Money matters

Practical advice on the best way to budget for your wedding

Words by James Hillon of the Co-operative Bank

The average couple spends approximately £11,000 on their big day, but is paying out thousands of pounds – and in many cases getting into debt – really the best way to start married life?

Before you start planning your wedding, it’s worth bearing in mind that a marriage certificate normally costs around £14 in Scotland, so everything and anything else that you decide to add onto to that is entirely up to you and your partner.

Unless you have access to unlimited funds – which very few couples do – it’s important to set a budget and stick to it. This rule applies whether you’re paying for your wedding yourselves or with help from parents or family members. Your budget should include a list of intended expenditure for each item as this will enable you to carefully control and monitor each and every cost. A detailed budget planner will also enable you to keep a record of exactly what you’re planning to spend, with individual items adjusted to fit within the overall budget.

If you’re accepting contributions towards your wedding, it’s even more important that you keep within the budget that’s been set. Unfortunately, the financial pressure of paying for a wedding can be the cause of the tension between those involved, and by blowing your budget you also run the risk of putting your contributors under unnecessary financial pressure. Strictly monitoring and controlling your budget should help reduce any unnecessary stress and ensure the planning and preparations run smoothly.

Take time to sit down with your partner and discuss what’s really important to you both. Do you want to walk down the aisle in a designer dress, celebrate at an exclusive venue, cut into a deliciously decadent wedding cake and jet off on an exotic honeymoon? Make sure you prioritise, decide what you both can and can’t live without on your big day and align your budget accordingly.

Speak with your suppliers and through your conversations with them try to establish how busy they are around the date of your wedding. At certain times of the year, traditionally October to May, companies can be quieter, so use this as your incentive to negotiate a better deal for their services.

It’s vital that you keep an accurate record of all quotations and receipts, along with details of any deposits paid and when balances are due. When working with suppliers make sure you ask for all of your quotations in writing and ensure you clarify whether VAT is included in the price or needs to be added. This should help avoid any unpleasant surprises when you start receiving bills.

With many couples co-habiting before tying the knot, it’s becoming increasingly common for a gift list to include the option of making a cash or voucher contribution. Although this practice is becoming more acceptable, some relatives and guests may find it offensive so tread with caution.

Make sure you invest any money you receive from your guests wisely. Instead of splashing your cash why not use it to add value to your current home with an extension or kitchen makeover, put down a deposit on a new property or invest it in a fixed-term investment product that will enable you to reap the rewards in later life.

Finally, try to enjoy the process of planning for your big day, keep within your budget and above all don’t lose sight of the real reason behind your decision to tie the knot.