Wedding Budget: When to SAVE and When to SPLURGE

No matter how you spin it, weddings are EXPENSIVE. Here is a helpful guide on what items you can really save on and what items you should go ahead and spend that money! It’s all about balance, baby!

Before you decide anything though, you should definitely decide on your budget. Is it up to you and your partner to pay for the day? Will either of your families be helping? It is so important to have a clear conversation on this before you start planning, signing contracts, or getting carried away! Once you have decided on the total budget, then you can decide what ‘save’ and ‘splurge’ mean to you and where you want to allocate big chunks of your budget, or tiny tiny morsels of it.

SAVE

Hair & Makeup

Getting ready with my friends is one of my FAVOURITE things ever! I did most of my makeup myself, surrounded by my best friends, champagne, and good music. It was great! I didn’t want to look like a completely different person on my big day so I just did my own makeup, adding a little extra to make sure I looked my best. My friend did my hair using a youtube tutorial to give her some ideas and inspiration.

This might be something you choose to splurge on, but in my opinion, getting ready was a really fun part of the day and I am glad that I shared it with just a few of my closest friends!

Bridesmaids Dresses

This one was an obvious SAVE to me. I highly recommend you buy your bridesmaids dresses from somewhere other than a bridal shop. There are gorgeous, affordable dresses all over the place. Especially if your bridesmaids are paying for their own dresses, they really will not mind getting a dress from somewhere else.

You could buy several of the same dresses for all of the girls in your wedding party, or you could do as I did and give your girls a choice! I loved having a bit of variety in the shape and style of the dresses, but the varied looks were all tied together with the same blush pink colour.

Again, if they are paying for their own dresses, they will be thankful to save the cash, and, even better yet, if they have a choice they may even wear the dress again after your big day! For example, I chose about 10 different dresses from lulus.com and asos.com all in the same shade of blush pink (or as close to the same as possible) . I then sent the list of links to bridesmaids and let them have their pick! The cheapest dress cost $30 and the most expensive was about $100, but those with a tighter budget could just opt for the less expensive dresses.

To be honest, the dresses were all slightly different shades of blush and I thought this would be the case but they still went together so nicely and, frankly, as the bride, I was probably the only one who would notice that minor of a detail!

I was so happy with how it turned out. They all looked gorgeous and it had a unique spinoff of the traditional bridesmaid look.

Flowers

To be honest, I did splurge a little on my own bouquet (below). However, my bridesmaids all had simple bouquets of baby’s breath tied together with a blush pink bow (see bridesmaid photo above).

As for the centrepieces, I ordered a loose pink rose for each table and loads of baby’s breath. I ordered a few extras to have placed on the cake (keep scrolling for pics). It was very affordable and very pretty!

We also got married in a beautiful, old, English church which was pretty enough without flowers! If you splurge on the venue, the backdrop will likely be pretty enough without flowers anyways!

Decor

Not sure how much I really need to say other than: DIY, bi-atch!

With so many DIY pinterest posts and video tutorials, there is no need to spend loads on decor. Plus, it is so fun to personalise your wedding this way! You can get together with friends, split a bottle of wine (or three) and get yo craft on!

Check out my blog here for some DIY travel theme wedding ideas! SO CUTE!

If you are not a crafty person or don’t think you’ll have time to DIY, look online for second hand wedding decorations! People spend big money on this stuff and then they realise the day after their wedding they no longer need and have no space for it. You can find decor for super cheap this way. Or, even easier yet, ask friends and family members if they kept any of their wedding decor that you could borrow! We got our centrepiece bases and cake base off of a friend who just got married a month earlier (peep the rustic ‘tree trunk’ topped with mirror centrepiece base here and peep the matching cake base below!).

PS – If you’re anything like me, for DIY or otherwise, amazon.co.uk will become your bestie through this wedding planning process!

Invitations and Stationary

There are so many websites and apps that can help you design any sort of stationary you can think of. I literally made my save the dates, invitations, and programs for the ceremony on WORD! They turned out perfect and I got so many compliments. Look around for free or cheap templates and free images or designs online. You can personalise it to the exact way you want it!

