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Weddings are an expensive business. The average UK Wedding costs £30,000, so is it possible to have a wedding on a budget?
In my last wedding related post, I detailed the total cost breakdown of our £8k wedding. Amazingly, a huge chunk of that was just on clothing. But even so, the money we laid out for clothes, cosmetics and accessories is still a lot less than the average. If you were to purchase your wedding dress from a boutique you’d be looking at a price tag of around £1,500 for your dress alone! That’s before considering kitting out your bridal party and the groomsmen. Our total clothing and cosmetic spend was £1,300 – this was for one bride, three bridesmaids, one groom, eight groomsmen and hair/makeup for mother of the groom. When you think you could spend more than that on just a dress, I think you’ll agree we did pretty well!
Here are my top tips for wedding wear on a budget and details of exactly what we spent – enjoy!
My Dress – £600
The easiest way to save on a wedding dress is a discount outlet. Most dresses are under £500 and you buy off the rail and take your dress away with you the same day.
I bought my dress off the rail at a discount outlet in Bristol. It was a size 12 (you tend to size up in wedding dresses) and it fitted like a glove, without needing any major alterations. It was a boat neck with lace sleeves which my friend (the talented Kellie’s Corner) adjusted ever so slightly to fit my arms (so there wasn’t any gaping in the fabric) and it had a large train, so she also added a hook to the back so I could pin the train up during our first dance. It had lots of beautiful buttons up the back but fortunately these were just for show and the dress was actually a zip fastening meaning it was easy to get in and out of.
The dress was a current season Catherine Parry and was the most expensive dress in the shop (!!). I would not have even looked at it on the hanger, but the shop assistant suggested I try it on and I fell in love. The shop I bought my dress from is no longer there (though their Birmingham store is still open I believe – so if you are nearby I would highly recommend a visit). Since we got married however, a couple of Wed2B’s have opened in Cardiff and Bristol which I also would’ve checked out at the time (and know several brides who got their dress from them since our wedding). Have a look on their site Wed2B and see if there is a shop near you.
My Shoes – Free
I ordered a pair of white, mid heel, pointed sling backs from New Look online. They were only £16.99 but when they arrived, they had marks and dirt on the soles and were in a bag labelled ‘returns’. Furious that they had sent me a return, I complained and they refunded me the money and allowed me to keep the shoes, effectively making them free. Luckily, there was no marks on the shoes themselves and I cleaned them up like new. Now I am not suggesting that you complain and blag a freebie! I would have been happy to pay £16.99 if the shoes were new, as you would expect!
Underwear – £50
I splashed out (lol – this is a lot of money for me!) on a white lacy set from Boux Avenue. The bra came with removable straps, which meant it was perfect with the dress, and as the dress was heavily lined, I could wear any underwear without it showing through. Luckily, I chose a nice set, because I had to rope the bridesmaids and other random female guests into helping me out of the dress each time I needed the loo!
Makeup – £50 on product I didn’t use. £20 on the day.
This was a wasted expense. I had originally planned to do my makeup myself as I struggled to find someone available on our day (they are booked up over a year in advance!) but in the end, an old friend who is a beauty therapist stepped in and did my makeup, the three bridesmaids and my mother in laws, for just £100.
Hair – £20
Again, a friend who is a hairdresser stepped in to help after the woman I originally booked was uncontactable for months leading up to wedding. She did all our hair for £100 (and somehow managed to get herself ready in the spare 10 minutes she had after doing everyone else – what a superstar).
Nails – Free
I did my nails myself – nothing fancy, just a good old French manicure. My nails grow well so I wouldn’t have even considered acrylics anyway
Veil – Free
I was gifted a beautiful, Swarovski crystal veil from a family friend who had bought it for her own wedding day but forgot to wear it. Well I forgot to wear it too! So glad I didn’t actually buy one.
Dresses -£168 (plus £60 alterations)
I bought my gorgeous bridesmaid dresses from Very. But they were quite long so they needed taking up a bit (or a lot in the case of my best friend haha). I bought them on a no interest buy now pay later deal and just split the cost over the months leading up to the wedding and paid it off in chunks.
Shoes – £0
I did buy shoes for all 3 of them, but in the end they all had different requirements in a shoe and weren’t happy with what I bought so I just let them get their own – the dresses were floor length anyway so it was just one stress that really didn’t need worrying over.
Hair & Makeup – £120
In total, we had 9 groomsmen including the groom himself – best man, 5 ushers and both Dads. We bought their suits from Burton! They had a fantastic offer on – buy a suit for £99 and get a pair of shoes free. So they were all kitted out in a smart grey suit and a snazzy pair of shoes which they got to keep. The only thing we asked them to provide was a white shirt. Luke’s suit was from a slightly more expensive range and was a different colour so that he stood out.
The service we received from Burton was amazing. We actually went back and took the two boys who handled our order a bottle of Jack Daniels each to say thank you. They were so helpful! They just took a list of our groomsmen and asked them to pop in when they had some free time to try on a suit and pick a pair of shoes – their sizes and picks were noted and when everyone had been in they placed the order for us.
This saved us so much time and hassle, trying to organise to get nine people together for a fitting would’ve been near impossible! And even better, when we came to pay for the order we opened a store card to take advantage of a further 20% off. (which we paid in full and closed straightaway)
To hire would have cost at least £100 per person (and that was for a suit we didn’t particularly like) and we would’ve had the added worry of the boys staining/ripping/damaging their suits (what can I say? They cannot be trusted!)
We could have saved even money here by having less groomsmen or asking for a contribution, but we didn’t want to ask people to be part of the wedding and then have them forking out loads of money for our special day.
To finish them off I ordered ties to match the bridesmaids and novelty socks from eBay.
So that’s how we kept our spends low. If you are planning your wedding and looking to reduce the costs here are my top tips you might want to consider.
Hair and makeup was provided to me and the bridal party at mates rates by two friends who were both qualified. I paid £200 for five lots of hair and makeup, which is a fraction of what it would have cost (and they both did trials for free). The trial alone for just me would have cost £
If you are good with makeup and particular about what you like do it yourself! Obviously, some brides like the idea of being pampered on their wedding which is absolutely fine but any beauty related treatments fill me with anxiety, so I was very glad to have friends step in. I originally intended to do my own makeup.
The boutique experience just was not for me. We went to one before we went to the outlet and I felt like I was restricted with the styles and range available to me, and pressured to make a selection when I wasn’t loving any of the dresses I tried on.
I had so many compliments on my dress and even after the wedding had people message me asking where it was from because they loved it. I cannot recommend outlets enough. Lots of choice, lots of sizes, take it away on the day and the most expensive dresses are usually in the £500 region.
People often think that suit hire is the way to go and would work out cheaper, but depending on what you want that often is not the case. For us, it was cheaper to buy the suits and the men had something to keep as well.
The bridesmaid dresses available in the boutiques were in my opinion over-priced and old-fashioned. The high street offered much more affordable and elegant choices at a much better price. You have a much better choice of colour schemes too.
I bought the men’s ties dirt cheap on eBay and they were the perfect colour match for the bridesmaid’s dresses. Even if we had bought them from Primark, the cheapest I could find in the colour I wanted was £7.
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about making extra money, saving money, getting my life organised and being a new mum. Join me!