Can you help me reduce £4k wedding budget to £2k?

(29 Posts)
ThePartyArtist Thu 20-Mar-14 13:41:54

The plan is to get married abroad (not a glitzy resort but in the town that DP is from, and where his family still live). We'd be a party of 16 in total and it would be fairly informal - small ceremony, a few drinks then a restaurant.

I've totted up costs and it's around £4K which is double what we'd hoped, esp. for these small numbers!

The biggest costs are;
Flights for 8 - 10 people from the UK (c. £1800)
Self-catering accommodation for 6 people (c £760)
Meal for 16 people (c. £700 including a 10% tip).

I feel it's only reasonable for us to pay for people's flights and accommodation as they'd be coming from the UK.

Ideas I have come up with for saving money are;
A weekday ceremony.
5pm / 6pm ceremony therefore shorter drinks reception before meal.
Put people up for fewer nights.
£300 total budget for rings.
£300 total budget for bride and groom outfits.
£300 total for ceremony venue and registrar.
Spend NOTHING on wedding cars, printed programmes, favours, gifts for bridal party, bridesmaids / best man, or professional hair & make up.
Ask restaurant to do a group deal.
DIY drinks reception at our holiday accommodation.

I'd particularly like people's insight into:
How realistic a budget I have set aside for rings and clothing? (I am happy to go second hand / high street) - could I reduce this?

Drinks reception (how much time to allow for this before a meal - don't want everyone falling over! Having an idea of timescale would allow us to guess at amounts of drink to provide).

Ideas for saving on any other aspect of the day?

OP’s posts: |
Technical Thu 20-Mar-14 13:56:10

Could DF's family do the catering (as they're local) a picnic/BBQ on the beach/park? If I had my time over that's what I'd do for my wedding and if I was the "side" that wasn't having to travel I'd be happy to help.

Obviously the flights etc are the most expensive bit and I tend to agree with you that as it's your choice to have the ceremony abroad and you want them to come, you should pay but I think it does depend a bit on who they are and what their situation is. e.g. my parents would hate me to pay their expenses for my wedding, my sister wouldn't be able to come if I didn't.

Technical Thu 20-Mar-14 14:00:00

I'm sure you could get 2 gold bands for less than £300 but that's the bit I would spend money on, as you'll be wearing them everyday for the rest of your lives. Or don't have rings at all.

If you went for the picnic idea, people could bring a bottle of something fizzy instead of a gift?

I know some people would think that weird but IMO the best weddings are done on the cheap and I suspect there's an inverse relationship between the cost of the wedding and the state of the relationship 10 years on.

annielostit Thu 20-Mar-14 17:59:28

I do think the food budget is OTT. You can get deals in places for much less. Allow some wine/beer etc with meal but then everyone buys their Cyprus last year fixed evening meals were available for €15/ 3 course.
You might need more for your outfit. If is a warm place don't think meringue, think soft flowing/elegant I got a dress for £180 in monsoon when I got married but debenhams do cheaper. Does your oh want a suit. Mine had waist coat/trouser affair. We got married in Barbados.

Germanwife Thu 20-Mar-14 18:03:16

I can't really help, but I just wanted to drop in and say that I love the sound of your wedding! smile

Germanwife Thu 20-Mar-14 18:06:40

Sorry, pressed post too early! I love small weddings, and it's so nice to hear of a wedding that doesn't have 100s guests, themes, favours etc. I love the smaller weddings where the marriage is really the focus and isn't sidetracked by big parties and expensive outfits.

Congratulations and hope it all goes well on the day!

antimatter Thu 20-Mar-14 18:07:37

Hard to advise without knowing where you are going to get married.

Do it out of tourist season, perhaps in September ot June (again depending on the weather).

Have look when cheapest tickets are using site like

In some countries there are companies specialising in organising weddings, def cheaper than going to restaurant. Then you buy your own alcohol, they provide catering and venue/waiting staff.


FiloPasty Thu 20-Mar-14 18:08:55

I think you should discuss with your guests the accommodation and flight costs, I would imagine they would be happy to pay, it's a holiday after all and in if not, why not do 50/50?