Then, all that’s left to do is choose your paper and print them out. I found a printing company that allowed me to email them my design. I picked out a soft hammered paper and they printed out my stationary. They even cut it all to size for me! It was way more affordable than ordering from a stationary company and I was really happy with the results.

Cake

I don’t mean to offend all the REALLY talented bakers out there who make gorgeous cakes that are definitely worth big money, BUT you can definitely find a cake for cheap for your big day and save some dough (baking pun intended).

All you need the cake for is that traditional ‘cutting the wedding cake’ photo and perhaps that ‘shoving cake in each other’s faces’ photo if you’re silly (like me… definitely looked more-so forward to the latter photo).

Many times, the guests don’t even eat the cake. Or if they do, well, how many ‘bad’ cakes have you had really? If there’s sugar in it, I’m happy!

We had my sister-in-law bake us a gorgeous, delicious lemon cake. We found a picture on pinterest of one that didn’t look too difficult and asked politely for this favour. She did it as our wedding gift, so it cost us nothing!

We borrowed the base from a friend who got married a month earlier and I ordered a few loose flower to be placed on the cake to add a little colour. Wah-lah! Gorgeous!

See if you can find someone in your life that is good at baking + loves you enough to do it for free or in exchange for a bottle of wine. Most likely, this person will feel honoured to do this for you!

Wedding Video

Having a video of your wedding is really important! It’s something you can look back on for years to come and really puts you back in the moment in a way that pictures can’t. But since you will have so many high quality pictures, the wedding video does not need to be super fancy and expensive!

For example, my husband and I decided to hire a camera from ‘shoot it yourself’ which is this awesome company that sends you a video camera a couple of days before your wedding. You then have your own friends and family capture the day and send the camera back within a couple days after your wedding. The company compiles your footage, edits, adds fun music (of your choice!) and makes the whole thing look really professional!

This was even better than an expensive videographer in my opinion because the footage was very personal. I put my brother and two friends in charge of the videography. They took it in turns to pass around the camera and the footage they got was HILARIOUS. For example, my very outgoing friend Alex got some of our British guests to try out American accents, and our American guests to try out British accents. If there was a stranger in charge of the video, there wouldn’t have been that same sort of interaction between our guests and the camera man..and each other!

It also oddly brought our guests together! Since they were from different countries, we were worried there would be a sort of divide between my side and my husband’s side, but that was not the case at all. It also sort of acted as the best icebreaker ever! In addition to the fact that we just have awesome friends and families who were not afraid to get to know each other, the video allowed for silly interaction between guests from early on in the day so that by the time the dance floor was ready, our guests had bonded enough to partake in a spontaneous dance-off.

Accessories

Although you will want to look perfect, the focus will likely be on your dress and the accessories are just there to accent the look. Thus, you do not need to spend a fortune! Keep it simple!

I got my earrings and veil from etsy.com. I love this website! You can find pretty much anything you could dream of. And since it is mostly handmade items, you can often customise your orders.

I wanted pearl earrings to match the pearl beading on my dress but did not want to spend a fortune. I found these earrings on etsy for a very fair price, and they dainty enough that I can wear them again and again.

The veil was also very reasonably priced (about 30 gbp) and I was able to get exactly what I wanted by direct messaging the seller. Namely, I asked if the seller could sew two little loops on the veil rather than a big plastic comb. This allowed me to use bobby pins to secure the veil rather than a comb which would have been too bulky for my hair style.

I also ordered a pearl ‘hair vine’ from etsy for very little money. It was so pretty (scroll up to that first photo to take a look!).

Finally, ask your female friends and family if they have accessories you could borrow! I would have borrowed my mom’s veil if she hadn’t gotten ride of it. But she did, however, pass down a beautiful pearl necklace for my big day. As I wanted a bare neckline, I wrapped it three times around my wrist to make a pretty bracelet. It can be your something old or something borrowed!

$ SPLURGE $

Venue

Your venue is literally the place where it ALL happens! Now, I am not saying you have to seek out the most expensive place possible, but if you find a place you and your partner both really love…GO FOR IT! All of the memories for THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE (literally it will be the best day of your life…everyone says that and I was skeptical, but alas they were right!) will take place in this setting. And beyond that.. so. many. PHOTOS. This is your backdrop for the photos you will hang in your home for the rest of your life!

