Can you Cut Corners with a Wedding?

Can you Cut Corners with a Wedding?

It can be dangerous to cut corners when planning weddings. However, it is not always necessary to “go the whole hog”. You can make savings.

Clearly, there are going to be differences between a society wedding and one with a dozen guests. Then there are destination weddings and back garden affairs. I won’t attempt to cover all of these here!

What I am suggesting is some short cuts that, if administered judiciously, should be safe and convenient – and save you some money!


At one extreme, you can (as indicated) hold a ceremony in your back garden. However, everything – including health and safety aspects – is down to you. You certainly won’t get the peace of mind a hotel (say) should offer you.

If booking a venue, you may be able to barter a little, especially if you’re happy to go out of season with your event. Summer is likely to be most expensive. Arranging your do earlier in the day may work out cheaper.

Wedding Planner

If you’re having a small wedding (especially if you’re using a venue with its own event planner), you may not need a wedding planner as well. Otherwise, I would suggest you at least consider using one.

Planners have contacts across the industry and may actually be able to save you money on suppliers. They take the worry out of the planning and running of the day, which can be invaluable.

You can usually choose either to book a planner for the whole process or simply book one for the day.


With a small event, you may be able to get away with organising this aspect yourself. But bear in mind that you will have to consider buying in the food and drink, setting up the seating, providing crockery and cutlery etc., heating (if appropriate) and serving the food (safely). Then you may need to cater for those with special dietary requirements (vegans, gluten-free, children, and so on).What about the clearing up?

Having the event professionally catered will not necessarily cost much more than doing it yourself, but will be a weight off your mind (and feet!).


This is down to you! Do you want a disco (but will elderly guests?!)? Do you want a DJ or MC? What about photo booths? A magician, perhaps?

Or none of them?!


If you know someone who is a good public-speaker, could they take the service? You may be able to save some money that way. True, they may not be good at putting a memorable ceremony together, but they are a possibility, though not one I recommend.

However, a professional (like myself!) will put a lot of work in to ensure that the ceremony is unique and just what you want. Then, with their demeanour, professionalism and experience, they will virtually guarantee a truly memorable ceremony. You will be able to relax, confident in their ability, and that’s worth a lot.

Musicians and Florists

Live music is usually better for atmosphere, but may well cost more that a DJ.

In-season flowers will probably cost less than more exotic ones. You may choose to go easy on more expansive (and expensive) colour themes, if you want to cut a corner.


Not something I would skimp on. Those memories are irreplaceable. What if you got a friend to take the photos, and they made a mistake and couldn’t take any? Apart from the loss of tangible memories, would the relationship with that friend endure?

So splash out for these (although there are cheaper ones who are still very good).


I haven’t talked about rings, clothes or make-up artists, for example, which are probably de rigueur, as far as requirements go.

But there are other extras that you could avoid, if on a tight budget. Lovely as it was, having a barn owl deliver the ring for blessing, did not come cheap. Was it really necessary?

Well, it depends on your viewpoint and pockets.

For more advice, feel free to contact me, but I hope that this was a useful start.

Photo: Matt Penberthy

Cheap Weddings?

Cheap Weddings?

Cheap Weddings are not common.

I think you already knew that, didn’t you?

But they don’t have to be that expensive. There are ways of cutting corners without skimping on quality.

Obviously, not everyone’s budget or wishes are the same. I’m therefore going to concentrate on just a few common areas (venue, florist, dressmaker, photographer, celebrant) and suggest where savings might be made.

Incidentally, I’m not knocking any of my professional colleagues. I know in my own line the work, training, skill and experience that lie behind an immaculate ceremony. The same professionalism is part of every decent wedding supplier. That doesn’t mean that you can’t save money by doing it yourself. However, you may save less than you think, and it certainly doesn’t save on stress!


I discuss in other blogs how to choose your venue. It is really important that you go with one that you love (and which ticks all the boxes with its Ts & Cs). You may need to book a year or more in advance to secure it.

You are more likely to hire that dream venue – and pay less – if you choose a date that is out of season. Special days (like New Year’s Day or Valentine’s Day) are likely to be in high demand and therefore cost more.

Moreover, if you have your wedding in the morning and cater for lunch, you may well see reductions in the fees charged both by the venue and by the caterer.

Finally, if you don’t require exclusivity (ie booking the whole venue), things can work out a fair bit cheaper. It may be logistically relatively simple to use the same room for ceremony and reception – or just two rooms.


