Show me the money! Here's my wedding budget breakdown

January 7 | Guest post by discodisgrace

budget pie chart

My wedding in total cost roughly £13,500 which I believe is the bottom end of average here in the UK, and was largely thanks to the very kind support of my parents. Here's my wedding budget breakdown, showing where the money went on my wedding.

I didn't fancy a list of numbers, so I thought a pie chart might be a more fun way of sharing my costs and passing on the odd budgeting tip! (If you really want exact totals then I'll let you work them out.)

Here are a few points to consider about my particular break-down…

  • "Venue" includes ceremony and reception room hire, an MC, a day-of coordinator, wedding night hotel room, three course dinner for 80-ish guests, evening buffet for 100-ish guests, a couple of glasses of wine for everyone and some sparkly stuff to toast with for everyone, explaining why it's such a big part of the pie!
  • "Outfit" chunks include jewelry, shoes, undergarments and dress alterations. We went over on my outfit because the original budget only took into account the cost of the dress.
  • Invites, place settings, centrepieces, seating chart and guestbook were all DIY projects, making them much cheaper than if I'd paid someone else to do it, and I'm planning on making some money back by selling the centrepieces at a car boot sale.
  • "Party gifts" are presents for the bridal party and the mums.
  • The cake was made by a friend, so the only costs were the Lego topper I made and some flowers to thank her.
  • "Legal stuff" includes the registrar, registering our intent to marry and wedding insurance (£35, worth the money!)

My big tips for budgeting/money would be:

Research stuff before you set a budget. I just guessed what numbers felt right! I was about right in most areas except for the photographer. Having assumed we'd pay about £500 for what we wanted we were gutted to see that actually it would be more like £1200! Thankfully the photographer we went with was relatively new to wedding photography so his price reflected that and he also gave us a "mates rates" discount as he was the best man's brother.

If you're DIYing stationery, plan first, then buy. I went through a phase of just buying things (ribbon, rubber stamps, fancy papers etc.) that fit with my overall vision but didn't end up getting used in finished projects. I probably spent at least £50 on this unused stuff and I do wish I'd been more careful.

Splash out on hair and make up if you're feeling insecure. I did originally feel ashamed and vain of how much the up total was adding up to, but in retrospect it was totally worth it. I've felt ugly my whole life and am so averse to people looking at my face that I struggle with eye contact and I outright hate having my photo taken. On the day though I felt beautiful and had no trouble talking to everyone there and being the centre of attention for a change. I even didn't mind having my picture taken (well, not too much!).

Keep a really close eye on costs. It's nice to know what's going where and although we were over budget on some areas, we ended up quite a bit under in others, bringing me in at £500 below our maximum budget overall.

Oh and:

  • Don't forget stamps!
  • Fabric flowers turned out to be a big money saver, and they're a lovely keepsake.
  • Seek out trade cash and carries (wholesale) for good discounts. Ebay is also your friend.

Anyone else want to show us the money and share their budget break-down?

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  1. Nice article. Thank you for sharing. I really appreciate you encouraging/defending spending money on the hair and makeup! I also tend to be very self conscious and I know the pictures will last a lifetime, but I am cheap (haha). Its a big internal struggle for me!

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  2. I found when I was doing my early research that a lot of budgets looked something like this:
    – 50% for venue and catering
    – 10% for attire (dress, accessories, hair and makeup, groom's attire, etc.)
    – 10% for photography and/or videography
    – 10% for music
    – 10% flowers and decor
    – 10% for everything else

    I found that pretty useful as an initial starting point.

    3 agree
    • The three course dinner is what I believe in American vernacular is called the wedding breakfast, i.e. the big post getting married meal. Rehearsal dinners aren't massively common in the UK.

      To that end, I never understood what rehearsal dinners are for. To practice eating food for the big day? I'm sure they have some serious purpose but its lost on me

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      • My understanding is that when you are asking your bridal party to come out the day before the wedding and rehearse, it's polite to feed them afterwards to thank them for their time.

