How to plan the perfect small and budget-friendly wedding

How to plan the perfect small and budget-friendly wedding

Nowadays, it's more and more common for couples to opt for a small, budget friendly celebration for their marriage.

While the traditional all-out wedding is by no means obsolete, many modern couples are now choosing to save some of the national average of £30,355 wedding spend for other, more practical things.

Having a small wedding does not take away from the significance of your marriage. In fact, intimate ceremonies that include only the most meaningful people in your life will perhaps be more enjoyable and take away much of the stress of a large wedding.

If you're finding yourself reading this article, you may have already decided to go for a small-scale wedding, or perhaps you're still considering your options. Read on to see some great options for an intimate wedding, without spending a fortune!

Wedding Venue - Register Office

The venue for your small wedding is perhaps the most important consideration, being the main setting for your day and potentially taking up the biggest chunk of your budget (along with catering). The venue also the first thing to consider when planning the whole wedding, as it will affect availability of everything else, such as entertainment, food and decoration.

Perfocal's suggestion for a small wedding venue is one of the UK's many beautiful town halls and registries. Register offices are seeing a rise in popularity, with civil ceremonies increasingly outnumbering religious marriages every year since 1992. Nowadays many registries are beautiful, ornate rooms softly lit and filled with flowers, and the perfect place for an intimate ceremony with family and friends.

Many modern couples are choosing to marry in civil ceremonies at a town hall or register office as they feel more comfortable with a less religious ceremony. Registry ceremonies are also more customisable, and can have their choice of music and speeches. (You can even have a dog as your ring bearer!)

Holding your wedding at a registry office can be far more budget friendly, with a ceremony costing as little as £185 in contrast with churches and bigger, more elaborate venues.

We have an ongoing series on the UK's best town halls for small weddings, including the Old Marylebone Town Hall, Chelsea Old Town Hall, and Islington Town Hall.

Other things to consider when booking your wedding venue:

  • Booking a town hall in a busy or urban area is more likely to cost more, because they are much busier and more sought-after. To keep costs low, consider a venue further out of town, or in a quieter city than London, for example.
  • The time of year you book your venue is likely to affect costs, with the quiet Autumn and Winter seasons generally costing less to book up for your ceremony.
  • The day of the week is also something to consider. Saturday is currently the most expensive day to get married.[1]
  • Remember to book far in advance. Last minute bookings (or even anything less than 6 months) are likely to cost you more, eating up your small wedding budget. Whichever venue type you choose, call ahead with as much notice as possible.

Wedding Reception - Local Pub or Restaurant

If you'd like to add a little more intimacy and celebration to your big day, consider a local gastropub or restaurant for your post-ceremony reception.

Nowadays, many pubs have been scrubbed up to look good enough for a wedding celebration! Perfocal has witnessed many beautiful photos from post-ceremony pub receptions full of family and friends. If you're planning your wedding for the summer, then you can even hire out an entire garden for your reception.

You can rent out a room in a lovely London pub for as little as £200, whereas the entire venue or beer garden may well take costs up a little more. This is still a very budget friendly way to host your loved ones after your ceremony.

Wedding Entertainment - DIY Playlist

Small and intimate weddings make entertainment a lot less of a concern, as you'll be able to spend more time with all your guests.

Allowing your close friends and family guests to get involved in your wedding makes the question of entertainment much easier. You can ask your guests to do small things such as: choosing 3 or 4 songs for a playlist, adding a great photo to a Google Drive folder for a wedding slideshow, writing in a wedding book, or even doing a small reading at your reception or ceremony.

Wedding Flowers - Florist or Supermarket

Flowers may seem like an extravagance, but if you'd like to have some incorporated into your wedding, there are many ways to have florals without huge costs!

You can use your flowers strategically. There's no need to spend a fortune on vast swaths of flowers. You can divide larger arrangements into small bunches and place them tactically about your venue.

Other ways to save money on flowers include:

  • Simply shopping at a local florist, greengrocers or supermarket. These places are likely to give you a good deal on some pretty arrangements, without the cost of a specialised wedding flower boutique.
  • Buy seasonal. Check Google for flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding. For instance, in the UK Summer, a seasonal bouquet might include some wonderful yellow Sunflowers or pink Sweet Pea. Buying local and seasonal is likely to keep flower costs low.

