How to plan a frugal wedding


With the end of the wedding season fast approaching, now is the ideal time for happy couples to start hunting for a budget wedding. After all, with the average cost of a UK wedding setting couples back around £21,000, does it really seem worth spending more money than you need to after all the cake has been eaten, the dress is stained and you have a huge financial hangover?


Of course, we often say that our special day is worth anything. However, in reality, spending a fortune on one day just isn't viable for most people and can quickly turn a dream day into a nightmare. Luckily, it's possible to plan a fabulous wedding -- without spending your life savings. Here's how:

1. Set a budget. 
Before you start filling a scrapbook with all your dream ideas of what you want, you first need to consider your budget. Don't start getting carried away with horse-drawn carriages and penthouse suites until you know how much you have to spend. Too many couples decide what they want and then try and figure out how to pay for it. This is the wrong way around.

You need to first take into consideration whatever funds you have available, your disposable income, donations from family and friends, any savings and, if necessary, credit. Once you have a total budget, split this up into the different departments, such as venue, clothing, meal, honeymoon, rings, ceremony fees and so on. You'll soon have a rough guide as to how much you can spend on each part of your wedding.

Budget weddings are not only about spending money wisely, but also about saving and investing it wisely.     

2. Put your savings in a tax-free account.
Budget weddings are not only about spending money wisely, but also about saving and investing it wisely. If you have a lump sum, whether it is a gift from parents or life savings, you need to consider where it is best kept. You will want an account with a good rate of interest so that you are benefiting as much as possible, but also one which you can access quickly and easily.

If you have around £5,000 in cash, you might want to consider an individual savings account (ISA) as you can currently deposit up to £5,340 each financial year whilst benefiting from tax relief and higher interest rates. Once you have filled this up, aim for a high interest savings account for any surplus cash.

3. Borrow only what you can afford to pay back within a year.
Unfortunately, not everyone has generous parents or savings that they can rely on, and so some couples will need to borrow money to pay for their special day. If this is the case, it is strongly advised that you don't borrow more than you can afford to pay back in 12 months.

Although you could pay for the lot on a credit card, the high interest rates should be enough to deter you. Scout the personal loans market instead for a more affordable way to finance your major costs. 

4. Look for cheap wedding venues.
Your wedding venue is one of the most expensive outlays for the day and can range from a few hundred pounds to upwards of £10,000, depending on what sort of location you are looking for. To start with, surf the web for better deals. There are plenty of sites dedicated to helping brides and grooms find cheap wedding venues.

Also remember that most wedding venues require you to put down a deposit and pay off the remaining balance two weeks prior to the date so it is important that you account for this in your wedding budget.  

5. Think vintage when shopping for a wedding dress.
If you have your heart set on that bespoke designer dress, you may have to endure some disappointment -- unless you can find it for a small percentage of the price.

A frugal bride's first stop should be charity shops instead. Now, don't wrinkle your nose, many major designers donate their dresses to Oxfam. Also, previous brides are often happy to donate their dress to charity shops for future brides, so it should definitely be your first stop.

Whatever you do, avoid specialist bridal stores as the prices are through the roof. And believe me, a £1,000 wedding dress can soon turn into much more if you splash out on plastic without thinking of the consequences. 

See related: Love and money: 5 tips for newlyweds; 5 common love and money mistakes

Published: 16 September 2011