40% of married Brits regret wasting money on their wedding

Do you regret what you spend on your wedding?

Four in ten Brits regret the cash they blew on their wedding, and a third of them wish they'd spent the money on a property deposit instead. It's not a bad idea, given that the average wedding costs £25,000, which would more than cover a 10% deposit on the average £222,484 home.

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A survey by Barclays found that a major part of the problem is that couples don't budget properly for their big day: two thirds of people admit they don't plan the finances of big events like this. It means that the costs can easily get out of hand. By the time the big day rolls around, 27% of people have spent more than they had saved ready for their wedding. What's more, four in ten of them were disappointed with the day itself.

When asked about the other things they wished they'd kept the money for, the second most common answer was retirement (20%), followed by a car (11%), stocks and shares (10%), and starting their own business. Meanwhile, 6% said they wished they had saved money to pay for a better education for their children.

Clare Francis, Savings and Investments Director at Barclays said: "While it may be tempting to break the bank for a milestone moment, there is significant risk in spending everything on an event which does not always live up to expectations, as our research shows."

She adds: "Whatever milestone you're saving for, you need to stay in control of your money to avoid compromising your quality of life, not to mention the lives of your loved ones. In some situations, failing to budget properly can lead to long-term financial debt, which some people never recover from."

What can you do?

This doesn't mean that everyone needs to turn their back on weddings, but it goes to show that the outlandishly expensive fairytale wedding comes at a cost that many people think is not worth it. For those couples who want to tie the knot without breaking the bank, there are ten steps, which can work wonders in cutting the costs.

1. Save, don't borrow
Whatever you expect to spend, you need to save in advance, and put into a savings account in order to earn interest on it - rather than borrowing and paying interest. Liz Archer, a 30-year-old yoga teacher from Clapham is getting married in August this year, and is putting aside £800 a month to save the estimated £10,500 cost.

2. Consider the venue carefully
This will dictate an awful lot of your costs, so before you fall in love with an expensive hotel, ask all the important questions.

Check how much flexibility you will have. A 'package' will usually be more expensive than doing things yourself, so check if you are tied into using their caterer and florist. If they have specific suppliers they always use, check the price. Also ask about alcohol prices and corkage - which can really bump up the bill.

Finally, think about the style of the venue. If it's too shabby you can end up paying a fortune to decorate it (think chair covers and balloons as well as flowers). If it's too flash, any decorations will need to be super-smart too. Siobhan Harper, a bride from Clapham, is getting married in 2018, and plans to have her reception in a pub with a nice garden (after an overseas wedding) to keep the costs down.

3. Be ruthless about invitations
You can bring down the per-head cost, but the best way to slash the cost without having to cut too many corners is to drastically cut the numbers.

4. Decide what is important
Unless you really care about the car to the venue, a live band, or favours on the tables, then skip them. Spend your budget where you will appreciate it instead.

5. Choose your suppliers carefully
Ideally you want the kind of caterer you can go to with your own per-head budget, plus the style of food you would like, and ask them to come up with a menu that fits. If they insist on a set menu, they will be far less flexible about cutting costs.

Likewise, you can talk to your photographer about just paying for their time on the day. They can then send a file of all the photos, and you can pick your own for an album. That'll set you back roughly half the cost of a traditional photographer.

6. Resist supplier inflation
Liz says that she found some suppliers would be quite pushy, constantly asking: "have you had any other thoughts on x, y, z". If you don't desperately want something specific, don't be persuaded into it.

7. Consider friends and family
You may be surprised: they might be delighted to make the wedding cake, arrange the flowers, or sew the bridesmaids dresses as their contribution to the wedding.

8. Get creative
Couples make all sorts of things for their weddings, from knitting buttonholes, to sewing bunting, making paper flowers and creating gifts for the bridesmaids. It's a great way to add an individual touch, save money, and have something to keep after the wedding too. Siobhan, for example, is getting her dress made for £50 and making bespoke bouquets for £10 each.

9. Change your Pinterest search
Liz warns of the dangers of getting carried away by glamorous wedding pictures on Pinterest and Instagram. Instead, search for cheap wedding ideas, or homemade wedding decorations, and it will help you focus on recreating beautiful weddings on a budget.

10. Do it your own way
A ceremony with a few friends and a quick drink afterwards needn't cost more than £500. If that's what you want, then you're a winner on all fronts - and can save the rest for the next vital milestone in your life.

£20,983 wedding: where the money goes
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£20,983 wedding: where the money goes

This is the biggest expense, and accounts for 16% of everything couples spend on the wedding. There are endless dramatic places to splash the cash, and if you want to get married in a castle, on a beach, or in a major historic property, it’s all perfectly possible - for a price.

However, there will be those who wonder why the wedding can’t take place in a church or a smart registry office - and the reception in a village hall. These places certainly exist, and could cut the venue hire cost down to a couple of hundred pounds.

It’s not hard to see why couples fancy blowing a fortune on an incredible holiday, but it begs the question of whether it’s such a practical idea.

There’s no earthly reason why two such enormous costs have to be bunched together like this. Surely a wiser approach would be to get married, and then start saving for a great holiday. You don't have to be on a white beach in the sun for it to be romantic or memorable.

This is a huge sum for feeding a few people, and is often the result of the fact that when you are booking a venue, you will be tied into using their caterer.

It’s one reason why a fantastic way to cut costs is to find a venue that lets you do it yourself. That way you can choose between setting out a cold buffet in the morning on a shoestring, or hiring in a cut-price catering option, like a gourmet burger or pizza van.

This includes the cost of an engagement ring and two wedding rings. There will be couples who argue that this is something that you’ll wear every day for the rest of your life, so is worth investing in.

There will be others who highlight that by shopping around you can get the lot (including the obligatory diamond) for less than £400, and anything else is pure vanity.

This includes a heart-stopping £1,098 for the bride’s dress. Just to be clear, that’s a grand for a dress you wear once.

There are hundreds of second hand dresses on sale on sites like preloved if you’re after the big meringue, or you could get one made from scratch for a couple of hundred pounds. Then if you sell it on again afterwards, your dress could cost you less than 20% of this insane figure.

If you’re stuck buying the overpriced booze offered by a posh venue, you’ll easily bust the budget, and if you bring your own to a venue like this they’ll sting you for corkage instead.

A much better idea is to find somewhere that lets you bring your own - and after the first few drinks, ask a local pub to run a bar for you.

The argument in favour of spending a fortune on photos is that this is one aspect of the day that really will last, and if you skimp on the photographer, you won't have a beautiful album to linger over for decades to come.

That said, you'll probably have one hour of looking at your best during your wedding - from when you walk down the aisle, to the moment you have finished taking the obligatory formal photos. There’s nothing stopping you bringing in a professional for that hour, and then setting up a Facebook page for your friends to post all the photos they take throughout the rest of the day and night.

The live band feels vital for some couples, but ask yourself, when was the last time you were blown away by the live band at a wedding?

A far cheaper option is to make your own disco. It’s easy enough to hire some speakers and lights, switch it all on, plug an MP3 player in, and get your favourite music all night for next to nothing.


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