Getting married? Here are 17 ways to save money on the big day

19305797-6.jpg

By Claire Spreadbury

Everybody loves a good wedding. But cast your mind back to the best ones you've been to, and I bet they weren't necessarily the weddings that cost the most.

Couples who take time to weave in thought, personality and involve family and friends, usually have the big days we remember the most. A new survey by Hitched.co.uk, the UK's largest wedding website, reveals the average cost for a wedding is now over €37,000 - up 19% on last year and the highest it's ever been.

There's no denying that most weddings are going to take some saving up for, but when there are so many other things for couples to spend their hard-earned cash on, it's easy to shave down the costs.

Here are 17 ways to save, that will add up to thousands...

1. Have a smaller bridal party

It's awkward. You've been asked to be a bridesmaid seven times, so that means you need to have them all as yours, right? Wrong. Bridesmaids should be your very best friends. And if very best friends can't understand why you might not be able to afford a flurry of flower girls, who can?

2. Ask bridesmaids and ushers to contribute to their outfits

This can be tricky, but essentially, if you weren't asking friends and family to be ushers and bridesmaids, chances are, they might be buying a new suit or frock anyway. Choose the outfits together, make it something they can wear again and ask them if they're able to contribute.

3. Bling down the rings

Engagement rings and wedding rings can cost a small fortune, but they don't have to. Is it really worth an entire month's salary? Wouldn't you rather have a cheaper one and splash out on a nice hotel for your honeymoon instead?

4. Get friends and family involved

If you're lucky enough to have some wonderfully creative friends, ask them if they can get involved. Flower arranging, dressmaking, cake-making, dressing venues - it's hard work, but can save you an absolute bomb if you do it yourself.

5. Make your own invites

Seriously - it's not difficult. There are free programmes try Canva.com which have ready-made designs waiting for you edit. Or if you're crafty, you could design one with a really personal touch.

6. Have a Bake Off fest instead of a wedding cake

Ask your guests to make a cake and bring it up to the gingham altar at your reception. Bakers will love getting involved and you get to feed everyone for free.

7. Ask for a honeymoon instead of presents

Set up a gift list where guests can contribute to your honeymoon, or newlywed experiences, rather than asking for new stuff for your home.

8. Buy your own wine

Have you seen how many awards supermarkets are gleaning for their best wines? Wait 'til they're on offer, bulk-buy and pay a corkage charge at your venue. You'll save loads.

9. Do your own make-up

I bet most of us know at least one bride who paid for a make-up artist and walked down the aisle caked in foundation. The problem with professionals is they don't know how you look day-in, day-out. Yes, the make-up will stay put all day, but it might not look like 'you'. Get yourself to John Lewis/Marks & Spencer/Space NK and book in a few bridal makeovers. Once your happy, buy the products, practise a few times and take your time on the day itself.

10. Ditto with bridal hair

Oh, sure - the up-do isn't always that easy. But have a think about how you want your hair, and whether you, or any of your bridesmaids can recreate the look. Chances are you can. Or you might even know a hairstylist - ask them to do it for you on the day instead of giving you a gift.

11. Have a paid-for bar

Splurge on bubbles and wine for the meal and speeches, but after that, make it a paid-for bar. Everyone knows weddings cost a fortune and nobody expects you to pay for their shots all night long. Weddings with free bars generally end up being so drunken, no-one can remember the day anyway.

12. Get rid of the favours

Here's a little secret - favours are actually a really old and somewhat boring tradition. No-one wants one, so why bother parting with loads of cash in order to give everyone a teeny gift? Make games or quizzes to get tables interacting instead.

13. The wedding party really don't need gifts

These days, brides-to-be often splash out on elaborate gifts just to ask their besties to be bridesmaids. And then give them another one during the speech to say thanks. It's a total waste of money. Why not make little invitations inviting all the wedding party over for a thank-you bash once the wedding and honeymoon are all done and dusted, and you've got a bit of money in the bank. They'd much rather spend time with you than be given a necklace, tankard or bunch of over-priced flowers.

14. Haggle

Anyone who settles for the first price given to them when purchasing anything for a wedding is mad. Learn how to negotiate and haggle your way to much better deal. You'll be surprised at how easy it is.

15. Back out of the buffet

The evening food doesn't need to be big or elaborate. Day guests will have had a big meal and evening attendees will have already eaten dinner. Opt for nibbly things, like cheese and biscuits, one-pot options, or tuck into the Bake Off spread.

16. Ditch the car

Arriving at the venue in a beautiful old car is a novelty, but it can also be really expensive. Asking close friends (with nice cars) to drive you instead makes them feel part of your big day too, and can save a lot of money.

17. Have a DJ or a band - not both

If evening entertainment is a must, choose either a DJ or a band. Bands can be dear, but they are good fun. If your heart's set on one, make a playlist, so there's music all night long, and you won't need a DJ.

Catherine Devane