Top WEDDING BUDGETING tips from the experts

14 Mar 2022

If you're just getting started on your wedding planning journey, check out these budgeting tips to ensure you stay on track with your spend

Images: Getty

With the average UK wedding now costing upwards of £17,000, wedding budgets are seemingly growing and so, too, is the pressure to stay on top of them. With living costs also seeing one of the greatest hikes in history, couples planning their weddings are undoubtedly feeling the pinch to have the day of their dreams. 

A survey of 2,000 married adults by Shawbrook Bank cited 'poor budgeting' as one of the biggest wedding regrets. While 38% of respondents felt overwhelmed by the cost of their wedding, a fifth (20%) had to make cutbacks due to spiralling costs. The honeymoon was the most common cutback, followed by the guest list, venue and decorations. 

Further research from Wealthify has found that 35.7% of parents in the UK plan to contribute financially to their children's weddings, with the average British parent offering to spend £8,527.62. However, whatever financial support provided by parents or another family member, there is still an onus on the couple to manage the budget themselves and ensure they don't overspend. 

With this in mind, we spoke to the experts – from money management specialists to wedding suppliers, to find out their top wedding budgeting tips. 

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1. Be specific from the outset

Sally Conway, head of consumer communications at Shawbrook Bank: “It’s important to create a wedding budget from the outset so you’re crystal clear on what you can afford when you’re planning for your big day, and it helps you keep your feet on the ground as costs can quickly add up.

“Before doing so, you’ll need to establish how you plan to cover the cost – whether that be savings, family contributions, future earnings or a personal loan. If you already have savings set aside, you may want to consider opening a separate savings account and transferring your existing savings across. That way, you can ensure all costs are paid from one pot allowing you to easily keep track of payments too.

“If you are planning on using future earnings, it’s important to stay realistic with how much you can save in the run up to the big day. And finally, create a 15 to 20% buffer as a cash reserve in case of any unexpected payments closer to the big day.”

READ MORE: 

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2. Think smart when picking a date

Charlotte Marshall from couponninja.com: "Before you can put a budget together for your wedding, you will need to know how long you have to save. Booking your wedding date as far in advance as possible means you have more time to save money and get organised. 

"If possible, try to be flexible about your wedding date. Choosing months, days or times for your wedding that are considered off-peak and not in high demand could help save a fortune. For example, think about selecting a weekday for your wedding as this will be the cheapest or consider pushing the day back into autumn or even winter rather than throughout the peak months of spring and summer."

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3. Establish what you can compromise on

Sam Richards, marketing manager at Gazeboshop: "Whether it’s the venue, your first dance song or the guestlist, it’s important to have honest conversations early on regarding your wedding day priorities. 

"Take care to accommodate things that are important to your partner, even if they’re not necessarily a priority for you. Weddings act as a training ground for difficult conversations and disagreements, helping you to learn how to compromise and stick together as a team. Remember to set date nights with your partner where it is completely off limits to talk about the wedding, too, to give you both a break during the process."

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4. Be clear on who pays for what

Hannah Rose Weddings: "When it comes to your wedding party's glam, the majority of the time this will fall to the couple to pay. Some bridesmaids or groomsmen may be happy to foot the bill, but it is always encouraged that the couple plan this in to their budget and offer to pay for the basics such as hair and make-up if they want them to have it done.

"This really does vary in cost depending on the hair and make-up artist you choose, but I would say to budget a minimum of £150 to £200 per person for hair and make-up for anyone who isn't the bride or groom. Most hair and make-up artists offer packages so that everyone is catered for.

"Mums tend to arrange and pay for their own, but hair and make-up appointments are a nice way to involve them in the preparations too so you may wish to include them in the cost."

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See Fragrance Direct's Wedding Glam Calculator to total your pre-wedding beauty spend.

5. Shop around for your suppliers

Helen Fox, content producer at Ocean Finance: "It’s common for wedding venues to offer packages on venue hire, food and drink, table hire and dressing, and entertainment such as DJs. While some venues don’t permit you to use outside suppliers for some things, if your venue does, for example, allow you to bring in your own caterers, it’s worth shopping around to compare the cost of using the in-house team to bringing in your own supplier and see if you can save money this way.

"On the flip side, ask a potential venue if they have any package deals or preferred suppliers that they’ve negotiated special rates with to see which option will work out cheaper. Prices might not be fixed so you can try haggling here."

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6. Reconsider your dream engagement ring

Claire Beatson, general manager of independent and ethical jewellery brand Nightingale: "Today, couples are making financial decisions together. With the pandemic showing how fragile the economy can be, couples are choosing to be more cautious and savvy with their money pot. A lower price point doesn’t have to mean a less dazzling ring. It simply takes a little more creativity, and a little more wising up on the small adjustments you can make to yours or your partner’s ‘dream ring’.

