Have a royal wedding without a royal budget

Published by Nathalie Bonney on 26 April 2011.
Last updated on 26 April 2011

Wedding cake

It's Kate and Wills big day on 29 April and thanks to the Queen and Prince Charles chipping in, Mr and Mrs Middleton will be able to give their daughter the kind of wedding most of us could only afford in our wildest – and wealthiest dreams.

But if you're planning your own big day and don't have quite such a big budget then Moneywise has 10 royal tips for keeping costs under control.

1. The dress

Kate Middleton is wearing an English design on her big day and the budget is likely to be more than most of us would spend on the entire day. Charities Oxfam and Barnardos have their own wedding shops, often stocking second-hand designer dresses passed on from film and TV companies. Go to Oxfam.org.uk to find your nearest store or enquire at you local Barnardos shop about its Brides by Appointment service.

2. Crafty invites

Craft and bride shops sell bits and pieces from ribbons to card and stencils. It may be tempting to come up with a fancy design but keep things simple so that you're not spending a fortune on materials – and you don't get bored making them.

3. Get your friends to help

Know someone who happens to be a professional hairdresser, florist or photographer? Or someone who has a fancy car they could lend to the bridal party? You could end up paying mates rates, or better still bag a freebie. Close friends and family will always appreciate you asking them to help with your big day.

4. Hang the DJ

Instead of hiring a DJ, create an iPod playlist of your favourite songs then beg, steal or borrow some decent speakers. You could even get your guests involved by getting them to request their own dance floor faves when they RSVP.

5. Flowers

Who knew that something that will die after a few days could cost so much? Keep costs down by avoiding roses and even handover the flower selection to your florist. Give her a colour-theme and she'll be able to pick the best of what's in season. Including lots of attractive green foliage is another great way to cut costs.

Alternatively have a go yourself. Florists may offer courses specifically eared towards flower arranging for weddings, such as the Judith Blacklock Flower School in London, where a day's course costs £235. Local colleges may be able to offer something cheaper.

6. Make your own wedding cake

Save yourself a couple of hundred pounds at least and make your own wedding cake. Keep things simple with cup cakes on a three-tier stand for a similar effect without the effort of making a fruitcake. Or if you still want the full royal icing affair there are loads of tips and recipes to follow online or in cookbooks.

If you aren't so handy in the kitchen you could try buying a small, medium and large celebration fruitcake from a decent supermarket and get your florist to work some magic with tiers and flowers.

7. Go for a buffet

Instead of a three-course sit down affair go for a buffet. Catering for a lot of people yourself may be too stressful but it's still cheaper to get professional caterers to serve up a buffet. If you want more than finger food ask for a hot, served or semi–served buffet. Also hold your wedding later in the day so you only have to feed your guests once.
8. The venue

The local civic centre or church hall will cost a pittance compared to a fancy hotel or wedding reception and while they won't look particularly fancy, you've freed up more money for decorations, food and drink – which should keep your guests happy.

9 Get hitched mid-week

The Royals are getting married on a Friday, and while they're unlikely to have done this because of price, you could see a significant drop in the price if you marry on a weekday. Move your big day off season to save even more – as well as a cheaper deal on the venue you will be able to negotiate better prices on all the other services, from wedding photographer to catering. 

10 Combine your honeymoon and wedding

Getting married abroad costs on average £6,500 compared to £20,000 in the UK, according to Marry Abroad. Plus once you've said your vows you're already at your honeymoon destination. Got to barefootbride.co.uk and marryabroad.co.uk to get an idea of what's on offer.

It's rumoured that Prince William and his wife to-be will spend a few days in Scotland on honeymoon and Balmoral Estate has a number of cottages available to rent - although the £1,000 plus cost for a week isn't the cheapest deal you'll find. 

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