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        • I don't think it's as common in the UK to have a wedding rehearsal. I have only known one wedding where people came the day before to 'walk through' the ceremony (which I suspect is reflected in Sarah Elizabeth's confusion about what exactly you are 'rehearsing'). So that would explain why rehearsal dinners are also not usually a thing.

          3 agree
          • I grew up in the UK and my mum is a Brit, and did wedding cakes when we lived there, the only rehearsal i can remember was when she did weddings for US military personnel. I am going to hold to my British side and save some funds, and opt to not have a rehearsal, I actually look forward to the spontaneity of the moment.

            1 agrees
        • Yeah, us Brits don't DO wedding rehearsals, as a rule. I've never, ever been to one or even known anyone this side of the pond who attended one, let alone had one at their own wedding. It's just not a thing we do.

          1 agrees
      • Generally I think of it as a pre-wedding activity for the families (especially those coming from out of town) to get to know each other before the wedding day. The wedding day can be pretty hectic if you go with the general photos, ceremony, food, and dancing routine, but the rehearsal dinner would offer a more casual get together/introductions for family that you wouldn't have as much time for during the wedding day. It also offers some activities for those from out of town rather than hanging out in a hotel.

        Another option is what Lauren said with the addition of the bridal party getting to know each other better if they haven't met before.

        1 agrees
    • As other commenters have suggested, the three course dinner is in fact the wedding breakfast. We don't really do rehearsals in the UK. I think some churches will do a practise run of the ceremony with you but it's becoming less and less common.

      1 agrees
  3. Hmmm… I hadn't thought about looking at our budget as a chart, I just have tables with a red/green bar to show where we are saving and where we are over.

    I charted it this morning, and actually some of the things that look pretty expensive in table form look okay as pie (but everyone likes pie 😉 ). An example is that I over spent on my dress, but within the budget the groom and I are each at 5%- sweet, I don't feel quite so bad now. Thanks for the article, and for reminding me to look at things a different way!

    4 agree
  4. This is so helpful. I'm American and my fiance is a Londoner. We're getting married in the UK. Something that really surprised me is how expensive weddings can be in England.

    In the US you can be married by a friend in your backyard but there are lots of regulations in the UK so all wedding venues have to be registered. I noticed that a lot of the Offbeat London weddings only feature photos of the receptions, with the actual ceremony taking place in a town hall. It's such a huge difference.

    It has definitely caused me to change my vision (which was to get married outdoors in a beautiful park). Luckily we are saving money with a town hall wedding. It's an old town hall so it has lots of charm.

    4 agree
    • It depends how you do it! The mister and I are various flavours of pagan and want a religious ceremony… which basically cuts us out of being able to have a legal ceremony at all! Which… actually works out pretty nice, when you look at the figures. (A very few religions can have a legally binding religious ceremony here, and civil ceremonies cannot contain any religious or spiritual content)

      We'll pay to have a quick, quiet, two-witnesses-and-us registry signing to cover the legal part of getting married, but the ceremony that actually matters to us – with us, our families and our deities – doesn't need to be in a licensed venue and can therefore take place anywhere that is set up to handle a wedding function. We'll have all the pomp and ceremony we want, just not the bit of paper signed at the end of it.

      With legal hand-fastings in Scotland but the rest of the UK lagging behind, LOADS of non-registered venues are making themselves available for blessings, handfastings and non-binding ceremonies. It's well worth looking into, because the lack of licensing makes them much cheaper.

      3 agree
  5. This is lovely, thanks so much for sharing, and also for the tidbit about vanity and feeling good. Honestly, spend your money on what works for you, and I was in the same boat. I loved feeling good on the day of my hitchen, and I love looking at the pictures still.

    1 agrees
  6. Nice one! Upon reading the article, I learned that finances should always be included in the wedding planning. Thanks! 🙂 The pie chart presentation is also amazing? What tool did you use for that?

  7. O.O
    Yikes.
    My wedding budget is £4000. So far it's looking fairly close….ish. I kinda figured mine was at the low end of the budget…not £13,000.
    And now panicking.

    3 agree
  8. My wedding budget is £3000 and the most expensive thing is the photographer at £1000. I think if you just have to decide the type of wedding you want and what you can afford and what is important.

    3 agree

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