You're preparing for the happiest day of your life, but with a You & Your Wedding survey revealing that the average cost of a wedding is over £20,000,is it possible to get married without breaking the bank?
As with all major spending events in life, budgeting is key and never is that truer than when planning a wedding. Considering costs in these areas can help prevent them spiraling out of control:
Getting engaged is an exciting prospect and with myths surrounding how many months' salary should be spent on the ring and stag and hen parties becoming increasingly elaborate affairs, considering your finances at this early stage is a good first step.
Researching, planning, and visiting venues costs both time and money and remembering costs of invites and postage is vital.
"A wedding is an amazing opportunity to celebrate and have fun," says Annabel at Love My Dress."But it's not worth starting your married life saddled with a large debt that could take years and years to pay off. Some of the most beautiful and memorable weddings we've featured have been achieved on low budgets."
One of the most important and time-consuming elements of a wedding day is the bride's dress.
"Budget before you go and be realistic by only trying on dresses that are within your budget," says Phil of Phil Collins Bridal."You don't want to be disappointed by falling in love with a dress you can't afford." "It's the one day where you can be 'me me me'! You want to choose a dress that will make you walk tall and proud on the day, but not to the detriment of your budget… not just for your dress but for the entire event."
And it's not only the bride who will want to look a million dollars. Outfits for the groom, groomsmen, ushers, bridesmaids and page boys all need to be factored in.
"Setting a budget and doing your homework are the first steps when shopping for your bridesmaids' dresses," advises Karen of Kent wedding store Bridal Wardrobe."Knowing the base prices of the range you like can help you stick to your budget and avoid overspending. Make sure you have 50% of the money available, as you'll need to pay a deposit when placing an order. Saving money well in advance, not just for bridesmaids' dresses but your wedding day in general will help you to keep your numbers down."
Whether you opt to tie the knot at a church or another venue, you'll need to make sure you've planned for all related costs. As well as the cost of hiring the venue, factor in any decor you may wish to use; flowers, the photographer and transport.
"Before you spend on any décor rentals or purchases, think about how to maximise the items, and get the most bang for your buck," suggests Claire at Bridal Musings."Ceremony chairs or seat covers can be moved to the reception and any candles or lanterns could look really pretty at the bar or outside after dark."
And it is possible to save money on flowers, if you are open to considering something a little different: "Real flowers can eat up a big chunk of the budget for your ceremony," says Sam of wedding planners Ever Ever After.
"So consider alternatives such as origami or silk flowers. They could be more than half the price of real flowers and will last a lifetime."
When it's time to let your hair down and celebrate with friends and family you can still find the perfect venue and stick to your budget.
"If you want to save some money then consider holding your wedding ceremony and reception at the same location, "advises Caroline from Hitched."You may still need to pay a room charge but it is generally lower than hiring a completely separate wedding venue. "And if you're having a weekday wedding, make sure you ask your photographer and other suppliers if they offer a mid-week discount. Many will do this but they don't always advertise it!"
And don't forget the gifts! You may also want to give a token of appreciation to some people who helped make your day special. By the time you've got something for two sets of parents, the best man, bridesmaids and anyone else you want to say thank you to, it could become a significant expense.
The dress might be what your guests remember most about your wedding, but for you it'll probably be the honeymoon. Whether you head off to bask in the sun or go trekking in the Welsh mountains, you'll need some cash for this special break with your new husband or wife.
You might even ask for contributions to your honeymoon rather than gifts, if you're already well-stocked with pots, pans and blenders: "Consider asking your guests to assist you with paying for your honeymoon," suggests Anyonita at Confetti.co.uk."There are a number of wedding gift list alternatives that allow your guests to pay cash toward your honeymoon or to pay for activities, food or drinks whilst you're away.
"Some brides find these options a little more contemporary and a lot more rewarding. Plus it helps immensely with budgeting!"
Your wedding represents one of the most important days of your life and you will naturally want to make it as special as you possibly can.
"But don't think of it as being the one and 'only' best day," advises Love My Dress's Annabel. "By all means, use your wedding as an excuse to spoil yourselves and your guests, but don't leave yourselves struggling and penniless over it."
And this is why understanding the costs can be so important. Working out what you can realistically afford is the perfect initial step- whether you're saving for the day, taking out a loan or relying on generous parents!
There's an excellent wedding budgeting spreadsheet at Bridal Musings,that will help you get your planning underway. And with a plan in place, you can feel more confident that you will be able to enjoy the build-up and the day itself without worrying about paying it off by the time you reach your silver anniversary!