It’s not always necessary to spend an arm and a leg on a wedding. Some short cuts may be possible. But pros and cons need to be weighed up carefully.
A wedding planner is a pretty essential team-player for an elaborate or large affair. However, you can sometimes manage without one, especially if the ceremony is going to be straight-forward. There will still be a lot of work and responsibility on your shoulders – you may have to source the best suppliers and co-ordinate everything on the day yourself. You may be leaving yourself open to worry and anxiety in the lead-up to, and on, the big day. So think it through first.
Again, if the ceremony is going to be very simple, and if you have the space, you can consider holding your wedding in your home or back garden. Of course, hiring a venue means you are paying for convenience and simplicity. Otherwise, you’ve got to be very aware of health and safety when setting up, and will need a lot of support before, and on, the day.
You can avoid using the services of a professional, and get somebody else to prepare and read the ceremony. As a celebrant, I may be biased, and don’t recommend this! A celebrant will put together a wonderful ceremony based on your wishes and beliefs. They will also deliver it professionally and beautifully, as they are experienced public speakers. Their presence will also afford you calm and peace of mind, which are so valuable at a stressful time.
Do you really need that owl bringing the rings to the bridegroom? Bear in mind, if you’re trying to save money, what is dispensable and take into consideration what is essential to you.
If it’s a very small do, you can get away with buying in, laying out, serving, and washing up/disposing of the food and drink, not to mention the crockery, serviettes and cutlery yourself. You’ll have to make sure that special requests (eg vegetarians, gluten-free, children’s food) are looked after. Are you sure the saving here is worthwhile?
You can certainly save money by skipping the entertainment altogether, or by keeping it amateur. If you go for a reception, then be aware that not everybody will like what you offer. (The grannies and grandpas may not like a disco, for example.)
I think it’s a false economy to do without a professional photographer and/or videographer. You’re going to want tangible memories of your big day, and they need to be of high quality. You may know someone who’s a dab hand at photography and will do it for you. It does mean that they will not be able to enjoy the day properly and – even worse – if they stuff up, then your friendship may risk being sacrificed.
The list could go on! But I hope it gives you something to start on, as you plan your big day – and, if you decide to use a civil celebrant, please have a chat with me!
It would be stating the absolutely obvious to claim that weddings are expensive! No arguments there, surely!
What is less obvious is spotting where you can save some money.
For example, areas where you may not need to spend so much could include your venue, the florist, the dressmaker, the photographer or the celebrant. We’ll look at each of these in a moment.
Obviously, every ceremony is different and no two couples are likely to have the same needs and dreams. So my comments will be more appropriate to some of you than to others! However, I may just be able to set you thinking.
In my work, I understand the importance of friendly, professional service. I am not suggesting that you avoid professional suppliers (unless that is your choice). For example, you can save money if you do not hire a professional caterer. You can arrange it all yourself, but it is likely to be a huge headache for you, and I wouldn’t advise it.
Venues normally need to be booked at least a year in advance. I speak in other blogs about how you might go about choosing a suitable one, but here’s how you may be able to cut some costs.
Don’t go for a day that is likely to have high demand (Valentine’s Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, high Summer). Similarly, if you don’t have your wedding in the evening, you may have some bargaining power with the venue. And you may be able to hold the ceremony and reception in one room or hall (with some time allowed in between for setting up).
Go for flowers that are in season and local. That can save you a surprising amount.
Having your own dress may be very important, but it is possible to buy – or hire – some wonderful used dresses for nothing like the price of a new one.
A dangerous one, this. A friend might be able to do this job. But will their enjoyment of your wedding be compromised? What if their results disappoint? Might your friendship be sacrificed consequently?
A professional photographer is likely to have functioning equipment and know what to do and how to do it. (That’s partly what you’re paying for!)
I price my services based on my expertise, and the amount of time and work I anticipate I will need to put in. Like many suppliers, I have a certain amount of flexibility. For example, I usually offer a reduction, if someone books me at a Wedding Fayre. In the case of a ceremony that I particularly want to do or a couple I particularly want to work with, I may offer a one-off price.
I do need to live and try to charge a fair price – but it doesn’t hurt to ask!
I hope this gives you a few practical ideas for saving money (there are many others I could have included) and that your wedding will cost you less than you thought!
It won’t astonish anybody reading this if I state that marriage costs are steep! However, if you are just drawing up a budget, you may not realise that there are areas where you can cut a few corners.
“Guides for Brides” published the results of a recent survey. 7,500 brides were questioned during 2017, and these are some of the conclusions:
When and how
As you’d probably imagine, most weddings (60%) took place on a Saturday. Friday (at 23%) took the runner-up berth.
You might expect that most people chose to marry in a church (or other religious building). In fact, the majority (65%) chose a civil ceremony, with only 35% opting for full religious. Interestingly, 27.5% chose an unusual location – although I’m not sure what was defined as “unusual”!