“Overall, moissanite is universally cheaper than diamonds when comparing similar carat sizes and nearly as durable too. Yellow gold is also generally cheaper than other metals. When choosing a ring metal, it’s wise to plan for the long term maintenance costs alongside your initial budget."

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In the last 12 months, lab-grown diamonds have made up 70% of our engagement ring sales – and it’s easy to see why. 

Steven Stone's leading jewellery expert, Maxwell Stone: “Lab-grown stones and natural diamonds are indistinguishable to the naked eye. The only difference between the two is that natural diamonds are sourced from below the earth’s surface, whereas lab-grown gems are created in a laboratory. Creating a lab-grown diamond is not only more ethical, but it’s also less intensive than the diamond mining process.

"From a production perspective, it costs a lot less to grow a diamond in a lab than it does to mine a diamond from the earth. This means the savings are passed along to shoppers. To put it into perspective, you can purchase a lab created diamond that’s 30% larger than a natural diamond for the same price, or even less.”

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7. Hire outfits

Jonny Rose, marketing manager at Slater Menswear: "If you’re in the process of planning your big day, then you’ll know that picking out the groom’s suit can be just as important as choosing a wedding dress for the big day.

"Picking a suit is all down to personal preference. You’ll want to find a suit that you’ll feel comfortable in — whether this is picking the perfect size or colour that best complements you — as it will be a suit you’ll be wearing all day.

"We at Slater Menswear have carefully curated a wide range of wedding suits, so you can find the perfect suit no matter what your style, and from as little as £69. With everything from tartan prints in the Highland Wear collection, to dapper tuxedos and three-piece suits, you’re sure to find an elevated wedding suit that sticks to the budget."

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8. Try before you buy

Lisa Forde of wedding stationery provider Tree of Hearts: "My best budgeting tip would be to try before you buy. At Tree of Hearts we offer our couples the opportunity to order three free wedding invitation samples from our wedding stationery collections so they can feel and experience the quality and design before they commit to buying.

"We'd recommend doing this with all suppliers where you can – from the dress and décor to the cake and the catering, so you don't have any unfortunate issues when supplies arrive and you don't like them, and have ended up wasting your time and money."

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9. Factor in childcare

Stephanie Wallis, founder of Safe & Sound Childcare Events: "If you're inviting children to your wedding or if you have young children yourself, include childcare in the budget. Childcare is not quite like booking any other service because you can't get a sense of what you're buying. It is important to do research: talk to the venue, talk to the planner and get recommendations; trust and a long standing reputation is really important. Get quotations and look very carefully at what the fee actually buys you. 

"Don't estimate a figure without research because so often this can be unrealistic and children can have a huge impact on the wedding day, so it is important to get it right. An entertainer is great, but they legally can't supervise the children.  Activity packs are also useful but an extra pair of eyes, ears and hands is really the key to this. A childcare company will supply all of the activities as well as the support.

"Childcare will be the best money you ever spent, allowing you and/or your guests to relax and enjoy the day while knowing that the children are being cared for. Teams can arrive at different times of the day for different children, especially if a longer period of time is not within budget. A four-hour window for the wedding breakfast is a great option.

"The parents can contribute or even fully pay for the cost of their own child/ren. This could be for the whole duration which is booked or for part, such as the evening. The parents can then book directly with the company for their own requirements."

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10. Over-order where necessary

Vaishali Shah, cultural wedding stationery designer of ANANYA Cards: "Our advice to our couples is to order 10% extra of their wedding invitations to allow for last-minute guests, personal keepsakes and any mistakes made during addressing the invitations. It is much more cost effective to add the additional 10% from the outset rather than having a reprint just for a handful of invitations.

"Give your stationer your final stationery wording, for invitations and menus for example, to avoid paying for additional design time for changes. It is customary for your stationer to include a set number of changes when they design, and any changes over and above this are billable. 

"The same goes for other wedding essentials, such as catering – order too much rather than too little to spare your guests unwelcome hunger pangs during the day."

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11. Take out a loan if essential

Jo Thornhill, money expert at MoneySuperMarket: "If you’re struggling to save up the funds in time for your big day, taking out a loan might mean you can move your plans forward more quickly. But only borrow once you’ve exhausted all possible ways of saving money towards your wedding.

"Shopping around for the lowest cost loan should mean you’ll avoid paying more than you need for your borrowing. You can search and compare with MoneySuperMarket, for example, and this won’t affect your credit score. Then you can see what loan deals you’re eligible for and what it’s going to cost – plus any fees or early exit penalties. Just be confident you can afford the monthly repayments and you’re comfortable with the length of the loan before you go ahead."

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