Consumer: Thrifty wedding planning pays off

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Couples are being forced to plan their nuptials on the cheap. Alison Bellamy reports

AS couples look forward to the biggest day of their lives, a new wedding craze is sweeping the nation in a bid to keep costs down.

The idea of ‘guest funding’ or invited guests paying for the wedding is becoming more popular.

The cost of the average wedding is expected to be around £17,853 in 2014, according to ukweddingbelles.com.

A major new study into the UK’s wedding spend habits has revealed a fascinating new trend; the rise of the ‘guest-funded wedding’ – as brides-to-be shun traditional wedding lists in favour of cold, hard cash to fund their big day.

The research questioned more than 4,200 brides and brides-to-be across the UK, and was commissioned by leading craft supplier, Leeds-based Country Baskets, as part of its Wedding Index 2014 to help gain insight into current wedding trends.

The North of England was revealed as the thriftiest region with 70 per cent of weddings costing less than £5,000.

And 23 per cent of people have, or know someone who has, sold on a wedding gift to get the cash.

Surprisingly, the North was revealed as the thriftiest region of the UK, with seven in 10 weddings costing less than £5,000, whilst Wales has played host to some of the most lavish celebrations with seven per cent of respondents splashing out more than £20,000 on the main event.

The research reveals that almost a quarter of brides-to-be, or 22 per cent, would consider asking guests for cash to contribute to specific elements of their wedding – whether that be flowers, stationery or venue costs.

In fact, six out of ten couples in the UK are now spending less than £5,000 of their own money on their big day.

Though with almost half of respondents citing financial and budget issues as the most stressful element of planning a wedding, this money-saving approach is perhaps unsurprising.

It appears this frugal approach doesn’t stop with the wedding itself.

Almost a quarter of those questioned admitted they had, or knew someone who had, returned or sold on a wedding gift to recoup some cash.

Furthermore a quarter of brides questioned skipped having a honeymoon in order to cut back on costs.

When it comes to the most important outfit of a woman’s lives, 67 per cent admitted to spending less than £500 on their wedding dress.

This sensible approach to planning nuptials does seem to be paying off however, with 87 per cent of brides questioned having ensured their wedding was paid for in advance, avoiding getting into hefty debt.

For those who can’t afford to go away on honeymoon after the big day, some are asking guests to chip in towards the cost as their wedding present.

Thrifty approaches to cutting costs can literally save thousands of pounds.

From an auntie making the cake, to an arty pal making the wedding invitations and someone who is a technical whizz filming the wedding video, it all helps slash that big bill.

Paul Crier, commercial director at Country Baskets, said: “It is common knowledge that the costs of a wedding could easily spiral out of control, but our research actually reveals that people are trying to be really sensible about how much they spend. With 60 per cent of the couples that we spoke to already living together before they get wed, the need for typical wedding gift lists is on the decline.

“This new ‘guest-funded’ approach is a unique way of getting family and guests involved, whilst ensuring you get the dream day you’ve always wanted. We have seen a significant increase in demand for both our wedding craft range and silk flowers as couples are looking to add unique ‘DIY’ elements to their big day.”

Lisa Smith, director at Isla & Smith Wedding Planning and Design, said: “We have definitely noticed a trend in couples looking for original ways of cutting down the cost of their celebrations without sacrificing the day they have always dreamed of. Whilst trends around vintage and hand-crafted products continue to grow, it’s a great opportunity for creative brides, their family and friends to get involved and create unique elements of the wedding.

TOP TIPS TOP CUT COSTS

You don’t have to spend thousands to be a beautiful bride. Buy your dress from a charity shop or from an internet auction website such as eBay.

Cut the costs of your wedding reception by decorating the venue yourself and hire a community or church hall for less than £100.

Hold your special day on a weekday instead of a Saturday. Get creative and make your own invitations. Could one of your friends take the photographs?

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