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!
No, no! Not “when you’re totally tanked up with booze”!
What I’m actually referring to is the most advantageous time, day and type of ceremony for you.
Of course, depending on the type of ceremony you have in mind and the venue, there are major decisions to be made.
If you choose to marry at a Register Office, you need to make an appointment and go down (with two witnesses) on a working day.
At the time of writing, most (if not all) registrars conduct the ceremony from their base, rather than attending a licensed venue. (If they come out, they require certain criteria to be met, such as venue specifics and timings. They also charge quite a lot for this service.)
A bill is going through Parliament (slowly!) to allow certain celebrants to conduct legally-binding weddings, which may obviate the need to involve the registrars.
Which brings me on to your next possible choice.
Less Conventional Ceremonies
If you want a unique, tailor-made service, then, once your marriage has been made legal by the Registrars, you can use an independent celebrant. Such a ceremony can take place at the venue of your choice, be it a hotel, an iron age fort, a canalside, or wherever (subject to permission). It can also take the form you choose (eg personalised), which is where the celebrant comes in.
When to Marry
As a rule of thumb, you may be able to make savings, if you avoid high season. That may also suit your guests better. If you choose New Year’s Day, for example, there might be problems for those travelling by public transport or indeed for those nursing hangovers!
Valentine’s Day makes sense at one level, but suppliers often raise their prices for a day like this. You often need to book such a date very far in advance.
Summer is popular, but is not always the best bet. Prices are usually higher. Moreover, weather (as we are seeing this year!) is not guaranteed, and you may be safer booking Spring or Autumn. If you leave it too late to book for the Summer, you may find that many of your potential guests have already reserved their holidays and can’t attend your wedding.
Destination weddings also need considerable notice for most guests.
It’s often worth investigating possible discounts with your supplier. The worst that can happen is that they refuse!
Possible bargaining levers are holding the wedding out of season (as mentioned), holding it in the morning or afternoon, and choosing a Monday through Thursday.
There’s plenty to think about, then, but I hope that these remarks shed some useful light, at least. You may need to be flexible and should certainly do some research, but the results can be so worthwhile.
Never forget that it is your big day, and you deserve to get it right.
Do speak to me, if I can help you further.
Unless your ceremony is taking place at home or in the back garden, you’re going to be looking to hire a venue. That’s something you should take seriously, as the atmosphere and facilities can make all the difference to (probably) the biggest day of your lives.
Starting the Search
You may be lucky, and either know from experience where you want the ceremony to take place or have recommendations from reliable acquaintances.
If not, decide on the area and also on your budget. Then go online and google in local wedding venues. The website will be a good starting point, because if the text and pictures fail to attract you, you’re on to a non-starter straight away! It’s so important that you feel the venue is right and is where you want to be married.
Make a list and arrange to visit the top three or so. Ensure you see the event planner, and be ready to ask questions.
You may want to know any of the following:
- What availability do they have?
- What exactly does the booking fee include?
- Will the event planner be there on the day?
- Can you bring in outside suppliers of your choice?
- If outdoors, what arrangements are available if the weather is inclement?
- Can you have the ceremony in one room and the reception in another?
- Do they have tie-ins with registrars (ie will these come out to the venue)? [Not happening currently.]
- Do they supply PA systems?
- What cancellation processes do they have?
- How and when do they expect to be paid?
- What is the state of their Risk Assessment (bearing in mind current social distancing)?
Provided that you love the venue and your questions have been answered satisfactorily, then go with it. If it is a little too expensive, you lose nothing by asking for a discount. It may well be cheaper, if you marry out of season, in the afternoon or on a weekday.
I always say, when choosing a celebrant or a venue, book the one you really want, even if it may mean allocating a little less money than you had planned to another service.
To discuss any of this, please contact Michael.
Most people have little, or no, experience of putting together a ceremony. The internet can offer some help, but consulting a professional is wise. However, how do you know which supplier is going to be a match for you?
Of course, you’ve got to decide what you want and how much you are willing to spend. One rule of thumb is that, if you really like someone but they’re just out of your price range, it’s worth going with them. You can probably cut a corner elsewhere to cover the shortfall.
I’m not going to talk here about the reception, as my brief is the ceremony. There are still decisions to be made, though.
The venue and the officiant are paramount – and will each have their own advantages as well as potential drawbacks.
If you are not marrying in church, you essentially have two choices: the Register Office or a venue such as a hotel. If the venue is not licensed for weddings, you need to go to the Register Office first (with two witnesses). Then you can have the wedding of your dreams (see next section) in the venue of your dreams.
If you’re choosing a hotel, say, make sure you have visited – and love – it. Ensure you have spoken to the Event Planner and understand exactly what the terms and conditions are. For example, does your hire cover the whole venue? What about payment terms? What social distance safeguards are they employing? What happens if you have to cancel?
If you’re going with a celebrant as officiant, there are many different types. Humanists should not even mention “God” or include any religious elements in their service (though a few do seem to be doing that nowadays). Wiccan celebrants will include pagan (nature-related) elements. Then there are independent celebrants who will include some conventional religious readings or rituals, if desired, but who are comfortable with secular ceremonies.
To clarify, an independent civil celebrant will normally tailor the service to your expectations and beliefs, so you can have as much – or as little – religion as you want. Your day really can be special and the way YOU want it.
Finally, you need to be sure of venue and celebrant (especially, as you’ll want to be comfortable for your actual marriage).
Personal recommendations are always good. Otherwise, websites will give you an idea, but personal contact is even more revealing. Is this a venue that excites you? Will this celebrant listen to your wishes and be someone you can feel confident about?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Check Terms and Conditions and query anything unclear.
If you have any questions in the meanwhile, please feel free to ask me!