Updated: Apr 18, 2020
Seriously... how much should you “expect to spend”?
There’s lots of chat at the moment about how much weddings cost, following various surveys of 2018 brides finding that the average was around £30k.
I strongly suspect that there are a lot of “top end” weddings that skew this “average” massively, and of course any survey depends upon who was asked. I also can't help feeling that that the idea that a £30k wedding is the norm is pretty suspect…
The worry is that this kind of story makes couples think that they are expected to spend this much or more... and borrow a lot of money to do it.
Spending what adds up to more than an average year’s salary on one day is a lot to expect of people. It makes me wonder how much of this expectation is reality, how much is hyperbole and do couples feel locked in to this model of what a wedding is? What are the “must haves" associated with this?
A lot of what is reported sounds like a slightly dodgy sales pitch to me. What are the items that the mags say people spend more on, and which advertisers spend the most money with them? After all these are the same mags who say that suppliers routinely charge an extra 40% for wedding services, when this is entirely contrary to most suppliers' experiences.
Certainly, I wonder at the veracity of the research when the same surveys say that the average wedding cake spend is £300… which would generally be a pretty entry level price for most cakes, while the "average" honeymoon is said to cost over £4k.
I remember when we got married, 8 years ago now, reading lots in wedding mags about how we should “expect to spend” at least £25k with the average UK wage then at around £27k. With a house to buy as well, it did make us think about what were the “must haves” for our wedding.
As far as we were concerned, our “must have” list centred around how many people could we fit in (big families), how relaxed would we feel (neither of us would do well with being shoved around between rooms) and how to make it affordable enough so our loved ones could all be there (costs for guests can involve hotels/flights/taxis/drinks/clothes/gifts/food/time off work/childcare/etc). Central to all this was finding the right venue...and we found a gem!
To keep costs down we did lots ourselves. We structured the day around a tea-time reception with cakes and finger food, we kept things relaxed, kept speeches to a minimum, said people could wear whatever they felt comfortable in, had loads of kids there, had a 3 day party at a great venue (Ridge Farm, Capel) where guests could camp if they wanted to, had street food in the evening, bought wine straight from the vineyard (no corkage at our venue), had a band to play into the night and the next day the pool was opened up along with the jacuzzi, the sauna and the tennis courts, there were gardens and woods and fields for people to explore, there were 2 kitchens for people to self cater, lots of space to relax in the sun and plenty of booze left over too. Perfect!
We put a lot of work into the planning and it mostly paid off. Including the ceremony, the reception, accomodation for 22 for 3 nights, food, booze, decorations, a dress, a suit, a bouncy castle, a band and a short honeymoon on the med it cost us a little over £10k for 200 guests... but it was really stressful at some points as I took far too much on really. Given the choice again tbh I’d have given ourselves another year to save up to take some of that weight off our shoulders!
Although we had amazing help from our family and friends, I should definitely have hired a wedding planner to be there on the day! My loved ones had a pretty frought time running around after us and so much I thought I could take care of just didn’t happen on the day because I was up on cloud nine… and stuck in one spot while people lined up to talk to me. To run off and sort the play list out or make sure things were being cleared away etc was pretty much impossible!
Still, we loved every minute, we made the day special to us and we stuck to our guns about not starting our married life by taking on debt.
So the moral of my tale is, don't rush it, decide what's a "must have" for you and don't be swayed by other people's expectations. Yes, there will always be some who would rather you do it their way… but guess what… it’s your wedding not theirs!
Love Kass. x
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