The average UK wedding now costs an insane £21,000. While some of these expenses are unavoidable, most could be trimmed without your guests kicking up much of a fuss. Or even noticing. Here are some cost-cutting ideas for your special day:
Your biggest outlay is inevitably the venue. If having the reception at home isn’t an option, one way to reduce your spend is to hire a big country house for the weekend and get those who stay to chip in towards their accommodation costs. They’re unlikely to mind, since for them it will still work out cheaper than the average B&B.
One potential glitch is that many big houses make a point of ruling out parties in the contract, but it’s worth calling the owners and negotiating. They may be talked round with the offer of a bigger deposit, particularly if you’re getting married at a quieter time of year.
This will also save money on catering and booze, two other massive expenses. Doing it yourself gives you the freedom to keep the food simple, while a booze cruise to France is an enjoyable cost-saving exercise.
Find out about bridal sample sales. Vera Wang, Jenny Packham and Alice Temperley all have them, while Browns Brides hosts regular sales offering 50% off designer bridal dresses. www.dailycandy.co.uk is a good source of info. If you miss the dates, head to Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, where you’ll find Temperley and Amanda Wakeley outlets, both stocking bridalwear.
Make up and spa treatments
If the Duchess of Cornwall can do her own make-up, so can you. Book appointments at department-store beauty counters, where you can learn professional techniques. Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown and Giorgio Armani are all particularly good for brides. Makeovers are often free, but if there’s a charge it tends to be redeemable against products.
For your waxing/massage/facial needs, visit Groupon and LivingSocial for big discounts, or if you live in London, check out where to get cheap spa treatments in London.
Realistically you won’t have time to do your own, but rope in a willing relative or family friend and send them off to New Covent Garden Market, the UK’s biggest flower market, where 75% of London’s florists source their flowers. But, be warned, you’ll have to get there early. Save old jam jars to use as vases – that way if you don’t trust Granny’s flower-arranging skills, you can go for a pretty, ramshackle English-country look.
Don’t have one, is the simple answer. They cost an absolute fortune (to give you an idea, Choccywoccydoodah, which makes admittedly amazing rococo creations, charges £545 for enough cake to feed 100.) You won’t miss it, I promise. By the time the cake’s wheeled out, your guests are full up, and I know couples who’ve been so drunk by that point they’ve forgotten to cut it anyway.
Get a friend to take them. Or, better still, several friends. Technology is such these days you don’t need to be Richard Avedon to take a good picture. I paid more than £600 for my wedding photographer and he was terrible, really rubbish. Honestly, your guests can do a better job.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid telling any supplier that you’re getting married, as the word ‘wedding’ tends to hike up the price. This is also true of dry cleaners. Mine quoted me £100 to clean my dress, but when I took it in (and neglected to mention the ‘w’ word), he charged just a tenner. Admittedly it wasn’t obviously a wedding dress, but avoiding these is another way to save money, now that the High Street is full of nice dresses. My future sister-in-law just bought her wedding dress from French Connection, and it’s beautiful.
Any other cost cutting tips we should know about? I’d love to hear from you.