As many of you are already aware, Mr Fox and I (finally!) tied the knot back in April. I thought it was about time I wrote a post summarising our big day.
In the UK, weddings can get expensive. Like, really expensive.
According to Hitched the average cost for a UK wedding in 2019 is an eye-watering £31,974. Many people have had their wedding days planned since childhood. They save, or even worse borrow, thousands to spend on lavish dresses, fancy cars, beautiful bouquets… While I’m not critical of other people’s choices, Mr Fox and I had very different ideas when it came to our wedding.
Traditional wedding? No thanks!
I want to start by saying that neither of us were particularly mad on the idea of a ‘traditional wedding’ in the first place. Neither of us like being the centre of attention and we didn’t feel that a piece of paper was necessary to prove our love for each other. However, we did decide that getting married in the legal sense would be beneficial as we were buying our first house together. We also thought that, as my family live far away, a wedding would be a rare chance to bring all the people we cared about together for one day.
Our aim was to have a wedding that reflected us as a couple, without compromise, but for as little money as possible!
We have relatively small families so only had around 25 guests in total. I recognise that this will have substantially reduced the costs of our day, but many of our budget-saving tips will be helpful; regardless of your wedding party size.
Our wedding budget was around £1,000.
Here’s how we achieved it:
Ceremony – £165
We got married at our local registry office. Our ceremony was on a weekday which was considerably cheaper than getting married at the weekend.
Tip – Many venues offer discounted rates for ceremonies that are held on weekdays or out of season. It may be worth considering this when selecting a date.
Venue (including two course meal) – £600
We hired an upstairs space in a local pub. It had a laid-back rustic vibe which suited our casual day. We had the freedom to decorate as we liked – although, we saved money by keeping everything as it was! They provided fresh flowers on the tables and the room looked lovely.
We had a private manned bar for the afternoon/evening which was included in the price.
As we got married on a Wednesday, the whole pub was relatively quiet which meant we basically had the whole place to ourselves which was a bonus!
The venue provided two courses for each guest. Everyone had one drink ‘on us’ and I created DIY drink tokens from old books for this.
“Wedding cake” – £20
For dessert, we made three batches of my famous chocolate brownies instead of a multi-tier wedding cake. All we had to pay for was the basic ingredients and they went down a treat!
Tip – If you (or a family member) are skilled bakers, making a cake yourself will save you a lot of money. Wedding cakes come at a premium price! If you’re having a ‘buffet style’ experience, you can make or buy a lot of the food yourself which will save having to hire external caterers.
Favours / Table Decorations – £10
We were originally going to omit wedding favours entirely as, too often, they seem to be discarded by guests and just end up being a waste.
However, we were lucky as a family member offered to make us favours as a wedding gift. We wanted the favours to be something that guests would be able to keep and use in the future.
In the end, our favours ended up being hand-painted personalised glasses. The glasses had the guests names, our initials and wedding date. They had functional purposes: drinking glasses or tealight holders. They also doubled up as table settings on the day too, so saved us buying name place cards.
I made our seating plan out of some A3 card that I had lying around so this was free too.
Tip – If you’re particularly skilled in any craft, this would be a great area to show your talents and DIY it!
Wedding dress – £120
I have never wanted a traditional white dress, so I found my ‘wedding’ dress in the sale from French Connection. I wanted something that I’d be able to wear again for another special occasion. In my hunt for the dress, I also looked at various other high street stores and clothing websites. I couldn’t justify spending hundreds (or thousands) on a dress that would only be worn once.
Tip – Shop around! Check out charity shops, eBay, Gumtree and high street stores. Asos do a good range of affordable wedding dresses (under £120) if you are looking for a more ‘traditional’ dress on a budget!
Transport – £25
Mr Fox and I got married in the city centre. The registry office was only a 5-10 minute drive from the pub where the evening-do was hosted. Instead of paying for a fancy car, we paid for taxis for all the guests. After the dizziness of the ceremony, no one even noticed what type of car they were getting into!
Hair / Makeup – Free!
I saved a lot of money by doing my own hair and makeup. I’m by no means a professional, but I know what I like and felt I could do a good enough job on my own. I also did the hair and makeup of my mum (who was walking me down the aisle) and sister.
Tip – If you’re not confident with your hair and make-up skills, YouTube is a great source of knowledge! So many vloggers offer tutorials and practising your look in advance will save you a lot of stress.
I got a lot of high-end makeup samples to do my (and my families) makeup to make it feel ‘extra special’. If you visit makeup counters in stores (Boots, Debenhams, John Lewis, Harvey Nicholls, etc.), they will be able to give you free samples to take away. I find foundation samples are particularly good as they often provide you with enough product for 3-4 applications. This means you don’t have to break the bank on spending money on a full-sized product if you just want enough to use for a special occasion!
Invitations – £10
I used an online printing service to make our personalised wedding invitations. Website like: Vistaprint, Optimalprint, Papier, etc. are all very good and regularly offer sales promotion to give you further discount.
Tip – Check the dimensions of the invitations and save money by buying envelopes separately.
Photography – £250
We found two Photography Masters students to document our day. Their work was fantastic, and they were looking for an opportunity to broaden their portfolio so it was a win-win. They offered great rates and we were happy to leave recommendations on their website to drum up future business for them.
On receipt of the wedding photos, we created a folder on Google Photos which we shared with family and friends. This meant that everyone had a chance to view the photographs and were able to pick/choose any photos they wanted to print. You can save money by printing photos yourself or creating photobooks online instead of going with any ‘packages’ the photographer offers.
Tip – Consider how long you require the photographer to be there. We got a cheaper rate as the photographers weren’t with us the whole day. They attended the venue (briefly) beforehand, the ceremony and took group/couples shots afterwards. Neither of us felt the need to have a photographer around when we were getting ready and we wanted the meal/evening to feel intimate without people feeling self-conscious by being photographed. Most of your guests will carry phones so plenty of more ‘informal’ shots will be taken without photographers’ present. Reducing the time the photographers are there will help shave off the cost!
Admittedly slightly over our original intention, but well within reason we thought.
We feel that our day was everything we wanted it to be for the price point. We wouldn’t change a thing. We could have spent thousands more, but would it have brought us additional happiness? We think not. We think we nailed it in terms of enjoyment factor, whilst not being cheap about the whole thing.
From AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ playing, whilst Mr Fox waited for me to walk down the aisle, to stuffing our face with half melted chocolate orange brownies… You don’t need to spend thousands to have the wedding you want.
Afterall, the only thing that really matters is your love for one another and that’s something that money can’t buy.