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Here's Every Penny I Spent On My Wedding

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Paying for a wedding really can break the bank, and expenses may vary by tens of thousands, depending on size, location, and taste. We asked a recent bride to spill the beans — anonymously, of course — on every wedding-related expense, from the dress to the table vases.
Job: Fashion Communications Manager
Age: 29
Location: London
Salary: £38,000
Partner's salary: £50,000

Wedding location: Near Brighton, UK

Number of bridesmaids: 5
Number of groomsmen: 4
Number of ushers: 3

When my partner and I started out planning our wedding, we were desperate to keep it on a shoestring but, the closer we got to the event, the more we realised the costs just snowball and we really didn’t want to compromise on the quality of the day.

We didn't hire a wedding planner as I have organised a number of events through my job and I felt confident that I could do all the planning and organising on my own (famous last words). We were lucky in saving some costs – we didn't pay for a DJ or ceremony musicians, for example, as a lot of our friends are talented musicians so this was all free, and our cake was kindly bought for us by some of our friends as a wedding present.

Essentials


Marriage licence: £70
Catholic Church fee and admin costs: £250 donation
Organist: £50
Wedding preparation course: £50
Engagement ring: £1,000
Wedding bands: £600

Hen & Stag Parties


We both really wanted to have our hen and stag parties abroad, which meant that flights and costs were pricier than a standard UK hen or stag. I organised my hen about a year in advance to make sure we could all get really cheap flights and a reasonable villa.

Hen party: £500 (cost per person)
Stag party: £500 (cost per person)

Venue Costs


The wedding was in the back garden of my husband’s parents’ house, which we thought might be a cheaper option than at a reception venue where corkage might be added on. Marquees aren’t that cheap but it does mean you have flexibility in adding and removing numbers and running your own bar. We really splashed out on the catering as that was the most important thing to us – we were keen to steer away from traditional “chicken supreme” and used our favourite restaurant in Hackney to do all the catering. They were incredible!

Marquee: £6,000
Toilets: £500
Food for 160 people and a pizza oven for the evening: £10,000
Alcohol: £2,000
Cake: Free of charge
Decorations for tables: £200
Piano player: £150
Music equipment: £500

Flowers


With the flowers, we tried to keep the costs down by getting my mum to do the arranging for the marquee. This took her an entire day and involved about 100 vases! She was a lifesaver.

100 vases: £100
Bouquets: £298.85

Bridal bouquet: £85
Bridesmaids' bouquets: £35 each
Groom: 1x buttonhole: £4.95
Groomsmen and ushers: 12x buttonholes at £3.75 each: £45
Mums: 2x corsages at £4.95 each: £9.90

Flowers for the marquee: £500
Flowers for the church: £150

Dress & Accessories


I bought my dress from Reformation, which was really good value, and my husband got his suit at Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, which has amazing designer suits and shoes at reasonable prices. I did, however, splash out on some Gucci shoes – I convinced myself it was worth it for the future wear!

Dress: £500
Earrings: Something borrowed
Shoes: £400
Hair & beauty: Free (my friend is a makeup artist and hair stylist)

Groom’s suit and shoes: £500

Bow ties and pocket squares for groomsmen: £175
Bridesmaid dresses (from a high street shop): £40 each, so £200 in total

Stationery


We were thrifty with our invitations, spending a weekend making a rubber stamp and using an ink pad to stamp them ourselves. We were also really lucky with a photographer friend offering us a great deal on all our photos.

Invitations and postage: £250
Photography: £800 (mate’s rates!)
Video: £450
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