Even at the best of times, money is a taboo subject. So when it comes to wedding costs, it’s on a whole nother level. But, like it or not, getting married costs money. It’s not the most important thing; a couple’s love for and commitment to each other trumps everything else. Nevertheless, if you’re thinking about getting married and planning your wedding, it is something we’ve all had to think about.
In this honest blog post, we wanted to share our experiences when it came to wedding costs. We’re not going to share how much everything cost because that’s a step too far, but we wanted to give you an idea of some of the considerations we had to think through.
The first thing to say is that right from the start, we wanted to keep costs as low as possible. Whilst that’s the cry of couples everywhere, we were very clear that we weren’t looking for anything extravagant and expensive, but something which felt, as far as possible, homemade, simple and informal.
We were very lucky that both our respective sets of parents contributed towards the wedding costs, though we would never have taken that as a given. We also contributed ourselves, so overall, we were able to spread the costs we did incur fairly broadly.
We always said we wanted to do as much as we could ourselves, partly because we wanted to enjoy the process of planning and arranging the wedding, but also because we felt it was a way to minimise some of the costs. But, as time went on, we also had to be realistic about what it was possible to do ourselves within the time and headspace available. In another world, there are things we’d have liked to have been able to do ourselves (the wedding cake being a good example of this), but ultimately, it just wasn’t possible. Logistics were a big consideration too.
It’s worth saying that even in our quest to keep costs down, many of the costs were fairly fixed. A certain amount of the church fees are fixed nationally, for example, the banns, banns certificates, marriage ceremony, and marriage certificate. There were costs like these which we had no control over.
For some of the other things such as the catering, wedding cake and flowers, we tried to get a variety of quotes and to shop around. That’s great in theory, but in practice, at some point, you have to make a decision. Going with the cheapest option is not necessarily the best, but equally, some of the quotes we had were absurd. The flowers were a good example of this, the initial quote coming in at some £1,400 (we eventually paid less than a quarter of this and they were absolutely outstanding, and just what we wanted).
Quite a few people said we could save money if we called in favours from friends and family. Again, this is good in theory, but harder in practice. Neither of us have large families, nor a large circle of friends, so we weren’t in a position where we could, for example, ask someone to make the wedding cake, or to do the flowers. Are friends and family are also scattered all over the country, so once again, there are logistical considerations.
All that said, there were things which we did ourselves which we were able to do with what we already had, at no extra cost:
- Designing and printing the invitations
- Making bunting and decorations for the hall
- Designing the orders of service (though we did outsource the printing)
- Decorating and setting up the hall
There were plenty of other small things too that we were able to do, and indeed, enjoyed doing.
A quick Google search reveals that the average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2021 was around £30,000-£35,000 (the latter including the honeymoon). We’re pleased to say that ours came in well, well below that. Could we have saved more? Yes, but there’s a limit, and as we said above, you have to be realistic about what’s possible within a limited budget, and how much you can really do yourself. You also have to remember, it’s something you’re only going to do once, so whilst it’s good to try and keep costs down, you won’t get a second chance.
For us, the single biggest expense was the catering. It was also the hardest thing to estimate in advance. We invited 100 people, and had 68 acceptances. We catered for 70, and on the day itself, 55 (including us) came. However you do it, the catering is incredibly hard to predict. We offered a glass of champagne on arrival, followed by afternoon tea. We never considered a sit-down meal, and before we hit upon afternoon tea, we’d been considering a buffet. Afternoon tea meant that we didn’t have to worry about having a bar or serving alcohol, neither of which particularly interested us. Alcohol and glass hire would, we’re sure had added a lot to the cost.
There’s also the thorny question of what counts as a wedding cost, and what sits outside of that. We didn’t have a honeymoon, but we did spend a few days away on a minimoon during the week after the wedding. We also booked an AirBnB for the night before and a couple of nights after the wedding. We have included those costs here, but others may say they don’t count as wedding costs. We’ve also included the cost of the rings here, but again, others may see those as sitting outside the actual wedding costs.
To give you a flavour, the graph below shows how the costs were spread between the various different things:
Just as we said above, the wedding was never about the money, but like it or not, they do cost money, and we reckon that’s something people should be more open to discussing. We hope that this blog post offers you some food for thought, whatever stage you’re at on your wedding planning journey. If you have any questions, why not send us a message?
Photos taken by Wallace and Wild.