How to Make a Proper Budget – and Stick to It! editor Donna Ferguson shares her top tips and secret tricks for keeping costs under control.


Donna Ferguson, editor of financial website, gives her top tips on keeping costs under control.

Mockup planner flat lay

It is Never Too Early to Set a Budget

The moment you get engaged things start to escalate, people ask about the day and costs start to add up. So as soon as the ring is on the finger, it is time to sit down and work out a budget.

Dividing Up the Money is All About Your Priorities

If yours is having an amazing dress, or a gorgeous venue, set that amount aside, look at what you have left over and divide that up for the other areas. But be prepared to compromise. Our priority was having as many guests there as possible, so we picked a venue that realistically we could afford and all the other decisions followed.

Never Get into Debt for a Wedding

Nothing will cause as much stress. Ask yourselves, how much can we afford to spend without putting us in any financial danger, debt or anxiety? If you cannot afford to have a big wedding, accept that it might not be a fantasy day out of the movies. The reality is that you are doing this because you love this other person, and want to commit yourself to them in front of everyone who you love.

Set Aside a Contingency

This is about percentages not amounts, and 10% is about right. And have at least £500 cash set aside for the day, just in case the cars don’t arrive and you need to get a taxi, or you need to replace a bridesmaid dress. It will prevent any last minute stresses.

Keep a Firm Track of Your Costs

A spreadsheet helps you add up all the different costs and see the overall impact. It is very easy to see one additional invitation, extra guest or bottle of wine as a small cost, but you need to see at a glance how that affects the total spend. Many people are caught out this way, they think in isolation, but easily forget the financial bottom line.

Set Up a Separate Account

This help you avoid the other danger, losing track of what you are actually spending. Use the card from that current account to pay for suppliers. There are some great accounts out there, you can get £100 cash-back for opening an account with First Direct, which you can put that towards the wedding.

Use Every Trick You Can to Keep Spending Down

I bought my dress from the high street and got 25% off by using a cashback credit card and finding a voucher. All the way through I was determined to get as many bargains, discount and deals as I could. My wedding cake was three tiers for the price of two. You don’t have to put up and shut up with the prices.

Be United as a Couple

If you do all the organising and spending that is absolutely fine, as long as your fiancé is 100% happy, and as informed as he wants to be. If you can do that then there shouldn’t be arguments. If you do argue take a step back and remember why you are getting married.

Think Hard Before Paying a Deposit

Before you pay a penny towards a venue, make 100% sure that it is the right place, you can afford it and your guests can make it. Never get swept up and pay deposits there and then, go away and think, use your spreadsheet and talk to your partner. Never be pressured into any financial decision on the spot.

Get Every Quote in Writing

Then if a supplier tries to change the price you have it there on email or paper. If they start to change prices or conditions don’t be afraid to tell them you are disappointed to be treated that way and don’t put up with it. Be prepared to walk away.


Use Credit Wisely

If you are paying for a deposit always use a credit card, it gives you protection for anything over £100 if the company goes bust. You can use a 0% credit card to spend but only if you can pay it off in full at the end of the 0% period. Make sure it never turns into debt.