I have a 'Wedding Planning Golden Rule' that even when planning celebrations with generous budgets I try to keep at the forefront of my mind: How much money you spend celebrating your commitment to one another is not a measure of its strength. Weddings are about people, not the pounds and pence. I know that the celebrity weddings featured weekly in glossy magazines can frighten the average couple into thinking that weddings are all about how much you spend impressing your friends and relatives. They are not. A wedding should reflect who you are and say something about your own sense of style and values - not those of a soap star, glamour model or Hollywood A-lister.
If you are nervous about tying the knot in the current financial climate don't be scared into postponing your plans before considering that now is the time to secure yourselves a bargain. But never, ever get yourself into debt by spending more than you can afford on your dream day. Do not borrow, do not put it all on a credit card. Plan only for what you can afford: starting your married life in debt is a recipe for disaster...
But if you have put a pot of money aside for your wedding then there has never been a better time to get married. The money is not earning you much interest in the bank and now is the time to bag yourself a serious bridal bargain. If you are willing to be flexible there are last minute deals to be had at hotels and wedding venues up and down the country. If you'll consider a weekday wedding then you could shave up to 25% off the costs.
Don't be afraid of planning a last minute wedding. If key suppliers such as photographers, florists, entertainers and honeymoon tour operators have spaces in their diaries over the next three months, then there is serious room for negotiation. Those dates are unlikely to be filled so they should be far more open to offering a deal.
Money Management: Plan only for he type of wedding you can afford. Create your perfect day not a premier league footballer (or future King of England's) dream day. Set a realistic budget and prioritize the main areas of spending: if flowers are more important than the cake for example, then budget for a simple cake and spend more on flowers.
Keep overspending in check: if you overspend in one area of your wedding then immediately claw it back from another. So if the photographer was £/$/€150 more than budgeted, immediately cut that amount from the spend elsewhere.
Keep control of your guest list: Around 50% of the budget goes on the venue hire food and drink. If the cost per head is £/$/€75 for example, then it is easy to see how inviting an extra 5 people will add a significant amount to the overall spend.
Beware of fixed price packages: check what is included and what you actually want. Negotiate and do not be bamboozled into signing a contract until you are happy with what you are agreeing to.
Read the small print: are taxes and service charges included? If not, then an extra 10% service charge for food and beverages plus 20 tax/VAT on the total bill could mean hundreds if not thousands more than budgeted. So do the sums.
Don't be over-generous! 'Favors' are sometimes just table clutter. You do not need to buy your guests a gift and unless it is really worth having it will be left behind. And if you are offering a free bar you do not have to include spirits. Wine and beer is sufficient and often all people expect.
Borrow what you can and hire expensive items. Who has recently married and could lend you a veil or jewelery? And many items can be hired such as vases, topiary, linens and decorations.
Enlist the help of talented friends. If someone can bake then they can do the cake!
Do not spend to alleviate pre-wedding nerves! In those final weeks before the wedding when it is all planned the bride-to-be especially feels she should be doing something. This is when the evil cosmetic companies get to girls and play on their nerves telling them that in order to radiate gorgeousness on their wedding day they need to spend £/$/€75 on a pot of face cream and buy hundreds of pounds worth of make-up. You do not.
(For more help with your big day don't forget our range of wedding plannning smartphone apps and books)
© Sarah Haywood
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