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50 Cheap Wedding Tips

Cut the cost of dresses, venues, cakes & more

Get married on the cheap

It's meant to be a fairytale day - but the cost of the cake, venue, dress and all the little special touches can really add up.

The average wedding costs £22,000, according to experts - but there are ways to cut back. This guide offers a host of tips including cheap venue advice, the top used bridal gown sites and how to nab an all-in reception package for less than £1,000.

The proposal - how to find THE ring (after finding The One!)

Get cheap wedding ringsOK, so you're ready to pop the question - first, you have to find the ring. Jewellery advertisers would have you believe the rock should cost two months' salary, yet whatever your budget, you can still get your bling for less ker-ching - and you could even find some gems on eBay*.

  • Cheap jewellery quarters

    Londoners and Brummies can take advantage of precious metal dealers on their doorstep. The UK has two world-famous jewellery districts: Hatton Garden in London and Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.

    These are full of hyper-competitive specialist merchants, which deal in bulk and are usually cheaper than normal high street shops. Haggling's a must - see our Haggle on the High Street guide for top tactics.

  • Pick up a second-hand sparkler

    Vintage rings can be gorgeous, as well as thrifty. Don't think second-hand means second-rate – Kate Moss, Scarlet Johansson and Lara Stone all sport vintage engagement rings on their fingers.

    You can find some real gems in vintage and antique shops. It's also worth hunting on eBay*, though read sellers' feedback carefully and ask lots of questions (more help in Ebay Buying). One thing to watch out for is loose stone settings – fix these before wearing or it could kill the romance.

  • Hand-me-downs

    A much-loved family heirloom can have more significance than a new ring – and best of all is free. So ask family members if they can dip into their jewellery boxes for hand-me-downs. You might get lucky.

  • Trade in Tesco points for Goldsmiths vouchers

    Spend Tesco points in-store and they're worth 1p, yet convert them to Boost vouchers and the value can triple. One reward up for grabs is Goldsmiths vouchers.

    Every £10 Clubcard voucher gets you a £30 Goldsmith voucher, so a £600 ring costs £200 in Tesco vouchers. Rings from Goldsmiths start at around £200, so doing this can seriously shave pounds from your budget. See the Boost Tesco Points guide for a full how-to.

  • Check diamonds carefully

    If you're buying a diamond ring, it's worth noting that the quality and look of diamonds can vary (even in the same range). So always check the ring for yourself if you can.

    There are some helpful MoneySavers in the Weddings forum - see the engagement rings thread for more on how to buy and what to look for.

  • Don't forget to insure your ring

    It's easy to forget you may have just added a few grand to your personal belongings. Call your insurer and check your rings are covered - you may need to add a separate policy for it. See the Cheap Home Insurance guide for full details.

The perfect day doesn't mean spending loads

Too many couples work through a wanna-have list – a film star dress, flowing champagne, platinum rings, a five-star honeymoon. Only then do they ask how they'll pay for it.

Get max interest on your wedding savings

Where to save the wedding cash If you're saving up to get hitched, or perhaps your parents have given you some money, make sure you maximise the interest.

Don't let the bank steal your wedding cash

‘Setting off’ means banks can swipe big money from our accounts without permission. So if you've a loan or credit card debts, be very careful about other people, such as your parents, giving you cash to fund your wedding.

Play the wedding prioritisation game

Once you know your budget, the aim’s to work out how much you can actually afford to spend on different areas and prioritise what’s important to YOU.

Got a top tip we haven't listed? Add it to the Cheap Weddings forum discussion.

Everyday savings help towards the big day

Small sacrifices can boost your wedding coffers. If your big day is a year away, cut out something today that you buy every day. If you cut out £2 on crisps and Coke each day, you’d have 365 x £2 to spend, making £730.

Try our Demotivator tool, which reveals your annual spend on coffees, snacks, cigs, mags and other discretionary purchases to help you cut back.

Need fast cash for your wedding? Flog it!

If a few quid more in the wedding fund would really help, get flogging. Selling via eBay usually pays best. Our 40+ eBay Selling Tricks guide offers a crash course, from cutting eBay fees by tweaking start prices and using no-charge listing weekends to adding extra pics with special tools.

Should you borrow to pay for the wedding?

If you can possibly avoid it, don't borrow for the big day. Leaving yourself in debt at the start of your married life is not the best idea.

Protect your wedding expenditure

Section 75 adds protection

Sadly, firms go bust. Often wedding suppliers ask for a deposit far in advance, so if the worst happens, it's a nightmare.

