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Wedding on a budget...

(29 Posts)
Dolly80 Tue 29-Jul-14 23:26:36

We are trying to plan a budget wedding for 2016. At this early stage even the guest list is a nightmare! Initially was 75 day and a further 45 evening guests and, to be honest, we just can't afford that.

So, we're now considering 55 guests all day, no extras. It will be immediate family, aunts & uncles and close friends only. No cousins, friends, work mates etc. I'm sure this is bound to offend some people but I'm less worried about that and more worried if it will be boring without a big party?

I'm thinking perhaps ceremony at 4pm dinner at 6pm, live band at 8pm and evening snacks at 9.30pm?

Does this sound like a realistic plan (and hopefully not a snoozefest!)

MrsF2B2014 Wed 30-Jul-14 15:32:43

Hi Dolly,
Congrats on your engagement!

We are on a small budget too, although we have ended up inviting a lot of people!
Most packages offer for 50 day guests so I don't think you need to worry about it being too small or boring.
It is very hard not to offend people at the end of the day, so just do what you want to do - it's your wedding! smile

On your timescales - is it a church wedding or a registry wedding? - Church weddings tend to go on for quite a bit longer and if you are having a photographer, I know they like to take photos for a while after the ceremony as well. Other than that, sounds perfect.

If you are trying to save money I suggest doing a lot of DIY like I have - obviously you are fairly limited in the venue respect but things like signs, cake, flowers, invites I am doing myself.

Also make sure you shop around! - We got our rings from Elma jewellery and our bridesmaid dresses were in the sale at Debenhams for £35 each! - Bargain!

All the best for your wedding and planning!
cake thanks

Dolly80 Wed 30-Jul-14 18:57:50

Thanks for your comments. I'm back up to 74 day and now 52 evening shock However, think we'd rather cut costs elsewhere to make sure the people we really want can be invited. I'm thinking you don't often recall what you ate at what wedding but you do remember who was there.

We'd like a registry office wedding, then hire a pub or hall with caterer's for the evening. Quite an informal affair, no bridesmaids, nothing to fancy dress or suit wise.

I was already thinking of making a lot myself - I like being creative so think its achievable.

Ragwort Wed 30-Jul-14 19:12:31

Elope grin.

Friends of mine got married on a budget and had a very simple meal in a village hall after the ceremony - can you just have one buffet type meal instead of a formal meal and evening snacks - then you could have a few people at the actual ceremony (do registry offices have space for 74 confused) and then just one big party rather than a separate evening function?

At my friends wedding everyone bought food to share (instead of presents) and it worked really well.

Dolly80 Wed 30-Jul-14 20:53:10

I think there are a one or two registry offices in London that could fit 50+. I'm sure I'll try and cut it down again though!

2minds Sat 02-Aug-14 12:58:25

Look on ebay for wedding bits. We purchased all our invitations on ebay, think the seller was occasions by Rebecca, and it cost us under £20. Everyone commented on how lovely they were.
We also ordered our favour bags from ebay. £1.99 for 50 bags to match our colour scheme, then £10 for a big box of almonds to put inside the bags, making it just £12.99 for all our favour bags. You can find everything you need on there and save loads of money.

Szeli Tue 05-Aug-14 22:40:25

My friend had 80 day and 120 evening on a budget of £2500 and it was lovely.

Venue for ceremony was £350
Wedding breakfast was in a gastropub function room and came under the daily deal of three courses for £10pp as it was a week day.
Chip barms in eve
Dress off eBay
No jackets for the men, just braces
Made her own; cake tops, sweet table, invites, centre pieces, decor
Friend dj, friend hair/makeup and a friend photographer

She always maintains her flowers were a worthless rip off and she should have made her own (as lots of people do now) they cost over £700 I think

Moral is - call in favours!

Audeca Wed 06-Aug-14 19:08:23

Thanks for your comments. I'm back up to 74 day and now 52 evening shock However, think we'd rather cut costs elsewhere to make sure the people we really want can be invited.

You are on completely the right track to focus on the guest list. We were on a relatively tight budget so focussed on who we wanted there then worked from that as our fixed starting point.

Do you have friends who take good photographs and have SLR cameras? If so that can be an easy saving instead of a professional (if friends are willing).

Cars and guest transport were an easy saving for us (everything we used in our city - house, hotels, ceremony venue and reception venues - were in walking distance).

