How To Create Your Wedding Budget

Managing Your Money

The average cost of a UK wedding is £24,069 (including the rings and honeymoon). There are essential and non-essential costs to consider, from the venue and legal fees to the photographer and flowers. Budgeting is key to making sure your big day runs smoothly.  

How to determine your wedding budget

A well-planned budget starts with an open conversation about what you can afford to spend. Work with your partner to set a realistic budget, then stick to it.  Here’s how to plan your perfect wedding budget.

Determine how much you can afford to spend on your wedding

It’s important to consider your household earnings and regular spending when planning your wedding budget. This can help you make a plan you can stick to. Start by thinking about:

  • your combined income
  • any outstanding loans or debts
  • your savings.

It also helps to work out how much you spend on: 

  • household bills, like gas and energy, including your rent or mortgage
  • living costs, like clothes and food
  • other expenses like insurance and the interest you pay on any debts
  • family and friends, this could include gifts and travel to events like birthdays
  • travel, such as public transport or car costs like fuel and MOT tests
  • leisure, including holidays, meals out or other entertainment. 

Calculating the difference between your income and expenses can help you work out what you can afford to spend on your wedding.  Save for your wedding by tracking your earnings and spending with our Budget planner.

Find out if other people are contributing to the wedding

Sometimes, friends and family members want to help with some of your wedding costs. If you are receiving help, it’s a good idea to discuss this early so you can adjust your budget and spending accordingly. 

Consider other financial commitments

Don’t forget to consider other financial obligations, like loan repayments and insurance payments, when budgeting for your wedding. You might be charged for missing loan repayments, and your insurance provider may cancel your policy, which could impact the wedding.

Set priorities for the wedding

It’s useful to group items on your wedding budget checklist by ‘wants’ and ‘needs’.  Some costs are essential, the ‘needs’, like registry and legal fees. Others are the ‘wants’, including floral displays and multi-tiered cakes.

Work out what you need and prioritise those items. Working your way through your list of needs first makes sure you can afford your wedding. Then, you can move on to your wants.

Creating a wedding budget breakdown

To create your wedding budget, you’ll need to consider the costs of: 

  • registry office fees
  • legal fees
  • ceremony and reception venues
  • catering/bartending
  • wedding rings
  • wedding attire, not just for you and your partner, but you might be planning on buying outfits for bridesmaids, ushers or page boys
  • entertainment
  • photography
  • flowers/decorations.

It’s very important to create a rough guest list at this stage, so you can get more accurate quotes for venues and the food at your wedding. It’s also helpful to know when you’d like your wedding to be, you can save money by moving your date to a weekday or having your wedding outside of the April-September peak season. 

Breaking down your budget helps you understand your wants and needs and spot items you’re happy to cut back on to save money. It’s a good idea to keep separate pots of money for each expense to make sure all your costs are covered.

Grouping expenses can make wedding budgeting more manageable. You know where your money’s going, which can help you stay on track. By crossing items off your wedding budget checklist, you can enjoy seeing your plans progress as your big day gets closer.

Wedding budget mistakes to avoid

It’s normal to make mistakes when planning a wedding, but going over your wedding budget can be costly. Here are a few common budgeting mistakes and how to avoid them. 

Charging too much on credit

While credit can be helpful for large payments, relying on loans to fund your wedding can lead to debt. Having a high credit limit can make overspending seem tempting, but credit cards often have high interest rates that can add up if you don’t make your monthly payments on time. 

In addition to interest, you could be charged more in fees or penalties for exceeding your credit limit or missing payments.  When planning your wedding budget, work with what you have. If you’re struggling to finance your wedding, consider cutting costs instead of spending on credit.

Under-allocating funds to important parts of the wedding

Your budget should be realistic. Many couples prioritise the venue when planning a wedding, as it’s a large expense and sets the backdrop for memories and photographs. This can mean having less to spend on other important aspects of the wedding, so it’s a good idea to allocate enough funds to your needs early on.

Exceeding the budget for specific aspects of the wedding

You might be tempted to overspend on certain parts of your wedding. It’s important to understand that overstepping your budget for a dream dress or venue can mean compromises elsewhere, like how many guests you can invite or the food and drinks you serve. Sticking to your budget is key to making sure every aspect of your wedding is covered.

Not tracking all spending

Tracking every cost is key to staying in your wedding budget and making sure you don’t forget anything. A budget is made up of many small parts, and no expense is too small to record. 

Take note of everything you spend in a spreadsheet or expense-tracking app, which is a great way to see where your money is going. 

Ways to cut costs on your wedding day

If you’re on a tight budget, there are some easy ways to reduce the cost of your wedding.

Cut down on the guest list

Shortening your guest list is one way to reduce the cost of your wedding. Large weddings can be expensive when you account for the size of the venue and food and drink for every guest.

In the UK, wedding catering costs an average of around £70 per head, and the average guestlist includes between 80 and 100 people. Cutting your guest list from 100 to 80 could save you as much as £1,400 on catering alone. Inviting guests only to the evening reception can be a money saver, as you won’t need to pay for as many sit-down meals.  

Go off-peak

Choosing an off-peak wedding is a great way to make your money go further. Over 200,000 marriages took place in England and Wales in 2019, and with many people delaying their weddings during the pandemic, venues are very busy at the moment.

Summer and weekend weddings, when you can expect the best weather and the highest attendance, are the most sought-after. A summer wedding could be up to 4 times more expensive than a winter wedding.

If you have budget concerns, consider booking your wedding out of season, like on a weekday in autumn, winter or spring. Wedding supplies, including everything from catering to cakes and photographers, can also be more affordable out of season.

Buy second hand

Buying second-hand can help you stick to your wedding budget. Couples spend an average of £1,300 on the wedding dress. To save money, consider purchasing pre-owned wedding dresses and suits. You can even re-sell the items after the big day to get back some of your wedding expenses.

Plan ahead

Planning in advance can help you save money, stay organised and reduce stress leading up to your wedding day. With a clear plan in place, you’re better prepared to spot issues on the horizon and avoid any bumps in the road. 

Giving yourself plenty of time to plan lets you shop around for the best deals without feeling rushed. It also means you can make relaxed, informed decisions.

Negotiate with vendors 

When you plan ahead, you give yourself time to negotiate with vendors including catering, entertainment and photographers. Discussing pricing options can help you pay less and stick to your wedding budget. 

Look for ways to save on your biggest expenses, like choosing different dates and packages. You might also be able to secure discounts and deals with suppliers if you pay in advance.

Earn cashback on wedding bills

With so many costs to consider, wedding expenses are a great opportunity to earn cashback on your spending. Whether you use a cashback credit card or cashback websites like Quidco and TopCashback, you can get paid to shop.

You should only use a cashback account if you can afford the full price without cashback, as it isn’t guaranteed. Think of it as an added bonus for something you would buy anyway.

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