Use Martin's Money Mantras and DON'T overspend

It's easy to get swept up in the romance of the moment. To keep you disciplined, use Martin's Money Mantras.

Bag 5% off all your wedding shopping

Cashback credit cards pay you every time you spend on 'em. The idea's you grab one, then set up a direct debit to repay in full every month so it's interest-free. If you've a good credit score, the American Express Everyday Platinum* gives new cardholders 5% cashback (max £125) for three months (and 1.25% after).

Always set up a direct debit to repay in full so you avoid interest, or it's 19.9% representative APR on purchases. Full help and best buys in the Top Cashback Cards guide.

Party for less - receptions for less than £1K

Holiday Inn, Old English Inns and Britannia hotels have £999 wedding packages - fab if you're on a tight budget and have a limited guestlist. The key is you know what you're going to pay from the outset.

Pick an unusual day or unpopular season and save up to 50%

Pick an unusual day or seasonThe venue usually creates the biggest dent in your budget. So get this right and you'll be on to a budget bash winner.

Web clearance outlets for up to 90% off

Outlets sell end-of-line bargains - ideal for snapping up suits, shoes, cheap bridesmaids' dresses and more.

Top questions to ask potential venues

Some venues have more hidden charges than Ryanair - one MoneySaver had to pay extra to hire a cake knife. So before booking, ask as many questions as possible and get important answers in writing.

Haggle, haggle, haggle

Over the years, Brits have apparently come to accept thatr haggling's rude and impolite, when it's neither. This is never more true than in the wedding industry, where snooty venues and dress shops can give the impression haggling is not the done thing.

Go for off-the-beaten track venues to pay less

While a hotel or country pub is in an obvious choice for a reception, don't disregard church halls, village halls or local sports clubs.

Lay on a posh picnic

Some savvy MoneySavers have taken a punt on good weather by having their wedding reception in the park with a picnic-style buffet.

Rent a holiday property for your venue

Book the right way and holiday rental sites let you rent five-star private country houses and villas at two-star hotel prices. Many make fantastic wedding venues and can undercut established venues.

Dress tip I: £100 dresses from China

Dream wedding dress for less China has a roaring dressmaking cottage industry you can tap into via eBay. Quality and reliability varies massively, so research is vital. But if you strike it right, you can get a made-to-measure dress for around the £100 mark.

Dress tip II: Top second-hand wedding dress sites

Second-hand dress sites offer glam gowns for a fraction of the RRP. MoneySavers' three top sites to try are SellMyWeddingDress, Preloved and Confetti's for-sale section. Other good bets are The Dressmarket, Gumtree and, of course, eBay* (see eBay Buying Tips and the Local eBay Deals Finder).

Dress tip III: Grab an Oxfam frock

Oxfam has eleven specialist bridal departments that stock dresses from £150 as well as accessories, plus you get one-to-one help and advice. So not only can you bag gowns for a fraction of the price, you help a charity at the same time.

Bag a high street bargain

Off the peg High street doesn't have to mean boring - department stores have cottoned onto the 'wedding on a budget' business and BHS*, Debenhams* and even Tesco* offer great low cost alternatives.

Find hidden eBay local wedding steals

Whether they're wedding gowns, cake stands or champagne flutes, eBay sellers often specify items must be collected in person. As this often means fewer bids, there are bargains to be had.

Amazon 80%+ hidden discounts on decor, rings & more

It's the original e-giant, and like any megastore the challenge is to see behind the shelves to dig out mega-discounts. Our ever-popular Amazon Discount Finder manipulates Amazon web links to create customised bargain basement pages, eg, rings 70%+ off*, wedding decorations 75%+ off* and wedding fashion 75%+ off*.

Look ravishing with free makeovers

While some brides go DIY, it may save a lot of stress if you get make-up done by a pro. Before you start wincing at the fees, there are sneaky ways around this.

Don't over-invite

Think very carefully about guests. The numbers soon add up: 70 sounds a lot, but it's only 15 members of each person's family, then 10 friends each with partners. Narrow down your guest list. Stick to close friends and family. And if you want to invite more, just do it to the evening disco.

Plan your big day with free tools & apps

Free sites including Google Weddings and Hitched, along with apps such as Wedding Party and Wedding Happy, let you be your own wedding planner. All you need to do is create an account and log in when you want to edit info.

Don't mention the 'w' word

If there's one thing guaranteed to increase the price, it's when the suppliers you're buying from know it's a wedding. So when negotiating flowers, wine etc, try to avoid the word 'wedding'. Call it a party or celebration, and only once the price is agreed should you mention it is for a wedding.

