More and more couples are opting for do-it-yourself weddings, seeking to save money on this typically expensive day by arranging things like decor and drinks themselves. DIY weddings also allow you to create a day that’s truly ‘you’, away from the formality and structure of a traditional wedding package. But wedding planning can be stressful, and knowing where to scrimp and where to splurge makes all the difference.
If you’re looking to save some cash while ensuring that your big day is 100% you, these ideas should help. There are ways to save on everything from the dress to the date, freeing up cash for a house or a honeymoon after the party is over. Just a little forward planning is all you need to make the most of it.
Buy the Wedding Dress In a Sample Sale – or Second-Hand
For some, the dress is almost as important as the wedding itself. But with price tags on brand new wedding dresses often running into thousands of pounds, followed by the cost of having them professionally fitted, the price of this one-day outfit can wind up costing more than the food and photography combined.
A great way to get a dream dress for less is to shop at sample sales. Or, for the ultimate savings, head online once you know what you’re after (but beware of the dangers). Sample sales can see dresses reduced by as much as 90%, and there’s no waiting around while it’s made either.
Alternatively, if you’ve tried on a few dresses and you know what you’re looking for, browse specialist websites, eBay and even Facebook marketplace to see whether someone is selling one second-hand. Where another bride has changed her mind, or simply decided not to hang on to her dress after her wedding, you can get dresses for a fraction of their usual price.
Use Dried or Artificial Flowers
Fresh cut flowers can be eye-wateringly expensive. This is partly because the costs have to take into account so many factors outside of the flowers themselves. Even if you buy wholesale and create decoration yourselves, fresh flowers will mean staying up late the night before the wedding day to ensure everything is ready on time while still looking its best.
If you’re happy to create your own floral arrangements for your DIY wedding, you can do so well ahead by buying dried or artificial flowers. Why not get the bridal party together to test their creative skills too? No last-minute panics, and a lower price to begin with.
The perk of using these kinds of flowers is that you can also sell them on after the wedding is over, helping to recoup some of your already-lowered spend.
Suggest a Bring-and-Share Buffet
While you won’t want to try and cater the main meal yourself, another place you can save cash is on the evening buffet. Once the dancing has commenced and drinks are flowing, it’s usual to provide nibbles for your guests to graze on. Rather than pay again for a caterer to do this for you, request that evening guests bring along a dish to share.
If you do choose this route, nominate people who are willing and able to bring specific groups of food so that you don’t end up with a banqueting table of crisps and salad. Perhaps the groom’s side brings savoury and the bride’s side brings sweet, or family bring mains while friends bring snacks.
You could also buy certain elements from the supermarket or a wholesalers, and just have loved ones top up the supplies. That way you’re still saving a bundle on professional catering while ensuring there’s plenty of suitable food to go around.
Order Drinks in Bulk
Just as food is important, so, typically, is drink. If you’re opting to supply the booze for your DIY wedding yourself, don’t spend over the odds buying alcohol from the nearest shop. Instead, look for discounts and offers available by ordering in bulk online.
Whether you’re looking to supply wine, beer and cider, spirits, or a combination of all the above, online drinks retailers are great places to look for savings on high-quality drinks. By shopping online and ordering by the case you can not only save money to spend on other things, but also find exclusive premium wines that your guests won’t have seen on the high street.
If you’re not sure what to go for or how much to order, consider a few factors. How many people are coming, is the following day a weekend or a weekday, and are you hoping the reception will be a formal affair or a lively knees-up? For a quieter, midweek celebration, it’s likely you’ll need far less booze than you would for a weekend festival wedding. You should also bear in mind the typical drinking habits of your guests, and how far you’d like to indulge them.
Consider ‘Unpopular’ Wedding Dates
Friday the 13th may be unlucky for some, but as a result it’s also a great day to get married if you’re on a tight budget. April Fool’s day is also unpopular for the most part, and there are plenty of venues who offer discounts on these ‘unfavourable’ dates because they’d rather book them at a discount than not at all.
As a general rule, midweek weddings will be cheaper than weekend weddings. Avoiding summertime, Christmastime and dates around Valentine’s Day will also keep costs low. You will need to think about how much notice your guests might need to be able to attend, but a little advance planning is all it takes to get the cheapest dates in the diary.
What Not to DIY…
Of course, there are some things you’ll need for your wedding where it’s safest not to try and do it yourself. Wedding photography can be costly, but unless you have a friend who is a talented photographer, and has experience photographing weddings, it’s worth spending the money on. Once the day is over, it’s the photos you have to look back on, and which your friends and family will likely cherish forever as well.
With that in mind, it’s reassuring to know the photography is in professional hands. Also, none of your friends or family will miss out on fully enjoying themselves because they’re busy trying to get the best shots.
Equally, even if you’re only inviting a small number of people to your wedding, chances are it’s a good idea not to try and handle the main meal catering yourself. A bring-and-share can work well for an evening buffet, but when it comes to the main meal, the amount of preparation and service needed is above and beyond what you or your guests will want to undertake. Instead, spend some of the money you’ve saved elsewhere on paying a pro to cater for you.
Guest post by Tabby Farrar, Writer for Virgin Wines
Bride Looking in Mirror: Matt Thompson Photography
Artificial Flower Hoops: Erika Tanith Photography
Cheese Board: Julia Boggio
Bottles of Beer: Just for Love Photography