AphraBane Thu 20-Mar-14 18:23:23

If where you're going is guaranteed to have lovely weather at that time of year, could you possibly plan a picnic on the beach at sunset? Get some catering in for the food, a few bottles of bubbly, and all have lots of fun.

I agree that you could possibly ask for a small contribution per person towards the flight/accommodation, while making it clear that you don't want wedding presents too. The way you've planned it is a lovely gesture, but it will be costing them even less than a wedding in the UK which is only a few hours away, and everyone expects a bit of expenditure for that.

We got our rings from an Irish website with lovely Celtic designs, but went for fairly cheap gold and then paid a bit extra to get them engraved. All in all both rings were 200 quid (together), but look lovely (and many people have commented on them over the last decade) - so you can get lovely rings for cheaper than 300.

thatwouldbeanecumenicalmatter Thu 20-Mar-14 19:29:02

Ok no one has mentioned dresses goes! grin

I had a quickie wedding (£5k budget, just over a month to plan), bought my dress from Monsoon - real silk beautiful quality - although the prices have gone up since I married (paid under £150) - I'd recommend waiting for the sales and phone up your local store to check they have your size to try on and buy.


Marks and spencers Have a few wedding dresses from £55 - £199, not sure if you can order online to try a few styles/sizes and if they accept returns.

Marks and Spencers again have lots of men's suits at £69 and a couple reduced even cheaper than that! (can't believe those prices but a lot of them look like they've had good reviews and they look fab in the photos!) <reminds self to make DH have a look for some new suits for work>


Debenhams would be worth a try in the sales, Coast concessions and Debut dresses are lovely. Try dresses on so that as soon as the sales starts you can order online asap. Also worth keeping an eye our for discounted offers (usually in the Daily Mail - I know, I know).

Can your guests afford to pay their own flights/accommodation or at least as other posters have said to pay half? I've not heard of the bride and groom paying for their guests flights etc so it isn't unreasonable that they pay (esp as it is to be with family abroad - either way your or your fiancé's family were going to have to travel).

Oh and congratulations, how very exciting! thanks

(please keep us updated <nosy>)

GrasshopperNchipmunk Thu 20-Mar-14 22:27:08

Do you collect Tesco Clubcard vouchers? If so you can exchange these for 3x voucher for Goldsmiths jewellers, which could be good for wedding rings? I got my wedding ring doing this as I only wanted a plain gold band.

ThePartyArtist Fri 21-Mar-14 14:49:11

Thanks everyone. I have managed to get it down to about £2,200 by:

* Not paying for flights (still not sure this is ok for close family - but if in lieu of presents and we pay accommodation hopefully it is!)
* Weekday ceremony (IF people can get the time off work).
* Shorter drinks reception - i.e. just a few bottles, DIY style rather than hiring a venue, before we go for dinner.
* Party menu at a Cuban themed bar - £35 p.p. for buffet and open bar for 2 hours.

Any other ideas?
And how long should we have the drinks reception for (with 16 people) as this will affect amount of drink provided?

OP’s posts: |
QuiteQuietly Fri 21-Mar-14 14:54:16

We've been invited to a few overseas weddings over the years and have always paid our own flights/hotel, except for one where the groom paid one night's hotel for his travelling guests (we paid for another night to make the trip saner). Similarly, for weddings at the other end of the country we have always paid to drive/fly there and stay over. When we got married we lent our house (we stayed at the hotel) to a group of skint friends and paid for hotel rooms for our younger (and less well-off) sisters. So, given your tight budget, it may not be unreasonable to ask some of the guests to chip in for their flights/accommodation, depending on circumstances.

If you are marrying later in the day, do you need a drinks reception as well as a meal?

I agree with Technical that the rings are worth being careful over as they will hang around longer than other bits of the day.

Hope you have a wonderful start to married life!

ThePartyArtist Fri 21-Mar-14 15:05:21

Ah yes maybe could do away with drinks reception altogether, which would save £80.
My sisters and their partners could just about afford the flights but not really accommodation as well.
My parents could afford it.
Is it fair to pay for some and not others though?

