18 budget wedding ideas that won’t break the bank

Your wedding day is a day filled with love, friends and family and memories to cherish for a lifetime. But whilst the wedding planning is a lot of fun for you and your partner (think cake tasting!), there’s no avoiding the fact that weddings are expensive. Undoubtedly you want a day that reflects both you and your partner, but it’s no easy feat to make that happen and keep within your budget. So we’ve come up with 18 budget wedding ideas that won’t break the bank and that will help keep you on track to make sure you have everything you want on your day!

Read on for our top tips…

1. Be harsh with the guestlist

Although you might be tempted to throw everyone you know on your guest list, that isn’t always a great idea. With each addition you make, you’re adding additional costs whilst also making your wedding less intimate. To keep numbers low, make sure you are only inviting the people that you want to celebrate your day with. If neither of you have spoken to, met them or even heard their name before, don’t invite them. Likewise if you both haven’t spoken to them in three years and they’re not related to you, don’t invite them. And you can definitely lose anyone off the list who’s only there because you feel guilty about not inviting them!

2. Ask for wedding help instead of wedding gifts

Do you have any close friends or family members with a skill for photography or musical talent for example? Asking family and friends to offer help or services that align with their talents in lieu of a gift is a great way to keep your wedding on a budget.

3. Do the catering yourself or hire a family-owned restaurant

Looking after the catering yourself and with the help of family may be your idea of heaven if you’re a bit of a foodie, plus it can really help to involve people in your wedding day plans. If however, the idea of organising the catering fills you with dread, try looking around your community for a family-owned restaurant and ask the owners directly to cater your wedding. Family-owned restaurants are always the first place to check – they will almost always go the extra mile to make your wedding special and are generally more understanding of your particular budget needs.

4. Go minimal with the flowers

Instead of splashing cash on flowers that won’t last long after the reception, keep it simple but elegant. For instance, a single rose for each bridesmaid and a very small bouquet for the bride. If you know someone with a rose bush, you can actually make your own bouquets the day before the ceremony by cutting the roses yourself and trimming away the thorns. Another way to keep the budget on track is to consider fake flowers instead.

5. Skip the groomsmen and bridesmaid gifts

While it’s considered customary to give gifts to your groomsmen and bridesmaids, it isn’t always necessary. Instead of buying gifts they may not even want or enjoy, consider writing them a special note to say “thanks” instead with a favourite photo of you both. Or schedule a ‘date day’ in the future as a thanks for their hard work. If your friends know that you’re on a tight wedding budget, they will understand.

6. Make your own invitations

With a quality home scanner, printer and some time, you can make very classy invitations on your own. You can pick up a simple blank invitation kit from places like Hobbycraft and make our own invitations. Whether you want a very classic font and simple text or imagery, anything is possible from home. For the creatively challenged, online programmes like Canva can be a godsend for design with their ready-made templates.

7. Borrow stereo equipment or use yours from home

Rather than hiring a DJ, just use your own home stereo equipment, or equipment you borrow from a friend. Put speakers just around the dance floor area – there’s no need to spread them around the entire reception room. Create a playlist on your iPod that features a few hours’ worth of your favourite songs, or see if you have a music-savvy friend who could make a playlist for you. Choosing your own songs is a great way to personalise your entire day.

8. Stock the bar yourself

Alcohol is a big expense when it comes to a lot of weddings, but it’s also a big variable you can play around with to cut costs. There’s no need to offer a free bar for your day, most venue packages include the basics and then guests normally expect to purchase their own drinks after the wedding breakfast. If you do hire a venue, ask if they’ll let you supply your own alcohol instead of using the venue’s, which can be a big money-saver. There will likely be a corkage charge but sometimes this plus the bottle cost will still be cheaper than buying from the venue directly. Keep in mind though that it’s a good idea to overestimate – you don’t want to run out of drinks halfway through the reception.

9. Display supplier business cards in exchange for reduced rates

When booking your wedding suppliers, offer to advertise their business cards on your wedding tables in exchange for reduced rates. Since this tends to be very effective advertising, suppliers may be more than happy to take you up on this.

10. Contact the local university or college

A great way to source lower-cost live music for your ceremony and reception is to contact your local university or college’s music department. Booking students who specialise in a certain type of music not only helps them build their experience, it also saves you money – it’s a win win!

11. Shop around for decorations and consider second-hand

If you’re planning on getting decorations from high street stores and you know what you’re looking for ahead of time, you can simply wait until it goes on sale and ‘pounce’ when the time is right. Meanwhile, you can also consider buying used centrepieces and decorations. Recent brides often sell their decorations on sites like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, meaning you could save a bundle of money and effort.

12. Buy dresses off the rack – and on sale

One way to save money on your wedding dress is to buy off the rack instead of a bespoke made gown, which normally work out more expensive due to the time taken creating a one of a kind piece. If you are open to different styles and designs then shopping off the rack gives you an abundance of choice. For the bridesmaids, off the rack shopping works best if your colour scheme is chosen ahead of time and if the store you’re shopping at carries plenty of sizes. To minimise arguments within your wedding party, you can also shop ahead of time and only have them try on dresses you already approve of.

13. Brush up on hair and make-up tutorials

If you are planning a budget wedding, hair and make-up will be one of those areas where you need to compromise. Watch lots of YouTube videos and see if you can recreate your chosen wedding hairstyle – just remember less is more and a simple hairstyle will cause you less stress on the day. Invest in a great foundation, lipstick and mascara for your wedding day so your make-up feels extra special. Visit the make-up counters in your local department store or Boots to try out which brand will be best for you. If you have a friend that is great at hair and makeup then don’t be afraid to ask for some help or advice when it comes to creating your bridal look.

14. Rent matching suits as a group

Unless the groom and groomsmen have a specific reason for wanting a brand-new suit, it’s often useful to rent the them as a group through the same business, as you’ll often get a group rate. Many stores these days offer the option to hire all colours and designs of suits.

15. Plan a simple honeymoon

A lavish, over-the-top honeymoon might sound fun, but it’s far, far cheaper (and often more enjoyable) to stay closer to home. Instead of planning a big, expensive trip, focus on what your priorities are – such as unwinding after those hectic weeks leading up to the wedding and some precious alone time with your new husband or wife. However, if you have your heart set on that 5-star Maldives resort, ask your friends and family to buy you vouchers or donate spending money towards the trip as a wedding gift.

16. Involve your closest friends and family in the preparations

As you’re brainstorming cheap wedding ideas, you should get your closest friends and family involved with the details. Quite often, they’ll have surprisingly good ideas that can save you money and effort. For example, they might know a supplier that would offer you a deal, or have something you could borrow for your special day. Good friends and family are always there to help, and they’ll be especially happy to contribute to such a joyful occasion — so you might as well take advantage of their generosity.

17. Plan, plan, plan

When you’re trying to have a wedding on a budget, it’s important to plan ahead. List everything you can think of and walk through these items step by step. The earlier you get started, and the more things you think about early on, the less last-minute stress you’ll have, and the more time you’ll have to find sales, discounts and other good ideas.

18. Don’t stress

Something will probably go wrong at the last minute – a little detail of some sort won’t work out. Don’t worry about it. Just assume something little is going to go wrong and avoid the urge to throw money at the problem. Most likely, no one will even notice the little issue, and quite often someone in your wedding party (or someone helping out) will come up with a pretty good solution to fix things.

The ultimate pre-wedding day out...