Pippa Middleton’s wedding on a budget

Pippa Middleton wedding

Pippa Middleton's wedding is the most eagerly anticipated celebration in some quarters since her sister Kate's nuptials. The nation has been gripped by her preparations, the lavish scale of the celebrations, and even the opulence of the toilets.

See also: How Kate Middleton accidentally destroyed a fashion label

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See also: Most over-the-top celebrity weddings

Bridal pressure

Whenever a celebrity wedding like this hits the headlines, brides put themselves under pressure to up the ante. Wedding planner and event organiser Katrina Otter said: "As details of the much-anticipated Middleton-Spencer wedding start to emerge, I've seen a real surge in interest from my brides, who are especially curious about the suppliers being used and any luxury details that can be replicated. I even have one bride who has a florist on hold as she suspects the florist has some involvement in the Middleton-Spencer wedding. I haven't seen such interest in a high- profile UK wedding, since Kate and William in 2011."

Whether they want to keep up with the Beckhams, the Windsors or the Middletons, they risk wasting a small fortune, and spending much of their early married life paying for the bash. According to MoneySuperMarket, the nation is applying for more wedding loans than ever - with an increase of 53% in applications for £30,000 or more, compared to the same time period last year.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be this way. Bridebook may have estimated that Pippa Middleton is preparing to spend £250,000 on her big day, but you can steal her style for a tiny fraction of the cost.


We reveal seven secrets of getting more for less

1. Outdoorsy weddings for less
Pippa and James have technically gone for a bargain option, by having their reception in the Middleton's garden. However, the number of guests means it's far more expensive and complicated than any other kind of wedding. You need enormous marquees - along with enough decorations to make a tent look glamorous - plus all the facilities you need to hold a massive event - from the toilets to the catering tent. The cost has been estimated at up to £65,000

You can have an outdoorsy wedding without this huge expense. Once you get into the realms of marquee hire, prices can run away with you, so an alternative is to try an outdoorsy venue - a woodland, gazebo, or a venue with a fixed marquee. The Forestry Commission is a handy place to start. The price for hiring the venue at Dalby, for example, costs from just £780.

2. Cut your catering costs
The experts reckon the extra staff required for a marquee wedding will push the price of catering to £200 per guest for the Middletons. You can do it for much less.

One massive saving is to opt for a middle way between table service and a buffet - family-style service. You'll pay for staff to put dishes on the table, and then guests can help themselves. It's more formal than a buffet, but you're not paying someone a fortune to ladle peas onto your plate.

Think carefully about the cuisine too. You can opt for something highly fashionable like Middle Eastern cuisine, which tends to use less pricey ingredients and less expensive meat, so you can cut the costs significantly.

One easy way to cut the cost is to look around at all the local suppliers to find a reasonable cost you are happy with, then ask potential caterers what they can provide for this budget (or slightly less). You can then tailor your menu to make sure you get exactly what you want.

3. Cut the cake
The Middletons are reportedly opting for a £2,600 cake. To this you have to add the cost of the staff to cut and distribute it, plus the cutlery, crockery and linen, which will easily add another £1,000.

There are three ways you can dramatically shrink the cost. The first is to make the cake the pudding - so you cut that cost out altogether. Then opt for cupcakes so there's no cutting to be done. Finally, get everyone to help themselves - no plates, forks or linen required. If you're really on a budget, talk to keen bakers among your guests, and ask them to provide cakes as their gift - so the whole lot is free.

4. Get sentimental about rings
Pippa's Cartier rings could apparently cost more than £15,000, but before you spend a single penny, it's worth getting a bit sentimental.

Wedding rings don't have to be plain bands any more, so think carefully about whether there are any close family members who would be willing to give you a ring they already own. Perhaps your grandparents or great grandparents left one that has been sitting in a box. Maybe your mum or aunt has one that means something to them. These may be expensive things, or just something with real sentimental value. Either is surely better than chunk of metal with no history that'll set you back hundreds of pounds.

5. Make your own
Pippa's wedding dress is set to be a bespoke designer one-off, costing £10,000. Anyone can get a bespoke designer one-off if they have friends or family with dress-making skills they are willing to give as their wedding present. You will still have to fork out for the material - which can be pricey, but well short of the silly money you'd pay for a designer number.

If you don't know anyone with the skills, then you can still get a designer dress for less, by looking on second-hand sites like eBay and Preloved. You can snap up something that cost over £4,000 new, has been worn once, and is being flogged off for a couple of hundred quid.

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£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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