So, you've proposed/been proposed to and you've got stars in your eyes, butterflies in your stomach, and a warm tingly feeling in your heart. First off, congratulations! We absolutely love to hear about two people coming together and having an amazing celebration to mark the beginning of a beautiful lifetime together.

But just like almost anything in life, you've got to put your hand in your pocket to enjoy the perks of something you want or need… and a wedding day is no different.

Then, it'll probably come as no surprise to you, that according to a national wedding survey conducted in 2018, the average price of a wedding in the UK shot up by 12% from 2017 to 2018, resulting in just under £17,000 spent per couple!

Does that mean that those tying the knot are opting for more refined and lavish weddings? Actually, no. The 12% rise in the amount spent on a wedding was due to an increase in supplier costs, such as a marquee hire, catering, and décor.

For that reason, we've compiled a list of things you should consider as part of your wedding budget so that you're well-prepared and in-the-loop when it comes to planning your perfect day. In fact, this handy little guide may even help you to cut a few corners resulting in a fair amount of saving.

What kind of wedding do you want?

Of course a wedding budget can vary greatly depending on the type of celebration you're after. A gorgeous high-end wedding at the St. Pancras Hotel or a destination wedding, for example, would naturally be way more expensive than a small and intimate wedding ceremony somewhere lovely yet low key.

When do you want to get married?

Did you know that the time of year and the day of the week that you choose to tie the knot plays a big role in how much you'll be spending?

By opting for a low season wedding (November - April), you'll have the chance to potentially save quite a pretty penny - especially if you choose December, January or February.

For example, if you were interested in getting hitched in 2020 at a gorgeous location just outside of London, you'd be looking at spending between £5,000 and £6,200 May through September. But should you decide on a January wedding, you're looking at around £3,500 to £4,400. That's quite a considerable chunk of change.

Then comes in the factor of what day of the week you'd like to celebrate your big day. It'll surely come as no surprise that Saturdays are the highest in price, while Monday through Thursday and Sunday cost much less.

Naturally however, there are some down sides to choosing an off-season wedding. During the winter months, people are far less likely to want to leave their homes for an event than if it were one of those well-sought-after long summer days.

And when it comes to mid-week weddings, you may see a smaller guest list, as invitees would need to get time off work, and children time off school in order to attend. A possible solution would be to choose a date during the winter school holidays.

To further prove this point, a wedding taking place at Farbridge Barn on a Wednesday in January 2020 would cost £3,500, whereas a wedding on a Saturday in August would cost £6,200. That's an almost 80% mark-up!

Then, the time of day that you choose to say your "I do's" also has quite a big impact on your wedding budget. A morning ceremony followed by a brunch would cost a lot less, for example, than a late afternoon wedding followed by a reception party that ran until midnight or later.

Be realistic in your guest list

Be realistic with your guest list

We suggest that you create a preliminary guest list. Write down every single person you'd like to have at your wedding, no matter how long the list is. Then, once complete, come back down to earth and realistically edit your list so that your chosen venue and wedding budget can accommodate.

Then, when it comes to sending out your invites, it's fair to assume that around 10 - 20% of those invited will decline. For that reason, we suggest that you go ahead and invite a couple of people on your "maybe" list, as you will more than likely end up having room to accommodate them.

And finally, when it comes to guests who have RSVP'd "yes", you can confidently assume that around 5% of those who said that they will be attending, will either cancel or be a no-show on the day. Plan your big day according to that number, as you'll be able to save on a number of wedding costs such as the catering.

Creating a budget for absolutely everything

Wedding Budget

Of course, depending on the kind of wedding you're planning, the costs will vary greatly. Which is why we've compiled two handy tables for you to use as a guideline, depending on your wedding budget, so that you can plan your big day like a pro.

