Those who have recently got married offer advice on wedding budgeting and managing your cashflow
Account Manager Lucy Squires, 27, married for two months
Biggest-ticket item: “The catering, which came to £9,000. This comprised canapés, a three-course meal, all crockery and cutlery, waiters and waitresses throughout including late bar staff.
Best money-saving tip: “Instead of spending on both namecards and favours, combine the two. We made personalised jars of sweets with our guests’ names on. Or, instead of having table plans printed, use a mirror you already own and buy pens that can be wiped off afterwards to mark up the seating arrangements.
Advice to help manage budgets and cashflow: “Write as few cheques as possible. They could be redeemed a while after you have written them, when you may not have sufficient funds in your account.
Most nerve-racking moment: “Deciding what hairstyle to have after a disastrous hair trial! I ended up not going to a hairdresser at all and, instead, used a hairpiece to create a special look.”
HSBC Premier Proposition Manager Ameeta Sanghera, 28, married for three months
Biggest-ticket item: “The venue and catering package, at £60 a head. This included a five-star hotel conference suite and private lounge bar, changing rooms, honeymoon suites, car parking, canapés, and a three-course meal with waiter service and table linen. We had about 400 guests, so it came to approximately £24,000 – it was an Indian wedding!
Best money-saving tip: “Instead of giving wedding favours that could end up costing £2 per person – so about £800 – we donated £500 to charity in the names of our wedding guests. They really appreciated it and we spent less.
Advice to help manage budgets and cashflow: “Set up a standing order into a flexible savings account and completely disregard it from your monthly spend. Obviously, start this way in advance. Also, ask people to get involved with things like cake making, wedding favours and centrepieces – you'll be amazed by their hidden talents and it’ll save costs. It’s also a great way to catch up with people around your exciting time.
Most nerve-racking moment: “Honestly, it was the management of booking different suppliers, handling deposits and making sure the balance was paid. Especially, when the photographer is asked to stay for another hour, or the hairdresser is asked to do more people's hair. The last thing you want is for someone you have booked not to turn up because they haven’t been paid.”
Editor James Neville, 36, married for seven months
Biggest-ticket item: “The reception venue. We hired an Elizabethan manor house in Sussex, which cost £4,000 for the weekend.
Best money-saving tip: “Think about timing. We got married at the end of March, which is off-peak wedding season. This meant we got a good deal on a number of things including the venue, which would have been an extra £1,500 if we’d had the wedding a week later. We took a gamble with the weather, but it paid off. The catering was also discounted at that time. You should also look at the details of the catering offer. We went with the caterers’ recommended wines, but found that supplying our own champagne was cheaper by several hundred pounds. Don’t be afraid to ask suppliers for bargains.
Advice to help manage budgets and cashflow: “Most weddings go well over budget so round up all your estimations to the nearest £100. Many items will have added costs you won’t have thought about, which may be small but mount up so it helps if you are prepared. Don’t just budget, you also need to have a plan so that you have cash in the bank at the right time to pay for things, especially the big-ticket items. Surprisingly little can be paid for by credit card.
Most nerve-racking moment: “I was pretty calm through most of the preparation. But the fear that you might just possibly burst into tears and lose all dignity in front of everyone you know when your bride walks up the aisle is pretty intense. Fortunately, I kept it together.”
HSBC Process Manager Rucksana Chowdhury, 27, married for 16 months
Biggest-ticket item: “The caterers and venue, which included some of the decorations. This came to £20,000 and was for 300 people. They provided table decorations, seat covers and the stage, as well as the three-course meal and reception drinks – pretty much everything except the cake. You can go to different providers for all these bits and pieces but I think it’s nicer to go to a one-stop shop.
Best money-saving tip: “Shop around and do your research. The way I approached it was to find the high-end cost of something, look at the cheaper option and then go somewhere in the middle. Lots of people go to wedding exhibitions and get persuaded into buying things there are then as they are told it’s a one-off offer. But you shouldn’t feel pressured into doing this. The wedding industry is huge and there’s always someone who can do it cheaper, although be careful about going too cheap.
