Great 'How to Have a MoneySaving Wedding' Hunt

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  • debbs
    debbs Posts: 22 Forumite
    edited 2 September 2009 at 8:13AM
    My husband and I met on 29th September and married on 29th February the following year. To look at the photographs you would never know that it was done on the cheap or only arranged from start to finish in 2 months. I guess the best money saver is not having the time, people who plan weddings months even years in advance are going wrong straight away as it gives you too much time to spend more money that you haven't got. We was very lucky and knew a cake maker (although £115 17 years ago wasnt cheap) a neighbour drove my dads car to the church (wearing a hat and gloves to look the part), another neighbour did all the flowers, a friend in the printing business sorted out the invites etc, an uncle did the photos, work colleague filmed it. We had a hall with a hot meal, disco and buffet tea so that part of it wasnt cheap but as cost effective as we could get it, so it can be done if you put your mind to it. We owed nothing to nobody at the end of it and with so many marriages failing I cant think of anything worse than somebody still paying for a £20k + wedding years after the day and possible failure and divorce.
  • We visited one potential venue, having looked at the a la carte menu outside and established that a decent meal could be had for £30 per person we went inside and enquired about a wedding. The response: fixed menu, £50 per person - "and then you'll be wanting flowers on each table, that starts at £2 if we provide silver vases for your own flowers and then you'll want the services of our wedding manager, and you'll be wanting a decent champagne for the toasts..." Surely if they can make a profit with a la carte for £30 (and the normal restaurant service included flowers on the tables) a production line of standardised menu and a guaranteed 50 diners on a Friday evening shouldn't end up closer to £100 a head.

    At the next venue we said we were arranging a big family reunion. It was a better venue (a small "stately home" hotel) We had an excellent meal for £40 per person and that included wines (and Pimms in the garden first). As it was unannounced as "wedding" we had to provide seating plan and table favours ourselves, but that's no big deal. I guessit would be harder if a young couple turned up and tried the same approach, the venue might smell a rat, especially if it was one of those events the youngsters like with an evening disco to which they also invite their "B list" friends (but I've been to some - the "A list" guests are fatigued by then and drifting away and the "B list" don't all turn up so frankly they've not been a great success).

    As for photos: I have a friend who had a sideline as a wedding photographer a few years earlier. He told me that when he decided he wanted to stop (he had a very well-paid weekday job and wanted his weekends back) he doubled his price. He still got the same number of bookings and felt guilty about charging such a lot of money to young couples who couldn't really afford it but did it because everyone does. So he just quit.
    At our wedding we merely asked that anyone who got any good photos let us have copies. Yes my photographer friend was invited and his photos were good but so were many others'. We wanted a good wedding album to put some prints in - a high street photographer offered us a nice one for £150 but we thought that was a lot so we found a wholesaler. They were a bit tricky so we turned up with a proper looking "Wedding Photographer" letterhead we printed off from a PC and bought the same album for £40.
    Wedding dress set us back £40, luckily my wife has a fantastic figure and good taste so she kept an eye on sales and bought what was probably intended as a "maid of honour" simple gown and looked a million dollars.
  • We got married three years ago, had everything we wanted and spent just over £4k. I know that's not as cheap as some other moneysaving weddings, but considering we had a big church do and a fully catered reception for ALL the guests, I think we did quite well!

    My first tip is re the reception venue - we hired a village hall in a very pretty village near Leeds and paid something like £250 to have the hall booked for Friday night, all of Saturday and Sunday morning too. Then we went to Hobbycraft, bought a load of balloons, confetti, and one of those big catering paper tablecloth rolls, and decorated the hall on the night before the wedding with the help of a big group of friends. We had a venue decorated exactly how we wanted it, in our wedding colours, for hardly any money! :j plus we had a fun evening with our friends doing the decoration.

    re catering - if you want to treat all your guests equally and put on food for all, but don't want to break the bank, why not hire a hog roast or similar? We spent £500, and for that, we got a full hog roast with salads, sides etc PLUS desserts for 100 people! We then asked a friend who is a good cook to create an alternative vegetarian dish for the 5 or so vegetarians attending. We bought all our own wine from a local wine man, cava and champagne from Tesco, and then a group of my friends acted as servers for the evening!