Below, you’ll find estimated prices (sans VAT) according to wedding ceremony and reception venue packages at the average four-star hotel just outside of London. In this case, it usually includes:

  • Room hire
  • Informal host on the day
  • Wedding coordinator
  • A drink upon arrival
  • 3-course wedding breakfast
  • 1 glass of wine per person
  • Buffet
  • Dance floor hire
  • Private bar
  • The cheapest three-course meal

Costs, on average, according to your number of guests

Number of guests 20 40 60 80 100 120
Wedding Cake £160 £200 £440 £670 £780 £890
Gifts for attendees £70 £140 £210 £280 £350 £420
Wedding + Reception Venue package
(based on a four-star hotel)
£2,000 £3,300 £4,600 £5,900 £7,200 £8,500
Catering
(three-course meal)
£310 £620 £930 £1,240 £1,550 £1,860

And when it comes to the cost, on average, for wedding items and services depending on the number of guests.

 

Costs according to your style and budget

 

Costs accordingly to budget Lower Prices From Average Prices From Higher Prices From
Wedding Dress £50 £2,000 £3,000
Photographer £500 £1,500 £4,000
Wedding Rings £150 £500 £1,000
Flowers £200 £500 £1,000
Décor £200 £400 £1,000
Groom's outfit £80 £300 £400
Hair and Make-Up £100 £200 £400
Shoes £50 £150 £400
Jewellery & Accessories £70 £300 £600
Ceremony/Registration Fee £50 £200 £500
Transport £50 £400 £600

Now, let's break it down so you can get more of an idea of what your big day will cost, as well as ways to cut costs to suit your wedding budget.

The venue is usually the most expensive cost

The Venue

The venue, no matter what your wedding budget, is arguably the most expensive cost you'll have to consider for your big day.

For a church wedding, you'll be looking at £533 if you are marrying outside of your town, and if you're tying the knot in your hometown, it will be £489. This price covers the cost of the officiate, marriage certificate, and other administration.

If you're hiring a venue, that cost will be considerably higher depending on the location and venue itself. For a lower to medium budget, you're looking at around £4,000, while high-end venues could cost you around £7,000 plus VAT + £10,500 plus vat minimum spend on food and beverages.

Check whether you can provide drinks yourself

Drinks

  • Drinks provided by the venue
    It's important to take into consideration that restaurants and venue hires mark up their prices a lot, some even by 50% or more. So if you're hoping to save, we suggest having your caterer take charge of the drinks for your guests.
  • Drinks provided by a caterer
    By having your caterer provide the drinks, you'll not only be saving money, but you'll also have a team of professionals who have experience working at weddings.
  • Drinks provided by you
    It's also possible for you to provide your own drinks and hire staff to assist, or set up a table for guests to serve themselves. In this way, you can control the amount you're spending on drinks beforehand.

It's also possible for you to provide your own drinks and hire staff to assist, or set up a table for guests to serve themselves. In this way, you can control the amount you're spending on drinks beforehand.

The plus side to this is that you can control your drinks budget before the actual event, and if there are any leftovers, you get to take them home with you. And if the drinks run dry, guests can simply buy their own at the venue.

One thing to note however, is that many venues don't want outside companies or guests to bring their own drinks, so make sure to check with your chosen venue beforehand.

A buffet style dinner saves money

Food and Catering

There are several options to choose from when it comes to your wedding meal.
You could opt for:

