Spend or Save? Wedding Essentials

Some people want to have a really budget wedding. I’m talking registry office, high street dress and pub meal with a few close friends and family members. Other people are willing to splash out, spend whatever it takes to celebrate their Big Day. And then there are people like Steven and I. We certainly didn’t want to spend too much on our wedding - we wanted money for the honeymoon after all! But we both plan on doing this only once, so we wanted to splash out on some things that we thought were worth it and save on others. Here are my recommendations, from my own experience, on what is worth spending on, and what you can save on. 

Photography/Videography - SPEND

This is my biggest advice when it comes to a budget. Even if you are having a super budget wedding, I would recommend paying a little more for good coverage of the day. After all, when the food is eaten, the flowers are dead, the dresses are gathering dust and the day is over, your photographs are all you will have left. I’m not saying you have to book a 5K award-winning photographer, but if you do have room in your budget, save in other areas so you can spend a little more on this. Just because someone owns a DSLR, that doesn’t mean that they should take your wedding pictures. This is not the time to let your cousin who is good at Instagram pictures take your main wedding pictures. There are so many horror stories about people paying next to nothing for a photographer and getting pictures that are not even usable. Our photographer was amazing and worth every penny! The videographers were our close friends BUT they are professional videographers as their jobs, so it worked out perfectly. 

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Bridesmaid dresses - SAVE

My wedding dresses were around £35 each and they got so many compliments - my girls looked amazing! I had several bridesmaids and decided that I would buy their dresses for them. If you want the girls to buy their own dresses, you can afford to find some that are a little pricer. One of my bridesmaids is getting married in a few weeks and she sent us a site and a colour but we are all choosing and buying our own dresses. I think this is a really fair way of doing it and also looks great in pictures as everyone has something that suits their body shape and style. No one could tell that the dresses my girls had were so cheap, and they probably won’t wear them again so £35 was a perfect price. It’s also important to remember that although it is a big day for them too, it’s all about the Bride and Groom, they are supporting players. 


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Decorations - SAVE

Quite often, decorations add to the room but are not noticed enough to be worth a lot of dollar. We made a lot of ours, or bought them dead cheap from eBay - for example the paper pompoms. The centerpieces were interesting gin bottles that we loved, (and were given for free at a gin festival!), tree stumps from the In-Laws’ garden, decorated jars that a few people helped collect and decorate, and some LED tea lights. They looked beautiful and didn’t break the bank at all. Katherine made me a whole load of origami birds, and a lot of stuff was picked up when it was on offer, or was made by myself. I’m planning a DIY series, so I’ll post some more about how to make your own decorations! 


Entertainment - SAVE and SPEND

We wanted to hire a lot of garden games but actually it was cheaper to just buy them from Amazon. Some we made (and by me, I mean Pam, my MIL), with some decorative tape, old cans and a ball. We printed off our own temporary tattoos, and set up a DIY Photo Booth with a camera and a remote trigger, plus some dead cheap paper props. We even did our own sweet table which worked out so much cheaper than hiring one. We did spend a little bit (around £100 or so) on a bouncy castle, and a fair bit more on Joypads, who brought along retro games (more on those coming in a post soon!). We did a mixture of save and spend and it all went down pretty well! 


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Music - SAVE

Unless you specifically want a live band, or a DJ, just stick on a playlist. This is what we did and it saved us hundreds and worked perfectly. I loved knowing that it was all songs we loved, and bloody Gangnam Style wasn’t going to suddenly come on. I’ve been to weddings where the DJ thought he was performing in Ibiza and made it all about him. It will cost a little to get the equipment if you don’t already have it (we did, luckily). We used Spotify Prime so that there were no awkward ads, but also downloaded it offline on an iPad that we didn’t need to use that day, so we knew it wasn’t internet dependent. 


Bride’s Dress - SPEND or SAVE

This one is hard because it’s so personal. It’s all based on you finding The One. I personally hated the thought of sending over £1000 on a dress, as it seemed a waste, but I know that some people love a designer dress. I tried on a dress similar to mine and it was lovely but not almost-2-grand-lovely. MIL found a very similar dress on the internet and after reading the reviews, I knew it was the one. My big sister paid for it and with postage etc it was £150. I could have worn the dress as was but my amazing designer friend Sophie made some alterations to make it the most perfect dress of my dreams. She added flowers into the skirt, made a veil, made some size alterations and unbeknownst to me, added a magical bit of material full of photos and quotes. It ended up costing some more for Sophie’s time and material but even so it was still under £500 and more perfect that I could have imagined. You don’t have to spend a grand to have a dress that you will look beautiful in. 


