Weddings are renowned for being expensive affairs and even the most savvy couples can come unstuck when an unforseen cost arises a few weeks before your big day. Our experts have put together a list of tips and things to consider when planning your wedding to avoid any of those last minute budgeting surprises.
1. Budget This sounds obvious. This is obvious. But so many couples don't sit down at the start of their wedding and plan in detail all the costs - and I mean all the costs, not just the big ones. The obviously large parts of the day (venue, flowers, dress etc) are easy but what about the smaller costs? These might be just a few pounds each but when multiplied by sixty guests they can all add up and scare even the most thorough of planners.
Consider making a draft budget then adding 20% to the total so that those forgotten extras don't push you over the limit before you get to your big day.
2. Certificates and Permissions You will need to register either at a local register office or get married in an Anglican church, both of which will have fees.
3. People You will also have to pay a celebrant and possibly musicians, bell ringers and others who you would like to add to your event. What about DJ, photographer, videographer, caterer? What people need to be booked to make your day run the way you want it? You may even want to consider ordering additional meals for some of your key people such as your photographer who will be with you all day and may be unable to access other food.
Are you intending to have a wedding planner or a professional such as a Toastmaster co-ordinating events on the day? These will need to be booked and factored in to your budgets.
4. Gifts It is customary to give gifts to key players and those who have helped you in your wedding, particularly the bridal party. Plan early on what you will get them and set a budget for each gift - and remember to add a little extra in case anyone extra comes along at the last minute.
And many couples now choose to give small favours to their guests thanking them for attending and sharing their special day.
5. Clothes The bride's dress, the men's suits and bridesmaids are the obvious items on the list. But consider under garments, accessories and jewellery too. Agree with your key people what you will provide and what they will need to provide themselves for your wedding day.
People change, clothes aren't always perfect and members of your party may even need a seamstress to carry out some last minute alterations.
What about your honeymoon? Will extra outfits for the evening, the day before or after your wedding be needed?
Do you and your party need additional warm clothes for a winter wedding? And if so what about cold weather accessories such as hat, scarf and gloves. These may seem small but if they are essential for comfort on your wedding day you will be pleased to have planned them.
Have you considered the bill for cleaning clothes after the event. Even when only worn once clothes are best cleaned before they are stored and at many places there is a premium for washing a wedding dress to cover the costly insurance.
6. Stationery Wedding invitations, Orders of Service, Thank you cards and menus are all part of the stationery that you might need on the day - and don't forget to consider the cost of stamps and envelopes if items will be posted. And do you wish to put a stamp on your RSVP envelopes? On their own these costs are small but together they add up and you may wish to send additional invitations if some guests are unable to attend.
7. Catering and Accomodation You may have friends and family from all over coming to celebrate your wedding. Consider the costs and logistics of hosting and feeding them (and you) both before, during and after your wedding. Will you be at home / in a hotel and is food provided?
You've probably considered the wedding breakfast but consider any hidden costs of catering for special dietary requirements and don't forget to factor yourselves in to the equation! And what about children? Is a child's meal the same price as the adults? It may be helpful for older children to discuss what they will need with their parents before booking your caterers.
8. House, Baby and Pet Sitting Does anyone / anything need looking after while you are away for your wedding / honeymoon. Have you factored the cost of this in to the equation?
9. Decoration Will your venue provide decoration or are there additional items that you need, perhaps to fit in with your theme?
10. Resources at your venue Does your venue have a sound system or will you need to bring one with you. Are there adequate facilities for guests? If you are in a purpose-run wedding venue most items are usually provided for and the venue will inform you of anything additional that is required but if you are not in a traditional venue you will need to consider what's required to ensure that your guests are comfortable throughout the day. Do you need to hire a marquee in case your outdoor wedding is rained off? And what about the costs of running eletricity out to the bouncy castle in the garden? Are there fees for extra services like cutting the cake, acting as MC or corkage on wine you are bringing yourself?
11. Damages What is your venue's policy on damages caused by wedding guests? If you will be liable for accidents caused by your guests it may be worth factoring something for this in to your budget. Hopefully it won't be used but then you can just add it to your honeymoon pot!
12. Tips You might want to discuss tips with your venue. Often these will be included within the cost of the catering and the venue itself but, if not, consider adding an additional 10% to your budget to ensure that each of your suppliers is tipped appropriately. You could also consider whether you wish to tip others such as your hairdresser, make-up artist etc, particularly if they have gone above and beyond to help you make your day special.
13. Photos It is likely that you will discuss this with your photographer when booking but check carefully with them what is and isn't included in the package you purchase. Ensure that extras such as ordering prints are included in your costings.
14. Wedding Insurance Full cover is essential when booking a wedding celebration. Check carefully what your policy does and doesn't cover and consider optional extra such as legal expenses insurance which could be very handy in the event of a claim.
15. Personal Items Are you planning a health drive, gym membership or diet plan? All of these are likely to have costs associated which will need to be factored in to your budgets somewhere.
16. Parking In city centre venues parking is likely to be minimal and pricy. Agree early on with your party what costs you will be covering. If in a high end hotel you may also wish to factor in tips for valets.
17. Delivery Delivery costs can be significant when added up over a number of different goods and services. Remember to add these in when budgeting for items to be purchased online or otherwise by mail order.
18. Hen and stag parties Many couples now choose exotic events for their hen and stag parties, with some even leaving the UK for a weekend abroad with their closest friends. If you are not organising the party yourself consider discussing budgets with the person who is doing so to ensure that you are not left struggling to pay a bill.
The most important thing with budgeting for weddings is to be prepared - have a little extra cash to cover the unexpected so that it doesn't throw a big spanner in the works in the (already stressful) run up to your wedding day.