  • A plated, sit-down dinner
    This is the most traditional style when it comes to a wedding, and it involves having your tables pre-decorated, ready to be served when the time comes. Usually, each guest is served a starter, a main meal, and a dessert, and are given two to three options when it comes to their preference.If you're going for a three-course sit-down dinner, you're look at around £12 to £40 per-person for the meal alone, depending on your taste.The pros to this style is that all of your guests will be eating at the same time, and you can plan your activities (toasts, entertainment, if applicable, dancing etc.) to a schedule.The cons to this style is that you would need to pay waiting staff who would be serving the dishes to the guests, and the choice of meals will be more limited. For the latter, you may have a lot of leftovers on plates due to guests not eating everything served to them.
    Additionally, you would need to inform the waiting staff of the different food preferences of your guests, such as vegetarians, vegans and allergies, and perhaps you would need to colour code/name each place setting accordingly.
  • A buffet-style dinner
    A buffet-style dinner is gaining a lot of traction of late and is a great way to allow more freedom when it comes to the flow of your big day. You could opt for two different tables as not to create long lines, but either way, a buffet-style dinner is usually quite a success (if the food is great, of course).The average price per-head for a buffet-style dinner would be around £8 to £20.The pros to a buffet-style dinner is that you won't need waiting staff, and your guests will have a variety of different food to choose from. Additionally, a buffet-style meal gives guests the opportunity to chat to one another and socialise.The cons to a buffet-style dinner is the fact that guests have to form a line in order to serve themselves, and they would need to carry their own plates to and from their table. Additionally, a buffet-style dinner means having more food than a sit-down dinner, and thus may rise the price of your budget.
  • Cocktail-style eats
    A cocktail-style eats table/tables is a great idea for small, intimate weddings. In this way, you'll be offering a variety of different food stations so that guests can help themselves to things such as pastries, cheese boards, sliders, mozzarella-stuffed meatballs flatbread with various dips, sweets, and mini desserts. Or, if you're going for an elegant brunch-style wedding, you could have a mimosa and/or an espresso bar, mini donuts, quiche, a waffle-style cake, bagels and spread, a pancake bar or mini-pancake skewers, small pastries, scones, and tea/coffee. The average price for a cocktail-style celebration would vary greatly depending on what time of day and what types of food you're hoping to serve.The pros to a cocktail-style eatery is that it's a super creative way to serve your food, providing aesthetically-pleasing décor, and there will be a variety of food to choose from.The cons would be that you would need ample space to have the little food stations, and perhaps different chefs who can prepare what you're looking for, or serving staff to assist your guests.

Shop around before you decide on a wedding dress

Wedding Dresses

There are many options when it comes to finding the perfect wedding dress for your big day. If you're looking for something budget-friendly, you could consider getting it second hand at stores, or taking a look at the high street that has both traditional and alternative styles to choose from. With this option, you could find something you love for as little as £80.

Additionally, you could consider a charity shop, where you could find a beautiful dress starting at £50.

If you've got a slightly bigger wedding budget to work with, you can consider having a bridal designer create your dress, which would start at around £900 and could go up to around £3,000.

And for those looking for a couture wedding dress, you can consider a budget of around £1,500 plus. Here's a little handy guide to help you:

Vera Wang: £4,000 to £18,000
Paloma Blanca: £1,500 to £2,000
Amsale Aberra: £3,000 to £6,200

Some other important things to note is that if you are planning to buy your wedding dress at a boutique, you should consider an additional fee of around £30, which is to ensure that the service you receive is high-end. And, for bridal dress alterations, you're looking at around £40 to £200.

Groom's attire

It's no lie that the groom's attire costs less than a bridal gown, and there are several options when it comes to finding a suit or tuxedo that looks great.

The average cost when it comes to buying a nice suit is around £250, but this price could be considerably less if you opted for a high street find or renting. You would be able to find a smart two-piece suit at the high street for £100, and if it's just a suit jacket you're after, you can consider £50.

To hire a high-esteemed brand, a suit starts at £95 for some and £140 for others.

Buying a designer suit means around £145 for wool trousers, £135 for a textured waistcoat, £349 for a wool jacket, and £89 for a satin shirt.

Do you prefer live music or a DJ

DJ/Band

When it comes to the entertainment for your wedding day, having a DJ is slightly more affordable than a band. The price for a wedding DJ is around £200 to £500, and for a band - anywhere from £300 to £2000.

The pros of hiring a wedding DJ is that the equipment required is minimal, and most DJ's will have their own equipment that they'll bring with them on the day, which is a big plus. And you can opt to create your own playlist that is fun and meaningful for the couple and guests.

If it's a live band you fancy, the lowest price would be comprised of a 45-minute performance. For solo singers or certain instrumentalists, you could secure your entertainment for around £180 to £400. For small bands, a wedding budget of around £350 to £750 should be considered, and for a pop band consisting of four to six musicians, the average price ranges from £1400 to £2000.

