Five ways to get married on a budget

Today I am very pleased to welcome my very funny friend Lucy, with some top tips for planning a wedding on a budget. Please leave a comment if you enjoy the post!

budget wedding

My two girls are getting quite excited by the prospect of my imminent wedding. Despite raising them to spurn all things pink, romantic and princessey in favour of equality and female empowerment, they have been leaving notes for my partner to ‘definitely marry mummy’ since he first stepped his nervous foot into my house.

“So…something old?” questions my 9 year old daughter, Josie.

“That’s me!” quips my (slightly older) fiancé.

“Something new?” asks Josie.

“That’s you his new wife!” says my eldest, sarcastically.

“Something borrowed?”

“That’s the money to pay for the wedding!” I snort.

How we laugh. I should say, however, that it’s not quite true: we have been saving for the last year. It’s not so bad saving for something exciting like a wedding; you don’t mind sacrificing those new winter boots when you are excitedly planning your brideszilla Jordan-stylee 40-layer tulle extravaganza.

And some people really do spend ridiculous sums on their wedding day: the average cost of a wedding is now a terrifying £22,000. But it doesn’t need to be a horror story: here are my tips for a financial fairy-tale ending that will ensure that the ‘something blue’ isn’t you:

1. Spend money on things that will alleviate your stress

There are some things that lend themselves to the home-made vibe – bunting, balloons and chic woodland centerpieces made from chunks of wood foraged from your local magical forest – but opting for professional flowers and wedding cake is much less stressful than spending your wedding day morning weeping over the spartan floristry buckets at Asda or trying to make Sainsbury’s caterpillar birthday cake look tres romantique. As far as a wedding is concerned, last minute equals complete nervous breakdown, which will not add to your overall princess complexion. Pay for anything that will lessen your anxiety.

2. Focus on your guests having fun

Ask most people about the best wedding they’ve been to and you can bet they will say it was a picnic at the beach, a friendly pub with a children’s play area or a cheap village hall in Essex with ale on tap – not a formal do at an Italian castle. No one will remember your colour scheme or your favours (do you think your aunt really wants a heart-shaped fridge magnet with your wedding date on it?) just make sure everyone is well fed and happy. Keep your youngest guests entertained – somewhere to run around or play is ideal – and everyone else will be happy too. There’s nothing worse than stressed parents fretting about how to entertain a bored toddler, or everyone else’s nerves grating while they listening to a sticky princess whining about being bored (that’s your toddlers, not you).

3. Buy second-hand

Ebay is the bride’s best friend. You will pay between £30-£150 for a second-hand dress – around 5-10% of the shop price – and there’s no other dress you’ll be able to buy with the certain knowledge that it’s only been worn once.

4. Chose a forgiving theme

I didn’t realise that weddings needed a ‘theme’ – but it was the first question my children asked me when I announced that I was finally tying the knot. So opt for something forgiving to your budget: ‘woodland chic’ or ‘vintage’ are going to work well in any setting; ‘Disney Ball’ or ‘Posh County Club’ is going to transfer badly to the village hall, no matter how many metres of bunting you can rustle up. (We’re going for a slightly random mix of Fiesta / children’s literature, for the record….)

5. Save up

It really is depressing to still be paying off your wedding bill when you are hunting for a good divorce solicitor. An ISA is an ideal way to save – you save your money and you save your tax bill, so it’s a win-win situation. If you’re clueless about saving, do your research online and make sure you save up every month. Planning for a wedding is exciting, but it’s definitely not exciting paying off a massive debt for a wedding long after the event, when you are probably either desperate to start saving for a v. expensive pram or spending all your money on feminist books and about wife-work and wondering why it’s always you that cleans out the rabbit?

(I mean, of course, living Happily Ever After.)


Photo credit: wedding flowers at phichit Bhumadhana/shutterstock



  1. 24 March, 2015 / 2:18 pm

    We’re intending to finally actually do it this year – and our budget is so far below that 22k that my theme is probably going to be desert island survivors :D

  2. 24 March, 2015 / 2:54 pm

    Brilliant tips – I agree with every single one! The bit about focusing on guests having fun is a great one, because I think it’s easy to get caught up in the way a wedding looks, or creating this dream Pinterest style wedding and lose sight of the bigger picture.

  3. 24 March, 2015 / 7:32 pm

    All great advice, I definitely think getting things second hand can save you a fortune. And definitely the day should be about people having fun, it won’t matter how much you spent on table decorations if all the guests are grumpy! x

  4. 24 March, 2015 / 8:31 pm

    We spent a fortune and I can honestly say if we did it again it would be a whole world of difference. At least all our guests had a good time. x

  5. 30 March, 2015 / 10:38 pm

    For a minute I thought I’d missed that you were engaged, Jo! If we did it again, we’d likely do most of it the same. We didn’t spend much on our wedding, comparatively. We had a theme too: festival. I think the thing is to choose one thing you really want to spend on then look at how to do the rest cheaper.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.