HomeDEBRETT’S LIFESTYLE BLOGDiary of a Bride-to-Be Week 18: The Budget (Revisited)

Diary of a Bride-to-Be Week 18: The Budget (Revisited)

With just a fortnight remaining, and most of our final costs now accounted for, I thought it would be a good time to revisit The Budget.

So, with a deep breath and an even deeper glass of wine, I sat down to assess just how far we were from our £10,000 budgetary target. I thought it might also be useful to compare our costs with average UK couples’ spend (according to bridebook.co.uk), to see where we’ve been able to save, and where we haven’t. All costs exclude VAT. 

Venue Hire:

Our spend: £1,998

UK average spend: £5,819 

I’m surprised to see that the average venue hire cost is so much higher than ours, especially since our venue is in pricey London. However, I suspect this sum includes packages where catering is included with the venue hire.


 Our spend: £4,248.98

UK average spend: £4,747

 Sneaking in just below average, we’ve saved money by finding a caterer based outside of London, and by taking advantage of wine and champagne offers at supermarkets.

Wedding Dress and Accessories

Our spend: £1,200

UK average spend: £1,329

Almost exactly average. This was the cost of my dress – I’m planning to wear jewellery I already own, plus my granny’s watch, which my grandfather gave her as a wedding present.

Music/ Entertainment

Our spend: £1,450

UK average spend: £941

We’re quite a way above average in this respect, possibly because we’ve opted for a band instead of a DJ, but we both love live music so were happy to prioritise this.

Flowers/ Venue Dressing

 Our spend: £1,490

UK average spend: £1500

I feel like I’m cheating slightly here as my mother is doing all the flowers for the church, our bouquets and buttonholes, as well as some for the venue, but we also asked the Flower Appreciation Society to supply vases for tables. Table linen was included in the catering cost.


Our spend: £600

UK average spend: £470

Slightly above average again, but with the reception venue a good 20-minute drive from the church, we wanted to ensure everyone could get between the two. This is the price of a 72-seater vintage Routemaster bus from Omnibuzz. 


Our spend: £785

UK average spend: £577

I was slightly reluctant to include this total, as my fiancé’s suit will be worn for many other occasions after the wedding, but no wriggling out of this one so here it is – his suit and shoes are lovely, and worth every penny.

Other wedding outfits

Our spend: £270

UK average spend: £625 

It probably helps that I’m only having two bridesmaids and a flower girl. The total includes the two grown-up dresses from Phase Eight (with 20% off in the sale) and an adorable Rachel Riley dress for my niece (10% off when you sign up for her newsletter), plus her ballet shoes.


Our spend: £0

UK average spend: £1,211

We’ve opted not to have a photographer, and we’re hoping instead that my cameraman brother-in-law will get some good shots. Photographs are not a huge priority for us and this was a major area of saving, especially when you factor in the videography (£1,056) for which some couples also splash out.

Rings (excluding engagement ring)

Our spend: £300

UK average spend: £1,056

We were happy to choose simple rings, but could have spent more if we wanted something more unusual or personalised (engraved, for example). We found Sophia Hargreaves, a jeweller based in Hebden Bridge who uses ethical gold, and she happened to be running a sale at the time (full price for both would usually have been £400).

Wedding cake

Our spend: £128

UK average spend: £318

Instead of a cake, we’ve ordered nine dozen cupcakes from Crumbs and Doilies, which the caterer will arrange for us on a cake stand. This was less of a cost-cutting exercise as it was simply a preference – it means that people can choose between flavours, it saves the caterer cutting up slices, and 

Hair and make-up

Our spend: £170

UK average spend: £337 

I’m paying for my bridesmaids to have their hair done, but my sister-in-law has offered to do both my hair and make-up – lucky me. The figure here includes a thank you present for her.


Our spend: £400

UK average spend: £290

This total included invitations (£290), orders of service (£80 for 100) and the seating plan (£30). We could have saved money by ordering our invitations online, but we were happy to spend a bit extra in this respect for traditional printing – I just hope that the day itself lives up to our super-smart invitations.

Grand total: £13,039.98

Drum roll time… Oh goodness, we’re well over our budget. I’m feeling considerably less smug than I was before this process, but I’m still taking crumbs of comfort from the fact that we’ve managed to stay reasonably far below the UK average spend of £16,600 – and are about half the London average of £25,450. 

If you’re at the start of the planning process and are slightly appalled by the prospect of spending a five-figure sum on a single day, here are a few thoughts to help mitigate the shock factor:

  • The expense will be spread over several months (the average UK couple is engaged for 20 months), so you can, to some extent, factor it into your usual monthly spending, provided you plan ahead.
  • The expense probably won’t be borne by just one person: there are two of you, and you might be fortunate enough, like we were, to have help from parents, too.
  • Ultimately, as my father would say, ‘suck it up’. While there’s some truth in the idea that certain goods and services can be marked up for weddings, in the main we’ve been blown away by people’s generosity – from our ring-maker letting us use a discount code that had expired the day before, to a florist friend of my mother’s sending me a homemade facial spray to keep me calm on the day. You’ll be on the receiving end of a huge amount of goodwill, so don’t be reluctant about returning it, several times over if possible, for this completely unique occasion.
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