For high end entertainment, consider an average budget of £1600 for a four-person band, and £2800 for a six-person band.

Professional wedding photographer

For wedding photography, it's advised to set aside about 15% of your wedding budget, as the average price is around £1480.

For something more budget-friendly, you could find prices starting at £479 for an album package, and for luxury wedding photographers the highest you can consider is around £4000, although the majority of these photographers are relatively cheaper than that.

Quality wedding rings will last forever

Wedding rings

The price of a wedding ring varies depending on the kind of metal, design, width and thickness. You could go for gold, platinum, or palladium, and each have their own desirable appeal.

The average price of one wedding ring in the U.K is around £500 to £800, totalling to around £10,000 to £16,000 for both husband and wife, but of course there are several options you can consider depending on your budget.

For a smaller budget, you could buy two 925 - 0.02 carat diamond wedding rings for £128.

Flowers

Like all other factors concerning your wedding budget, the exact estimate of your wedding flowers differ greatly depending on the kind of flowers, the amount you're looking to order, the time of year, and the vendor. Transportation for your flowers is also a factor to consider, as delivery charges can get quite hefty

But to give you a rough guideline, on average:

  • For £250, you can get a bouquet for the bride and two bridesmaids, around five button holes and two corsages.
  • From £250 to £500, you can add a few centrepieces.
  • From £500 - £750, you can add a statement piece.
  • From £750 - £1,000, you can consider your flower arrangements as more of a party accessory.
  • For £1,000 and more, you will be able to have a room filled with flowers, and can decorate your archway, tables, chandeliers and more.

Make up and hair

For those with a lower wedding budget, you can consider around £500 for hair and make-up for you and your bridal party. But if you're not including your bridesmaids, that figure will be considerably lower.

For hair and make-up artists however, there are other costs to consider such as their call-out fee that sometimes applies if there are less than three people having their hair and make-up done. For that reason, you could also visit a salon to have yourself beautified on a budget.

Then, for this service you will also need to consider paying a deposit of around £50, and an amount for a trial hair and make-up session, which is on average £50 to £100.

Additional wedding costs to consider

Dance lessons

For a traditional wedding, the bride and groom opt for a first dance. Of course, one need not be a professional dancer for this but if you are looking to get in a few practice lessons, you can consider around £54 for one 60-minute dance lesson, £75 for a 90-minute dance lesson, and a two-hour lesson for £96.

You could also adjust your lessons according to your needs - for example, perhaps you'd like a personalised choreographed dance, you could do so for around £280 for six hours of lessons. For those with a higher budget and wanting to really wow their guests, £520 for 12 lessons is what you can expect.

Some tips for weedings on a budget

Cost-cutting tips

Food and Catering

There are a number of innovative and creative ways to save money on food and catering. You could:

  • Make your own appetizers if you're a whizz in the kitchen
  • Opt for a meal option that doesn't require servers
  • Implement a BYOB option for your guests
  • Have a limit on your bar tab or have a cash-only bar
  • Have outside catering which is almost always cheaper than the venue

Travel costs for vendors

By choosing vendors who live in close proximity to your venue, you'll be saving on their travel costs.

Venue hire

As mentioned, your wedding venue can definitely add up to quite a big amount, which is why you can source alternative places to tie the knot if you're on a budget.

For example: a countryside wedding could cost you between £4,900 and £6,500 if you decide on an April wedding. Other venues offer as much as a 50% discount on wedding hire if you choose to get hitched on a week day.

But if you're looking to cut a few corners and save quite a bit, consider doing a private ceremony at a free or very cheap location that can be dressed up beautifully for you and your guests.

Décor

For those who are DIY and arts and craft enthusiasts, this is a great way to save costs on wedding décor. Use inspirational sources such as Pinterest to create your own decorations and wedding themes, and you could be saving up to £1000 for your big day.

Thus, we conclude our comprehensive guide on how to plan your special ceremony, no matter the wedding budget. We wish you the most amazing day, one that you'll remember and look back on fondly for the rest of your life!