Wedding experts reveal results of annual National Wedding Survey, including the actual cost of a wedding in 2021 and how couples can stay under budget
- The average cost of a wedding in the UK increased by 90% in 2021, to £17,300
- The biggest spend was on the venue, with 40% of the total wedding budget going on this (£7,600), followed by catering for an average of 72 guests (£4,600)
- Almost half of newlyweds (48%) overspent on their budget, with less than 1 in 10 coming in under budget
- Wedding expert Zoe Burke talks to Which? Money about how couples can cut costs for their big day amid cost of living crisis
The annual National Wedding Survey from Hitched.co.uk revealed that after a difficult period during the pandemic, weddings were back with a bang in 2021. The report also uncovered the trends, insights and the average spend on weddings post-pandemic, thanks to a survey of more than 2,000 British newlyweds.
What the average wedding costs
The average cost of a wedding in the UK increased in 2021 by a staggering 90%. Last year we saw British newlyweds spending an average £17,300 on their big days, compared to just £9,100 in 2020. What’s more, not only were couples spending more on their big days, they also spent more than they meant to, with almost half (48%) admitting their wedding went over budget.
In 2021, couples spent the majority of their wedding budget (40%) on the venue, an average of £7,600. When asked what were the most important factors to consider when choosing a venue, 69% of newlyweds said that price was their biggest concern. The average spent on wedding venues last year was also up by a whopping 40% than before the pandemic.
It seems couples didn’t set out to spend as much as they did in 2021, with 48% of those surveyed revealing that they had gone over budget when spending on their big day. A third of couples did manage to stay on budget, and less than 1 in 10 managed to spend less than they planned to.
The report also reveals that family support played a huge part in how weddings were paid for last year, with two thirds of couples (66%) receiving money from their family to fund their nuptials, and parents footing 61% of the total wedding cost.
Zoe Burke, leading wedding expert and editor of Hitched.co.uk shares her top tips on saving money while wedding planning.
Avoid the “traditional” wedding times
Zoe says that you can save up to £10,000 on your wedding venue by booking out of season, or mid-week. “We have found that many venues are half the price if booked Monday-Thursday and a lot cheaper if booked off-season too.
“Everyone thinks they want this beautiful spring time or summer wedding, but autumn and winter weddings are just as special, and often less than half the price, saving a couple potentially thousands of pounds of wedding spend.
“And, if you have a dream venue in mind, ask them what is available for your budget. Lots of places offer tiered packages, so they might be willing to remove some details of a package to make it work for your budget.”
Invest in what’s important to you
Zoe says that couples should “see their wedding as an expression of themselves and therefore invest in the stuff that is really them. Don’t just skimp, but skip the stuff that isn’t!
“Yes, we see a lot of matching PJs and pre-wedding events, but you’ve also got to think about the investment in things like photography, which is so much more than a day’s work, and will last the couple a lifetime. Spend on wedding photography was up last year, as more couples were aware how important physical memories of their big days really are, especially after a period where we were so limited to the amount of people we could actually spend time with.
“You could also skip the wedding favours. Most people forget to take them home or don’t remember them after the big day anyway. If you hate the thought of skipping a tradition then make them work harder for you! Have favours that double as place cards or as a cocktail, or a drink token to be used at the bar instead.
“Consider serving your wedding cake as dessert to cut the cost of an extra course, or skip having a cake entirely if you’re not even big cake people. It’s your day, so make it about you, not what’s expected of you. Once you remove the pressure to book the things you think you should book, you’ll have an awesome wedding and you won’t resent forking out for the stuff that isn’t you.”
Wear what’s right for you
According to the Hitched survey, couples spent an average of £1,300 on a dress last year. Zoe says there are so many other options available for nearlyweds to consider when it comes to their wedding attire, that don’t have to cost the earth.
“If you’re keen on something traditional, then be honest with your shop upfront. Bridal shop owners are some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met, and they really want to help you find the dress you love. If you have a tight budget, tell them before you go. They will either be able to talk to you about samples and affordable options, or they’ll point you to another shop that can serve you better.
“There are so many non-traditional options too. Rented or borrowed wedding attire is on the rise, with 15% of our couples last year saying they wore something borrowed or handed down for their big day. As well as that, we’re seeing more interest in rented outfits than ever before, as couples focus on sustainability a lot more than ever before.
“You can rent the most beautiful and non traditional gowns and suits nowadays, it’s an excellent idea for those looking to reign in the spend on an outfit they may only wear once.”