Patchwork Wedding: How to Afford The Best Wedding Suppliers (In a Cost of Living Crisis)

Bride holding a Burger. Patchwork sustainable + alternative wedding gift registry.

We at Patchwork Wedding, thought that right now, the most useful information we can share with you, dear Love My Dress reader, is how to afford the wedding suppliers you really want, that is, how to get Michelin-starred wedding suppliers on a burger joint budget.

OK, well perhaps not quite, but we do have some really great wedding budget tips that we’re excited to share with you, because, even though costs are going up right now and many of us are starting to feel the pinch, this doesn’t have to mean that your wedding style, creativity and joy has to go down or be stifled in any way at all.

Having an affordable wedding seems more important than ever in the current financial climate and we’ve got some serious and seriously fun suggestions for helping you fulfil your dream wedding day vision within a budget that is firmly set in reality.

Patchwork Wedding - the modern, sustainable & alternative wedding & honeymoon registry that supports environmental charities

New to Patchwork?

For those of you who are completely new to the Patchwork concept, read about our innovative wedding gift and honeymoon registry concept here.

With Patchwork, your wedding guests collectively funding the one thing – or things in life that you really want – things that you wouldn’t consider a ‘traditional’ wedding gift. Patchwork isn’t tied to retailers and they don’t hold your funds. Instead, you receive gift money from friends all over the world direct to your bank account so you can spend it how you like.

Need more than money? With Patchwork you can ask friends to gift their time and skills too.

This year, we also committed to donating 50% of all our fees to one of three environmental charities we support who are fighting to protect and defend our planet. You can choose which one to support when you sign up, from Friends of the EarthSurvival or ClientEarth.

Right, let’s get exploring some money saving ideas, shall we?

The Venue

One of the biggest and earliest decisions you’ll make in planning your wedding is the venue. You’ll need to decide early on whether you want a venue that can deliver the whole package or a ‘dry hire’ venue where you bring everything in yourselves. Both offer different benefits and both can have money saving possibilities.

Save Money on a Dry Hire Wedding Venue

We asked Travis from Shoreditch London for his advice on getting the best out of your budget and he had some brilliant advice: “With dry hire wedding venues you can really customise your day around your own interests as you are not forced into a fixed package and possibly paying for something you don’t need or want. You have the freedom to work with any wedding suppliers so you can really shop around for the best deal.”

Consider an All Inclusive Wedding Venue Package

Amanda at RSA House gives the all-inclusive venue her vote: “An all-inclusive venue package can be a great way to get the most value for your money and save you a lot in the end. Dry hire can seem like the cheaper option at first, but once you have booked all of the extra suppliers it requires, like catering, furniture, glassware and bar staff, the costs can really add up.”

“It is also important to look for a venue that includes a wedding venue coordinator to help you manage the planning process and oversee operations on the day. This can be a huge money saver, as it takes away the necessity to hire an on-the-day coordinator or put too many tasks on you and your wedding party.”v

Of course, if your venue doesn’t come with it’s own co-ordinator, we highly recommend you invest in one anyway as ultimately, these individuals will save you time and money and provide excellent value. Explore the Love My Dress Wedding Directory for a Wedding Co-ordinator here.

Consider Out of Season Wedding Dates

So it’s definitely worth doing the maths and working out which is best for you. As with any supplier, it’s always worth asking politely if there are any savings or offers available. But you’ll need to be prepared to be open-minded.

Back in Shoreditch, Travis advises: “If you are on a tight budget, it’s important to be flexible on dates and consider off season or ask the venues you like if there are any dates they can offer a better deal on. Having a wedding during peak wedding season is likely to be more expensive, as wedding suppliers won’t be willing to offer discounts when they are guaranteed bookings.”

The majority of couples book their wedding venue to allow 12-18 months for planning. If you are looking for a better deal on a venue (or other wedding supplier), consider booking your wedding 9 – 11 months before your wedding date as this is the sweet spot for getting the best deal. Love My Dress venue listings show offers for this – often called ‘late availability’.

“Another way to save money on your wedding venue is to cut out the middleman. If you found a venue through a venue finding platform, the platform will likely charge the venue a commission of 10% or 15% of the total hire fee so this is money you could potentially save by booking the venue directly and asking for a discount. (PS., Love My Dress don’t charge venues a commission so their wedding directory is a great source for finding a wedding venue or wedding vendor!)”

