How To: Scrimp & Save on your Big Day: The Wedding Party

Weddings are an expensive business. Mention ‘wedding’ when ordering anything for your big day and expect a massive hike in price. The average wedding now costs over £20,000.

THAT. IS. RIDICULOUS.

£20,000 was our house deposit. Think about what you could use that money for…during your ACTUAL marriage… do you really want to blow it all on one day?

Let’s get this straight before we go any further…. If you are getting married to have a big old fancy schmancy wedding day…you are getting married for the wrong reason. If you are getting married to spend the rest of your life with the person you love…then that is another matter.

A wedding…..in my opinion….is a PARTY…yes a party… (I just lost two thirds of brides right there didn’t I?….) to celebrate the start of your married life. I would have happily married P on a Wednesday afternoon, in jeans and a t-shirt at a registry office, with just two witnesses off the street, because I wanted a marriage. Not a wedding….a marriage. The reason we did decide to celebrate with our families and friends is because we wanted to spend time with them and have a ruddy good knees up in the process.

We spent around £4,500 on our wedding…still a hefty chunk of money that we had to save to spend…and now in hindsight I can see ways that we could have slim-lined it even more….so that is where this blog series comes in I guess!

This is going to be a topic that I can ramble on about over several posts, so here is my first purse-puckering tip.

Have a small Wedding Party and shop your outfits clever

None of this 6 bridesmaids and groomsmen malarky… I decided early on that I didn’t want to spend most of my budget on clothes… because that is completely cuckoo.

So I decided to just have a Maid of Honour and a little flower girl. P had a Best Man and that was it.

budget bride keeping down the costs wedding party MOH flower girl brideBy doing this, I saved myself time, hassle and of course, money.

I understand that sometimes family will expect your cousin/sister/niece to be a bridesmaid, but it is YOUR day. Explain that you don’t want a large wedding party… I mean the organisation alone becomes a nightmare. Trying to get your 3 bridesmaids into town to look at dresses together is no mean feat…and then finding something that they AND you like? Keep it simple, keep it about what is important…you and your future spouse.

We actually ended up asking some family and friends to be part of our day in another way.

P’s sister and my oldest friend both did readings at the ceremony and a pair of good friends were our witnesses. My two youngest brothers gave out the Order of the Day at the ceremony, rather than us having any ushers (people know how to sit in chairs by themselves forgoodnesssake….) and they quite enjoyed having a little job to do.

I was able to let Lauren (my amazing MOH) choose whatever she wanted to wear. This made dress hunting sooooo stressless for me…because she looks fab in everything….and we didn’t have to match her with anybody else! I ended up getting her a designer dress in the sale at knock down price. She wore her own shoes and put real flowers in her hair that she bought the night before.

My little flower girl’s dress came from Primark, as did her headband, and she wore shoes she already owned and felt comfy in. There is NOTHING worse than putting new uncomfy shoes on a little one…and the pink glitter looked fab. Her little outfit cost £15 all in all. Please consider a cheap and cheerful option for little bridesmaids…they are just going to want to roll around on the floor during the reception anyway….

We also bought P’s suit in the sale 11 months before the wedding, and got him two pairs of trousers so he could then use it for work afterwards. He hated having to put on his old suit for meetings when he had a nice new shiny one there hanging right next to it, but he managed! He wore his nice work shoes, which he had only bought 6 months before the wedding as his old ones fell apart. My shoes were the only ones we bought in fact…and they cost me £20 from Debenhams. If we had bought all the shoes for the wedding party we would have spent around £150…. that is wine money right there….

budget bride saving money at your wedding party groom bride suitWe decided to just get matching ties for the Groom, Best Man and Dads. The option of hiring/buying 4 matching suits didn’t work for us, and I wasn’t really bothered about it. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me. It was in fact money better spent on feeding and watering our guests. The gents wore their own suits and they all looked very handsome.

Now a little confession…my dress….gulp….My grandmother has insisted since the day I could walk that she would buy my wedding dress and refused to hear any other option. So my dress was our wedding gift from her and my grandfather. Rest assured, it was not a £2,000 frock. That wouldn’t have sat well with me and I couldn’t have beared to wear anything too expensive it for fear of breaking it! I have however factored the cost I would have paid for a wedding dress into my end £4,500 budget.

My veil was my mothers from her marriage to my father, I just had to replace the comb, which was the easiest sewing job ever. I already had a clear plastic comb laying around too, so that was completely free. Veils unlike dresses, don’t really change much with fashion. See if a family member has one in the loft/top of the wardrobe!

My main advice for tiaras/sparkley head gear for brides is to avoid, avoid, AVOID the bridal shops. They are RIDICULOUSLY expensive. Keep your peepers peeled in Accessorize, New Look, Primark and the like, especially around prom/school leavers season. I know it is your special day…but you are going to wear the thing once and then put it in a box for all eternity…does it really matter if it cost £5 from Claire’s Accessories? I actually borrowed the clip in my hair from Lauren and wore it as my ‘something borrowed’. Don’t be frightened to ASK… most people are honoured to lend something for such a special day. I also borrowed P’s Mum’s pearls for the ceremony.

So I guess to sum up this post…when it comes to the people involved in the ceremony…keep it light. For your own sanity….

Then shop the sales…wedding planning takes quite a while so you should hit at least one sale seasons whilst you are planning…unless you are those AMAZING people who can plan it within 2 months…

And don’t be frightened to borrow/rewear items you already own….I took my leather jacket to wear in case I got cold, rather than buying a bolero/shrug…my earrings were a gift from two christmasses ago….weddings really should not be about buying EVERYTHING brand new….that’s insane….and if it’s ALL brand new is it really reflecting you?

