A recent survey by Your and Your Wedding Magazine showed the average cost is now more than £20,000. Can this be true? Mine was 18 years ago and it was a modest affair but it never came to anything like that kind of figure!
The wedding industry in the UK is big business. It’s worth £10billion. It seems the sky is the limit with how complicated you can make it and how much you can spend. It’s so easy to get swept along and the budget bride will need to keep very focused on her priorities. The perfect big day certainly does not guarantee a perfect marriage (whatever that is) and time might be better spent with wedding preparation sessions at your church.
A beautiful wedding dress can cost thousands but check out websites like bride2bride.co.uk, preloved.co.uk or Oxfam’s bridal shop for a fabulous second-hand gown. Don’t forget, the high street has a lot to offer with John Lewis, House of Fraser, BHS, Monsoon and Debenhams all doing their own wedding dresses and M&S offering a selection of bridesmaid outfits.
Venue - local theatre and seek to get it licensed. Sometimes simple really is best. One of the best weddings I ever went to was in a local village church. The bride and groom were childhood sweethearts but the bride’s Dad had just been made redundant. After the service, the guests walked to the village hall where friends and family had all pitched in with food and decorations. It was a day full of joy.
Perhaps that is the key: ask what those around you can do. This involves people and brings them together which makes it more personal for you and for them. Can a relative who loves baking make your cake as their present to you? Do you know someone who loves gardening – can they grow your flowers to keep down the cost? Could the team who regularly decorate the church for services do the same for your wedding day for a donation? Do you know someone who’s never without a camera? Perhaps they can take (even some) of your photos for you and make an online album. What about a get-together with your mates to assemble your table favours like bags of old fashioned sweets or tied bunches of lavender?
Home-made is surely the way to go for invitations. Research some great craft ideas, source items from Ebay and set about them yourself and you’ll save hundreds.
You might do yourself a huge financial favour by picking a low-cost day. Head for midweek in November or December and your venue may be much cheaper – and so might accommodation for your guests. It’s all in the timing too – a late afternoon wedding will mean you provide fewer meals for guests at a lower cost - and they’ll thank you for giving them more time to get ready and travel to your destination. Keep your numbers down and any costs per head for food will fall too, of course.
Much has been said about getting marriage right. It is a leap of faith as you both grow and change through the years with the mixture of surprises and challenges that life can throw your way. My best advice has to be this: don’t start your life together with debt. Poor finance is the source of far too many break-ups. So, start as you mean to go on with honest discussion about what you have, how you will budget and who spends what.
Christians Against Poverty provides specialised courses to help new couples learn more. Book your free place at capmoneycourse.org