Tap into friends' talents

Got a magic uncle? One way to avoid the price-trebling effects of getting married is to use the talents of your friends and family.

Free DIY invites & cheap stationery

Designing and making your own invites is easy, especially if you use free DIY printing sites such as Wedding Crafter, Wedding Chicks and Serif.

Of course, you'll have to pay for paper and ink when you print them out yourself (although if you really want to keep it free, you could email them instead). Alternatively, why not ask your workplace if they'll let you use its company discount on stationery?

Free place settings

You can easily make place settings for free. Why not collect pebbles or shells on the beach and write the guests' names on them?

Make friends paparazzi for the day

Many of your guests will record the day for posterity, so why not ask them for a copy of their photos and videos?

Cut the cost of booze with hidden wine sales

We've created a way to dig behind online wine sellers' virtual shelves for hidden mega-discounts. Whether you're after red, white, champers or you've a country or grape in mind, tell our Wine Discount Finder to find the biggest discount or cheapest crate at Tesco Wine, M&S, Majestic and Slurp. We also list codes to save you more.

Bargain banquets

Food is where most couples go over-budget, especially if you go for a sit-down meal during the day and a buffet in the evening. So, look at how many people you've invited (factoring in more guests for the evening if you're having two lots of food), work out your budget and divide by the number of guests for your per-head budget.

Don't be in tiers over the cake cost

Cake!The cake is one of the easiest places to save a stash of cash, as wedding specialists can charge an arm and a leg for these.

Super-cheap decorations & flowers

Flowers and decorations can cost hundreds, if not thousands, if you go to wedding specialists. But with a little time and effort, much can be done yourself.

Think carefully about what pressies you ask for

Too many people only consider wedding gifts at the last moment. But they can be worth a significant amount of cash so consider as soon as you can what you want people to get and how that fits in with your own financial plans - so that the two fit together. See Martin's blog: Am I alone in wanting to know what to give to couples?.

Don't be embarrassed to ask for cash

Wedding gifts aren’t just a pleasant way of wishing a new couple a great life together. Historically, they’re there as a form of social banking.

Tips on asking for cash

There are many ways to do this: envelopes on the day, money into a special bank account, even perhaps a targeted honeymoon fund. Many people find that less clinical, but you don't need to spend it all on the trip.

Beware vouchers and wedding lists

Gift vouchers are now nearly as popular as gift lists themselves, often to fund the honeymoon or kit out a new house.

Ask a friend to be master of ceremonies

Ask a friend who has a flair for public speaking to be your master of ceremonies. Not only will you save a wad, it's likely to be a crowd-pleaser too. Or if you do want to hire one, delay the booking until the last minute. That way if they want the job they'll still do it and this can halve the price.

Drive down the cost of transport

If you don't live in the capital, go for a London-style cab as a wedding car and you'll get smart black transport atmosphere at a much lower cost.

Secret 5* honeymoon hotels at 2* prices

For plush honeymoon hotels at bargain prices, Lastminute.com* has a Top Secret Hotels option, which offers big discounts - but you only get the location, star-rating and price, NOT name, until you book. Yet often you can cut and paste key phrases into Google to discover its identity.

Once you’ve got the hotel’s identity, check reviews on TripAdvisor and whether it’s really a bargain compared to the top comparison sites. See Cheap Hotels for how.

Don't miss cheap honeymoon package holidays

The internet's great for flights or DIY city breaks. But if your honeymoon's specifically for seven, 10 or 14 days to a traditional holiday destination, then package holidays often come up trumps.

Is wedding insurance worth it?

Depending on what level of cover you go for, insurance can cost from £20ish to £300+.

How to get the cheapest insurance

Insurers have different levels or 'tiers' of policies, depending on your needs and how much your wedding costs. For smaller weddings on a budget, you'd be better off going for the cheaper packages that cover up to £5k. If you're having an extravagant do, some policies cover you up to £100k.

Fight back if your insurer won't play fair

In the horrible event that something goes wrong, and the insurer won't play fair, you've a right to complain to the free independent Financial Ombudsman Service. It will review the case and can order insurers to make good.

MoneySavers do it together...

To help with the wedding preparation, both the Cheap Weddings and 'What I wish I'd known before my wedding' forum boards are full of top tips to cut costs for brides and grooms-to-be. MoneySavers post cheap wedding ideas, and share suggestions on having a more affordable day.

The day is here - enjoy it!

Most of all, congratulations. Enjoy the day, don't stress too much, and we wish you a healthy, financially fab, wonderful life together!