With the average wedding now costing more than £20,000, we asked wedding planner Louise Harris how couples can save money but still have the best day of their lives.
1. Hire a Wedding Planner
Any decent wedding planner worth their weight in gold will save you hundreds of pounds on your wedding, not only in the time that you as a couple will save, but also with the discounts that only wedding planners can source on your behalf from trusted reputable suppliers. A good wedding planner should not receive commissions from suppliers, all discounts offered should be passed back on to the bride and groom.
2. Avoid venues with sole caterers
Find a wedding venue that gives you flexibility. The biggest chunk of any wedding budget is the venue hire, food and drink costs. It equates to 45-50% of your total wedding budget. So when you are venue searching make sure you ask all the right questions. Does the venue have a sole caterer? If so, it is very difficult to negotiate on costs. What if that caterer is very expensive or you do not like them? Finding a venue where there is a choice of 2 or 3 caterers gives you more flexibility and allows you to keep control of your budget.
3. Zero corkage charges
Another big cost saver is being able to supply your own drink. There are many venues around who will allow you to bring in your own drink for the drinks reception, wedding breakfast and toast. Usually after the wedding breakfast they ask you to stop serving your own drink and use the venue pay bar. Some venues will charge you a small corkage or service charge, however, there are still a few venues who will not charge you any corkage. This could be a huge money saver, especially if you do a trip to France before the wedding!
4. Day of the week
Many years ago it was a tradition to get married on a Saturday. Nowadays, it is more common to get married midweek. As a Saturday is still a prime day to get married most venues charge more for a Saturday wedding. So if you are not fussed about getting married on a Saturday ask the venue for their other day rates as you could save thousands of pounds on your venue hire. This could be the difference between being able to afford your dream wedding venue and compromising on second best.
5. Do not book your venue without confirming your ceremony
We have seen this so many times, brides and grooms get really excited when they find their dream wedding venue and they go ahead and pay the deposit before they have even checked that the vicar or registrar is available on the day or at the time they want! This results in either a huge compromise on the ceremony time or a loss of deposit if the vicar or registrar is not available on that date. Before you confirm your venue, give the vicar or registrars a call and check they have the availability you want.
6. Day time guests
The biggest cost associated with inviting wedding guests is the number of daytime guests you have. Limit your daytime guests to just family and close friends and then invite everyone else to the evening reception. This will save you hundreds of pounds off your food and drink bill, not to mention having less tables to dress.
7. Recharge your guests for accommodation
Most venues who have onsite accommodation will include a number of bedrooms within the wedding package at a discounted rate. Make sure you ask what the room rates are before you choose your venue as even with discounts some venues are still quite expensive. Recharge your guests for the accommodation, even though it is included within your wedding package it does not mean that you should foot the bill for your friends to stay over. But remember, if you do not sell all the bedrooms you will have to pay for the unallocated rooms if the venue stipulate a minimum number in your venue contract.
8. Save on transport
Find a venue where you can get married and host the reception all in the same place. Not only does this help from a logistical point of view but it will also save you the cost of an expensive wedding car or horse and carriage. Weddings cars cost anything from £350 upwards so this is a big chunk towards another part of your day.
9. Keep your bridal party small
How many bridesmaids and groomsmen you have is completely up to you, but be mindful of the more you have the larger the costs. Some bridal parties are asked to pay for their own outfits, if this is the case make sure you discuss this with your bridal party when you ask them to be your bridesmaid, best man or usher. It can get very embarrassing later on if you then ask them to substitute some of the costs.
Real flowers look and smell divine at a wedding but when you have lots of them it can get quite expensive. Look at ways of reusing arrangements throughout the day e.g. move the tall pedalstalls from the ceremony to the reception venue. Take the ceremony table arrangement with you and place it on the top table.
All small things but they can potentially save you hundreds of pounds!