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Don’t let a small budget dampen your big day
Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life – especially financially – with the average wedding costing anything from £10,000 to £20,000. It may be a dream day, but if it leaves you financially crippled, it can turn into a nightmare. When the credit squeeze bites and threatens your big day, it’s time to do some serious thinking about your priorities.
You can, with a little ingenuity, plan a marriage on a shoestring and, at the same time, manage to easily outclass any big-budget wedding you’ve ever been to.
The first thing to do is sit down and decide how much you want to spend, draw up a budget and then stick to it.
There’s something much more romantic about making your own invitations, table decorations and adding that personalised touch, so don’t be afraid to try some DIY wedding solutions. Involve your family and friends – all of whom are bound to have some talent that can come in useful.
Every bride wants to look stunning on her wedding day, and the dress is a highly-emotional buy. But you can look a million dollars without paying that much.
If you are planning your wedding a year or so in advance, then it’s worth thinking about shopping for your dress or bridesmaid dresses during the sales. Designer outlets also have top-brand dresses at a fraction of the original price.
Chain stores and supermarkets have moved into bridal wear and they offer excellent value for money. Also, it’s a sad fact that some dresses are made but the bride never makes it to the altar. Internet sites and your local newspaper are also a good place to look for second-hand bargains. After all, the average wedding dress is only worn once!
Look round hobby shops which sell everything you need to make your own stationery, or use your computer to design something and then print it out on good-quality paper or card.
You want to remember your wedding, and this is where a photographer comes in. You could ask for a small number of photos to be taken, or if you have a friend who is a keen photographer, then maybe they can help. But do look at examples of their work first, because if it all goes wrong, you can’t recreate the day.
You could also put a disposable camera on each table at the reception and ask your guests to share their photographs with you.
It’s not written in stone that your reception has to be held at a hotel. If a friend has a large garden why not hire a marquee or check out your village hall or a favourite pub? With helium balloons for decoration and inexpensive tablecloths, you can really give your reception the wow factor. Using flowers that are in season will cut down the costs. Or go for the less-is-more option and carry a single flower tied with a pretty ribbon.
The biggest chunk of the budget usually goes on the reception, but you can make savings. A hot and cold buffet is cheaper than a sit-down meal, and you could ask family and friends to prepare a dish each to help lower the bill. Instead of a fruit wedding cake, why not have a two or three-tier cake in different flavour, or get together with your friends and make some iced wedding cupcakes in silver foil bun cases?
Instead of expensive wedding favours, you could give each guest a lottery ticket in a pretty envelope or buy little boxes to make up from hobby and craft shops which you can then fill with something inexpensive like sugared almonds.
If you’ve already set up home or it’s second time around, why not have a honeymoon fund instead of a wedding present list?
Our wonderful day didn't break the bank
When Jessica Randall-Carrick said ‘yes’ to her fiance Joe, she was determined she wouldn’t spend a fortune on a wedding dress she would only wear for one day.
When choosing her gown, Jessica visited the Oxfam shop on Darley Street in Bradford. The store is one of only nine Oxfam shops in the country with a designated bridal department.
Such is the demand for ethical weddings that the department underwent a revamp following the shop’s refurbishment, and it now stocks an extensive range of high-quality gowns.
Jessica paid £70 for what was originally a £450 wedding dress and, as well as saving money, she knew that the proceeds would contribute to Oxfam’s humanitarian projects around the world.
“Is it really worth paying £1,000 when you wear the wedding dress for just a few hours?” says Jessica. “And how much does the poor person who made it at the other end get?”
She felt it was more appropriate to organise her wedding in London, where most of her guests were living, instead of shifting them to her Bradford home, which would have been more expensive, not to mention unkind to the environment.
“A few people had to travel down but most were in London already so they could get here by public transport rather than hundreds of people having to drive,” says Jessica.
Jessica’s mum grew some of the foliage for her daughter’s bouquet in the garden of the family home in East Morton.
While many brides opt for an expensive vintage car to get them to the church on time, Jessica and Joe chose a car provided by a taxi company which offsets all its carbon emissions.
For their honeymoon there was no jumping on a jumbo jet destined for foreign shores – instead they boarded a train for a honeymoon in Dorset.
Laura Mantinan, manager of the Oxfam shop in Darley Street, said increasing numbers of brides were opting for second-hand wedding dresses.
“A lot of women don’t want to spend a fortune on a dress,” she said.
As part of the bridal service within the shop, images of wedding frocks are sent to long-distance clients so they can look before travelling miles to buy. While the bulk of the shop’s wedding dress stock is second-hand, it does get some gowns that haven’t been worn. Because they tend to be last season’s styles, they end up hundreds of pounds cheaper.
“It’s helping to save the planet, it’s a way of getting a dress at a much cheaper price than they would be off the peg and they are supporting the charity,” said Laura. “And the money is going somewhere worthwhile.”