Flowers - SAVE

Flowers are expensive by their very nature. If you call them wedding flowers, they will be a whole load more on top too. Last time I was a bridesmaid, we had foam flowers and they were beautiful gillies that we all still have now. I wanted wildflowers to go with our theme, and any fake ones looked pretty bad. I looked at some stunning wildflower arrangements but for my bouquet, the bridesmaids, the buttonholes and flower crowns, we were looking at almost £1000. Vom! I ended up on Etsy and managed to find an amazing shop that did a great deal on a custom dried order for us. 8 bouquets, my bouquet, 4 wrist corsages, 8 buttonholes, 2 children’s headbands and 2 boxes of amazing smelling rose petals thrown in for free, all came to around £450 I think. I hot glued little lego figures that matched each person's personality onto the buttonholes to make them unique and I love the way they looked. Bargain and the fact that they are dried means that we could keep them. 


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Suits - SPEND or SAVE

Again, this is pretty personal to each couple, however I do have some thoughts on this. Our Grooms mens’ suits were pricier than the bridesmaids' dresses, but we were okay with that because it will be much more likely that the men will be able to rewear theirs. To save a bit of dollar, Steven was the only one with a jacket, and the others just had waistcoats. We got them from Next and they were lush although they were not cheap. The guys all sorted their own white shirts as most of them already had them which saved a bit of money. Renting is another good idea to save some money if you don’t think your menfolk would wear the suits again. 


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Rings - SPEND

Okay, so I don’t necessarily think you should drop a few thousand on your wedding rings, but they are supposed to be worn every single day for the rest of your life so they need to hold up. Do your research on the types of materials that will last you best within your budget and see what you can find. It was hard finding a ring that fit with my engagement ring as it’s a quirky shape, and I knew I had to have one that was white gold and the same carrots as my engagement ring so as not to grind together and wear it down. Steven’s, on the other hand, was less than £40! That was genuinely the ring that he chose and loved the most (and trust me, we looked at so many!) and as he didn’t have to worry about it going with another ring, or having a manual job, he could get away with a cheaper ring. 


Venue - SPEND

I think the Venue was our most expensive thing and boy was it worth it! I’ll be posting about Hush Venues, where we held the wedding, and the Magical Tipis giant hat tipis in which we all partied soon but the point is, it was what we wanted. I wouldn’t just splash out for the sake of it, but if it’s the venue you really want, go for it. Remember to be aware that the venue itself isn’t really the full price - you might have to pay for chairs, or staff, or in our case tipis and toilets!


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Wedding Favours - SAVE

Nobody likes sugars almonds. They trick you into thinking that they are mini eggs and then surprise you by being gross. No one wants a bottle opener with the picture of the happy couple on or some other random piece of tat. Try to be creative, or don’t do anything at all. We made our place names our favours too. They were wooden heart magnets from Bespoke & Oak and even now when I visit someone I get a little thrill when I see that their magnets are on the fridge. Don’t feel obliged to have favours, no one will really miss them. A donation to a charity is always a cute idea. 


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Gifts - SAVE

There is so much pressure on buying gifts for your wedding party, parents, helpers etc. I know I spent far too much on mine when really it was all about the thought. Get a cute token thank you gift - ignore the crazy Pinterest pins that say you have to make each bridesmaid a full hamper of presents! Here is a post on the wedding gifts that we bought for our menfolk. I’ll do a post on the boxes I put together for my girls soon. The best gifts we bought were the blankets for our mums with “Mother of the Groom” or “Mother of the Bride” and the wedding date on them. They were really well received and a much better gift than flowers. 


Food - SPEND or SAVE

Another difficult one. Wedding food is always going to be pricey, but it’s up to you what you do with that. Don’t just got for expensive fancy food because that’s what you are “supposed” to have at a wedding. Dried chicken, or tiny portions or sloppy vegetables is nobody’s idea of a good meal. We did picnic hampers from Newmarket Hampers and pizza from Broadside Pizzas, plus a little ice cream cart too! The food options were reasonably priced (although certainly not cheap!), and for the amount of delicious food we got, it was so worth it. 



You don’t have to go for an around the world cruise, but don’t feel bad about spending a decent amount of money on your honeymoon. I would never recommend going into debt for a wedding or travelling, but remember that this is your honeymoon, and if you want to spend a little more than usual on your trip, go ahead! We did Las Vegas, LA and San Francisco on our trip, and although we didn’t go full luxury, we didn’t go for the cheapest options either. I don’t regret it for a second. 


There are so many ways you can save while planning your wedding, to allow you to spend elsewhere (such as a kickass honeymoon!). It is up to you how much or how little you spend on things, but don’t feel as though you have to spend a lot to have an amazing day, nor should you feel like you need to go for the cheapest options possible. 


I hope these ideas have helped you - let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree on any of these points!