According to our latest 21st Century Bride Survey, the average cost of a wedding now stands at just over £32,000. That might sound like a lot of money, but when you consider the cost of your dress, venue hire, alcohol and everything else that it takes to host a wedding, you can soon see how everything adds up.
It can be easy to forget your budget constraints completely when you’re in the throes of making your dreams a reality, so to help cut the costs we’ve compiled a list of 50 free wedding ideas. Yep, that’s right – they’ll cost you absolutely nothing!
READ MORE: The Ultimate 17 Step Wedding Planning Guide
Free Wedding Planning Ideas
1. Let’s start right at the beginning. When you get engaged, you should be sure to use a free wedding planning tool like the Hitched Wedding Planner. There’s no reason to pay when you can get all the inspiration you need for nothing!
2. Consider free hen party gamesfor your hen do entertainment. There are so many fun games like hen party bingo which can be downloaded online before the big night.
3. Download free, printable stationery online. Wedding invitations can be a big cost that you might not want to incur, so why not consider downloading an invite design online and getting it printed onto high-quality paper?
4. Borrow a friend’s fancy car to get you to your ceremony and save on transport and vehicle hire costs. They might even be happy to drive you!
5. Opt out of buying your girls bridesmaids gifts, and instead write them heart-felt thank you notes. Tell them you’ll take them out for dinner after your first year or 6 months of marriage on a bridal party reunion evening. Your bank balance will have had time to replenish by then!
READ MORE: How to Make Your Own Wedding Invitations
Free Ideas For Your Reception Décor:
6. Write your menu on an old, vintage mirror. In fact, you could write almost anything on an old mirror – from your seating plan to your ‘order of the evening’!
7. Use old framed family photographs as the centrepieces for your tables.
8. If you can’t find enough, you could use photographs of yourselves in each year of your relationship as cute, personalised centrepieces.
9. Why not use stacks of your favourite books as unique, stylish centrepieces for your tables? This would work particularly well at a winter wedding!
10. Paint wooden clothes pegs, hang a string line across the reception area and pin up photographs of you with their guests. This is a super-cute alternative to bunting!
11. Print your wedding vows and make them into scrolls, then place them in glass vases for lovely centrepieces.
12. Having an outdoor wedding? Collect cushions and blankets from your home to create a comfortable, bohemian outdoor seating area under the trees. You could even source some old wooden crates to put them on top of, if you wanted to lift the seating area above the ground!
13. In the autumn, fill vases with acorns and pine cones as centrepiece, and in the winter, use rustic branches with fake snow.
14. Create free confetti by collecting wild flowers a month before your wedding, drying them out and using the petals. This is a great idea if you’re hosting an eco-friendly wedding, since it’ll biodegrade in no time!
15. If you’re getting married in the summer, why not head to the beach to find pebbles and shells to use as place cards? You can write your guests’ names on them in permanent marker – they’ll look so cute!
16. Save your wine or spirit bottles and spray them gold for a unique addition to your wedding breakfast tables.
17. Create pom-poms out of coloured tissue paper to hang from the ceiling! You could even make mini pom-poms and stack them in clear vases for colourful centrepieces that’d work perfectly at a festival themed wedding.
18. Tear out pages from romantic books then stick them together for a unique table-runner.
19. Salvage scraps of wood (from a skip or a neighbour’s DIY project) and make your own wedding signs.
READ MORE: How to Plan a Festival Themed Wedding
20. Give your family and friends the mission of finding old jam jars in the run up to the wedding, then place tea lights inside them. They can be used as centrepieces or could be hung from trees at an outdoor wedding!
21. Sometimes members of the Hitched ‘For Sale’ forum give items from their weddings away for free. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled!
22. Save all of the bunches of flowers your loved ones gets you, dry out the petals and sew a string through them to make a flower garland for the top table.
23. Search Pinterest for free downloadable resources like banners and cupcake toppers. There are hundreds – you’re sure to find something which fits your theme!
