Getting married might be up there with moving house for raising your stress levels, but add in the cost of an average wedding – £18,500 – and the finances could have you tearing your hair out. However, a spectacular wedding can be achieved on a tight budget.
Although the bride’s parents have traditionally met most of the costs, changing family and social dynamics mean this is no longer the case. Parents will still most likely help if they can, but nowadays, it’s usual for the bulk of the costs to be met by the couple themselves.
There won’t, nor should there be, much compromise here – diamond rings are still the must-have choice. The classic look for this important piece of wedding jewellery is still a solitaire, and it’s an area where a vintage piece can be a good choice. It’s possible there may be family jewellery to be handed down, but it is likely to need at least minimal resizing. If not, it’s probably wise to put at least 10% of your overall budget towards this area of your wedding jewellery; after all, you’re going to be wearing it for your entire married life!
If you’re a vintage fan, then you’re no doubt already the proud owner of several second-hand treasures. The same can apply to the budget wedding – not everything has to be new. Borrow or hire what you can, and search pre-loved and eBay listings for the perfect wedding dress. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends that have married recently if there’s anything they can think of now that they wish they’d borrowed – you might be surprised!
Ceremony and Reception Venues
Unless the ceremony is going to be held in your Parish church, the ceremony and reception venues will probably be your biggest expense. Many upmarket restaurants are licensed for wedding ceremonies, and frequently offer excellent package deals. Unless a municipal hall is your dream venue, imagination and the internet are your friends. Reception venues are generally less problematic, although researching the more unusual options can save you money as well as giving you a standout location.
Great Aunt Mabel and Second Cousin Kevin
It’s worth paring down that guest list…either aim for a larger venue for the ceremony itself, and have a smaller reception, or head family rows off at the pass by doing what two friends of mine recently did when they got married – both previously married, they had everything they needed to set up home together, and being freelancers, what they really lacked was money. They asked friends and families to make a personal contribution to the cost of the reception – £20 per head was suggested – instead of buying presents. Cheaper than most presents, and everyone was happy!
Presents versus Vouchers
If you do decide on some variation of the above to help with costs, going for store vouchers is likely to make many of your guests breathe a sigh of relief. Most of us have looked despairingly at a wedding list on one side of our computer screen, and our online banking statement on the other. If you’re having to watch the pennies carefully, it’s likely many of your guests will be as well.
Rather than being second-best, second-hand jewellery, once repaired and restored to “as new” glory, will give you film star glamour. Distinctive Art Deco shapes, or 50s paste bling are perfect additions to wedding outfits. In fact, it’s probably the area where personally I’d never consider buying new.
Budget doesn’t have to mean boring – your final big expense will be your honeymoon, but waiting to the last minute will get you a fantastic deal if destination isn’t an issue. Precision planning can give you the day of your dreams without starting married life in debt.
Ross Davies writing for DeBretts Online Jewellery, specialists in second hand diamond rings at affordable prices.