The cost of the average UK wedding – and how to fund yours
Weddings are joyous, once-in-a-lifetime occasions – but they’re also massive financial commitments. Just how much do they really cost, and what plans can you make to pay for yours?
Wedding planners Hitched teamed up with their sister magazine You and Your Wedding to ask nearly 3,000 UK couples to relive their 2019 weddings. How did they spend, save, budget, and plan – and how could their experiences help you shape your own wedding financing?
What is the average cost of a wedding?
Let’s start with the big one. Hitched found that the average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2019 was £31,974.
This figure was actually £299 less than in 2018, and the survey showed that most couples leveraged their personal savings to pay for the day. 20% used a credit card, whilst only 10% took out a personal loan.
Top five costs
Let’s break this down a little further. What will you be spending most of your hard-earned cash on?
The single greatest wedding expense in 2019 was booking the venue, amounting to a cool £5,406. This represented a 3% increase from 2018.
Booking that once-in-a-lifetime holiday to celebrate their nuptials set couples back a grand total of £4,645 in 2019.
Whether it’s a hog roast, a buffet or a sit-down meal, you’re looking at spending £3,887 on feeding your guests – and that’s excluding the average £292 you’ll be forking out on the cake (pun very much intended).
Whilst couples paid £238 less for engagement rings than in 2018, 2019 saw an average of £2,419 splashed on these precious pieces of jewellery.
From open bars to keeping wine glasses topped up, alcohol, soft drinks and bubbly cost couples £1,587 in 2019.
The remaining money was spent on wedding outfits, photography, mini-moons, entertainment and the wedding video.
How can I pay for my wedding?
There are a range of different ways that people pay for their weddings, including:
Save up for your wedding
If your wedding date is a few years in advance, it may give you enough time to work out how much you are going to need, set a budget and save money over time so you have enough money to pay for it once the big day comes around.
The key is setting a realistic monthly budget that you can stick to. There are lots of finance apps out there to help you budget and meet your savings goals. It could also be a good time to review what your savings rates are, and look at current account switch deals that could help you make the most of your savings pot.
» MORE: How to get into a savings habit
Support from family
Traditionally the bride's family pays for the wedding, but as times have changed often couples pay for the wedding themselves.
If you’re lucky your family may be able to help with the cost of your wedding. Even if they can support you with part of the cost it could ease the financial strain. Being clear on your budget may help here, as if your family asks what they can help with you will know the provisional costs.
Financial support from family is not always possible, and so you may look for different funding opportunities.
Taking out a personal loan
Some couples will struggle to pay the full amount towards their special day, so choosing a personal loan could be a solution. Most lenders may provide you with £7,500–£15,000 at an interest rate of roughly 4%. This is a relatively inexpensive way of funding your wedding, but it’s still important to shop around for the best deal prior to signing on the dotted line.
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Couples spend an average of four years paying off their wedding loans, but payments are fixed. This means borrowers need to budget accordingly. You can also opt to repay over a timeframe of one–five years. If you can afford to pay it back within a shorter period, you will pay less interest on your loan overall and therefore save money.
Lenders will consider your credit score when deciding whether to grant you a wedding loan, as well as what rate of interest to charge you for it. If you and your partner have poor credit histories, you may be unable to borrow at market-leading rates.
At best you’ll be offered a higher rate, but at worst you could be refused outright. It’s a good idea to check your credit score prior to applying for a wedding loan, as a rejected application can further damage your rating.
Interest-free credit cards
Many of the best credit cards offer interest-free deals on purchases for a number of months, as many as 24 in some cases. Depending on your financial discipline and the amount you need to fund your wedding, you may be able to borrow the money for your special day completely free of charge – with no catch.
This could be attractive if you’re looking to borrow a relatively small amount, especially given the higher interest rates on personal loans below £7,500.
However, remember that borrowing on an interest-free credit card can prove very expensive if you make a mistake down the line. You therefore need to ensure you pay off your balance in full prior to the expiry of the interest-free period. You’ll be charged heavily if you don’t.
And remember, the minimum monthly repayment is often disarmingly low, so it can take a long time to clear your balance entirely. It’s therefore sometimes better to pay off more than the minimum when possible, and to set up a direct debit to negate misremembered payments.
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The big day
However you pay for your wedding, choosing the right route for your circumstances and creating a detailed plan could help you keep to your budget.
John Ellmore is a director of NerdWallet UK and is a company spokesperson for consumer finance issues. John is committed to providing clear, accurate and transparent financial information. Read more