Food, drink, and wedding cake

Catering, along with your venue, is going to eat up the most of your wedding budget. There are many ways to circumvent high catering costs, including self-service.

For food, it is feasible to cater for a small wedding party for around £25 per head, especially using the buffet method (no waiting staff keeps costs low). We advise discussing with whichever reception venue you choose. (Note that if you choose a restaurant, having the buffet option is unlikely).

In terms of drinks, it is always an option to ask guests to B.Y.O.B. However, if this doesn't appeal, you can set up your own self-service cocktail bar with bottles from the local supermarket. You can dress this up with cute decorations and signs from Etsy. Again, this will depend on the venue. If you choose a pub for your reception, guests will likely need to purchase drinks from the bar.

There's no need to forgo a wedding cake. Most of the time, wedding cakes go un-finished either way, and function more as a showpiece. These days there are plenty of affordable and wonderful bakeries that will bake you a small wedding cake from as little as £50. If you'd rather not splurge on a cake, you can still bake one yourself, or ask a friend or family member to help out!

Wedding Photography - Perfocal

Photography is traditionally a huge expense for weddings. Luckily, there are alternative services (?) out there to help you get professional photography for less.

That's right, it's time for some shameless self-promotion. Perfocal is here to save your small wedding when it comes to photography. We pride ourselves on providing amazing wedding photographers for discounted rates, as we book professionals between bigger shoots. Meaning you get the same great photo quality, but for less.

All you need to do is tell us what you need, where, and when. We'll book you the best photographer for your requirements, who's in the local area. We operate all over the UK, so no need to worry about location! Our prices start from just £99 for an hour of pro wedding photography.

All the photos in this article are from real Perfocal small wedding shoots! Check them out.

Wedding Decorations and Invites

Use what you have at home or make your own decorations. A few strings of fairy lights, for example, will create beautiful lighting without breaking the bank. You can also make lovely tissue-paper hanging decorations, or purchase cheap paper lanterns in bulk. This, along with flowers, will typically be enough to transform any pub or restaurant into your little wedding paradise!

For invitations, firstly put a large amount of consideration into who you want to invite. Remember to remind yourself that you'll want an intimate and stress-free day, with the people you love most. Once you have your definitive guest-list, you can start thinking about invitations.

There are plenty of online printing services who will print high-quality invitations for as little as £27 for 50 prints.

Alternatively, you can purchase some good quality paper and pens and make your own invitations. That is, if you have lots of time to spare to write out 20-50 wedding invites!

Wedding Dress and Clothing

Instead of a tuxedo, consider wearing a standard suit. Tuxedos cost a lot to buy or rent, and might even clash with the scaled-down vibe of your intimate wedding. You could wear any well-fitting suit you already own and dress it up with a nice tie or boutonniere which adheres to the wedding colour-theme.

There are plenty of alternatives to buying an expensive wedding dress. You could simply hire a dress for the day, or borrow one from your mother or close friend. These options are no only far more cost-effective, but are also less wasteful than buying a dress you'll probably only wear once.

Another option is to buy a beautiful white dress from a high-street retailer such as ASOS. These days, standard fashion brands make lovely dresses that are perfect for a small and low-key wedding. You could even go the non-traditional route and opt for a dress in a bright colour, such as orange or pink!

Honeymoon - ask for money instead of gifts!

If you want to have a traditional honeymoon and jet off somewhere romantic, but you want to save on some of the cost, it's always an option to ask guests to help pitch-in, instead of buying material gifts.

Just remember, your wedding is about the love between you and your partner! Things can get stressful when planning a wedding, big or small. Keep the ultimate purpose of your wedding in mind during the process.

Are you getting married and considering booking a wedding photographer?

Your wedding day is a momentous occasion, and for most people a once-in-a-lifetime event. Make sure you don’t fork out a fortune for your photos. You can hire a pro photographer simply and affordably with Perfocal instead.

We guarantee quick and simple booking, an amazing professional photographer who will travel to you, and 48 hour photo delivery every time.

We do all this so you can have amazing wedding photos without the price tag.

Matilda Donnachie

Matilda Donnachie

Passionate photographer from London, but my heart is in Manchester!