Weddings on a Budget

Weddings on a Budget

For some people, their wedding is the most expensive event of their lives and they and their families go into debt to have the fairy tale wedding. If you don’t want to start your married life  with a big debt or feel guilty because your parents have done so, you could have a wonderful wedding day without breaking the bank.

Spending a fortune on your wedding won’t guarantee a wedding everyone will remember with pleasure. That will depend on family and friends feeling the emotion of the day and the love between bride and groom. They will also remember whether they enjoyed the wedding reception and had fun. You can’t buy this. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on just one day, no matter how important, here are a few tips to help you keep costs down.

The Wedding Dress

Budget Weddings For Dummies

Budget Weddings For Dummies

Also available from
A great guide for saving money on your wedding and still having a day to remember.

Start looking for the dress as soon as you have set a date. That way you won’t be under pressure and can look for the one that suits you at a price you can afford. Don’t forget that shops selling wedding dresses have sales too so keep a look out for a bargain. Also look in dress agencies (shops selling good quality second hand clothes) and charity (thrift) shops which sometimes get wedding dresses.

You can also look on eBay for a dress but be careful. One person’s size 12 can be someone else’s size 8 or vice versa. Also, it might not look so good when you receive it as it looked in the picture. In fact, it might bear no relationship to the dress pictured – I’ve heard some real horror stories like this. My advice is to only consider eBay if you are close enough to the seller to see the dress first or the seller is someone with an enormous satisfaction rating.

Generally, simple dresses cost less than those with lots of frills, beads, lace, etc, and you can add these yourself if you want them.

You can save money by renting a dress or borrowing one. Perhaps your mother still has hers and, if you like it and it suits you, she would probably be touched that you want to use it, Alternatively, a sister or friend might have a dress you could borrow.

Wedding Reception

Don’t plan your wedding for the most popular months, April to September, and you might find that rates for reception venues are lower during the autumn and winter.

Instead of using a hotel or restaurant for the reception, consider hiring somewhere like a community hall. If you do, check on the facilities.

  • Is there a kitchen?
  • Is there a stove for heating food?
  • Are chairs included in the price and are there enough for all the guests?
  • Are tables also included and are there enough?
  • Are there any special conditions of use attached to the hall?
Wedding reception held Churchill Hall, one of the halls of residence of Bristol University, UK. Copyright: Rich Tea – Creative Commons 2.0

Wedding reception held Churchill Hall, one of the halls of residence of Bristol University, UK. Copyright: Rich Tea Creative Commons 2.0

If you choose to use a hall like this, you will then have to decide whether to use caterers to supply the food or whether to do it yourself, hopefully with the help of family and friends. If you decide on caterers, get several quotes before you decide and also see if you can check with past customers to see if they were happy with the food and service.

When it comes to choosing the food, whether you use caterers or do it yourself, go for the less expensive options. Don’t consider fillet steak, think of serving chicken instead. A buffet is also less expensive than a sit down meal because you won’t need to pay waiters or waitresses to serve it.

If you are preparing the food yourself, a buffet is ideal because all of it, except perhaps for hot sausages or similar items, can be prepared well ahead of time and frozen.

Buy your own drink as it will work out a lot cheaper then paying the caterers or venues prices. For UK residents, it will probably be worth a day trip to France to buy it all there.

Finally, there is a great temptation to invite many people to your wedding that would not be at all offended if they weren’t invited. Casual friends, very distant relatives don’t always want to come. Keep your guest list to family and friends that are close to you and your parents. Every extra guest is another mouth to feed!

Top Picture: Signing the Register by “Signing the Register” – Painting by Edmund Leighton (1853–1922) – In the Public Domain

Copyright © 2013 Carol Fisher – All Rights Reserved


I live in the UK, in the south of England, in a small country town. I've been writing for over 20 years, first for specialist magazines and then online since 1998. I have diverse interests from politics to food, antiques and collectables to animals and the environment. I enjoy doing crafts, reading, taking my dog for a walk and many other things.


  • I would think there’s a lot of fun to be had in getting creative with a wedding, to keep the costs down – you’d certainly end up with a very much more personal event to remember, rather than a pile of debt to add a pile of stress to the new marriage!

  • Our wedding was definitely on a budget. I can’t understand why people spend so much on a one-day event which, as you say, is no guarantee of a great or memorable day anyway. We had the wedding in our local and very small hotel over the road (we joked we could walk there in our slippers!) and a small buffet for close family and our dearest friends. I was lucky to get a nice dress from a wedding sale and I printed all the stationery myself to really cut costs. We had the best day ever.


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