Your Dream Wedding on a Budget – Part 1

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You can have the wedding of your dreams and it doesn’t have to cost anything like the £11,000 average UK wedding figure. Slash your bill to as little as two or three thousand pounds, or less depending on your contacts and where you live. I followed these basic steps and saved myself a fortune and still had the wedding of my dreams.  Follow these steps in order, to achieve the wedding of your dreams on a budget.

Write it down

Get yourself a ‘wedding notebook’. Write down your idea of a perfect (for you) wedding.  Write which parts of the wedding are most important to you.  For some it might be the food, some the dress.  Then list those that are least important, like cars, decoration, DJ at the party. When you are following these steps keep this list in mind and spend money where it really matters to you and cut back (just a little bit) on the things that matter less. You should also write down your budget, and guestimate prices as you go along. Add 10% to all of your guestimates just to be on the safe side 🙂

Utilise Friends and Family

Get out that wedding notepad and write a list of family who can make or provide anything towards the wedding. For example, at my wedding my Dad provided the disco as he is a DJ. My Nan made my dress as she is a professional dress-maker.

Here’s a list in case you’re thinking no-one in your family could help. Also, don’t forget friends, friends of friends, or your family’s contacts, it may not be free but you could get a good deal!  Here are the types of people you need to be brainstorming for…

Chaffeurs or people working in car hire
Florists (professionals or budding amateurs)
DJs and/or Sound Equipment Hire
Photographers (again, a very good amatuer may be suitable if this isn’t a priority for you)
Cake decoraters
Kilt/Morning suit hire ie someone working in the business?
Make-up artists, hairdressers, manicurists and beauty technicians
Anyone who can provide champagne/gifts for attendants at a reduced cost…
Other entertainment ie anyone who can pipe, plays in a band, a singer…or even kids entertainment, a clown, a magician.

This is a rough idea of what you are looking for.  If you can’t think of any, write a list of your contacts and their professions.  If nothing matches to what you need, ask them if they have any contacts who could help.  I guarantee that eventually someone will know someone who could provide at least a couple of these services either for free if they are close family or at a discounted price.

Mark off anything that you can organise this way, don’t forget to take off anything you need to pay for from the wedding budget.


Your next step is to deal with contributors, by which I mean mums, dads and anyonelse offering to pay for something or donating money to put towards the big day. I had the cars, cake, honeymoon, decorations and photographer covered by ‘contributors’. Very important point though, this step definitely comes after our first step (utilising Friends and Family) you want the contributions to really make a difference.

If people have offered to pay for services already provided for free in step one, politely tell them and suggest an alternative contribution to the same value.

If you have a cash contribution you can add it to the budget. If the offer of a cash contribution comes after the budget has been set and worked to, use the money for a ‘luxurious extra’.  Again, write this all down in your notebook and keep track of who is giving what, and what has been acquired or paid for.

Contributions should be just that.  Never ask for a contribution, but do clarify if someone has offered to help – they may be hanging back to see what is still required. Always thank your contributors not only in the speech but with a small gift to show your appreciation (more on this later).

Location, Location, Location

Products and services vary in price greatly depending on your area. It’s obvious that a wedding in London or Edinburgh will cost considerably more than a wedding in Swansea or Aberdeen.

To combat this consider both you and your partner’s birth towns. Do either one measure up better than the other? For example in my case we live in Edinburgh, whereas I’m from Swansea in Wales. We chose to have our big day in Swansea as we found we could get more for our money.

Remember though if you want to marry in a church sometimes they expect you to have attended regularly in the past, or to begin attending regularly before the wedding. If you are planning a civil ceremony (registrar’s office or registrar marrying you at a hotel or country house) be sure to check their rules, it may be the case that you have to have specific ties to the area you want to get married in.

Alternatively, would a wedding abroad be more cost effective? This option does not sit well with some though, especially if you want full family involvement.

Take care too, a wedding abroad may seem an attractive option ‘wedding and honeymoon in one’ but there are downsides. Can everyone you want to attend afford too? Is it much cheaper when you think of the big picture? If any of your guests are heavily pregnant or elderly, are they still able to fly?

Lots to consider then. Do your homework and investigate all options thoroughly. If you are tempted by far and exotic places seek out recommendations or testimonials on your chosen destination.

Finally, keep an open mind, take notes, compare and contrast before making a final decision.


Wedding clothing doesn’t begin and end with the dress. You’ll need a suit or kilt for the groom. A suit or kilt for the best man. Bridesmaids and flowergirl dresses. Pageboys and ushers will also require outfits. It is traditional and typical that all of these are paid for by whoever is paying for the wedding.

As you can see costs can start to escalate pretty quickly if you are planning on having all four neices as bridesmaids with a flowergirl and pageboy thrown into the mix.

Consider scaling down, for example one best man, one bridesmaid and either a flowergirl or pageboy.

Hire as many of the outfits as you can ie kilts, morning suits and even wedding dresses can be hired.  Or, check who has their own, and hire the remainder to match.

Buy your wedding dress second hand or use a family member’s dress and have it altered and tweaked to your style. Don’t forget as lovely as it is to have your wedding dress designed and hand-made for you, it’s expensive and only for one day. I wouldn’t advise spending more than 10%-15% of your budget on your dress unless it is the most important factor of your wedding.


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