Wedding budget......please help!!

So……my truly wonderful boyfriend proposed earlier this year and I was over the moon. This is the 2nd time around for me but the first for him.

So we had already been planning a 3 month travelling expedition around Japan, Indonesia, West coast of Australia and then back to India before reality kicked in. This is a major dream of ours and one we are currently saving towards.

I’m really looking forward to being married but the wedding aspect has absolutely shocked me. The costs are outrageous.

We are both trying to do a small intimate wedding (34 including us) with nice food and relaxed atmosphere which is fun. We plan on getting married in a registry office, then a very nice close by bar for drinks while we get photos, then a brilliant restaurant and then on to a very beautiful function room for the evening bit.

So far the costs are:

Registry office £165 for a Saturday (£40 fee already paid to secure the room)

Giving notice £70 for both

Duplicate marriage £8 (£4 on the day per cert)

Wedding cake £nil (an aunt will hopefully make this)

Wedding dress £250 (I’ve set this budget intending to get one made in China. I have a seamstress in the family and she has already volunteered to do alterations free of charge)

Hair & Make Up £380 (trial and day for bride and day only for 2 mother in laws)

Grooms outfit £nil (My future mother in law has very generously offered to pay)

Bridal bits £100 (this includes shoes, underwear, head pieces etc)

Rings £18.50 – amazon silver rings

Flowers £60 (1 bouquet and 5 carnation button holes)

Wedding breakfast £1000 (34 people including 2 small children – food and drinks)

Evening Venue £420 VAT inclusive – I know I got this massively
discounted due to the time of year as we are getting married early January.

Live Music £500 – estimated cost but really, really want a live band

Toast Drinks £160

Evening buffet £320 ( do we need to cater for the full 32 adults or would anyone recommend catering for 30 instead?

Accomodation £200 (we may be able to get this cheaper but my partner does wish to stay in the same hotel as the rest of the guest both before the wedding and on our wedding night)

Invitations £25 (Bride and groom direct – just amazing) no postage as we handed them out.

Photographer £nil – asking a close and talented friend.

Transport £15 – a London style cab!

Wedding party £50 approx for the best man – this is at the discretion of my
Gift future husband

Insurance £18

So the grand total currently stands at…….. £ 3,759.50

I think me and my partner are too close so we can’t see how to reduce this any further without sacrifing key elements….and I can easily see this growing to £4k. We are very fortunate in the fact we can afford this but I find it an outrageous amount to spend on, what is in effect, a few hours of a day.

Any and all suggestions would be welcome.
£6686 CC as of 02/03/2017 :eek:

Goal to be Debt free by May 2017 and have savings of £10k by November 2017.....


  • The thing that really stands out there as excessive to me is £320 for hair and makeup. I know it's expensive (I can't bring myself to pay for it!), but £320? Really?
  • Thanks for your reply Firebird082. I know I was shocked too..... but I had nothing to really compare it against. I did look around and this seemed to be at the (ever so slightly) higher end of the market range for Manchester.

    I haven't booked anything yet but I am going to ask my local lady at the BB counter. She has always done my make up to a really high standard.
    £6686 CC as of 02/03/2017 :eek:

    Goal to be Debt free by May 2017 and have savings of £10k by November 2017.....
  • dipsydipsy Forumite
    3.1K Posts
    I agree the hair/make up seems way over priced

    also for the toast drinks, would it work out cheaper (with corkage) to buy wine for the tables for the toast or does your venue allow little bottles of wines on the table with no charge?

    dress, I would look online you can find bargains without the risk of buying from China (I would be too nervous), I have ended up with two dresses both Mori Lee but I am more in love with one over than the other and whilst it was £900 I will sell it with the tags for around £300 - so it is worth checking.

    Buffet I think you could bring it down to say 28 (ish) depending on when in the day your wedding breakfast is.

    Have you got a DJ in with your venue? most live singers to 2 sets of 45 mins?
    2007 £1749
    2008 £291.99
    2009 JanMasscara £7.00 Feb megcabot books x 2 £20 XFactor tkts x 2 £58.00 (couldn't go though as they only phoned on day :-( ) foundation £7.99
    total so far for 09 £92.99
  • I'm paying £340 for the exact same amount of hair and make up as you so I don't think £380 is terrible. I did wince when I worked out the total of mine though!
  • Ms_ChocaholicMs_Chocaholic Forumite
    12.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    Could you just pay for the hair and make up for yourself?
    Thrifty Till 50 Then Spend Till the End
    You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time
  • hels234hels234 Forumite
    150 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    I too think the hair and make up is very expensive! I had a brilliant lady who was a regional finalist for wedding industry awards and she was alot cheaper than your quote (£199 for bride plus two, hair and makeup and trial). Another option would be to look at your local beauty college. My local one does bridal packages for a fraction of the cost including trials. I tried them and they were really good (the teacher keeps a close eye on them!) but because I chose a venue to far away couldn't use them. I'm based in Derbyshire btw
  • I paid I think £30 for my hair trial (to see if my heavy, straight hair would hold curls ) and the do on the day. Mum had hers cut/ dried on the day (£20). Sister did her own. The hairdresser was the one my mum goes to anyway and I used to go to as a teenager.

    Sister did my make up for me. I probably spent about £30 on new foundation etc.

    We were married at 3pm and then had drinks reception and one meal around 8pm for all guests. You can probably work it so you don't need to feed your guests twice.

    As for dresses- try Phase 8. I got mine (not actually a wedding dress) in sale for under £300 and fortunately no alterations needed.
  • Are there no bridesmaids? If not i would just get hair and makeup for yourself. Do the two mothers really need professional make-up?
  • Thanks everyone

    So in an attempt to answer the questions…..

    Dipsy – Sadly not, the corkage is £20 per bottle. Regarding China, I got a stunning wedding dress from China the first time around. It was really nice and of a decent quality all for £80 (from memory). I have a seamstress in the family so any little tweaks wouldn’t be a problem.

    Thanks for the buffet advice. I will definitely bear that in mind.

    No DJ with my venue as its basically a function room. So we will have to bear the cost of whatever we choose. We were thinking about starting the live music at 8pm and then having an ipod on from 10pm with our favourite songs.

    Cashewnut – Thanks for that. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    Ms Chocaholic – No, I’ve offered it to my Mum and my mother in law instead of the standard bouquets of flower. My future mother in law did make me laugh when she got very excited and started saying how much she liked getting lash extensions and what not…..I’m not stretching to that.

    hels234 – Thanks, I’ve just found a hair and beauty academy near me so will check it out!

    Arbrighton – Thanks for the tip. Just one question, what did you do with everyone for all the time before they got fed?

    Topcat1982 – Sadly no official bridesmaids. The make up and hair has been promised so I would feel extremely uncomfortable back tracking now.

    Thanks again for all your suggestions.
    £6686 CC as of 02/03/2017 :eek:

    Goal to be Debt free by May 2017 and have savings of £10k by November 2017.....
  • pickledonionspaceraiderpickledonionspaceraider Forumite
    2.7K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
    You seem to be doing quite well budgetwise I think

    Just to add my thoughts on the hair and make up lady, it doesnt sound that much to be, we paid £90 per person for hair and make up
    With love, POSR <3
This discussion has been closed.
Latest MSE News and Guides

Did you know there's an MSE app?

It's free & available on iOS & Android


Regifting: good idea or not?

Add your two cents to the discussion

MSE Forum

Energy Price Guarantee calculator

How much you'll likely pay from April

MSE Tools