How to get married when you’ve got no money

Apparently the average cost of a wedding in the UK is now over £27,000. That’s twenty-seven-thousand-english-pounds. That’s pretty much bang on the average salary for the UK, which is a huge amount of money to spend on one day. Needless to say, our wedding did not cost anywhere near that. In fact, according to my spreadsheets, we spent less than a quarter of the average amount. Still a massive amount for a day, but reasonable enough even to my frugal mind.

Previous readers will know that we are currently living on a tight budget thanks to some pretty big life changes, but we still managed to put on a fantastic day for our family and friends. We had around 140 people at our wedding, and didn’t destroy our finances in doing so. So here are my top tips on getting married* when you don’t have a cool £27k to drop**…

1. Figure out how much money you do have

We didn’t want a long engagement so started planning pretty quickly, and soon realised that with Paul’s future plans of going to university, we wouldn’t be able to save as much as we would otherwise have been able to. So we took advantage of the double income and saved a good chunk each month while we could, and then set a realistic amount that we could save after that. We were also able to cash in a tiny pension (which I’m sure 60 year old us won’t regret at all). This gave us a starting point and kept our expectations low-ish…It very quickly became apparent that the festival in a marquee with tipis and bands and food trucks just wouldn’t be possible!

2. Figure out what is important to you (both!)

I don’t care much about flowers or shoes that no one will see. Paul couldn’t tell you anything about favours or fancy invitations. But I did care about having a church wedding, and Paul cared about having a hog roast. When we sat down and made some lists, we found that our priorities were basically food, music, beach, and being able to have as many of the important people in our lives there as possible. This meant that we didn’t waste precious time, energy, or money on those bits that we felt wouldn’t really make a difference. This will be different for everyone! You might want dozens of fresh roses or a bouncy castle or extravagant bridesmaid dresses – you do you, and don’t worry about anyone else.

3. Pay as you go

I like to know where I stand so if I could pay for something there and then, I would. Obviously not all suppliers will accept this, but if you need to buy ribbon for your invites or hessian for your tables, go ahead and do it while you think of it. This stops there from being loads of little outlays closer to the time, and should help stagger the expenses a little.

4. Ask for, and accept, help

We are lucky enough to have a church family around us who didn’t think twice about baking hundreds of scones for our cream tea. My sister-in-law was happy to spray paint my jam jars gold. My aunt offered to not only bake our wedding cakes but also to create all of our bouquets and buttonholes. People love weddings, and I guarantee that if you ask, you will get more offers of help than you know what to do with. We were also incredibly fortunate to be gifted cash, which made up a significant chunk. Without everyone helping us, there’s no way that we would have been able to throw the party that we did. And you know, it makes it even sweeter to know that your loved ones have played such a part in the day.

5. Remember that it’s just a day

Best part of the day, by a mile, was the ceremony. Where we said our vows in front of God and each other and everyone else, and signed the register that committed us to a lifetime together. Weddings are fantastic and I don’t begrudge anyone spending as much as they like on the day itself. But the main thing is what comes after. Anyone can throw a party, but it takes 2 people committing to live in a way that puts each other first, creating a team, and growing and strengthening together to really make a marriage. Hark at me, mrs 4 months married…but seriously. It’s easy to get swept up in the magazines and blogs and pinterest and fairs and forget about why you’re doing this in the first place. Focus on the long game, and you can’t go too far wrong.

So there you go. I hope that’s useful to at least one person out there. Here’s some more horrifying facts along with a dose of our reality:

  • average cost of the venue: £4,354
    Presumably this includes reception drinks etcetera..? Our village hall cost £250 for the weekend, and the church fees totalled £600 
  • average cost of the food: £3,353
    The one thing we were set on was a hog roast, which is a really good value option at around £1,500 for 140 people. If we’re including drinks, another £350
  • average cost of the engagement ring: £2,084
    I’m very lucky to wear my mum’s, which we had resized for a grand total of £20
  • average cost of the honeymoon: £3,630
    Okay, we did splash out slightly here and I couldn’t actually tell you the full amount. Far less than this, though!


* obviously I’m talking about ‘throwing a wedding’, as actually getting married is the cheapest part.

** and yes I know that we still spent much more than is strictly necessary and we could have just gone to the registry office and got it done for £300 but for what we wanted, and what we actually did, I think we did pretty damn well.

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