    There's lots more where that came from - my mantra throughout the whole wedding planning time was, 'can we do this cheaper?' ;)
  • Our wedding came in at just under £7000.
    Quite a lot, but considering we had 150 guests for a 3 course sit down meal and disco with buffet, we thought it was pretty good.
    We got married in a little local village church and the WI did the flowers.
    My sister in law made the awazing cake as our present, and out neighbour decorated it with delicate sugarcraft flowers.
    Out top tip - check out your local community centre as a possible wedding venue - they aren't all flat roofed 60's pre-fabs. Ours in Southwick is a beautiful 16th century barn, converted into a theatre but available on request for weddings when there's no shows on. The food was good and plentiful - our dinner consisted of a choice of starters (melon or goats cheese and red onion tart) choice of main (roast lamb + seasonal veg or vegetable puff) and choice of desserts (Strawberry pavlova or fruit salad)
    We had sole use of the building and gardens, had a lovely buffet later with sandwiches, quiches etc and a great disco (friend of a friend)
    I made all the invites, favours, menus, Who's who guest lists etc myself using our home printer and pastel card to match the theme, cost about £40.
    My dress was an amazing January sales find in Debenhams - just what I was looking for and a bargain at £60.
    Our car was driven by the local butcher who has an amazing classic car, he was very reasonable at £150 for the whole day.
    The photographer was the only thing we didn't scrimp on - he was £500 and well worth it.
    Just to let all those couples to be know - you can have your perfect day without paying for it for the next 10 years!
    First time mummy to be and saving the pennies!
  • If you are having musical entertainment, choose a versatile group of musicians who can play for your ceremony, drinks and wedding breakfast, such as celebratewithmusic (who we went for), or a band that includes a DJ who spins the discs between sets. With music the cheapest is not necessarily the best, so get as much as you can out of the musicians you hire.
  • I have just had my wedding in Marrakech - how can that be a cheap wedding I hear you ask...

    I used a great wedding planning company Marrakech Weddings who help you plan your wedding for free. Sonia got me quotes for all the different venues within my budget (£2,000) and discounts on the room prices at the place I chose. She got the price of the alcohol down as well and got me a celebrant for £50!

    We ended up spending under £1,000 for the best night of my life - our own riad in the medina in Marrakech with lots of delicious food, music and belly dancers - and a great cake!

    We had a great holiday with our friends and we got £1 flights out there with Ryanair!

    The decor and candles were all included in the price and so all I had to pay for was my dress!
  • LouB_2
    LouB_2 Posts: 20 Forumite
    We got married June just gone, and although we wanted the full works, we didn't pay anything like the "average" cost of a wedding these days.

    I would recommend starting planning early - that way you can choose the options you want and are cheap, rather than what's available.

    We got married in the village church, and although it's not for everyone, I would recommend considering it as a moneysaving option. "Licenced venues" such as hotels know they can charge more,and may ask for several thousand pounds room hire before you even look at catering. With the ceremony sorted, you have more freedom to pick the reception.

    As we live right opposite the Church,we didn't need cars.
    For the reception, we hired the village hall,and put a marquee on the car park(this wasn't as expensive as it sounds). We used a local caterer, and bought the wine from a cash and carry. Our caterer offered to run a cash bar,but we just got in some barrels of beer from a local brewery (who also provided the equipment free of charge).

    Regarding flowers,I spoke to a few florists,and the good ones were happy to work within a budget. They can recommend flowers to suit which won't break the bank- the florist used lots of folliage and ivy to create decorations. We had minimal arrangements, and did the rest of the decorating with friends and family.