Amanda’s final money saving tip for couples is to always enquire about midweek or Sunday discounts, to see what’s available. RSA House have various discount options at different times throughout the year, and can offer discounts for mid-week evening weddings if couples are flexible on numbers.

Shoreditch Studios London wedding venue - Lisa Jane Photography

shoreditch.com

Shoreditch Studios, photo by Lisa Jane

The Outfits

If there’s a designer you’ve really set your heart on but the budget won’t quite stretch – don’t stress! Here are a few tips you can try. Most designers and stores will hold sample sales a couple of times a year – Miss Bush, Sassi Holford and Halfpenny London, for example. Visit their sites, find the contact page and get in touch to ask when their next sale is and if you can be popped on the list to be notified.

Attend a Bridal Sample Sale

Some of these sales events provide savings of up to 75% on sample gowns. Register with stores you’re interested in to hear about their sample sales and do your research beforehand to narrow down your search. On the day – make sure you get there early so you have the best chance of finding a dress you love.

If your heart is set on a bespoke/made to order dress, it’s still worth asking if any savings or offers are available. For example the lovely people at Morgan Davies Bridal are offering 10% off for NHS staff. Just let them know when you book an appointment.

Rent Your Wedding Dress

Even with such savings and sample sales available, the investment you make in your wedding dress, can take up a good portion of your wedding budget. And again, we want to highlight that this is more than deservedly so. A host of talent comes together to deliver the final gown, involving highly skilled designers, pattern-cutters, seamstresses, embroiderers and stylists.

But there are alternatives if you simply cannot move on your limited budget and renting your wedding dress is a great option. The last few years have really seen this choice take off as a cost effective and sustainable solution to the wedding day wardrobe.

Something Borrowed rent dresses for up to 50% less than their RRP which is a huge cost saving. Christie has a beautiful selection of dresses for rental and pre-loved gowns to purchase. Including outfits for your bridesmaids. So you can wear the dresses of your dreams at a fraction of the price.

Not only does renting your dress or outfit save you money and reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding, it’s very special to wear something that’s already created so much happiness for someone else – AND you don’t have the headache of storing or cleaning it afterwards – such an amazing service.

Make your wedding outfit much more budget-friendly by choosing something that can be worn again after the big day – cost per wear – it’s a thing! Amazing co-owners Cristina and Becky of Paper to Lace Bridal have totally nailed this concept! By creating a range of separates alongside their dresses, wearers have the ability to style their piece in different ways for different occasions.

Black bride in short wedding dress + cami top + colourful floral crown.

Paper to Lace Bridal
Photo credit: Sophie Lake

Buying their stunning separates means you will save money on future outfits, as well as owning a beautifully crafted piece AND supporting a sustainable business. They’ve also just partnered with Something Borrowed so now you can rent their gorgeous outfits too!

If it’s a suit you’re after you’re in luck. Hiring wedding suits is a long established tradition and perfect if you don’t usually wear a formal suit or won’t have need for one again for a while! Big rental names like Moss Bros appear regularly among our couples. By Rotation has names such as Ted Baker, Hugo Boss and Reiss all available to rent.

The Photographer

A Patchwork registry wedding photography fund

Aside from maybe setting your wedding date on the third Monday in January, there isn’t a lot of room to negotiate with your dream wedding photographer. And rightly so: you’re paying for their skill and creativity in capturing the essence, the emotions, the special moments of the day.

But it’s also one of the more costly items on your wedding budget, with wedding photography costing on average between £1,600-£3,200. If there’s a particular photographer you desperately want to capture your day, then we would recommend you forget haggling and try a different tactic entirely…

Ask Your Guests To Pay For Your Wedding Photography

If you don’t need towels, cutlery sets and matching bathrobes as gifts? Well, why not invite your guests to gift you your wedding photos instead. This is real option for all couples. It’s called Patchwork and it’s genius! Couples using the Patchwork wedding registry, collect an average of £2,685. And with that, you’ll be well on your way to covering the entire cost of your wedding photography.

Rowan at Parrot & Pineapple says “Including your wedding photography as part of an alternative gift registry is a fantastic idea. So many of my couples have said that they love their wedding photos so much because it’s pretty much the only thing you get to keep after your wedding. There’s literally no better present to treasure than photographs!”

