Saturday 25 May 2019

Budget 101: How to cut your wedding costs and make the savings - without anyone the wiser

Bye bye ceremony booklets and so long signage, when it comes to cutting wedding costs in Ireland it pays to be ruthless. Here's how best to budget for your big day, and make the savings without anyone the wiser, writes editor Karen Birney

Wedding stock |
Wedding stock |
Wedding stock |

Karen Birney,

With the average Irish wedding now costing upwards of €25K, any savings to be made along the way are well worth consideration.

Here are some practical ways to cut the costs as you plan the day of your dreams - without your guests noticing a thing!

1. Forgo the favours

Years ago, wedding favours were standard, and sock drawers across Ireland were filled with little bags of sugared almonds many never had any intention ever of eating. Fast forward to the Pinterest wedding when favours became yet another extravagant expense, with photos of fancy chocolates and Champagne, personal potted plants and mini macaroons adding yet more pressure for those with an already expanding guest list. Truth is, while they may be a lovely addition and appreciated by guests, nobody will miss favours if you don't have them, so cross them off the list before you go down the rabbit hole.

2. Have a cheat meal (dessert)

If you must have a wedding cake - and by no means do you have to! - there are plenty of ways to make a sneaky saving. One trend that's caught on for more rustic, DIY style weddings is the BYOD - Bring your own Dessert - whereby a few homebaker style guests bring along their best cake for a communal cake and dessert table. This one can work well - just make sure to run it by your venue first. Another more subtle way to save on the professional cake is by using fake tiers. You have two or three real layers as standard, while the other tiers are just good icing! Such trickery!

Related: Why the affordable 'high street' wedding dress is not to be sniffed at - one Irish stylist puts it to the test

3. Focus on flowers

For bouquets, choosing a single flower can make for a significant saving compared with an arrangement consisting of a variety of blooms. If you have flowers in the church, re-use them for the reception, and make sure you stick with flowers that are in season to keep costs down (the same goes for food!). DIY button holes shouldn't be too tough a task for green-fingered family members, and there are plenty of DIY how-tos online to get some practise in in the lead up to the big day, so there are no last minute surprises!

4. Ditch the decor

Sure, cute signage is all the rage at the moment, and pretty pop up wooden signs announcing the ceremony seating arrangements, directions to the BBQ or a cute quote can add a sweet feel to the room, but just because everyone is doing it on Instagram doesn't mean you have to. Consider your decor carefully - all those extra bits and bobs add up. Choose either the 'bride' robe for the morning or the personalised hanger - not both - and make sure you've added a 'miscellaneous' column to your budget before you fall in love with that big balloon arch.

Related: 'Veils are very pretty, guests will stand on them' - Irish wedding photographer lays out 50 brutally honest tips for brides and grooms

5. Pass on presents

Once you find yourself swept up in the world of weddings, gifts for the groomsmen, bridesmaids, parents and any friends who have helped along the way seem like the standard, and while it's lovely to be able to give a token present to a friend or family member, it's often not expected, and you can go without it. People understand when throwing a big party like a wedding, costs need to be capped, so give them a hand written note or card and a great big hug and be done with it.

6. X the added occasions

Bridal showers, expensive stag nights, dinner and drinks celebrating ticking a single task off the list (just us?!)... The list of added occasions surrounding a  wedding these days can be frightening from the outset. If you're keeping costs down, the extra days and nights surrounding the wedding count - and although you may not notice at the time, they can quickly eat up your wedding budget without you even noticing. Be aware of the hidden extras that add to the overall celebration, and exercise the same financial restraint with these as you are doing for the day itself.

7. Drive your own car

While a luxury car to get the bride to the ceremony and the couple to the reception is a must for some couples, others are just as happy to drive themselves from A to B. If you do decide to do this, nobody else will miss the fancy car - indeed they'll be delighted to see a bride rocking up in her own tractor if this video is anything to go by!

WATCH: Galway bride drives herself to the church in tractor as neighbours 'keep her lit' along the way

8. Push the package

Most standard wedding venues provide packages for couples that include everything you need. While it may be tempting to go the DIY route, sometimes the standard package can be far more cost-effective - just remember to read the small print. Stick with the venue's own decor, and keep your own additions to a minimum. There may be room to haggle on some costs, such as corkage or evening food - at least try to get them to throw in a canapé or two for free, just to say you got something.

9. See ya later ceremony programmes

Ceremony programmes can be a lovely keepsake from a wedding, detailing the bridal party, date, beautiful readings, songs and special moments from the all-important occasion, but by no means do you have to have them - and it could save on lots of hassle, and a couple of quid, if you don't. Something to consider at least.

Other ways to save on your wedding

  • Make a date - Weekday weddings (Mon - Thurs) for some hotels/venues tend to be less expensive than weekends, as indeed are some off-season weddings (winter, but not Christmas)
  • Bin the bridal party - Not having bridesmaids or groomsmen is a-okay, and an easy way to save on costs (and sometimes drama) from the get-go, or even just have one bridesmaid instead of five!
  • Second hand / high street dress - Not too fussed on getting a first-hand designer gúna? You don't have to! There are plenty of bridal alternatives out there these days in charity shops, high street stores and vintage boutiques. Alternatively, keep your eye out for annual wedding boutique sales, or make your wedding dress, veil or accessories your 'something borrowed' by getting a lend from a friend
  • Share decor - If you're a member of a forum or group (such as Help I'm Getting Married on Facebook) form a cabal with brides or grooms getting hitched around the same time as you and share decor. This may be easier said than done, but we've never been less then impressed by the power of social media when it comes to getting people up the aisle (it takes a village, eh?!)
  • Simple stationery - If gorgeous invites aren't your thing, you can surely make a saving here. Nobody expects a formal save the date - send a text or mail to the important folk, and if the less important can't make it when you send the invites - quids in! (Not really, but maybe)

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