    I made all the invites and favours,as others have suggested.
    I bought my dressin a sample sale at a small shop which made their own dresses-it was much better quality at a fraction of the price of the high street chains(its worth looking at this time of year for sales).

    We chose who photographer who offered a "digital package"-they just give you a cdofallteh photos,and you gettoprint out the ones you want.I would highly recommend this over having to pay for their prints and albums,and it also means you can emailthem to family and friends.

    There's no need buy expensive cakes-we chose to have a cake made of different cheese, which a local cheese shop prepared,but otherwise I would have just bought a ready made cake from M&S and decorated it with a few flowers.

    Don't be fooled that expensive is better.Both the photographer and florist were cheap as they were just starting out - but this meant they were keen to do a good job.
  • selbel
    selbel Posts: 23 Forumite
    1. Ebay will help make a little money go a long way. I brought my tiara (new, £20, rrp £70) and 10 disposable cameras with flashes a lot less than you can get them in the shops.

    2. I designed my own invites on the computer, took them to a printers and paid a total of £17.50 inc VAT!

    3. Try contacting your local adult education college for flowers, cakes, hair, make-up and photographers if they run courses in these areas. A lot of people looking to start out are desperate for wedding experience.

    4. Have a free makeover done in a department store/boots. All make-up counters offer this to encourage you to buy their products (but there's no obligation to buy) and they will do the make-up how you want (I went to boots before the hairdressers on my day!).

    5. Try asking for a wedding / bridesmaid dresses on freecycle, you'll be surprised at how many women are willing to help you out! - I've seen a couple of dresses on my local freecycle lately.

    6. A wedding I went to had lucky dip lottery tickets for the favours, £1 per favour is relatively reasonable and the guests loved them!

    7. Try making your own cake. I wanted a cupcake wedding cake. The shop I asked quoted me £600. I baked 150 cupcakes, freezed them, defrosted them the day of the wedding and a friend iced them for me for a total cost of £50 (including £10 to hire the stand!).
  • MeNikki
    MeNikki Posts: 657 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    We got married on 31st December 2008.

    We married in our local registry office, which in our case is an old Georgian building. The ceremony took place in a lovely room still decorated with a gorgeous Christmas tree. Our registry office has a veranda leading of the room, so that was ideal for photos, as well as the little courtyard with a honeysuckle climber (that amazingly was littered in little yellow flowers).

    I bought my 'wedding' dress in TKMaxx at a time when they had lots of 'prom' dresses. The dress I chose was a lovely off-white with embroidered bodice. As it was rather cold, I bought a faux-fur shrug of ebay for £9.99 (including P+P). In Accessorize i picked up a hair band made of plastic pearls for approx £8, a fascinator from eBay (£4.99 inc P+P). My shoes I bought in the New Look summer sale and set me back a whole £7. I did my own hair and make-up on the day and a friend helped me in the dress.

    My husband picked up a gorgeous suit (that he can also wear at work for important meetings, etc) in a local shop that had a sale on. He paid approx £150 for the suit, 2 shirts, belt and 2 different ties.

    In front of our registry office there is a canal where many ducks and geese live. So as a 'wedding favour' we made little bags filled with special bird seeds. To tie the bags we re-used the ribbons and decorations from our christmas crackers.

    I made my flowers myself. The day before the wedding my husband and I went to a local Flower shop and picked 2 different sets of flowers (1 white and 1 red as I wasn't 100% sure yet what would go better with the outfit) and spent £35 for a variety of roses, flowers, greens and ribbons. I then spent the afternoon putting the flowers together. Yes, it may not have been as professionally done as a bouquet from a florist, but it also didn't come with the £120 price tag I was quoted by a few for a simple rose bouquet on the 31st December. And to be honest I have seen worse bouquets that cost an awful lot more. So I am always proudly proclaiming that I made it myself :p

    As for the photography, I am part of a camera club and a few of the people I invited are hobby photographers. We got some gorgeous pictures from them. Had one enlarged to 12x16 inches (£4.99 from internet) and bought a lovely IKEA frame (£9.99). The picture is hanging on top of the stairs and we got a smaller print in the living room. One of our friends gave us a lovely M&S album with a selection of pictures that she took.