24. Create centrepieces with old wine bottles: melt tapered candles into the neck and let the wax drip down.
25. Cut log slices to use as place cards or cake toppers.
26. Use vintage teacups as tea light holders and place on tables for lovely, soft lighting.
27. Shape pipe-cleaners into hearts to decorate your wedding cupcakes.
28. Don’t spend extra on chair covers – decorate them with off-cuts of ribbon instead!
29. Use your flowers and the bridesmaids’ flowers as top-table wedding décor. Simply put out vases that are filled with water, and drop them in there when you arrive at the reception!
30. Write guests’ names in gold pen on leaves for pretty, bohemian place settings.
Free Ideas For Your Bridal Outfit
31. Use a hand-me-down dress from your mum or grandma, then find a friend who’s good at sewing to adjust it or sew a new gown from the old material!
32. Collect wild flowers for your bouquet and tie loosely with string. This idea is perfect for a rustic wedding at a barn wedding venue.
33. On the look-out for a clutch bag to carry your wedding day essentials? Why not adopt the “something borrowed” tradition and use a relative’s old purse or clutch bag? It’ll add a lovely vintage touch to your wedding day get-up, and will save you money!
34. Make your own garter with off-cuts of lace from your dress.
35. Borrow a wedding veil or jewellery from a friend or family member – this is something else that can double up as something borrowed!
36. Make your own flower crown with wild flowers as an alternative to an expensive tiara. All you’ll need is some green garden wire and fresh flowers!
READ MORE: The Best Wedding Dresses Under £500
Free Ideas for Wedding Favours
37. Print out photos of you and each guest – they can be used as place cards and wedding favours.
38. Write personalised notes to each of your guests detailing your favourite memory with them. So cute and totally worth the effort!
39. Check out our round-up of the best DIY wedding favours! We love the ideas of baking your own macaroons or making your own lemon curd, and most of our ideas use things you’ll already have in the cupboard!
40. If you’re getting married in the autumn, save up pine cones and leaves then spray paint them. You could even write the guest’s name on a label and attach it!
41. Do you have lots of ends of bottles of vodka or gin? Save them up, infuse them with fruit and herbs and serve them as wedding favour shots!
READ MORE: The Cutest Personalised Wedding Favours
Free Ideas for Food & Entertainment
42. Be brave and make your own wedding cake from scratch using ingredients you’ve found in your cupboard. You could try making a Victoria sponge cake, a fruit cake, or you could save money on butter cream and décor by making a ‘naked cake’ dusted with icing sugar and fresh fruit grown in your garden. So on-trend and so delicious!
43. Be even braver and don’t cater for your wedding at all. Instead of gifts, ask your family and friends to bring a dish of food each.
44. Host an afternoon tea! Bake scones yourself, make finger sandwiches and ask family and friends to dig around their cupboards for tea pots, saucers and cups. The mismatched crockery will give it a super cute Alice in Wonderland vibe. What’s more, someone you know is bound to have a chocolate fountain, so scrap paying for desserts finish up the tea with a trip to the chocolate fountain table!
45. Ask one person from each table to bring a board game to the wedding – they make great, post-dinner fun! You could also draw kids games like hopscotch on the patio at your wedding venue as great entertainment.
READ MORE: The Best Alternative Food & Drink Ideas
46. Set up your own photo booth against a plain wall and collect hats and glasses from around your house to use as props. You don’t even need a camera – you could use an iPhone or iPad!
47. Want to get everyone on the dance floor? Ask all of your guests to write their favourite dance song on their RSVP. If you can’t afford a DJ but your venue has a speaker system, you could use the requests to create a Spotify playlist which everyone will love!
48. Contact a local university or college – ask if there are any students who are studying a particular instrument, or who sing, as a free alternative to hiring a wedding band. They’ll usually be keen to help out, since its a great experience and will build their portfolio!
49. Set up a DVD den in a small room off the side of your wedding reception space for a sure-fire way to keep the children at your wedding entertained!
50. Print off some pub quiz questions and scatter them across the tables as a fun ice-breaker for during the wedding breakfast. Or how about hosting a Mr & Mrs quiz between courses?
READ MORE: The 30 Best Wedding Songs of 2019
If you’re still on the hunt for the best ways to boost your budget, take a look at our favourite wedding favours for under £1! There are so many cute options.