I am not saying don’t mark a special day…before I get a barrage of ‘miserly’ comments…it’s about marking it in a way that you don’t bankrupt yourself for the rest of your marriage.

I am going to be doing quite a few of these sorts of posts covering venues, decor, food etc etc….I did start to write it as one long entry then I realised what a monumental post that would be! If you want to request a subject, something you are concerned about…feel free to pop a comment below.

Fingers crossed this has helped a few of you!

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17 responses to “How To: Scrimp & Save on your Big Day: The Wedding Party

  1. yaaaay LOVE this!!!Its so reassuring to find someone on the same wave length on it as me!Some people claim to have the same idea but still end up forking out! I am reaaaaalllly interested in more details about how u did this! you looked gorgeous too! I too would want to use as much of stuff i already have as poss, that way it properly reflects you! None of this weaing and buying things that youll never wear/use again!! xx

  2. Well done on budgeting so well and looking so fabulous. I think you’ve offered some great tips. Some friends of ours did their wedding day on £6000 and I thought that was good going.

    I think you are right about buying everything new for a wedding – why do people think this is necessary?!! I watched a Superscrimpers episode recently where a couple spent about £250 on their wedding reception. They made all the decorations and had their outfits gifted to them like you did. They also made elderflower champagne (from foraged flowers) and asked everyone to bring a food dish instead of a wedding gift.

    The main thing is, you had a super day and you aren’t broke because of it.

    • I think people need to remember that a wedding is about your guests sharing your day…not about you putting on the most lavish party for them. I think, unfortunately a lot of people get caught up in the comparison trap. Our wedding wasn’t posh or fabulous, it was us…it was thrifty, full of fun and lots of laughing.

  3. Good work missus! I’ll be hanging on every word of this in my new role as Best Bridesmaid Ever. I have no idea why people spend so much money on one day. No matter how much you spend, it’s unlikely the celebration will last over 24 hours- which I think should help to keep some perspective!
    xxxx
    P.S. Is it ok that I want to spend the rest of my life with T and also want a mahoosive party? :p

  4. Brilliantly sensible but no less romantic or enjoyable for it. I’m not about to be getting married but I’d love to think that brides-to-be might take your advice. Fab stuff Pigeon!!

  5. Hear hear! it makes me very sad to see couples starting their married life in huge debts for what is essentially about an 8-12 hour event. It’s the commitment itself thats important, the only thing people actually *need* to spend money on is the legal giving notice/registrar fees and anything after that is just a bonus.

    We did our wedding for under £4000 and we had everything we wanted, right down to my designer wedding dress (for £150, only used once on a catwalk, thank you Oxfam Bridal Boutique!).

    I really wish more brides to be would realise its not the money spent that counts! x

    • Me too Louisa. I got so frustrated reading wedding magazines because they really push the ‘your wedding has to be the most amazing thing that anyone in the world has ever seen’ angle…. it just has to be about you and who you are as a couple.

  6. We did our wedding as cheaply as possible, it was a couple of grand above yours but still under our budget and included a honeymoon in Egypt too. I DIY’d all the decor for the tables and the church (we melted records for bowls, and made hundreds of sodding origami birds were made by Sam and strung up my be)
    I hand made all the invitations and designed the ‘advice cards’ that we put on the tables for people to fill in for us instead of a guest book. I printed a finger print tree on a PC and bought tiny stamp pads for thumbs.
    I also made all the puddings myself (hundreds of bloody cupcakes and muffins and brownies… decorating them all the day before was a hassle though!
    My bridesmaid dresses were £40 and ‘normal’ high street dresses that they could wear after.
    The biggest saving was having no real flowers at all, even though it was a Church wedding. Not one person mentioned the lack of flowers to me!! I made a brooch bouquet for me and used big flower things from poundland and botched them into bridesmaids bouquets, and they looked fine!
    Oh, and we had our reception IN the church, asked people to being booze and we hired a juke box. It was awesome (I kept meaning to post about the DIY bits I did on my blog once I finished the main posts about the wedding but I was pregnant and tired and just never got round to it! I’ve still not finished the actual wedding album! but you can see my posts on my blog if you search wedding in the searchybar!)
    Looking forward to seeing more of yours! It looks amazing from the pictures you’ve posted! The dress is lovely and the mini-maid is adorable!

  7. Great post! I think you’re exactly right about it being a party…occasionally for a party I’ll buy new stuff to wear, but if you’d be happy wearing a £5 Claires hair clip to look good at a party theres no reason not to for your wedding. I love the idea of starting married life without the wedding debt and without a heap of stuff I’ll never use again cluttering up the house!

    • Hear hear to no clutter! I made things for our big day with a mind to where they would go in our house afterwards! Some of it just got chucked (like our tissue paper pom poms), but a few key pieces came home! 😀

  8. R u ready for this my wedding cost us £250!!! I got married in the states, so holiday, wedding and no annoying reception, my dress was £20 out of select as I was preggers and my husband just bought a shirt and trousers out of a sale, my sons funky short set came from a sale. We got married in a chapel, honeymooned in Epcot and then we both went back to Texas were we were based. No annoying drunk relatives, just close ones having a good time.
    So don’t listen to the haters, they are only jealous !

  9. Thank you so much for this. Some of these ideas are genius and I wouldn’t have thought about it. My boyfriend just pointed out he’s got lovely suits that cost a grand why would he buy a new one?

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