Budget Wedding Ideas: Planning a Beautiful Day
10 DIY Wedding Favour Ideas for Budget Friendly Keepsakes

Budget Wedding Ideas: Planning a Beautiful Day

March 05, 2014

We’ve all been swept away with the idea of an Insta-worthy big day where money is no object, right? However, if funds are lacking, fear not because we have seen so many beautiful weddings created on a limited budget. Our series of six wedding infographics is full of handy hints, tips and budget wedding ideas on how to plan a purse-friendly special day.

Bride & Joy: The Perfect Affordable Style

Finding your dream gown can be a daunting challenge, even without having to worry about the staggering price tags. Luckily, finding a dress that is stunning and unique is achievable. It really come down to creativity, imagination and some seriously savvy searching!

Become a Sales Vulture

If you’ve got the time to spend searching the rails of a sample sale, then this be the best bet to bag yourself a luxurious dress without the price tag.

Be Creative

You can reinvent a simple high-street gown to couture status by adding detail such as a ribbon sash secured with a dramatic vintage-inspired bridal brooch.

Try ‘Something Old’

There was once a time when charity shop trawling was frowned upon, but now that ‘something old’ is a treasured notion and they’re an increasingly fashionable choice. Some charities have their own specialist wedding stores, with a whole host of frocks to choose from.

Go Vintage

Does your Mum or Grandmother still have their wedding dress? If they’d love you to wear it, working with a seamstress to alter their gown will cost significantly less than a new gown.

Get researching before you hit the rails and look into the price ranges of your favourite designers. Check out your favourite bridal magazines, wedding websites and blogs for upcoming sample sales – but don’t forget that if you buy something off the rail, you may have to factor possible alterations into your budget. Danielle Wilkins - Wedding Flowers and Accessories

The Little Purse-Friendly Details

Save on Shoes

Self-confessed shoe addict? Then a shoe dying service is your best friend! Splash out on shoes for your special day and justify the cost by having them dyed classic black for nights out after your big day.

Tip! Give a pair of plain ivory court shoes a designer touch by adorning them with shoe clips or brooches.

Accessories for Less

Why not adopt the “something old, something borrowed” philosophy? Wearing a family heirloom or your mother’s favourite pair of pearls on your special day is a lovely touch that money can’t buy.

Tip! Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but cubic zirconia jewellery is a savvy brides’ alternative for a precious jewel look with a purse-friendly price tag!

Hair & Makeup

Feeling happy and confident with your vintage hair and make-up styling is the key to your happiness on the day. If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional for the day then there are lots of companies out there offering free advice and tips. Practise the style as many times as possible, maybe getting a friend to help, and also wear the style before the day to see how you feel. Lipstick and Curls offer Styling Classes and also have lots of bridal beauty tips on our blog!” - Amanda Moorhourse from www.lipstickandcurls.net

Save by Learning from the Pros

Learn from the professionals and DIY! Many department store beauty counters offer free make-up lessons or charge a small fee that’s redeemable when you buy the products used during the makeover, so you can recreate the look on your big day.


The Bridal Party: Savvy Savings

Dress Dilemmas

How can you get your hands on beautiful dress that will keep all your bridesmaids smiling, without forking out a fortune? It’s not as impossible as it seems...

Think Different

Hitting the sales can prove purse-friendly but there’s usually limited availability of each style left on the rails. The answer? Go for mis-matched bridesmaid dresses in coordinating hues, fabrics or styles! Striking and unique!

Style Guides

These days it’s okay to ask your leading ladies to chip in for their dresses – just make sure you do it one-on-one, and set a realistic maximum spend. Remember though, if they're paying their own way, they should get a say in the style. - Samantha Birch, Author of ‘The High Street Bride’s Guide.’

Check the High Street

If your bridesmaids live in different areas of the country then it may be best to opt for dresses from a national store. Not only may a department store be more economical, but your ‘maids can ensure they get the right fit no matter where they are.

Go Hollywood

Practically every girl has a classic black dress in their wardrobe. Let your ‘maids wear their LBD and create a glamorous black and white Hollywood theme.

Affordable Accessories

Tip! The cost of bridesmaids' accessories can really add up. Consider giving your ‘maids jewellery as their bridesmaid gift!