Going to a flower wholesaler and buying and making up your own bouquets will save an absolute bloody fortune.

One of the biggest things that will help you keep the budget in check is that you have plenty of time. We spent more than we intended, but spreading the load made it affordable (no credit, just paid for things when we had cash).

Setup a spreadsheet and log everything (quotes, actual price paid, amounts outstanding) was another thing that helped us hugely. It meant we could keep track of all those little costs that quickly add up and also, crucially, illustrate to other parties (i.e parents) that what they wanted actually would cost a fortune and was beyond our means. There are quite a few templates out there for free if you don't fancy setting up you own Google Sheets here, Excel here)

Audeca Wed 06-Aug-14 19:09:38

Oh, and as Szeli mentioned, going for a weekday saves money (probably saved us at least £500).

2minds Thu 07-Aug-14 23:20:16

We got married on a Sunday as it was £3,000 less than choosing a Saturday wedding! We didn't hire a car as we got ready at the venue (did put a £3 ribbon on my dad's car though!), my DH's sister made the wedding cake for our wedding present, we were lucky to have a friend who is a photographer take our photos for free, I got my dress & the bridesmaid dress in the Debenhams sale, and my sister did my make up for me. All these things can really add up.

Dolly80 Sat 09-Aug-14 21:01:59

Thank you everyone. We had a really good meeting at a gastropub on Thursday night and can have the whole venue, on a Saturday,for a really reasonable minimum spend. It's also close to a large registry office.

My aunt is great at making cakes so might call in a favour for the wedding cake. Oh and her husband has an awesome camera so it may be double calling in of favours wink We were also thinking whether to have a toast (my partner doesn't really want speeches) or get some awesome welcome drinks and canapés, then a main course, and wedding cake for pudding. Our ideal wedding is pretty much food and drink at a pub that just happens to have been preceded by a wedding!

Ideas about other cost cutting factors like favours, invites etc are fab,thanks guys.

jas1978 Wed 20-Aug-14 08:54:13

Try scouring the internet for free wedding ideas, instead of posting out expensive invites try signing up with you can create your own wedding website for free where guests can RSVP back etc

newlycuthair Wed 20-Aug-14 16:59:33

DD got married last year. and we saved loads by doing things ourself:
-Learnt how to do tied bouquets from u-tube, got flowers from market the day before, along with satin ribbon. They looked great, but practice first!!!
-did our own table decorations. Simple flowers in small vases bought from "not on the high street"
-made invitations from card, and decorative bits from "wedding crafter" and local market craft stall
_wedding favours home made fudge in cellophane with lots of pieces of coloured curly ribbon with the guest name on, doubled as a place name.
-plain cake from bakers iced with white icing, and decorated it ourself. Nobody really wants to eat wedding cake, its often just the ceremony of the cutting

We had a fantastic day, and I don't think spending more would have made it any better. Enjoy the planning, its fun!

jessplussomeonenew Wed 20-Aug-14 17:25:52

Definitely ask friends and family to help - it makes it more personal as well as far cheaper. A few tips that helped us:

Use one venue so you don't have to worry about transport - or alternatively ask friends with nice cars to help out and show off their prize possessions!

We used live orchids (£5 from the market with two flowering stems, plus pretty pots) as our table and ceremony room decorations - looked lovely, didn't require any arrangement and they're still flowering and giving us pleasure nearly 3 years later).

A live band will be a big expense - a friend of ours DJd for us which was great as he played all our favourites!

Definitely consider second hand or high street dresses - I got a lovely dress at one of the Oxfam specialist bridal shops for under £300, loads of choice and a fraction of the cost of a new dress!

One thing I'd seriously consider getting done professionally is the photos - it's a lot of responsibility for an amateur, which can be stressful, and having experience definitely helps a photographer reliably capture all the shots you want without being obtrusive. Instead, think about cutting the amount of time they're at the venue and get the pictures on disc rather than paying for albums etc. We had a professional photographer cover the ceremony, formal shots, drinks reception and start of the meal - with those images safely in the bank we relied on friends and family for getting ready/evening shots.

Oh, and have fun planning!

Purpleflamingos Wed 20-Aug-14 17:53:15

Def splash out on photos . We look through our album all the time 7 yrs later. Don't worry so much about an evening do. I wish we hadn't and invited more to the church.
Afternoon tea with pimms upon arrival and Asti instead of champagne for speeches saved a lot of money. We cut corners on an evening do which was over disappointingly early when someone ordered a limo at 9pm as a surprise to take us to a honeymoon suite in a hotel. Thoughtful but we wish they'd asked us first (yep, in laws).