Advice to help manage budgets and cashflow: “Personally, I prefer pre-paid costs but some people don’t as you run the risk of paying for something that you then don’t get. Be really careful about sticking to your budget. You should write things down, keep receipts, take a note of your suppliers and have back-ups. You might agree a fixed price with a supplier but when you come back to pay on the day, there are hidden costs. So you have to be direct and ask questions.
Most nerve-racking moment: “Managing all the financial stuff. It’s probably one of the biggest costs you’ll spend if you’re having a proper wedding in the traditional sense. You don’t want to shell out on a really grand wedding and then find yourself in debt. I found, even though I had lots of people to delegate to, I was still worrying on the day about whether the caterers had been paid!”
Publisher Georgina Watts, 35, married for 17 months
Biggest-ticket item: “The venue, which included canapés, champagne, wine, a three-course meal and evening food, was the biggest-ticket item of the day and came in at £10,000.
Best money-saving tip: “Don’t get swept along by the ‘W’ word. You don’t have to spend a fortune on every little detail. For example, we got our cake from Marks & Spencer, our florist decorated it and it looked a million dollars. Our florist also re-used displays from the ceremony as table centrepieces. Call in favours – one of our friends is in the music business so he was the DJ for the night. Not only did this save on costs but it made it really personal.
Advice to help manage budgets and cashflow: “You should decide what’s really important to you and what you are prepared to spend more on – and don’t waiver. Yes, you may have seen something you love in a magazine and decide that you have to have it, but is it really worth adding to your budget and having to scrimp elsewhere? For example, would your guests prefer quality wine to extra table decorations? Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your suppliers. Remember, although it is your big day and very personal to you, it is still a business transaction and they want your money.
Most nerve-racking moment: “I wouldn’t say I was nervous really, but if I had to pick one, it would be just before we walked into the ceremony and a bit of a ‘this is it’ feeling – but in a good way. Oh, and handing over my bankcard for big purchases!”
HSBC Digital Experience Manager Oliver Mallich, 36, married for two years
Biggest-ticket item: “The reception, which was about £4,500 for just less than 30 people. The food, drinks and venue all came from one supplier. We probably paid a bit more, but having to deal with only one company really simplified things.
Best money-saving tip: “We had quite a small wedding. If you limit guests to only those you actually spend regular time with, you can spend a bit more on higher-quality food and drink for a smaller group of people.
Advice to help manage budgets and cashflow: “This is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime event, so make sure you keep all costs in the realm of what's possible, but keep in mind that you’ll probably spend more than you figured.
Most nerve-racking moment: “When we rented suits, ordered a cake and got wedding bands. It was one absolutely packed day but there was no time to waste at that point!”
HSBC Pre Campaign Analysis Team Leader Louise Roast, 26, married for four months
Biggest-ticket item: “Other than the venue, this was my wedding dress and accessories, which included three pairs of shoes (one pair for dancing) and a cardigan, which I never actually wore but bought just in case it got chilly. All in all, these cost about £1,300.
Best money-saving tip: “Do your own wedding invitations. As long as you are organised, you can save yourself a fortune and people really appreciate the personal touch. For example, they might be £4 each from a supplier but only £1 each if you make your own.
Advice to help manage budgets and cashflow: “Max out both partners’ ISAs and prioritise this over treating yourself to things like new clothes. Regular saver accounts have some great rates for sweeping your salary into at the end of the month. Also, we all love to go on holiday but you may have to sacrifice one for your big day.
Most nerve-racking moment: “Deciding to go for the much more expensive venue than we had planned as we both fell in love with it. You only (plan to) do it once so, for us, stretching ourselves that little bit further to get the best day we could have hoped for was the right thing to do. We had a few sleepless nights and an Excel spreadsheet named 'can we afford our wedding?' was certainly put into action here!”