Setting a budget for your wedding is one of the best things you can do in the early days of wedding planning. It’ll help you think practically about what’s important to both of you. But when it comes to wedding planning, it’s not the most fun activity! Here five top tips from recently married couples who have been exactly where you are now.

Start wedding budgeting with good research

Knowing how much things cost is the biggest step to getting started. I like to keep things super simple and clear by keeping all my wedding photography prices available for everyone to see on my website.

“We stuck to our budget, just! Research, research, research!”

indian bride and groom laugh informal wedding ceremony.

Decide what’s really important for your wedding spend

In an ideal world we’d all have one of those rooms like Scrooge McDuck from Ducktails (showing my age with that reference!). But this is no longer the 80s and none of us are cartoon ducks. We’ve all got mortgages, rent and bills stacking up. So when it comes to setting your wedding budget think about where you want to be by the end of your wedding. What’s been the highlight? What’s everyone been talking about?

“We originally wanted to do things as cheaply as possible but this soon escalated, and we decided to spend a bit more and do things the way we wanted.”

“We didn’t have a fixed budget at the start per se. We just started out knowing that we didn’t want an expensive blow out, and with 30 people in a pub and high street clothes it was never going to be terrifyingly costly. We had a huge amount of help from our very kind parents for the big things, but for everything else we just bought things gradually across the year to spread the cost.”

feminist wedding reading Asylum Chapel London. Parrot and Pineapple.

Splurge on the important things, but save on others

When you know what the end goal is, it’s so much easier to decide what you’re going to splurge on, and what you’re going to make some savings on.

“We didn’t have a strict budget but we did decide quite early on what we were willing to pay for certain things. We focused on the key elements – food, the ceremony, drinks, music – and kept the rest simple. No one remembers the favours but everyone remembers a killer party. We had an extensive excel spreadsheet to keep track of it all!”

Bride dancing with her friends at her wedding. Fun informal feminist wedding photography by Parrot and Pineapple.

“We spend the budget on four key important things- the venue, the food, the photographer and the band. These were the things we knew we didn’t want to skimp on because they were what mattered to us. We spent around £500 on our outfits, I loathed the idea of spending hundreds of pounds on a dress (it’s fine if you want to do that) and I wanted to have a lovely dress but there was no way a lovely dress couldn’t be cheaper (it was £200, so still the most expensive dress I own!). Everything else we either made ourselves or we didn’t have to pay for; the cake was gifted and made by my sister in law, the bridesmaids paid for their own dresses after I chose them, all the vases were from my grandparents. That was another way of having them there, as they had both died earlier in the year- seeing the vases reminded me of them.  We got the flowers from supermarkets, we spent £50! It was brilliant, getting them all the day before was risky but I think we lucked out with what was available!”

mariachi band performs at london wedding. Image used on the blog post how to budget for your wedding.

“We did a few things to make our budget work for us. For example we wanted an open bar with a champagne reception and plenty of booze flowing, so it worked out it was cheaper to get corkage and then go to France and buy most of it there. My dress, while still not cheap, was ex-sample and getting the veil from the same place meant I got a discount. All the suits were hired in the end as my partner hates wearing them so there was no point him buying one that would hardly ever be worn again (because my dress will be worn so much again!). Rather than have a three course meal, we had two courses and then provided a help yourself cake buffet from M&S.”

Groom leads bride in jumpsuit along path covered in leaves.

Keep track of your wedding budget

Keeping a hold on your wedding budget is by far the best way to ensure that you don’t over spend. If a spreadsheet isn’t your jam then just keeping an old fashioned note book of everything that you plan to spend money on, and how much you actually spend, will be really helpful.

“I’m an accountant, so we were pretty thorough in budgeting. We had a spreadsheet with budget, actuals, what was left to pay and even a little bank reconciliation to check where we were at with our savings. In the end we came in pretty much bang on what we had been saving for the wedding.”

Bride and groom stand in front of St Pauls Cathedral. Image by informal wedding photographer Parrot and Pineapple Wedding Photography.

“We had a spreadsheet broken down into each part of the wedding (every little bit) with columns for estimated, budget costs and then actual costs so we could keep track. It’s fair to say that keeping on budget is very hard! Things are more expensive than you initially think. So do your research! We called in a few favours, friends who could contribute their time and skills. Plus, we did a few things ourselves: designing the invites, stationary, table plans, place names etc.”

Bride groom kiss under festoon lights at winter wedding.

Accept that you might go a little bit over

Getting the budget right is a tricky task, after all, this is probably your first time planning an event on this scale! So if you do end up over spending, you’re definitely not the only one and you definitely won’t be the last!

“As we were also buying our first home we wanted to try and keep costs down as much as possible. We didn’t have a set budget but ended up spending more than we had planned on spending. But it was definitely worth every penny! There will probably be a blow up bed in the guest bedroom for a while but hey-ho!”

“Our original plan was to try and keep it to a reasonable amount, but that was extremely naive of us, we didn’t realise how expensive things are. The barn and catering was almost our whole budget! Needless to say it cost a lot more than anticipated but I still wouldn’t have changed anything about it.”

Budgeting for your wedding? Click here to read my blog post on how to allocate your wedding budget



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