    After the registry office we walked along the canals to a pub, where we just ordered the drinks as anyone liked and some platters of shared starters, sandwiches etc as and when required. As we only had a small party this was a cheaper option than pre-arranging all the drinks and foods.

    The pub is along a small canal with footpath, so rather than arringing cars (that could not have gotten there anyway) we decided to walk the short distance. Saving us a lot on car rentals and it was nice to be able to just be outside feed the ducks and geese and hold my husband's hand.

    As we did our wedding on 31st December and announced it quite late (we didn't know until end of October whether on not we got the date), we only did an morning/noon. By 3pm most people had to leave to get changed for their New Year's celebrations with friend and family. Saving us the hassle of having to organise an evening-do that we couldn't afford at the time. BTW we invited people face-to-face, phoned them up and eventually sent out an email reminder rather than paper invites as they might have been lost among all the Christmas cards.

    After we got home, we went and bought our favourite applie pie and custard and had that with a glass of champagne.

    The whole wedding cost less than £1,000 and yes if we would have had a little bit more money we might have spent a bit more on food and drinks, but as it was right for us at the time. And all the people invited loved it, said going to the pub was so refreshing.

    My motto was how can I get a lovely day together on a non-existent budget. We had been thinking of getting married for a few years, but always put it off as we could not afford it. By having a look through sales, I just picked up bits and bobs for my outfit as and when I saw it. Saving a lot of money during the process.
    Life without string would be chaos.
  • Having been generally horrified by the prices of wedding cakes, and been quoted "from £600" for a rather unimpressively decorated 2-tier cake, after being offered samples of cake which were quite frankly very average and a bit dry at a wedding fair, I decided to look in the supermarkets. Many larger stores do fully iced, plainly decorated "occasion cakes" on the shelf, in small, medium, and large sizes. Tesco have a choice of fruit cake or madeira cake, and they are really very cheap. This way you could get a three-tier cake for around £30-£40 depending on the supermarket. All you would need to do is stack the cakes on top of each other and pop a bit of ribbon around them - you could even have different flavour cake for each tier. They are very plainly decorated, but it would be very easy to add a few icing flowers and decorations for a truly individual cake, or just get a bridesmaid to decorate it with a few fresh flowers on the day. Just remember not to put heavier cakes on top of lighter ones, as a dense fruit cake will be too heavy to sit on top of a madeira cake, and this may damage the icing of the cake below.

    Some supermarkets also do wedding cakes to order in their food-to-order catalogues, which is the path I chose - Waitrose and Marks and Spencer both do this. For our wedding, we opted for the Marks and Spencer "Classic Chocolate Rose Cake", at £199. This is a three-tier, white, fully iced chocolate ganache cake with white chocolate icing roses tumbling down from the top tier. It looked amazing, and the chocolate ganache cake went down a storm - it tasted fantastic! It claims to serve 144, and I truly believe it would, and with rather generous pieces too. We had 60 guests at our wedding, most of whom had seconds, and we didn't even manage to finish the bottom tier! The top two are in our freezer awaiting a special occasion, but it was such good cake I'm tempted to defrost one anyway....! If your wedding is larger than 144 guests, they also do additional iced cake bars in the same cake for cutting in the venue kitchen - no-one will know that it was not from the cake on display, and this is a cheap way to increase the number of portions. I'd highly recommend getting a wedding cake from Marks and Spencer, and having been put into a panic when three months before the wedding the more expensive independent wedding cake makers told me in a rather patronising tone that I was "leaving it a bit late for the cake", it is worth noting that Marks and Spencer only need 21 days.
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