Bridesmaids in gold dresses.

parrotandpineapple.com

A Patchwork wedding photography registry allows guests to pool resources and gift collectively. Guests can contribute cash amounts from £1 upwards, so everyone can get involved, whatever their budget.

Wedding photographer Andrew Heeley is also a fan: “Photography is one of the few elements from your wedding that you will return to year-after-year, not only that, but you’ll hand down your wedding photos to future generations. Good fine art albums and photo books are quality, hand-made products designed to last multiple lifetimes, but the cost can be a little daunting.”

Gay couple holding hands on wedding day.

Photo credit: Andrew Heeley

“Patchwork is an amazing way to get your family and friends to help with those additional costs, and they can get the joy of seeing the physical memory of your wedding too!”

Patchwork have a gorgeous readymade template exactly for this that you can customise in minutes – or you can create your own unique registry from scratch. (And if you need another reason they also donate half of their sign up fee to the environmental charity of your choice – win, win, win).

Stationery and signage

We understand that stationery obsession is a real thing. Have you found a stationery designer you love but are not sure you can stretch the budget? There are some simple ways to help trim costs down, and a good designer will be able to advise you on this.

In many cases, simply not ordering the ‘full suite’ of stationery, having a semi-custom design, changing from one card stock to another, or cutting down on extras like gold foiling, can save you money.

Making Luxury Wedding Stationery Affordable For You

Cecily Cairns is a designer specialising in sign writing and bespoke gilded glass artworks. Cecily advises looking at semi-custom design if sticking to budget is a priority. The benefits of this are that it cuts down on a lot of the labour costs which is always the biggest expense in creating something. “Semi-custom is the most mutually beneficial option for both client and supplier.

I’ve been paying attention to how that’s used well in the stationery world in particular, eg offering semi-custom invites. Working within these constraints to still create something unique is something most designers respond really well to, and there’s always a way to make something a one-of-a-kind through colour, in my case gilding techniques, that kind of thing.

Professional wedding signs + signage in gold lettering with floral illustrations.

Design by Cecily Cairns

It works for clients too as they’ve got more direct references of how their piece will look, which gives them greater confidence in the outcome. I would definitely advise clients to look to the suggestions and expertise of the supplier as they are best placed to find solutions (and no-one enjoys being micromanaged, especially creatives!)”

Repurposing Wedding Items for After The Big Day

If something can be repurposed or have a life after your wedding, it becomes more economical as well as more sustainable. A sign or print that can be displayed in your home means the initial investment really pays off – Cecily is a big fan: “repurposing pieces from your day is a big part of what I’m about, as well as being both practical and sustainable. There’s also, I think, a real romance in having something physical that was there with you in that special moment that goes on to live a second life as an artwork on your wall.”

The lovely Cat at Luna & Sol has more budgeting tips for couples looking for design without the price tag: “All of our designs are available as e-invitation packages. The package costs £65 and includes 1x stop-motion video and 1x image to summarise the details. The package is suitable for couples who want to keep paper to a minimum and send invites by phone, by email or by messaging apps such as Whatsapp.”

“This is a more affordable way to still attain our designs and style without the cost of traditional prints. For couples who then want physical stationery for the day, such as menus and place cards, we can then match back to the same design and keep it cohesive. This is what some of our past clients have already done.”

Flowers

You’ve probably chosen your wedding florist because you’ve seen their work and love their style, but do talk to your florist about your budget. Stay open-minded and take their advice on which flowers will work for you – not just in how they’ll look, but in how much they’ll cost.

It might be that your florist can suggest alternatives that are seasonal or more readily available that will help shave a few pounds off the quote.

Semi floral arch.

Pickleberry Flowers

Advice from Moonwind Flowers (founded by Philip Beeforth, husband to Love My Dress founder Annabel) is to “Always ask about spreading costs – it might not always be possible but it often is. We ask for 50% of fees up front, as we grow all our own flowers too. For some couples this can be a large downpayment – and multiple couples this year have asked if they can spread this cost.”

“Some florists may have strict payment terms but others may be willing to bend and flex their usual policy. Best thing? Alway just ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!”

DIY Wedding Flowers

“Also, talk to your florist about how floral installations can be relocated and repurposed within other spaces in your venue throughout the day. For example, a ceremonial floral arch could be relocated to provide decor in the space you hold your reception – perhaps as a beautiful focal point near the top table, if you’re having one.”