Without being exhaustive – for example, this doesn’t take into account hairdressing/make-up, the reception and entertainment or wedding transport as individual items – some major areas of expenditure are as follows:
- the venue – probably one of your major outlays. The average cost of this was £4,450.
- the wedding dress – this could cost around £2,000, with suits coming in at £585.
- the wedding cake: £245
- flowers: £960
- honeymoon: £2,900
Budgeting and Saving
The total average budget, according to this survey, was £16,500. Some 84 guests attended weddings held during the day, and 120 in the evening.
Obviously, these figures only represent a guide. Everybody’s options and requirements are different. The prices will not remain constant.
As I indicated, by no means every expense is covered here. As a civil celebrant, I ought to point out that we have not mentioned registrars or celebrants. Both services need to be paid for! You may choose to employ a wedding planner, and they don’t come cheap.
So, by all means use this information as a starting point, but do your homework thoroughly. There are a variety of ways to reduce costs. Venues have wildly fluctuating prices, and they do not all offer the same facilities. You might hold your wedding in your garden rather than booking a venue at all.
You can choose to marry during the day – that is usually cheaper. The same applies if you avoid the most popular days (Saturday and Friday). You may prefer a buffet to silver service (or cater yourself), and that may save some expense. Offer a cash bar after providing a drink with canapés and a bottle of wine or two for the table to share. Omit canapés altogether, if you want!
You can be quite creative – and still offer a wonderful experience.
So now you’ve got some ideas, plan carefully. Then let yourself loose on those suppliers and go for the ceremony that YOU want. And if you need any more advice, just let me know!
I’m sure I don’t need to point out that weddings these days can be extremely expensive! We can easily be talking £20,000 +. Cutting wedding costs sounds a wonderful idea, but how practical is it?
Of course, much depends on what your budget is. In addition to the sheer quantity of suppliers you may want to hire, be aware that some put their prices up as soon as they know it’s a wedding!
Are there any short cuts you can take (apart from, say, looking for a second-hand wedding dress on e-Bay?!)?
It’s not easy to be draconian. And you don’t want to spoil your wedding either for yourselves or for your guests.
Incidentally, cutting down on the guest list is a good way to cut costs!
Maybe you decide not to bother with a limo, but you do want to be sure of punctual and comfortable rides on the day.
Bargaining with suppliers is sometimes a possibility. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, here are some other suggestions.
Time of day
Even if you’re choosing the Dorchester or equivalent for your reception, you might be able to get a better deal, if you hold your ceremony at lunchtime, rather than in the evening.
Another good way of saving money (not just with the venue) is to marry out of season. Suppliers want work year round, and they can be faced with yawning gaps between October and May. Therefore, they may look sympathetically at (or even spontaneously offer) a reduced rate. If you’re a good haggler, you may even manage to improve on these!
Note that reductions should not be expected at certain festivals, especially Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Using flowers that are in season is another way to cut costs.
And consider weekdays (although that may have issues for employed guests). That’s normally cheaper.
There are ways of reducing this major cost. Although it would have to be well-organised, a buffet will be cheaper than a silver-service meal. Fewer staff are likely to be involved, so costs should be less.
You may well offer canapés and drinks. Prosecco is increasingly accepted in place of champagne, and this normally works out considerably cheaper.
You should provide a generous amount of wine and soft drinks to accompany the meal. Once that is over, I would suggest operating a cash bar. (It’s worth preparing guests for this when the invitation is sent out!)
Cup cakes, rather than a wedding cake, can be another acceptable way to save money.
Whether or not you have a theme, this is an important area. If you are holding a small affair, you may feel able to DIY. Be absolutely sure that you know what you’re doing, and get prepared well in advance!
Otherwise, discuss costs with your supplier at the outset, and ensure you are in control.
Of course, the scale and cost of this aspect will be down to you. It is worth getting referrals from people you know before you book anybody, and do ensure you understand their Ts & Cs.
Planners and Celebrants
If you decide to use a planner, it will obviously cost you more – but consider the peace of mind she will give you! Similarly, don’t cut corners with your celebrant. Ensure you see testimonials and speak to your supplier beforehand so that you have confidence in them on the day. You do want to feel at ease with the person who will marry you!
Your wedding is – or should be! – the most important day of your life. You want to get it right. Yes, you pay for what you get, but, as you can see, there are some ways to cut a few corners successfully, without compromising on quality.
As a civil celebrant, I come across some wonderful professionals, and I’m extremely fortunate to have enlisted the help of Event Planners, Mish & Katy of KP Events, who have written a marvellous article about controlling your wedding costs. Something that affects us all! There’s so much useful information here that I’m dividing the piece up. That means you’ll have to come back next week!
IS THE COST OF YOUR WEDDING SPIRALLING OUT OF CONTROL?
