Weddings are expensive- fact. Weddings are also a lot different now compared to thirty, forty, fifty plus years ago. They have always been about the joining of a couple in matrimony and the celebrations that follow afterwards. Rumour has it that these days 53% of couples pay for most of the wedding costs; I don’t know about you but this figure surprises me, I thought it would be a higher percentage, especially as year on year, the average age to get married rises.

No matter what age you are, if you are engaged then there is a wedding to pay for. (We have known a Bride’s Mother to have saved every £2 coin that came into her possession in a glass jar from the day her daughter was born right up until the wedding day, to ensure she could treat her daughter!) This is a conversation that needs to happen early on in the planning process: firstly between bride and groom, and then with parents. You don’t want to be falling in love with designer gowns and celebrity florists too early on!
Work out what you and your fiance can comfortably afford to save, discuss with your parents any contribution they would like to make, and combine the total. Then look at reducing it where possible, pulling in favours from talented friends and acquaintances is a good start!

Making a budget and sticking to it is VERY important! Who wants to start married life in unnecessary debt?

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The best way to begin to decide how you will divide your recently discovered ‘budget’ is to sit yourself and your fiance down and each list separately your priorities. Heidi, of Magnet Street Weddings, suggests defining by: Top Three (Must Have!);  Middle Three (Prefer to Have); The Final Two (Good to Have). Finish off by combining the two lists into one.  Dean and I had quite similar priorities which worked in our favour, if you and your fiance differ, some healthy debate may be required.

We started with a Top Two Must Haves. Firstly for us, we knew we must have a venue with outdoor ceremony facilities, enough space to accommodate around 70 guests or more, and somewhere that would provide a beautiful yet natural backdrop to photographs. Accommodation on-site was another ‘Must Have’ for us very early on.

As Father of the Bride, we let my Dad contribute one ‘Prefer to Have’- good drink! To be precise Real Ale brewed locally… Dean didn’t need much persuading to let that on the list. We both agreed that atmosphere and entertainment had to be prioritized at this point too; after all that is what people remember! We were quite happy to save some costs and DIY some elements of the decor, as we have enough time in our wedding calendar to spread this workload.

Here is a recommended Wedding Budget Breakdown: This is just designed to help your early planning, but do not worry if your wedding doesn’t conform to this. It is your wedding after all!

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Spreadsheets will be your wedding-planning-brain-saving god send throughout the wedding process. There are a variety of versions available for free downloads from popular wedding blogs and magazines; make use of these! You can track what you have purchased, dates deposits were paid, total amount spent so far, total amount actually spent so far (in deposits)- the list goes on!
I have used one of these for my wedding planning and it has proved incredible for keeping on top of where our total spending was going and helped me evaluate where I could cut back.

If you are lucky enough to have help from friends and family, whether it is Mum paying towards your dress or a beautician friend offering to do your hair and make-up, just remember to be thankful and appreciate it all. It will certainly help you in the long term, however small!

Just remember to read all of the small print- is it excluding VAT? Does your venue require minimum numbers? Is there a corkage fee if your bring your own drink? Be ruthless!! Work out what one extra guest might cost you… more on that in a few weeks!


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