Dolly80 Thu 21-Aug-14 08:52:17

I understand the views about professional photos however, my partner can barely tolerate being in family snaps, let alone pose for 'traditional' wedding shots. In these circumstances is it worth spending £500-1000 on a professional photographer? I do think it would make him feel highly uncomfortable, not really what I want on a wedding day. In my head I was just imaging my uncle telling him not to be such a grumpy sod and taking a few shots!

In all honesty, I think we'd rather spend that kind of money on a band/DJ combo (although my friends brothers are in a band so might try and call in another favour there wink)

Thanks for the continued ideas everyone

Lj8893 Thu 21-Aug-14 09:03:36

What is your budget?
we are getting married next year and the total cost will be about £5000. We are getting married in a registry office which is beautiful and seats 120 people (£500) and have booked a function room for £200!!!! We have organised a hog roast which is cheapish and will only be providing drinks for the toast, there is a pay bar at the venue. We have about 100 guests who will be invited to the whole thing, no evening guests. IM making my own flowers and centrepieces. We are going for a vintagy feel so diy will work well!

its really

Plonkysaurus Thu 21-Aug-14 09:08:58

Dolly we were in two minds about getting a professional photographer for our day too.

But it is so, so worth it.

Our photographer cost £550 and was superb. He came to the house in the morning and got some amazing shots of all the things we're likely to forget, like our flowers and me getting my son ready. Those pre-wedding shots are actually my favourite - even though DH and I are barely in them, they perfectly capture our morning excitement. We got about 200 photos on a disc for that price, and he was there from 10am until 9pm.

We afforded him by not having a band, but renting a PA system for about £90 and having one of the best men in charge of a painstakingly well-devised playlist. We also made our own cakes (we had 3!) and displayed them on heavy wooden boards, and had them instead of a more traditional pudding. Our meal was a hog roast, so if we'd not had canapes at the beginning of the reception our catering costs would have been under £1000 (but the canapes were delicious). I made the table plan/decorations myself. Our single most expensive cost after marquee was booze blush.

Everything else sounds great though. Wedding planning is so much fun! As long as there's enough to drink/eat, and decent music to dance to, most people will have a fabulous time.

Dolly80 Thu 21-Aug-14 17:04:29

If I can get everything done for £5000 I'd be ecstatic but realistically have set a maximum of £7000.

Currently, we've found a pub that will let us hire the whole thing from the morning until 12.30am for a minimum spend of £2500.

-£580 for the registry office, inc. registrar (quite expensive but it fits everyone and is somewhere we like)
-table plan,place settings and menus provided by the venue free of charge
- £30-40 per head for 55 day guests is around £1650-2200 (food & wine)
-10 bottles of prosecco for toast £300
-wedding cake made by my auntie
-table decs & favours made by me and my mum £200 (?)
-£10 per head for the evening food, for 80% of the guests (I read you don't have to allow for everyone but this could be rubbish!) £800
-cash bar in evening

Then I need to allow for:-
-wedding outfits for myself, groom & x2 flower girls (thinking of high street for these and I don't want an expensive dress)
-welcome drinks (optional)
-DJ or band (possibly friends brothers band so lot cheaper than usual)
-transport from registry office to pub (non essential as it is only around 1-2 miles between the 2, but if we can provide we'd like to)
-hotel for us to stay in x1 night before for me and x1 for wedding night (might ask for the wedding night room as a gift from my parents though)

I'm willing to cut bits out or do them in a different way. For example, if we hired a red London bus as transport I'd buy some cheap plonk as the 'welcome' drink to have onboard which would cost much less than say £4 per head for a beer in the pub.

I'm still in the really early stages of planning and don't really have a firm idea of how much wedding stuff costs...mainly as I don't want a traditional wedding!

kaykayblue Tue 02-Sep-14 15:15:18

Hi Dolly - I think your budget is pretty decent actually, but part of it will depend on what are you are getting married in. We are getting married in London, and didn't really have much choice in that (don't ask...)

We have found quite a few ways to drive the price down for the wedding - even then it's costing us approximately £12k, which whilst pretty bargainous for a london wedding, does still sometimes have me staring at the wall and whispering to myself "....maybe we could just go to the registry office and fuck everything...."