It’s tempting to choose flowers whose colours fit in with your theme. If they are not in season, they have to be brought in, and this can add quite a bit to the expense. Moreover, local flowers can be marvellous without costing the earth.


It almost goes without saying that the bride wants to buy a splendid dress. Where there’s demand, prices tend to be raised. So this is a major expense.

If you can tolerate the thought, investigate hiring dresses or even buying a second-hand one.

There are potentially a lot of savings to be made here.


There is no simple one-size-fits-all here. You may need to take advice as to how many photographers to hire and for how long. But, again, prices may be reduced if you marry out of season.

i advise that you do book a photographer (at least). Of course, a friend can probably do it, but will they do such a (professional) job? Will the quality of their apparatus be as good? What if they make a (potentially disastrous) mistake?

Do your research, but don’t cut corners on the photographer(s).


Having a person you like and trust up there conducting the ceremony with you at such an important occasion is essential. You shouldn’t cut corners with your celebrant either. Prices will vary, but you’re paying for the time and expertise they can give, the work they put in and their ability to deliver on the day.

Some celebrants may offer discounts (eg for a booking resulting from a wedding fayre or a special offer), but your choice should depend on how much you want to work with the particular celebrant.

This can make all the difference.


I hope this gets you thinking about how you may save money. You may be pleasantly surprised!

I’d be happy to chat with you about any subject raised in this blog.

5 Canny Ways of Saving Money on your Wedding

5 Canny Ways of Saving Money on your Wedding

“Weddings” and “saving money” are uneasy bedfellows.  They seem like paradoxes. After all, weddings often cost thousands, even tens of thousands, of pounds.

So how can “saving money” enter into the equation?

Well, there are a number of ways of cutting down on expenditure. (And I don’t mean reducing the catering to a sausage roll per guest!)

Obviously, you can control the size of the guest list, the type of venue you use and what you offer your guests.


  1. Venue – an “at-home” event may work out a lot cheaper, although organising everything yourself can be daunting. Bear in mind that, as organiser-in-chief, you may well sacrifice peace of mind, especially on the big day. Some of the considerations will include parking, neighbours, catering, entertainment, speaker system, toilets, serving food and drink, health & safety (beware of trailing wires etc.).

Unlike with a hired venue, you should not need to book a year or so in advance. Moreover, a home ceremony may win hands down in terms of atmosphere.

If you do hire a venue, choose a time and date that is less popular. That way, you have some bargaining power. So, apart from days like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, winter is likely to be a cheaper time, and afternoons tend to be cheaper than evenings. Your venue will be delighted to accommodate you then!

2. Registrars – unless you choose a full religious ceremony, you will need to book the registrars. Otherwise, you will not be legally married.

One convenient trick (to kill two birds with one stone) is to have the registrars come to your venue. (Although the legislation may change soon, note that the venue currently needs to have four solid walls and a roof to be ‘kosher’ for weddings.)

The registrars will charge around £500 (depending on the region) for attending.

Try this canny money-saving idea: go to the Register Office yourselves (by appointment) with two witnesses before the wedding. This can be hours or even days ahead. You will only have to pay around £100 for the same ceremony you would get at the venue. You will then be legally married and free of that particular worry! So you can go to the venue of your dreams and have the ceremony of your dreams! (A Civil Celebrant can help you with a tailor-made ceremony.)

3. Booze – you can lay on some Prosecco for toasts, which can work out a lot cheaper than champagne, but just as satisfying. if you organise an afternoon reception, people tend to drink less alcohol then, so you may be able to save some money. A couple of bottles of wine per table (plus water and/or juice) should be adequate for the meal. You can operate a cash bar (make this clear to guests on the invitation!) for those who want to continue drinking.

4. Food – there is no need to serve a vast, showy repast. Three courses of decent, well-prepared staple food should do the trick. (Of course, don’t forget to cater for vegetarians and, possibly, children.) And people tend to expect rather lighter meals, if it’s earlier in the day.

5. Catering – you’ll have to decide whether you serve a buffet or have waiter-service. With a buffet, the food still needs to arrive and be replenished, although guests can serve themselves. Then there’s the clearing away and washing up etc. Silver service will cost much more, normally, but can be a lot more convenient.

With all these things, you will need to do some pricing up and comparison. However, thanks to these suggestions, you can take some real strides towards saving money on your wedding.

If I can help you further, please phone or e-mail me.

How to Avoid Wedding Rip-Offs

How to Avoid Wedding Rip-Offs

Weddings can cost as much as £25,000, depending on what you have in mind.