“Bridesmaids bouquets can be repurposed by the venue team in that period in between your ceremony and reception – most venue teams will be happy to carefully dismantle bouquets and pop stems into pretty vases that can sit clustered at the centre of the table – again, just ask if they wouldn’t mind helping out.”

“If you do want to go down the full DIY route for wedding flowers – we advise visiting Flowers From The Farm – a collective/directory of British flower farmers, and finding your nearest flower farmer. Ask them how much their DIY flower buckets cost. Most flower farmers supply DIY buckets bursting with freshly cut seasonal flowers and they are a great, affordable way for couples to style the venues florally themselves, perhaps with support from their friends.”

Moonwind Flowers - wheelbarrow full of sustainable flowers grown ethically at MoonwindFlowers.co.uk. North Yorkshire flower farm.

moonwindflowers.co.uk

Moonwind Flowers

Wedding Entertainment

If you’ve got your heart set on the most incredible band to perform at your wedding but don’t think you can afford them, you probably just haven’t thought of asking your guests to help! Forget traditional wedding gifts and invite guests to chip in and spread the cost.

We asked Max from The Wedding Smashers what he thought of the idea and he said: “Fun should NEVER be compromised, so thank goodness Patchwork is here to reduce the chances of this happening! Every couple deserves the best party ever, and with guests chipping in via Patchwork to fund the entertainment, that’s exactly what they’ll get!”

A Patchwork registry wedding band fund

Get Your Guests to Pay for the Party

The best thing about asking guests to help fund the band is that it’s a gift that they will all enjoy too. The gift of music, dancing, and fun with all those you love best. And it’s waste-free and won’t clutter up your cupboards! What’s not to love?

Liv from Patchwork says “A couple recently got in touch saying that they had found a (quite pricey) band they’d love to have at their wedding, and that they’d seen our website and wondered if the two ideas could be combined? Of course we loved the idea and said “yes!” and made a brilliant, easy-to-customise template straight away.”

Image courtesy of The Wedding Smashers

The Cake

Instagram is packed full of amazing wedding cake creations and is probably where you’ve found your dream baker. Sugar Plum Bakes specialises in buttercream wedding cake designs that are modern and elegant – and most importantly – utterly delicious.

Founder Vaani has this advice: “What I say to couples who are wanting to have a show-stopping cake but don’t have the budget for a 5 tier plus cake is that they can still have an impactful cake design with a smaller cake. I’ve made several two tier cakes that are simply more affordable because they are smaller relatively but still have that showstopper effect as they are designed to catch the eye.”

“Paying attention to the display of the cake means that you can go smaller, still have the supplier you want AND not blow the budget.”

Be Realistic About Your Budget

Chinelo from Good Cake Day has loads of brilliant tips for couples looking to stick to their budget. First up is to be realistic about your budget and do your research before contacting suppliers. Wedding fairs are great for this. Also be brutal about how many guests you want to serve cake to. You may have 150 guests but do you really need to serve them all cake?

Claire points out that it’s important to check if your wedding menu includes dessert, in which case you may end up with a lot of wastage from a large cake. “Consider whether your wedding cake can serve more of a traditional ceremonial role for cutting and taking pictures, in which case, a smaller cake, despite a larger guest list may suffice.”

Whilst Claire agrees that dummy tiers can bring the cost down a little, don’t rely on this to save you a lot of money: “The highest cost of a wedding cake is the decorating cost. Chances are you can significantly reduce the cost of your wedding cake by scaling back on your cake design.”

So there you go. With a bit of creativity, a bit of flexibility and a little help from your friends you CAN have the wedding suppliers you dream of – even with a real work budget!

Cool bride showing the peace sign. Groom in pink suit. Patchwork Wedding Alternative + Sustainable Gift Registry.

patchworkit.com

Rosie Hurwitz

Rosie Hurwitz View all Rosie's articles

Rosie Hurwitz is Head of Customer Experience at Patchwork, the wedding gift list innovators, who donate 50% of their fees to environmental charities. Rosie lives in South East London with her husband Evan, their four children Annie, Archie, Sonny and Bo and their cockapoo Albie. Rosie loves running, baking, and spending as much time as possible in Portugal.

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