Try this. Online retailers often give out discount codes so it’s worth checking if there’s an offer running before you buy.

Crafty Hen Parties: Attend a jewellery workshop as part of your hen do, your ‘maids can then make their own jewellery for the big day or style themselves.” Michelle Hailey, European Director, www.twobirdsbridesmaid.co.uk

Shoes on a Shoe-String Budget

Comfy Feet

Allow your bridesmaids to wear their own shoes, this will avoid you having to pay for costly accessories and guarantees their feet will be comfy in shoes they already own.

Dye Job

If you’re looking for a specific shade for your bridesmaid shoes to coordinate with their dresses, it may be more purse-friendly (and save time) to buy a low-cost pair of white or ivory shoes and dye them your chosen hue.

Hair and Makeup Style Savings

Find a Talented Trainee

Ask students at beauty schools and colleges as trainee make-up artists are often looking for experience and may be happy to do your bridal party make-up in return for photos to add to their portfolio.

Girls Night In!

Have a fun girl's night in with your ‘maids watching Youtube make-up tutorials. They can learn how to do one another’s make-up on the day.


Planning the Day: Top Saving Tips 

The Date and Venue

The venue and chosen wedding date can quickly swallow up a huge portion of the budget, but with some care planning the big day doesn’t have to break the bank. All it takes is a bit of imagination, some frugal thinking and a little help from your friends.

Quirky Venues

Keep the number of guests to a minimum and opt for an intimate wedding. You could choose a venue not normally considered for a wedding – such as an art gallery, museum, on a rooftop or at a zoo.

Mid-Week Dates

A mid-week marriage can cost up to a third less than a Saturday wedding. Consider this when setting a date.

Winter Weddings

Marrying outside typical wedding season can give you the negotiation power to ask for a discount when booking your venue.

Brazen Bargaining

When finalising the cost of your wedding venue, be brave and try negotiating a price that is two thirds of your maximum budget.

Wedding Planners

A Wedding Planner or Consultant can provide as much or as little help as you need for your special day. From venue and supplier sourcing to creative design and theming, having some help for small parts of the planning experience can keep you on track and stress free and be budget friendly. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing service. Alison Tinline, Wedding Planner - www.mrspandp.com

Packages vs Dry Hire

Venue hire costs predominantly fall into two categories; wedding package or dry hire. A Wedding Package quote will include the venue and a range of extras including your wedding breakfast, drinks package, furniture and may even include additional elements such as a DJ and flowers. In contrast to this, Dry Hire offers more flexibility for couples to bring in their own choices. It’s important to work out the associated costs as they often mount up to the same, in not more, than set packages. Kate Clarke, Owner at The George in Rye | www.thegeorgeinrye.com


Try Cheap Disposables

Consider ceremony-only coverage. For the evening reception, put disposable cameras on each table and ask guests to snap away!

Stay Local

Contact local photography clubs and colleges. Some amateur photographers are very talented and would love the experience of photographing your big day for a small fee.

Priceless Memories

Photographs become more and more precious as the years go by. Long after the wedding dress is packed away, they are how you will re-live your day time and time again, so don’t skimp on your photography. If a photographer you love is out of the budget, it’s always worth asking if they offer a reduced hour’s package at a lower charge. Cat Hepple, Wedding Photographer | www.cathepplephotography.com

The Invitations


If you have an eye for design, why not make your own stationery? Homemade invitations needn’t look like you’ve tried to cut corners. By choosing a sophisticated typeface anTipd colours that match your wedding theme it’ll look thoughtful and creative.


Say “I Do” to online invitations and send your guests an evite. Not only are you saving money on printing and postage with digital invites, but you’re doing your bit for the environment too!

Blank Invites: To make the most of your budget pick the design you love but see if your stationer will offer blank invites for you to fill in the details. This will save on design time and as such they may be able to offer a price reduction. My 'Ready to Write' invites are the same design as my couture stationery, but we can offer a cheaper price due to bulk printing. Great for brides on a budget. Lucy Ledger, LLD Design Studio | www.lucyledger.com

Transport Budget Ideas

Tip! Consider holding your ceremony and reception in the same venue. You’ll save on multiple site fees and transportation from one location to the other.

Tip! A classic London taxi will cost significantly less than hiring a wedding car and has plenty of leg room to keep your dress crease free. 