OP’s posts: |
Technical Fri 21-Mar-14 15:09:30

Yes, especially when the ones who "lose out" are your parents. Not everyone would give your the same value in presents, that would just mean your parents' are spending more on their present to you than your sisters, which is probably what would happen if they were to buy actual presents IYSWIM

serin Sat 22-Mar-14 19:23:01

I would expect to pay for my own flights. Therefore I would only go to an overseas wedding if it were a particularly close friend or family member.

How will the other guests know that you have contributed to your sisters costs? It's no one's business but yours.

Some of the Chinese websites do unbelievable wedding dresses very cheaply, you may have issues with the ethics? but I know some of my daughters friends got their prom dresses from China and they were very good quality.

£35pp sounds reasonable for the reception. Think I would still possibly look into a little taverna type place though (maybe his family could help with a recommendation?) and see if they will do a better deal. A free glass of wine...great, a free 2hour drinking session? chance!....not with my family!

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 24-Mar-14 15:20:40

I think eBay is your friend here, I paid £90 for a veil when I got married. It's nice but essentially it's a bit of netting stitched onto a clear plastic comb confused.

You can get nice wedding rings on there too, it's ok having platinum diamond set bands if you can afford it but a court style rings all you need really.

emma16 Sat 29-Mar-14 22:57:58

Your wedding sounds lovely!!! I hate massive traditional weddings, they're so boring as it's just the same thing at every one.
Debenhams are always having sales so its worth trying there, or ebay for a Monsoon style perhaps?
Personally if my sister/brother or my hubbys said they were getting married abroad i wouldn't be expecting for them to pay for our flights & accomodation out there, unless you are the Kardashians in which case i'd be expecting a private jet! But, if you give people enough time to save up then they will probably class it as their annual holiday maybe? I know we would & it wouldn't be an issue at all.

Chunderella Sun 30-Mar-14 08:43:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

primigravida Sun 30-Mar-14 09:41:46

Second-hand is a good way to go. My wedding dress was free as it was my grandmother's as was the veil. Are there any veils or dresses in the family? Ebay is another great option. Rings - again second-hand. Plain gold bands have a timeless elegance and are a much cheaper option especially if bought second-hand.
I know this is very contentious but perhaps ask people for money instead of gifts or say their presence is their present? We did this at our wedding - any friends who flew to the wedding paid for their own flights but we asked for that to be in lieu of gifts.

tribpot Sun 30-Mar-14 09:50:21

I think you need to speak openly with your family about the flights. Someone's bound to get the hump about the fact you're not able to cover the costs yourself. I would just say honestly that you can't pick up the bill and you'll understand if that means a few people can't attend. Make sure you do pick a time when the flights are not too pricey and give plenty of notice.

Allalonenow Sun 30-Mar-14 10:10:03

Perhaps get the restaurant to do a "welcome" drink as guests arrive, instead of a separate drinks reception.
What are you going to do about photos? Perhaps get all the guests to contribute photos to a collection?

polkadotdelight Sun 30-Mar-14 10:22:57

To take a different tack - you could have a weekday/afternoon wedding in the UK followed by a simikar style meal (or afternoon tea/fish & chips) for you family and then do a similar thing abroad with DHs family. You'd have the same dress/rings/flowers (if say paper/fabric bouquet) but wouldn't be spending on flights etc. Registry offices are inexpensive if you are happy not to have a church wedding - we aren't church goers so it seemed wrong for us to marry in church.

Of course it means that the two families won't meet but it's just a different idea.

YuccanLiederHorticulture Sun 30-Mar-14 10:33:48

if you really need to take it down that much then you have to address the flights budget which is taking up 90% of the £2k you want to spend. What county is it - if it's in europe could you hire a peoplecarrier with 8 seats and drive down? Could you reduce the fares by travelling on a different day or with a budget airline? Or if not could you reduce the number of flights you pay for?

Finbar Sun 30-Mar-14 10:45:18

Wedding dresses: my friend got a beautiful stylish one from a special Oxfam shop or website - it was silk and classy and was less than £100!

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