How to plan a budget wedding

Having a budget wedding may seem  completely obtainable and although it requires a little more effort and time, you will be amazed at what you can cut costs on. If you are thinking of doing it mostly yourself, be prepared for a lot more organisation and planning, as you’ll have to arrange things like tables, chairs, toilets, lighting that you get included with a wedding venue. It's also a lot more work on the day so make sure you have some willing friends on hand to help set up, lend a hand on the day, and clear up afterwards. 

All the photos pictured are from Lucy & Mac's DIY budget wedding in Bournemouth and you can see more of their wonderful day on this link.  


As I mentioned previously scouting out venues that don’t usually hold weddings are a great way to keep the spending down. It’s unlikely they’ll be licensed so you’ll need to look at a church or registry office first, but throwing the reception in any of the following could not only save you pennies but also give you flexibility with timings, catering, drinks and accommodation.

Village Halls  - Lots of village halls rent out their spaces for a day or a few days are a very reasonable rate. They often have chairs and tables too as well as a kitchenette and loos! Rememer although sometimes they can look ugly, it's amazing what some bunting and drapes can do to transform a venue. 

Pubs – Quite often pubs have function rooms upstairs that can be hired for a minimum spend at the bar. There's some great rustic and more modern options so have a search in your local area. You can see Sarah & Richard's pub reception at Prince Albert in London here. 

Farms, Barns  or Warehouses – I’ve photographed at a few empty farm barns and although they are perfect for a cheap, laid back wedding they are very cold! So factor into your budget about heating your guests too. A plus of this is it’s usually a blank canvas meaning you can DIY to your heart’s content.

Field – If you’re after a bit more space, consider renting a field from a friend or landowner nearby. You would have enough space to pitch a bigger stretch tipi  and for guests to be able to camp too.

Family or friend’s garden – A great way to throw a laid back wedding reception is to hire a marquee and pitch up in a garden. Hang up some fairy lights, get an outdoor fire going and voila!


Food can be a huge expense at the wedding especially if you’re looking at doing a sit down meal. Buffets can be much cheaper and there are some wonderful tasty, healthy, substantial options. Food trucks are becoming much more popular at the moment and can provide an informal meal for your guests. Hog roasts are a long loved wedding favourite and are at the smaller end of the budget too. If you are REALLY looking to cut costs, you can ask your guests to bring a dish with them – I’ve been at weddings before and this is a lovely way to sample so many different kinds of lovely food, and for virtually free. Most people are more than happy to help!


If you’re going with a village hall, garden reception or something else that doesn’t have restrictions you can ask guests to BYO drinks too - saving money for you and for them. If you are getting married at a wedding venue, choosing one with no corkage fee and then buying your own wine in cheap is a good way to keep the cost of alcohol down too.


 If you’re after a beautiful wedding dress but can’t quite bring yourself to spend a boutique shop price tag - scour eBay, Still White (pre-worn dresses) High street shops, ASOS, Charity shops, or even consider renting something. Lucy's gorgeous dress was £40 from Lindybop and so were her bridesmaid dresses, a steal at £20 each! Remember to check out the winter and summer sales too and scout around for discount codes when purchasing. 


Asking family and friends to grow flowers in their garden is a great way to harvest lots of beautiful colours and varieties without breaking the bank. Wild flowers growing in hedgerows and fields, once arranged properly, can look beautiful. You can also go to wholesaler markets and buy the flowers direct, and make them up the day before or the morning of the wedding. When asking my couples if there was anything they regretted, Laura said this about confetti... "We bought confetti at a ridiculous price, which was silly as if I had given my mum enough warning she would have made it from her garden!. Remember people are more than happy to help with DIY so don't be afraid to ask.


If you’re getting ready, married and having the reception in the same place then transport isn’t necessary and can save you a lot. If you do need to get somewhere, a cost cutting measure is just driving a normal car (with ribbons on of course, see above!) or just pre-booking a taxi.


Putting together a playlist of all your favourite music and just renting some speakers is an easy and nearly free way of making sure you have a great party atmosphere at a small price. Lights can be hired as well to create more of a dance floor atmosphere. If you’re after a live band, see if there are any local bands who are just starting out or who have other full time jobs who won’t cost as much as a proper wedding band. Another idea is if you have some musically talented friends – host an open mic! Get everyone to bring their instruments and see where the night takes you…


Etsy have some unique and beautiful rings that don’t cost the earth, made out of wood and other less expensive materials than gold. Also going to a ‘make your own’ workshop can be cheaper and much more personal too!


An easy corner cut is getting a family member or friend to officiate your ceremony instead of a celebrant, but be warned it is a big responsibility. Pick someone who is good in front of a crowd, a strong and loud public speaker, will take it seriously and knows you both very well. Having the ceremony later will mean you only have to feed people once, so consider having it at 4 or 5pm instead of one at 1pm.


It might not seem like the most desirable way to tell your loved ones about your wedding plans, but sending out invites by email is free and also a very easy way to keep track of people’s replies. You can design a lovely invite, scan it in and then attach it so it’s still creative, but save on printing and postage costs.


Although this isn’t an area I recommend on scrimping on, if you do have a small budget getting a pro in for half a day or even just a couple of hours is MUCH better than getting an amateur for the full day. Work out what’s important to you (family shots, couple photos, ceremony etc) and get them to cover just that. Maybe skip out on the dancing, or the photos in the morning if they aren’t such a necessity.

Photo booths in the evening are great fun and such a good way to capture some of the silliness that goes on! They're so easy to make yourself, check out this fantastic backdrop that Lucy and Mac made for theirs, complete with funny speech bubbles of quotes from their favourite films... 

Hair & makeup

lf you have a friend who’s renowned for being great at hair, ask them if they’ll help teach you before the day, then you and your bridesmaids can help do each others in the morning. If you really want to get a professional job done, go to your usual, local hairdressers and just go for a blow dry and style the morning of the wedding. For make-up, getting a free lesson in a department store and then investing in some good products is a great way forward. They can advise you on colours, application and hold to keep it from slipping during the day.