The Finer Details: Purse-Friendly Prettiness

Save on Flowers

From beautiful bouquet and posies to reception centrepieces, wedding flowers bring a touch of elegance to your big day. Follow our tips below to create dazzling displays that complement your colour scheme without overspending.

Bulk Out your Budget

Create a budget conscious wedding bouquet by picking a few statement blooms and adding contemporary greenery and filler for dressing. This creates a simple yet stylish bouquet using your chosen wedding flower for a fraction of the cost.

Explore the Markets

Visit New Covent Garden Flower Market (or one similar) for flower inspiration. You could even take a trip close to the big day and pick your flowers from there. Look on blogs and tutorials online for tips and how to make bouquets and boutonnieres.

Go Wild

Why not consider a bouquet of only filler flowers for a natural, wild flower appearance?

Stay Seasonal

When it comes to choosing the flowers, opt for a seasonal bloom. Whilst you may prefer a specific type of flower, it may not be the right time of year to find them. To avoid the cost of out of season flowers or shipping fees, ask your florist who can advise you on a similar bloom.

If you’re wanting flowers for your bridesmaids but can’t afford bouquets, consider single stems bound with ribbon. Pick out a large flower that’s present somewhere in your wedding flowers, perhaps a Peony, Hydrangea or even a Sunflower. It’s easy to think that a wrist corsage or hair flowers will be cost effective and high impact, but the truth is the construction of these arrangements cost more than the flowers themselves and your maids will feel awkward walking down the aisle not knowing what to do with their hands. Gayle Evans | Bloomin Gayles

Costs of the Cake

Floral Fancies

Money saving tip! Instead of sugared flowers, use fresh flowers left over from your bouquets to add decoration to your cakes.

Have a Bake-Off

Bake it yourself, with help! A big trend at the moment is to have a cake table where lots of people contribute a cake each. We blame The Great British Bake Off!

When you obtain a written quote for your wedding cake, make sure it includes all aspects of the cake design, including the number of tiers, flavours, delivery and set-up costs, cake stand hire charges and any other details. This will give you a more accurate cost of your wedding cake. While it is advisable to shop around for the best price in order to get value for money, you may have to pay a premium for a particular cake designer’s brand, design execution, experience and reliability. Elizabeth Solaru | Elizabeth's Cake Emporium

Frugal Favours

Table Décor

Decorate the table with favours that could be taken home by your guests. Pretty potted plants, name holders, trinkets and sweeties can be enjoyed at the wedding and then kept as mementoes.

Sweet Ideas

For a thoughtful touch, why not make your own favours? Wrap homemade sweets, jam, baked goods or little bottles of booze in ribbon-tied tulle for affordable treats.

Wedding Gifts

Generous Donations

Ask for wedding help rather than wedding gifts. Whether that be financial contribution to your honeymoon, big day or by offering to take care of the food, music or photography – many hands make light work.

Combined Gift Lists: ‘hitched.co.uk’s modern, online wedding gift list approach allows couples to combine gifts from dozens of different shops, ensuring you can also choose gifts for guests, friends and family with a limited budget. Save hours by collating your favourite wedding gift ideas online, then email out instructions to your guests so that the buying and delivery process is a breeze for you both. Francesa Cribb | hitched.co.uk  


The Ceremony and Reception: Budget Ideas

Reception Décor

A limited budget needn’t stifle wedding reception, décor inspiration. Try a few of these alternative ideas to achieve an inexpensive, elegant atmosphere.

Create Reflections

By standing small flower arrangements and table centres on a mirror base the reflection will give the illusion that they are much grander.

Keep it Sweet and Simple

Candles, lanterns, jam jars and glass bottles filled with a few flower stems can create minimalistic, but pretty table centrepiece.

Go Retro

Want to create a retro theme? Browse car boot sales and charity shops in search of bric a brac. Old fashioned, vintage china can achieve the desired look at a fraction of the cost.

Ask Your Venue

Ask your venue if they have items for hire, such as candelabras, chair covers, etc. They may not be included in the package, however hiring from a venue may be cheaper than external suppliers.

