheap and filling foods like rice, pasta or pizza, and style them up. For example, serve thin-crust pizzas from a wood fired oven for a summery outdoor feel, or to accompany late night revels.

Get a food truck or run a bar to bring some novelty to serving the food. Cheaper ingredients like pasta, bruschetta, burgers and baked potatoes can be customised with a range of toppings and turned into a fun experience. 

After dinner, why pay for dessert when you’ve got wedding cake? If you want your guests to stay late, go for crisps and dip, crackers and cheese or sausage butties for late night snacks.

Pick one meal to serve

There’s nothing worse than hungry guests. The start time of your wedding will impact on your food and drink bill: the later in the day you start, the fewer times you’ll have to feed guests. 

Pick a time of day for your ceremony that allows your guests to have lunch before your wedding, and then focus your budget on a slap up early evening meal. 

Cheap wedding dresses

Feeling like a million dollars in your outfit is a big part of the day, but that doesn’t mean it should cost a lot. Wedding dresses are intended to be used once, so there’s a huge second-hand market for pristine dresses. Look in charity shops or online to get a fantastic deal on a wide range of preloved outfits. 

If you don’t mind a bit of queuing, check out sample sales to get one-off designer pieces. Look in some high-end high street stores in the sales, you might find just what you’re after for your dress, shoes and accessories.

You can order a tailored dress directly from a supplier in China for a fraction of the UK retail price, but be sure to do your research on this option. There are Facebook groups dedicated to this, so find out what’s worked for other people, read reviews and message the supplier before buying. 

Cheap wedding decoration ideas

Lighting makes a little go a long way. See what lighting states your venue has to offer, and go for fairy lights or tea lights as part of your décor. 

Glassware such as trendy mason jars will also bring some beautiful reflected ambience to your lighting. (Obviously you can just collect normal glass jars rather than buying trendy ones!)

Go preloved and get a deal on your décor. Think about it, you’re only going to need it once! You can get a package deal with table runners, centrepieces and table planner on Facebook groups or sites like eBay or Gumtree where you can buy someone’s wedding décor. You can also sell it all when you're done and make some money back.

Try focusing on a few statement pieces or a theme that ties small decorations together. Your table decor could also double as icebreakers, like questions about how well guests know the couple, or funny props for photos, or even as little favours for people to take away. 

If you’re using two spaces for the ceremony and reception, don’t forget to move the flowers and decorations across, rather than buying two sets.

Cheap wedding bouquet ideas

If you’re having flowers, your bouquet will be photographed a lot, so there’s a temptation to spend a lot. However, you can get a great look with silk flowers - they’re much nicer than they used to be! Or if you’re up for some crafting, make a paper bouquet, or order one new or second-hand as a lasting keepsake. This way you cut delivery charges from florists.

If you definitely want fresh flowers, go wild! Wild flowers are perfect for a rustic or vintage feel, and cost next to nothing. Also, ask any keen gardeners you know what they could give you as a wedding gift. 

For a more curated look, see what you can get from your local flower market or supermarket on the morning of your big day. A few bigger blooms and lots of lush smaller, cheaper flowers or greenery can work wonders. Don’t be afraid to economise on the bridesmaids’ bouquets either - focus on the main bouquet.

How can I save money on a florist?

If you decide to go for a florist to supply your flowers, think local: florists local to your venue will know it well, and it keeps delivery charges down. Try to go for flowers that are in season as well, which will save you cash. As you can imagine, red roses are going to be quite expensive, especially around Valentine’s Day! 

Cheap wedding cake ideas

Got friends and family who bake? If you’re open to them using their creativity, ask them to flex their bake-off skills as a wedding gift and make your cake. 

Alternatively, get plain white iced cakes or un-iced sponges from a supermarket and have someone ice and decorate them for you, or do the icing yourself if you’re confident with this sort of thing.

Want to go for a grand look? Ask the baker to ‘fake’ a couple of cake tiers for you, giving you the look of a three-tier cake, but really, two are iced cardboard and one is cutable.

Having a laid-back event? What about cupcakes or doughnuts instead of cake?

Cheap wedding guest book ideas

Searching for specifically wedding-themed stationery, you might find a premium price tag. Scan the sales for a nice notebook in your colour theme - lots of gift items will be cheap in January or after the back to school peak. 

Or rather than a notebook, make a wedding scrapbook. Get a pack of postcards and scatter them around as part of your décor, and have guests write their well wishes and ‘post’ them into a box for you to read and collect in your scrapbook.

Get your guests to type, snap or record their good wishes to make a low-cost or free digital guest book of text, photos and videos. You can always print out the photos at a later date. Use a guestbook app, wedding website or even a social media platform to host all your digital well wishes.

Cheap wedding table plan ideas

Wedding stationery is where you can really let your crafty hobbies shine and save money. Calligraphy, stamping, graphic design, drawing and painting could all come in really handy to make unique table plans for the cost of craft materials. 

Or, use an online table plan template, put your guest names in and print out in colour for a few pounds, and frame it in line with your theme and decor.

Bulk buy your table stationery together with your invitations and table numbers to save even more. Remember, allocating every seat isn’t always necessary, so you can save on buying an individual place name for everyone. If you can, allocate tables and let guests sit free range.

Cheap wedding night ideas

After all the planning, adrenaline, food and an amazing day, you’ll be exhausted! Ideally don’t plan to travel far on your wedding night - a clean and quiet room where you can crash may be just what you need. 

If you’re having a reception in a hotel, see what deals you can negotiate on rooms - it’ll make getting ready beforehand and going to bed afterwards much easier. If not, see what deals you can get in places nearby, such as holiday lets, B&Bs or AirBnB. 

Wherever you go, music and lighting will help you create a lovely atmosphere. Tell the accommodation that it’s your wedding night, often they’ll go above and beyond to make it special for you.

Money troubles are one of the top reasons for relationships to break up, so keep a close eye on the things you’ll remember longest, like the photos. Prioritise things that are important to you, and do your best to keep the guest list numbers in check to help give you a wedding day that doesn’t push you into debt. 

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