How to plan a wedding on a budget, while watching your wallet

By Maddy Burrows

Who wants to be weighed down with the massive burden of debt at the start of a marriage?

If you tighten your purse strings, however, a big day doesn’t always have to have a big budget, and you might find that you have more fun if you pick out certain details like the dress, rings, and cake, and try to look for cheaper, most cost effective options.

Bride’s Budget

First and foremost, set yourself a budget. To do this, make a list of all the things that you absolutely need- dress, cake, venue etc., and the things that you don’t actually need, but would be ‘nice to have’- it’s great to indulge here and there, but a thrifty bride should always keep her budget in mind. Apps and websites like’s Wedding Budget Tracker will help keep you in check.

Try a Trade Swap

Think about what you actually need to buy; things like hairdressing, flowers, graphic design, do you have friends who can do these things? What about an acquaintance who you can swap skills with? Back in the days before currency was a mainstream concept, people used to trade skill swaps all the time- think about the services that you need from someone, and how you can potentially help them. If you’re not used to doing it, this may feel uncomfortable at first- but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

The rings

TContrary to popular belief, you do not have to spend 3 months’ salary on an engagement ring, it’s not even tradition- the origin of this was a highly successful ad campaign fronted by De Beer’s diamond corporation back in the 1930s. If you do want to have an engagement ring, why not choose a family heirloom? If you’re not fortunate enough to have one, try shopping the sales for a better price. You should also know that thanks to our friends at De Beer’s the price of diamonds is artificially inflated, so it may be worth buying a look-a-like rock, such as cubic zirconium, or moissanite. Alternatively, ditching the engagement ring all together, and just exchanging simple wedding bands  on the day might work best for you.

The cake

There are a variety of high street retailers who stock ad make wedding cakes in store- Marks and Spenser being one of them. You can choose from either a classic fruitcake, or a more simple (and cheaper) sponge option. However, you should be aware that just because it’s from the high street, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be cheaper; when we were choosing our cake, the M&S option would have cost us over £200 for about 30 portions. In the end, we went with a local baker called Crumbs Cupcakery in York, which cost us £120 for the same amount of cake.

Alternitively, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could go DIY-Bride and make the cake yourself; BBC Good Food has you covered.

The date

Wedding venues and registrar fees tend to be at their most expensive around the weekends (including Friday), so if you can, opt for a middle of the week wedding to shave a couple of hundred pounds off your bill. It can be a little awkward for guests who might have to take a day or two off work if they plan to attend, but it’s an option that is increasing in popularity for savvy couples.

Top Takeaway

There are a lot of ways to cut the cost of your wedding, which can actually add to the uniqueness of it. Don’t be afraid to go to independent shops and sellers (such as you can find on sites like Etsy and Folksy), even stuff that you make yourself can add a flair of individuality to your day- and really outline you as a couple.

By Maddy Burrows

Maddy is a freelance illustrator and writer. She love travelling, attending cat shows, and writing short stories. Maddy also run a micro business selling her designs online.

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