Congratulations – you’re engaged! Below are some top tips from industry experts on how to plan your ideal wedding on a budget.

They’ve popped the question, so you’ve updated your Facebook status, charmed your work colleagues with the story of how they proposed and picked up a shed load of bridal magazines from WH Smith. What now?

After some research, you’re probably beginning to realise that planning a wedding can be expensive. There are so many things to consider, as well as an almost unlimited supply of ideas and themes, alongside every female who has ever been within ten feet of an altar wanting to impart their wedding wisdom onto you. It can be confusing, and once you start to add up what your ideal wedding should include, it can begin to look financially daunting.

The good news – great news – is that weddings do not have to cost a fortune. You’ve probably had a mix of opinions on how much it should cost, varying from ‘you can’t spend all that money on just one day’ through to ‘it’s the biggest day of your life, why not have what you want’? While both are good points, you should be looking to aim somewhere in the middle.

Planning a wedding on a budget doesn’t have to mean planning a ‘cheap’ wedding. In this blog, you’ll see that by having useful information to hand and sticking to your game plan, you can have the perfect wedding that isn’t going to break the bank. To help you do this, we’ve got experts from the wedding industry to lend their advice on how to avoid overspending, but have equally impressive results on your big day.

First things first

It goes without saying that when starting to plan your wedding, you’ll feel much more in control of your spending (amongst other things) by being organised. Before planning your wedding, rather than choosing everything then seeing how much the total is at the end, set your budget from the outset. No matter if you have £5,000 or £15,000 to spend on your wedding, you’ll need to plan to that figure. Warning: Willpower is required!

An excellent way to start planning is to collate a list of all the things you wish to have for your special day. This will include a venue, dress, suit(s) and photographer for sure, but it may also include a videographer, wedding car or travel, honeymoon, invitations, and much much more. So you can keep on top of all of your ideas, Melanie Uttley from I’m The Planner ( knows how you can keep all your information in one place, with these simple but essential tips:

“The best way to stay on budget is to keep organised, no matter how long you have to plan your wedding. Pull together a list of what you want out of your day and then prioritise what are your must-haves as a couple, compared to what would be nice to have. At the same time, trust in the professionals. Your suppliers have the experience and their job is to help you. Ask them for advice on how you can cut down on your spend if you are struggling and different ideas to make your day perfect for you.”

Melanie founded I’m The Planner which has a template of tasks to keep you on track, budget planning which wedding-planning
you can edit and add to, and unique and fantastic suppliers too. And best of all, it’s FREE – perfect for budget-conscious brides!

So let the inner Monica Geller in you be free, and get super organised!

Wedding date

Did you know that most wedding venues nowadays tend to vary in price based on the time of year, plus which day of the week you hold your reception? Everyone would love to marry on a Saturday in August but this is the height of wedding season, so unless you are desperate to do so, why not consider a Friday or even a Thursday which will definitely be less expensive, and consider Spring or Autumn instead of Summer?

Claire Everitt from The Compasses wedding venue near Coggeshall, Essex, knows couples don’t have to discount having a beautiful venue for their reception for fear of blowing the budget:

wedding-venue-essex“We are very used to meeting with brides on a budget. Usually their biggest fear is that limited funds will mean compromising their very special day. We believe it opens a whole new world of possibilities, and working to a budget can mean a more bespoke, unique and unforgettable day! A ‘Winter Wedding’ for example would generally be cheaper than one held in the peak of Summer, as would a ‘Twilight Wedding’ held slightly later in the day.

During the Summer, brides might consider a ‘Vintage Afternoon Tea Party’ as an alternative to a traditional wedding breakfast – fun, quirky and more affordable!” (Check out The Compasses HERE)


Wedding attire

For the majority of brides, you have dreamt of the perfect dress since childhood, which embodies the Audrey Hepburn/Cinderella/Kim Kardashian in you. If you’re baulking at the cost of your dream dress, there are several ways to snip away at the expense. You’ll need to decide whether you wish to purchase or hire your dress. If you’re struggling to justify the expense of the dress for just one day, then seriously consider hiring one. From the right supplier you won’t have a grubby dress which everyone else has worn, they are professionally cleaned and sometimes a fraction of the cost.

If you definitely wish to own the dress, consider one which has been worn only once previously, and loved just as much as you will love yours, through websites such as or

For the gents, hiring their outfits (tails/suits) is much more commonplace, but again if the men would rather own than hire, consider getting a relatively inexpensive two or three piece suit from the high street such as Topman or Next, and have it altered by a local tailor for a really sharp finish.

