We’ve all heard the stories about newlyweds mortgaging the marital home to pay for their wedding but the truth is that even for less demanding couples, the cost of getting married is moving in the same direction as their blood pressure once the final bill arrives. Up!
The average cost of a traditional wedding in the UK is thought to be in the region of £11,000 including the reception at £2,000, honeymoon at £1,500, evening reception at £750 and wedding cake at £200. What’s more the “average” wedding generally exceeds the original budget by around 15% which in the current financial climate could cause real problems with the consequence that married life gets off to less than a blissful start…
Panic not, help is at hand. Below are 8 simple, practical tips to reduce the financial stress of planning your wedding.
1. What’s in the pot?
Write down in black and white how much money you have to spend and where it’s coming from. Include assistance from family and friends, your savings and details of any money (including interest payable) you intend to borrow. Take a few days to let it sink in and if you‘re considering borrowing money, be sure that you can afford it. Yes your wedding is a very special day but it is only one day – how long will you be paying off the debt? Only you will know if it’s worth it. Once you have an overall figure decide a reasonable amount – no less than 10% – to keep aside for contingencies.
2. Use a checklist
Many couples are tripped up financially because they simply don’t envisage the range of expenses involved in creating their perfect wedding. A checklist of the most common items and the average amount they cost will give you a good idea of what’s involved. Think about what you’re prepared to spend on each and stick to it.
3. Think about what’s most important to you and prioritise
Once you know what you have to spend, you’ll realise you probably won’t be able to have everything you want. So to make sure your day is still fantastic, be clear at the outset what is and what isn’t negotiable. Pick three or four things that you agree you can’t do without, allocate an amount from your budget for each so you know what’s left to spend on the less important things.
4. Keep on top of things
Every couple will change their mind about key elements of the day (usually several times.. at least!) so remember that if you do, the chances are there will be a financial implication too, so update your budget regularly to avoid nasty surprises down the line.
5. Have fun being creative
Think about ways you can keep costs reasonable without diminishing the overall feel of the day. Consider exchanging champagne for fruit punch, wedding cake for cupcakes, a formal meal for a buffet. And remember, your friends and family represent a wealth of talent that can really help keep costs down. Do you know anyone who bakes a good cake? Who could turn their hand to wedding invitations or table decorations? Alter dresses? Involving friends and family in the wedding preparations also has the benefit of making the big day more personal with your nearest and dearest knowing they’ve contributed to it.
6. Work your wedding list
These days it’s unlikely you’ll need a new toaster or set of knives so a wedding list or wishing well can prove a better (and let’s face it, less wasteful) use of any contribution your guests would like to make – while keeping the overall expense to you down. Many couples simply suggest donations towards their honeymoon thereby reducing one of the most costly elements of a wedding at £1,500 on average.
7. The bar..
While it’s a lovely gesture to offer a free bar at your reception, the problem is that you won’t know how much it’s going to cost you until after the event. Depending on the thirst of your guests, your bar bill could end up more painful than their heads in the morning. Few people expect a free bar these days so consider putting a set amount of money behind the bar instead and be clear that when it’s gone, it’s gone!
8. Other weddings
It’s a really useful exercise to think back to weddings you’ve been to in the past and why you enjoyed them so much. Was it the expensive table favours, the quality of the wine, the food, the company, the entertainment? Doing this should help you keep some perspective and reduce the temptation to spend money on those things that really aren’t that important to making your own day memorable.
Budgeting needn’t be boring, agree to do it regularly over a meal or bottle of wine and remember that it’s important because it will help minimise the inevitable stress of planning and paying for your wedding. Ultimately it should also help you get the best out of the day itself so you’ll start your married lives together happy.
After all, that’s what it’s really all about in the end.