Paying for a wedding in a cost of living crisis

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Etching is stuck? Congratulations – but can you afford a fancy wedding at the cost of a life crisis?

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Rising energy costs, interest rates and mortgage costs mean fewer people can afford to splash out on their big day, forcing many brides and grooms to cut back on their wedding plans.

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According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average UK wedding price is now £23,030, while a major setback could set you back more than £60,000.

This amount may not be affordable for many couples, especially those who are saving for a house deposit or paying for childcare costs.

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Here are seven ways to have a budget-conscious wedding during a cost of living crisis.

1. Put the Numbers Down

The easiest way to reduce the cost of your wedding is to cut down on the guest list. This will affect the size of the venue and the amount of food you need. Legally, all you need is the bride and groom (obviously), the registrar or celebrant, and two witnesses.

There are several ways to extract guest numbers. Some couples keep their weddings for family and close friends only, while others ban children or don’t automatically include a plus-one.

Once you’ve sorted out the guest list, send out digital invites. These are much cheaper than paper invitations and you can include a link to a gift list and the option to respond online.

2. Buy the wedding dress you like already

According to a survey by Bridebook, the average wedding dress cost in 2021 was £1,250. That’s a lot of money for something you’ll only wear once.

A pre-loved wedding dress will be much cheaper, although you may also need to budget for a change. Visit websites like Stillwhite or Bridal Revolved to find a dress—and then resell it after the wedding.

You might also consider hiring a groom’s suit instead of buying one.

Traditionally, the bride and groom are expected to pay for their own clothes and shoes. But keep in mind that members of your wedding party are also likely to feel financially tight, so look for high street options for your wedding party.

3. Call Time on Free Bar

Free bars can be expensive if you give your guests free reign to drink all day and all night at your own expense.

If you don’t want to skip the free bar altogether, consider setting a monetary limit for the event, after which guests must start paying for their drinks.

Time limits are another option, such as limiting free drinks to wine and beer only.

Some wedding venues may allow you to stock the bar yourself, which means you can save cash by stocking the liquor at the wholesaler.

4. Be Your Own DJ

If you don’t have the budget for a wedding DJ or band, use Spotify instead. You can set different playlists for pre-dinner cocktails, wedding snacks and the all-important disco afterwards.

Make sure you have a good sound system and ask a tech-savvy friend to be in charge of the music.

It’s best to download the songs you want to play, rather than relying on Wi-Fi.

It’s best to use a laptop – if you rely on a smartphone for tunes, you’ll need to put it on airplane mode to block notifications and phone calls from everyone at the wedding.

5. Choose the date wisely

According to, ‘wedding season’ in the UK is from May to October, with July and August being particularly busy. If you choose a quieter month you’ll save cash on everything from the venue to the photography and makeup. has examples of wedding venues that cost twice as much in August as in February.

Weekend weddings are also much cheaper than weekend weddings, and can serve as an organic way to trim the guest list because some people won’t be able to take a break from work.

6. Borrow Wisely

In a perfect world, you’d save for your marriage—and not start a debt-ridden marriage.

If it is not possible to use the savings, some banks offer special ‘wedding loans’ for marriages. These work just like other personal loans and are usually paid back at a fixed interest rate on repayment terms ranging from 12 months to seven years.

Using a 0% purchase credit card for some of your expenses may be a better option, especially if you can pay off the debt in full during the interest-free period. Thanks to Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, credit cards offer additional protection against suppliers going bad or letting you down.

7. Location, location, location…

Where you get married will have a huge impact on the cost of your marriage.

You can’t get married anywhere – civil weddings have to take place in a licensed place or a register office, while religious weddings generally have to be held at a place of worship.

The Law Commission has put forward proposals to allow weddings to take place on beaches and other places like cruise ships – so keep an eye out if these plans become law.

Churches usually cost from £500. Renting a licensed wedding venue such as a hotel or palace is likely to cost at least £5,000, sometimes much more.

Remember, there is no need to have a big wedding at all. Getting married in a registry office costs around £50. After that you can bring guests back to your home or simply go to the local pub.

For the ultimate in romance, with no more guests, consider escaping. Prices for the ‘elopement package’ in Gretna Green range from around £500 for a wedding ceremony and photography.

capture the day

On the topic of photography, how to get the most out of your budget, and how do you identify a photographer who is going to do the job you’re looking for?

we asked Alex Rose, a professional wedding photographer Based in Essex, who photographs weddings across the UK for her views…

“Many people think wedding photographers only offer full day packages, but there is a lot of flexibility in the industry as the pandemic caused so many cancellations and postponements. For example, I offer a 3-hour micro-wedding package for £750. This usually covers your ceremony, couple and group shots, with some time left to capture the moments in between. It’s definitely worth asking photographers if they offer anything similar.

“If you book a photographer for less than a full day, think about what your priorities are so you can make the most of their time. I ask my couples to complete a questionnaire and a day’s plan for me. This asks them to list all the group shots they want, including the names of the people to be included in each shot.

“I also ask him to nominate someone from within his party to be responsible for gathering the right people for the right shot. Listing shots like this really puts people into focus on what’s important to them, and that’s pretty clear to me.

“An easy way to make the most of your photography budget is to book a photographer who is located close to your wedding venue, otherwise you may have to pay for their travel expenses. If your venue has recommended suppliers. list, it might be a good starting point.

“Take the time to really think about the style of photography, whether it’s editorials, documentaries or portraits, and then take a look at social media to see what can be achieved. And it almost goes without saying that you should be looking for potential photographers. One should check out their websites to learn more about and see their work.

“Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer questions about their work style or any advice. For example, you might be wondering whether it’s better to take a couple portrait before or after the wedding breakfast? Answer At the time of your ceremony And will depend on the time of year in terms of hours of sunlight available.

“Reach out to several photographers to get an idea of ​​who those people are—they’ll be at your wedding, after all—and talk to them about your preferences. I always recommend a counseling call with your couples, so that I can To get to know them, understand their vision for their day and what enthusiasm they are going for. Understanding each other is very important.”

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