Hair / Make up

It makes sense that you want to look as sensational as humanly possible on the big day. Sticking to a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut out the pampering of having your hair and/or make up done by a professional. After doing a sweep of Debenhams, just buying a new foundation and eyeshadow could easily cost you upwards of £50.


And remember, cost doesn’t always have to mean money, it can also mean time. On the morning of the wedding day, your time is precious. It may seem like there are hours and hours to get yourself ready without the help of a hairdresser or make up artist (MUA), but all brides will tell you this time flashes past at lightspeed! So you may have considered this a luxury, but qualified MUA Emma Salisbury has good news for you and your girls:

“I often get told by new brides-to-be that they spend a lot of time visiting department store makeup counters and having a makeover, with the view to buying the products and doing the makeup themselves on their big day. Although you may think you’re saving money, these products are expensive and generally cost more than hiring a professional, hiring a MUA could actually save you money and stress:

We have products from all makeup ranges, giving you the best choice from top brands; accessing every colour shade imaginable to create the perfect look
Buying expensive products that you may not use again is potentially a waste of money
A MUA takes the stress out of getting you and your bridal party ready – allowing you time to relax and enjoy getting ready
Makeup is applied professionally so it will last all day, not needing constant top-ups and therefore keeping you looking good for longer

But importantly, I can do the makeup for just you, or however many of your bridal party, depending on your budget.” Emma’s brands include MAC and Bobbi Brown, and you can check out the experience from real-life brides at


“It’s OK, my uncle has got a nice camera and he’s offered to do it for free.”

If these words are likely to ever pass your lips, please, please, take two minutes to read the paragraph below. I can’t tell you how often I hear that, or something very similar, and to be honest, I totally understand why that would be tempting. If someone is offering to do something for free, then why look a gift horse in the mouth?

Wedding photography varies in price, quality, style, what’s included, and a whole bunch of other stuff. However, by hiring a professional wedding photographer, you are not only investing in the services of someone who understands the complexities of how a wedding day unfolds, they will also be in complete control of their equipment for those incredibly important blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments. Will they know to be there when your family sees you in your dress for the first time? Will they be in the right place to capture grandma wiping away a tear of joy in the front row? You’ve got to hope so. But what if their camera breaks? Do they have another?

The biggest consideration is that after everything is said and done, after all the cake is eaten, after the chair covers have been returned, the only tangible record of your wedding day are your photos. Wouldn’t you want to relive your happy memories through the quality images from a photographer? This type of budget decision is surprisingly one of the most frequent regrets couples have from their wedding day.

wedding-couple-cornfieldNearly all photographers include the final images on a memory stick or disc in their standard price, but some also automatically include an album in their standard price too. You may not necessarily want an album, you may just want the images digitally so you can print them yourself. For the budget-conscious, consider a photographer whose standard price is less expensive and may not include an album, but with the option to purchase one at a later date. My simple pricing structure takes into consideration that weddings are expensive enough; rather than force you into paying for an album you may not necessarily want, you are more than welcome to get one sometime down the line after your wedding, when you feel financially ready.


So when your uncle/friend/work colleague offers to take them for free, consider again that an affordable professional photographer may be the best investment you make, as beautiful photos are a priceless reminder of the day you said ‘I do’. Look no further for affordable photography HERE.


And finally…..the really sneaky ones to bring your wedding in under budget!

Champagne toast: The only real Champagne is sparkling wine produced from the Champagne region in France. Anything else is just bubbles. Champagne is the most expensive option for toasts at your wedding breakfast, therefore, consider swapping it with Cava instead. No-one will know/care about the difference in taste, but the difference in price will be noticeable.

eBay: If you’re looking to decorate the tables at the reception yourself, or are looking for those unique flourishes to really set off your day, eBay is a must. Not only do they have brand new items at cost prices, there are hundreds upon hundreds of other brides selling off the gear from their wedding. Example one: I bought two white wedding umbrellas (in case of rain of course!) for a pound each, and postage was free. Whilst sites like Not On The High Street are like bridal catnip, steer clear if you are budget-conscious and check out sellers on eBay instead.

Favours: This is going to blow your mind. Don’t bother with wedding favours. Nowadays, your guests won’t even notice if there are no sugared almonds in a pink organza bag. Don’t worry about appearing cheap – remember, you have already shelled out for them to join you in celebrating your big day. So drop the favours, and save big.

Now get out there and start planning that wedding!


Thank you to contributors I’m The Planner, The Compasses at Pattiswick and Emma Salisbury make up artist. You can find all of them here:


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