If funds and/or time are tight – focus on what your wedding can’t actually be without (like the seating plan) and make it a stunning focal-point. Make favours work hard as place names and fabulous table decorations too. Think stylish, smart and multi-functional. Hestor Lear, Wedding in a Teacup. www.weddinginateacup.co.uk

Music for Less

Tip! Ask around. A friend or family member or someone they know might be the music maestro you’re looking for.

Tip! Be your own wedding DJ. Create a wedding playlist and hook up your iPod up to a set of good speakers.

Fabulous Food

Go for Canapes: A fabulous way to actually save money without compromising is opting for a larger canape reception and then having a 2 course dinner – so not removing the starter. This then not only saves on food costs but actually crockery and cutlery. Emily Gillan - Purple Grape

Frugal Feast

Food should be fun! If formal isn’t your fancy, you can still serve up a feast without overspending. A hog roast, BBQ or mobile street food van are just some of the delicious alternatives you can opt for.

At the moment we have seen a continued trend in comfort style and gastro pub food from British influencers. All these elements allow you to create a menu that is not only delicious but also uses seasonal and local ingredients which taste the best. Emily Gillan - www.purplegrapecatering.co.uk


Bride & Groom

When it comes to raising a glass to the bride and groom opt for prosecco or cava, both less expensive options to champagne. As long as there are bubbles to celebrate with, who will notice?

The Open Bar

If you’re keen to provide an open bar limit your stock down to house wine and spirits or a signature cocktail (created by the Bride & Groom). You’ll still be providing your guests with a tipple, but it won’t break the bank.


Starting Married Life: Lifetime Savings

The Affordable Getaway

After you’ve said “I Do” raised a glass and performed the first dance it’s time to depart as Mr & Mrs. Make a grand exit, leaving your guests with something to talk about!

Break with Tradition

With the changing face of tradition, departing from the wedding reception in your wedding dress is an increasingly favourable and budget-friendly choice. After all, you only get to wear it once!

Get an Outfit you Love

A going away outfit is a wonderful tradition to uphold, and if you wish to slip into something a little more comfortable then why not opt for a classic shift dress. Choosing something you will wear again and feel comfortable in makes sense for any pennywise bridge.

Find a Little Love Nest

If you can’t afford a honeymoon for a while, book a hotel room for your wedding night. Some hotels may be able to offer you an upgrade if you mention you’re newly-weds.

A Bicycle Made for Two

For an alternative take on the getaway car, how about hopping on a bicycle or tandem? Not only is this fun and eco friendly option but it will also save you a pretty penny.

Be your own Chauffeur: Hiring a classic on a self-drive basis for the day can prove cheaper than a traditional chauffeured car with the bonus that you have it for as many photos in as many locations as you want to take. The classic can also be used for your honeymoon making the whole experience completely different from just arriving at your hotel or hideaway in your daily drive. Phillip Rowe - www.vintage-classics.co.uk

The Perfect Honeymoon on a Budget

Local Retreats

How about an inspiring getaway to a countryside retreat, UK city break or perhaps even a camping trip for those nature enthusiasts? Save on travel costs and see the sights of your homeland.

Helping Hand

To save on costs, more couples are delaying their honeymoon until a short period after their wedding day. For a little helping hand, you could ask guests for contribution to a holiday fund in place of traditional wedding gifts.

Staycation Bliss: Why not plan a cost-effective “mini-moon” in the UK? A self-catering staycation offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy your own space and time together. A honeymoon in a rural self-catering cottage often takes a bit of planning though so choose a company that can make it easy for you; everything from local information to help you make the most of your time away, to food deliveries at the cottage when you arrive as Mr and Mrs, and even help with special surprises for each other. Helen Shaw, Founder and Director of www.sheepskinlife.com

Thank You Cards

Tip! Pop it on a postcard. Go for a quirky personalised touch and have your favourite wedding photo printed on yours.

Tip! For a thoughtful touch, send your guests a CD filled with a selection of your wedding photos or songs from your day.

Cost-Effective Anniversaries

Nostalgic Nights

Nostalgia is a key component to a healthy and happy relationship. Celebrate by reliving your first date, going to a place your first kissed or where you got engaged, or look through old photos with a home cooked meal and bottle of wine.

Little Gifts

Simple ideas are often the most effective. Typographic portraits are a great gift idea: overlay your favourite photo with the lyrics of a special song for a different take on a traditional anniversary present.

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