Here’s some advice on where and where not to compromise.
So we’re all agreed … low key, nothing fancy, just an intimate celebration with close family …
Until … “Darling, you know my Mum’s rellies in LA – that weird family with 6 kids … we can’t not invite them. I know they’re not close, but they are 1st cousins after all …” or …
“You know, it’s going to have to be proper über-kosher. I know we’re not into all that, but we just can’t make assumptions about all our guests.” or …
“I know it was stupid but I promised your niece she could have a frilly pink bridesmaid’s dress with ruby sequins … I just can’t let her down. I know, I know – it means we have to get all five of them matching dresses …”
Familiar? Of course it is – that’s just the way it always pans out!
But is there a way to prevent it? Is it actually possible to stop the whole thing from spiralling totally out of control and ending up with a bill of stratospheric proportions?
The answer is yes … to an extent. After many years in the business we might not be able to solve the extended overseas family issue but we’re confident we know where to compromise and where not – in order to ensure your event is everything and more without having to spend everything and more!
Here are 10 elements of your wedding spend in which savings can undoubtedly be made … Food, music (band or DJ) and photography are what we call The Untouchables. Great food and real musical entertainment are absolutely key to the day’s success, and fabulous images are what will provide the memories for years to come. There is no middle-ground here – you simply have to get these three aspects right, so cutting corners can prove disastrous. Despite that, even here you’ll find some room for manoeuvre.
Food is (and should be) your biggest spend and you should be as generous as you possibly can with this element of your budget. Get it right and your guests are more than half-way to having a great time; get it wrong and you’ll be hard pushed to salvage the situation. There are, however, many ways of holding back the reins without skimping on quality and quantity.
If you don’t have to have supervised, but the majority of your guests are kosher, then a caterer using kosher ingredients is a cheaper and perfectly acceptable option. By eliminating kosher meat altogether and sticking to fish and vegetarian options, you can bring the menu cost down further, while a good caterer will still be able to produce an exciting and creative menu within those parameters. If you only have a handful of strict kosher guests, and a non-kosher majority, then you could just buy in supervised kosher meals for them, while opening up more options for the majority of guests. That would almost certainly prove cheaper than the fully kosher-catered option for the entire party.
The buffet vs sit-down comparison is always worth a visit, though a buffet may not always work out cheaper. Although the staffing costs are considerably less than silver service, the preparation is usually more labour intensive.
Do investigate the options however as there will usually be a price differential as well as a more fundamental difference in relation to the style and atmosphere of your event.
Music (band or DJ)
Unlike most other events that have “sideshow” entertainment, wedding entertainment is usually fully focussed on the music. As a consequence it needs to be good. Lacklustre function bands and DJs who manage to clear the dance floor are big no-nos. While live music always has the potential to really enhance the atmosphere of an event, it isn’t a cheap option. A top tried and tested band will often come with a top tried and tested price tag. You generally get what you pay for, but there are ways of cutting your cloth to suit.
A very effective compromise is what’s called the Live DJ – a set up in which you have a DJ accompanied by 2 or 3 instrumentalists – sax and percussion usually work well. Another option is to find a couple of great singers who can sing to track. That way you’re paying fees to 2 or 3 musicians rather than a full band which could amount of 8 or 9 people plus significant production costs.
If you get the food and music right, you’ve ostensibly got an event. If you get the photographer right, you’ve got memories. If you get the partner right, you’ve got a marriage! While we can’t help you with the choice of partner, we can help with the rest. And a good photographer – who understands what you as a couple are all about – is critical. There’s a thing with wedding photos – you can’t re-take them if they’re bad !
Do your research on photographers as the price range can be enormous and don’t be tempted to buy into packages of services and products that you don’t necessarily need or want. Some will charge a lot in return for a beautiful gilt-edged coffee table book along with a DVD slideshow of your images set to schmaltzy music. If that’s what you want (perhaps as a gift for your future in-laws) then great, but if it’s not what you’re into, don’t get sucked in.
We work with several photographers, some of whom do provide the full ‘platinum service’, while others simply produce great reportage style imagery that they pass onto their clients simply edited but essentially raw, so you can do whatever you want in terms of printing. Nowadays there are plenty of internet-based photo printing companies that can produce quality prints at hugely competitive rates. The proviso of course is that the original images are professional high resolution files – so by all means take over the printing but don’t leave the actual photography to a friend even if he or she did win the Amateur Photographer of the Month competition back in May. As already mentioned, you need to be careful when tinkering with the above trio of “untouchables”. However, with the remaining elements of your budget there are plenty of ways of keeping things in check without begrudgingly having to accept an unwanted compromise option.
There will be more next time, as promised, but if you can’t wait, please conatct Mish or Kati on 020 8883 7411 www.kpevents.co.uk | www.facebook.com/kpeventslondon