Amongst the enthusiastic ‘Happy New Years!’ there are bound to be a multitude of congratulatory posts as couples become engaged over the festive period. Once the snow has settled, realization kicks in – wowsers a wedding to organise and pay for, and with your credit cards looking a tad unhealthy after all the turkey they pilled on over the last few weeks it can feel abit daunting.
Fear not! Speaking to the queen of savvy that is The Financial Freedom Fighter, Fanny Snaith, here’s some tips on making the most of your available budget and how she had the wedding of her dreams without blowing the budget.
How to make sure that your wedding day is the best day of your life and not one big expensive headache!
I get it, everything has to be perfect on your wedding day right? But think about what “perfect” actually means. What is perfect? Is it the biggest and the most expensive everything of everything? I don’t think so. Some of the best days I have had in my life have been the cheapest and the most unplanned. So what was the recipe that made them so great? The people, the love and the chemistry. So what are the ingredients for the perfect wedding day? Easy – the person you are marrying, the people you invite and magical chemistry that simply cannot be bought.
My wedding was perfect – we married in a very pretty registry office, then took a short journey to a small hotel in Lincolnshire that we had booked out. The twenty-six of us spent the day and night there eating, drinking, singing songs, dancing and telling stories. It was close, personal and magical. Everyone said so. We went off to India on a three and a half week backpacking trip and came back to a massive get together in our local pub in London – where, this time we went wild and partied until dawn. Lots of sore heads and smiles!
That was the year 2000. I know it was cheaper back then but we did the whole thing on £5000. Yep – that included everything – clothes to cake, party to photographs and honeymoon to hats!
Getting married on a budget can be a challenge – but it doesn’t have to be. Why not follow my tips below and see if you can create the magic to give you the day of your dreams, without busting your budget and buying you a one-way ticket to Struggle Street!
- Decisions, decisions – it takes two.
So you have said “yes” to THAT question – now it is time to start thinking about what sort of day you would both like. Scratch the individual thinking, and talk TOGETHER to discover who has what wedding dreams. Think carefully… together, about how much you are comfortable spending. Make priorities and stick to them. If you both have very different ideas and can’t seem to agree, try writing down each of your top three priorities for the day – you might want a live band, he is set on a fab venue. One of you is keen on a free bar, whilst the other wants delicious food. Then look at the list and use them as a starting point so that both your ideas are included. Think about the mood of the wedding – the look, the style and the emotions you want to conjure up with your guests. A picture will start to appear – capture it and use it to help you with the unavoidable budget.
- With a Little Help from your Friends part 1.
Whilst you are brainstorming your wedding ideas, get your closest friends to join in. Often they will have great budget slashing ideas that can save you not only money, but time too. Neil’s sister suggested the venue, and as she knew the owner she bagged us a great deal. Good friends and family are always there to help so why not ask them?
- Buddy up with your Budget.
Once your picture has taken shape, it is time to do some serious number crunching. Downloadable wedding lists and budgets found on line are brilliant. They breakdown everything you need to think about a list – and they even put that list in clever sections to help it all make sense. Go through each line item and put a figure in the box. Is there anything missing? This is the place for every cost item to be listed, from stamps for the invitations (often forgotten) to hair pins! Get to be buddys with your budget as you will find this list invaluable in so many ways. Yes, yes – it may seem unglamorous putting numbers into boxes now, but it is far better than feeling uncomfortable and full of regret for a spend that wasn’t planned.
- Wedding Gifts… with a little help from your Friends part 2. Putting the gift list together can be stressful – deciding what you would like and where from… We had a small wedding list at John Lewis but we also had friends who were willing to offer their services in lieu of a gift. Our wedding day photographs were the work of a dear friend who did a great job. It saved us a packet. Cousin Sally made the cake for us, Neil’s Mum was chuffed to bits to be asked to organise our flowers and my brother in law donned a cap and acted as wedding driver in a very smart car he was able to borrow. All these things helped to keep the price done massively and we truly benefited from the personal touch.
- Know what you DON’T need. Napkins personalised with your picture? Personalised Love Heart sweets? A hen party in Vegas? Ice sculptures? Personalised finger print rings – really? These things all mount up and honestly…… do you need them? Think about the invitations too. Do you actually need an expensive print job that, realistically guests are most likely to chuck away? Back in 2000, options were expensive print or DIY. I bought a ream of red paper and did DIY. Nowadays there are so many options – maybe try an online invite? We received one recently and it was lovely – had an online envelope too! Try evite.com.
- Guests – how many? Tempting as it is to invite everyone you know – this isn’t always a good idea. If you have decided on a free bar, a bloated guest list can sky rocket the budget. Keeping the guest list small might allow you to make it extra special for the intimate crowd. Our guests were treated to a full sit down three course lunch with an open bar all day. Not possible with 100! We mingled with all our guests and everyone felt included and cherished.
- What to wear? I dreamed of my wedding since I was a little girl. The bit floaty white dress – looking like a princess walking up the aisle on my father’s arm. Funnily enough though, my dress search began in a second hand retro shop in London, coupled with a very decisive friend to help! She picked out a great dress which was only £25! Ok, it needed a nip and a tuck but again, a friend offered her services instead of a gift. She also made a matching bag and wrap to compliment the dress in a dramatic red velvet. Second hand gold and red jewellery was the icing on the cake and I looked stunning – even if I do say so myself! I actually spent more on my wedding lingerie than I did the dress! Not too much detail – but it was money well spent! So – advice note – think outside the box. Think different, think second hand – maybe with a twist, think – well anything that could keep the cost down and the effect dramatic!
- When… a long engagement can save you a heap of money. Booking venues early secures the price, also you have time to take peruse the offers on sites like Groupon and Living Social. There is more time to research and more time to save up! End of season or off season weddings are often cheaper too, as are non-Saturday weddings. Alternatively, a quickie can also save you a pretty penny as there simply isn’t enough time to plan a huge day costing the earth! I have heard it said that the last minute minimalist weddings have sometimes been the best – worth considering!
- Honeymoon you will need some time away after the big day, but don’t make the mistake of doubling the wedding budget if you can’t afford it. You will be in love where ever you go. Again, talk together about your priorities and stick to them. Booking a villa can be cheaper than a package and there is no need to search honeymoon specific holidays either – as these can prove unnecessarily costly. You could also save money by getting married abroad, but this does not always impress the guests, whether invited or not!
- Don’t let your wedding… make you feel guilty. Guilt is rubbish and has no place here. There is nothing worse than spending years feeling guilty for any part of your wedding day – going over budget, not inviting auntie Sheena (sorry Sheena!), wishing you had bought the “other” dress. Don’t compare your wedding to anyone else’s. Please, don’t design your wedding to others expectations. It is your day – have it YOUR WAY.
If you discuss, plan and budget your wedding in good time, openly with your partner, you will get your wedding recipe right. This is a day that is for you both to enjoy together – so plan it together, live it together and love it together – feel the magic. We had the best day – we really did. I hope you do too!
If after all of that you yearn for some of those additional extras, Fanny can help you whip your finances into shape, freeing up spare cash from your daily spends and helping you make informed decisions over any future purchases.
About The Financial Freedom Fighter
Fanny Snaith proves coaching sessions with individuals and couples helping them to financial literacy and freedom. With clients all over the UK Fanny can help you become buddies with your budget and find ways to free up cash by spring cleaning the deadwood from your finances.
The Financial Freedom Fighter. www.fffighter.com
A Cotswold Wedding is a Wedding inspiration blog of eclectic venues and unique suppliers. Our aim is to showcase the very best that the Cotswolds has the offer. www.acotswoldwedding.co.uk