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Five golden rules for wedding budgeting

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Written by: Simon Ripton
16/02/2017
Whether you’re planning a small wedding celebration at your local pub or hiring a castle, getting your budget right is arguably the single most important first step. Here are five golden rules to help.

After the smiles and celebrations of an engagement comes the big task of planning and paying for a wedding.

Follow these five golden rules to help plan your wedding:

1) Plan, plan and plan some more

Paying for just the basics – a venue, dress, catering, flowers etc. will add up quickly. And that’s not taking into account popular extras like photo booths, fireworks, DJs and live bands, so make a list of each aspect of the wedding you want.

Do your research; ring around venues, visit local suppliers and pull together a list of estimated costs. And be sure to see where you can get a bargain. Ask your suppliers what they can do to help reduce the cost, find out if there’s a discount if you pay upfront for example.

Also look into a variety of options to get a good idea of where you could cut costs. Getting married on a weekday rather than a weekend can be much more affordable. Or using a local town hall as a venue can help cut costs too, as town hall hire prices are much lower than hotels which cater for weddings. Doing initial planning will give you an idea of how much you’ll need to spend.

And don’t forget to add a contingency amount to cover unexpected costs, which will inevitably crop up. Preparing for these ahead of time means you won’t have to cut your budget elsewhere to compensate.

2) Be realistic

A wedding may be one of the most important days of your life, but don’t forget to plan for ongoing expenditure after the big day as well – spend within your means. The bank of mum and dad might be a good starting point, but not everyone is lucky enough to rely on family to help with the cost of a wedding.

If you do decide to borrow make sure you complete a budget planner (to see how much your weekly/monthly income and outgoings are) so that you can work out what repayments you can cope with. With very competitive rates on loans and credit cards available on the market, look around and see if you can find a deal which suits you. Remember that fixed term, fixed amount loan repayments might be more manageable than using a credit card.

Explore all your options and use the ‘soft search’ function on comparison sites to see what you’re likely to be eligible to borrow and how much you’ll pay before you make a full application. Not only is this helpful because it allows you to do some research into how much you want to borrow before committing, but it also means your credit file won’t be impacted if you’re unlikely to be accepted. This is helpful if you’re not sure what credit score you have, and therefore whether you’d be accepted to borrow money.

3) Start saving early

Even if you decide to dip into the bank of mum and dad, or turn to credit, it’s likely that savings will also form part of your budget. That’s why it’s important to save as soon as possible.

Research we conducted with 2,000 brides in December last year shows that the average bride in the UK saves for one year and four months before the wedding. Putting some money into an easy access saving account will allow you to dip in and out. But if you’re expecting a longer engagement and already have a lump sum, a fixed term saving account will lock your money away for at least a year and you’ll earn more interest on what you’ve saved – giving you a bit extra towards the big day.

If you’re already a savvy saver, try increasing the amount you put away each month from when you get engaged. If you find yourself starting from scratch, don’t panic. Saving for an occasion takes time.

Use tools like The Money Advice Services’ online budget planner to help you keep track of expenses. Keep an eye on your savings progress to see how you’re doing. Most banks have online accounts or apps you can log into, to check your balance anywhere. Services such as Moneyfacts.co.uk provide information about all the savings rates available. Shop around because the highest savings rates for a simple, easy access savings account may be 10 or even 20 times bigger than the lowest.

4) High end vs. high street

It’s tempting to go for the glitziest venue or the priciest dress but you need to balance your budget. Think about the type of wedding you’d like if you had the money. Then, think practically about whether you can achieve something similar with less.

For a venue, this might be looking at your local village hall or pub, a smaller country house, or using a country farm and marquee instead of a grand country mansion. You should be able to do this for each stage of your wedding.

For centrepieces, see if you can make them yourself, rather than buying in bulk. Popular trends on Pinterest include creating flowers out of crepe paper and making DIY floating candles. Money saved can be spent elsewhere.

5) Call in wedding favours

Organising your wedding day means hosting your guests. So don’t be afraid to ask around and see if they can help on the day. Think about whether you’ve got a friend who is a great photographer or a family member who is an expert caterer.

Another strategy is to take advantage of your guests’ baking skills. Ask if anyone wants to bake a wedding cake and present it on a large table. This will save you a considerable amount of money. Chances are that someone in your wedding party will have some hidden, practical talents.

Whatever you decide to spend on your big day, the most important thing is to ask yourself what kind of experience you want. However much you decide to spend, your wedding day will be one to remember.

Simon Ripton is head of consumer banking at Ikano Bank

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