A good wedding planner will let you know from the start what you will be getting for your money; you pay for the service, but you should get peace of mind. It’s often cheaper to do it yourself piecemeal, but then it’s rather harder to keep tabs.

Whatever you choose, it pays to keep your wits about you, and avoid rip-offs.


Because, by its nature, a wedding is usually planned over months, deposits may have to be paid up front. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, do your homework on the supplier before parting with your cash. Do you have any evidence that they are trustworthy? It’s not unknown for companies to take the money and run. Testimonials, while not foolproof, may give you a pointer. Also, how long has the company been trading? If it’s well-established, it probably won’t drop you and run.


It does pay to read anything through before you sign (but how many of us do?!) If you’re dealing with a reputable trader, you probably won’t get ripped off. However, it’s no good claiming that you were “unaware” of deadlines, cancellation penalties etc. You must feel happy about the Ts & Cs BEFORE you sign. (If you really can’t handle it, get someone with some legal knowledge to help you understand what you’re agreeing to.)

The wedding car

Nothing new here, really. You must look for a reputable company that deals with weddings as a matter of course. If you can get personal recommendations, then follow these. If not, it may pay to visit the limousine company before you make up your mind. At least, that way you’ll know they do exist and are unlikely to leave you waiting at the kerb!

Wedding dresses

There are myriad sites on the internet which cater for brides-to-be (and their retinue). Will you be getting quality? Is that discounted dress actually going to look so good on the day? Again, you need to try and be sure that the company is reliable and bona fide. It may be worth dealing with known retailers (even though that peace of mind could work out quite expensive).


The photographer

Please be aware that you are taking a risk if you get your best friend to take the photos – for such a big event, you want a professional. You want a good one, so, before deciding, visit two or three and look at examples of their work and try and get testimonials for them.

Other ‘vital’ expenses

There are a host of other items that you might decide are worth paying for. Flowers, invitations, cake, decorations, entertainment, civil celebrant etc. are all quite normal. Prices for some of these can be inflated, so it is often good to shop around and compare quotes.

Sometimes, a ‘wedding’ cake will cost much more than a grand alternative that would do every bit as well. Flowers may be cheaper if they are in season at the time. Arrange a wedding in winter. Catering a morning wedding may work out considerably cheaper too. Be creative!

Naturally, to do all this research that I am suggesting is time-consuming, though necessary. Start in very good time. Your hard work will prove invaluable. Not only could you save money, but, more importantly, you could ensure a perfect day.


8 Ways To Save Your Guests Money

8 Ways To Save Your Guests Money

A wedding nowadays can cost £20,000 or even more. And that doesn’t take into account expenses for bridesmaids and guests. It’s quite an industry, and I, as a civil celebrant, clearly contribute towards this cost – although only in a very small way, I hasten to add!


Bridesmaids can spend as much as £1,000, if you factor in their dress, travel, accessories, and wedding present.



Attending a wedding as a guest, especially if that involves a hotel stay (and possibly, travel, professional child care, costume, wedding gift and stag/hen nights) can cost several hundred pounds. (And I’m not even talking about destination weddings.)
It’s therefore not so surprising that a number of people have to make personal sacrifices or even decline a wedding invitation for financial reasons.
If you are planning your wedding, there are some things you can easily do to make to save your guests money.

Money-saving tips

1. Keep engagement party/hen/stag nights modest in scale.
2. Assuming you use a department store for your gift list (or registry), it doesn’t have to be the priciest – or, if you’re absoultely set on a high-end list, do include some items that don’t cost too much. I’m talking about £30-£80. You could even register at Harrods as well as at John Lewis, say, to give guests a bit of choice.
3. If it’s feasible, offer the possibility to buy individual items, rather than a set.
4. You can give guests the option of a charitable donation, if you don’t really need gifts. Then people needn’t feel embarrassment, if they’re a bit constrained.
5. You may be able to use discount stores for your bridesmaids’ dresses. Or they can hire which should work out cheaper than buying new. If the colour scheme fits, they may even be able to use dresses they currently own.
6. Your ushers should be allowed to wear suits they already have, if they so wish.
7. Choose a venue that is accessible and within reach for most people. If it’s near public transport links, so much the better.
8. Don’t have a cash bar on the day (or not until you have provided a reasonable amount of drink first)!

None of these tips are particularly arduous, and following them may make a real difference to those you really want to attend your big day – and so ultimately to you yourselves.