For example, my husband and I visited our chosen venue, The Netherwood, first before visiting several other venues. Now, The Netherwood was not necessarily outside of our budget, and we both loved it, but thought perhaps we could save a few bucks by choosing some place slightly less expensive. However, we soon realised that everytime we went to check out a new venue option, we were comparing it to The Netherwood – so obviously we liked this one best!

This venue was an absolute dream. It had that old English charm and looked like a castle (literally, my sister thought it was a castle when I sent her a picture!). Queue the ~*~ FaIrY TaLe ViBeS ~*~! I also had family coming over to the wedding from America so I really wanted a very British wedding to make the day special for my guests. It was worth it to spend that little bit more for a place we both loved.

What the venue offers is also something you should definitely take into consideration. For example, so many venues charged BUTT LOADS of money for chair covers. However, The Netherwood had very decorative chairs so I said to heck with covering those bad boys up and saved the cash! So check what your venue charges extra for, what it includes (especially in terms of food – a hungry guest is not a happy guest!), and what you can haggle out of them before you sign any sort of contract.

Annnnnd one more picture with a sneak peak at the inside of our venue:

THE Dress

THIS is what I daydreamed about for countless hours since I was a tiny child. So, for me, it made sense to splurge on my wedding dress. Saying that, I still set a budget and stuck to it, but I definitely wanted to find a dress that I truly adored.

Getting the perfect dress makes everything finally feel real because you can picture yourself in it on the day! It was the most exciting part of wedding planning for me and I could not wait to put it on on the big day! It’s what all the guests look forward to seeing the most and obviously it is the focal point of most of your wedding pics {sorry hubby}.

THAT BEADING THOUGH <3

Sidenote: They say that you will go in with one idea of what you want and leave with something completely different. I almost felt determined to prove this theory wrong: I was SO sure I wanted a fitted mermaid style dress….

True love = Me + That Dress
Just kidding 🙂 I love my husband too 😉

But, alas, AGAIN, I was wrong! Apparently ‘they’ know what they’re talking about! So, from experience, I urge you to try on loads of different fits and styles. Even if you do stick to your guns of your vision of your dream dress, this is likely the only time you will be able to try on such extravagant gowns so really milk it for what it’s worth. I tried some dresses on that I was not at all interested in, only to be pleasantly surprised when I had them on.

The most magical thing I will ever wear in my life (and now it’s in storage… *SOB*).

For some people, the dress is just another detail and if you feel that way – all the power to ya! There are loads of inexpensive bridal gowns online these days. Check out lulus.com or similar dress website that have long (or short!) white dresses that are really lovely!

Food

I get HANGRY, and I know so many other people do too! Make sure your guests are not hungry by ensuring they have some canapés or hors d’ouvres, sizeable portions at dinner, and some sort of snack/food after after a few hours of dancing to keep your guests’ energy up. The late night food can be simple and inexpensive – we had pizza and fries and it was a hit.

Hungry guests will not have fun and they will not dance! Keep everyone fed and happy!

Photographer

If you have a connection to a good photographer who will give you a good deal, then by all means SAVE on this one! But, if that’s not the case, you want to be confident that you’re day will be captured well. It all goes by SO FAST and you want it well-documented.

Find a photographer with a style you love, but also, find one who listens to what you want. You only get one shot at this! You can’t ‘re-do’ the whole day if the photos don’t turn out or if you don’t get that shot you dreamed of. Saying that, you will likely LOVE any and all pictures from your wedding day so don’t let it be a big source of stress. Ultimately, you will feel more relaxed if you have a photographer you trust.

DJ

Atmosphere is everything! Find a good quality DJ, with all the lights and special effects who can really get your guests in the mood to dance. Our DJ was awesome and really accommodating to what we wanted: I gave him a song list of loads of our favourite songs that we knew our friends would love, and he stuck to it with only a few additions of his own (which my guests definitely approved of too!).

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