Here are some of the ways that we have got the costs down, and areas where it simply wasn't possible. The best thing I can recommend is to simply ask around friends and family - all sorts of offers and skills will come out the woodwork. It's also worth deciding what is really important to you, and putting a bit more money towards those things.

Money Savers

a) KIDS - We decided not to invite children. Cuts down numbers and means you can invite a few more friends (who you actually know).

b) VENUE - We are having both the ceremony and the reception in the same place (it's licensed for weddings), and we are getting free of charge, as a family member has a connection to the venue. Total gamble that paid off.

c) FLOWERS: A family friend has very kindly agreed to do our flowers for us, we are using less expensive flowers (no lilies or orchids..), and they will buy them from a whole salers. Not a professional, but bloody good.

d) PHOTOGRAPHER: At first I thought the 1-2k price tag was an inevitability, but I've found some decent photographers for around £800. The balance is between having half decent photos, and not paying insane money. It's a small saving, but a saving nonetheless.

e) DRESS: I am still partly kicking myself for not doing getting a high street dress, as the cost is so huge. I went for the cheapest dress I tried on (which was also the nicest..) but it's still costing 1.5k all in (for the dress and alterations). When I think I could have got a perfectly lovely dress from Phase 8 or something for £700 less, I feel pretty annoyed at myself.

f) FAVOURS: I just don't see the point. Or maybe some bubbles or something if they are cheap enough! Again, small savings add up.

g) TIMING: We are having a slightly later ceremony so we don't have to serve extra food later in the night. Saves a bloody fortune.

h) MAKE-UP - I am doing my make up myself, and my sister is doing my hair. She isn't a professional, but she is very good and I don't want anything complicated anyway. Unless you are absolutely useless with make up, I wouldn't recommend forking out a ton of money on this.

i) SUITS: We are basically hiring suits to give a bit more formality, but you can save a fortune (at least £400) if you just get the men to wear normal suits and co-ordinate their ties/button holes.


It's really worth making small savings where you can because sometimes you just can't.

CORKAGE - Fuck corkage so hard. This is where the majority of our money is going, which is insane!!!

FOOD - If you go for a sit down meal, you really do have to go for either quality or price. A buffet wouldn't work for our venue, and I've seen similar quoted prices anyway, but if you can find a cheaper way of working food go with it.

BOOZE - If you are going to a gastropub, perhaps this isn't so bad. But we are struggling to find decent wine that is cheap enough to fit into budget when you add on the insane corkage fees.

Madamecastafiore Tue 02-Sep-14 15:25:04

I had hundreds at my first wedding, cost a bomb, huge sit down meal, every bell and whistle possible (lasted less than 2 years).

Second wedding was on a budget because to me I realised that the only people of any importance are me, DH and the officiate. We got married as late as possible at registry office and then had everyone meet us at venue where we had a huge party with DJ and buffet.

Everyone said it was fab. Less stress with childcare as they either brought them or didn't have to think about employing someone for the whole day. Only had to supply buffet as late wedding meant people had eaten lunch. Didn't have to think about favours, table settings etc.

Dolly80 Tue 02-Sep-14 19:21:33

Thanks kaykay and Madame...those suggestions have definitely given me some food for thought.

We're not inviting many children, apx 10, and it is solely children who would be coming with their parents from overseas.

I'm also thinking of asking my mum for help with flowers/decor (she's quite creative)

Might skimp on favours as suggested and the late wedding idea is a good one re: saving on evening food.

Now the only reason I'm struggling with my registry office/pub idea is because I'd kind of like it all under one roof! However, it will depend on cost and whether I can find somewhere that does this in our budget. I'm sure on the day a short bus ride away won't hurt and everyone might enjoy a change of scene.

NovemberRainbow Tue 02-Sep-14 19:35:18

Have you seen those lovely origami paper bouquets? There not too hard to make and are a little bit unusual.

sally1978 Wed 03-Sep-14 12:33:08

Great ideas here, great read I have made notes. I too have used and it is great. So so easy and our website looks fab and everything we need guest to know is on there!

LilacCroc Sat 13-Sep-14 17:39:05

Also don't be precious about second hand.

My bouquet was second hand (obviously artificial!). It was real silk flowers and stunning...the woman I bought it from paid £135 for it and had carried it for around an hour for the ceremony and pics. It was still perfect, and I paid £20.00 for it.

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