Envision walking down the aisle in a centuries-old castle nestled in the rolling hills of Tuscany, or exchanging vows amidst the ethereal glow of the Northern Lights in Scandinavia. These dream-like scenarios can be your reality even if you’re on a budget. European weddings, synonymous with fairy-tale charm and historical grandeur, don’t always have to come with a hefty price tag. This comprehensive guide provides you with strategic, budget-friendly tips to plan your European wedding, making your special day memorable without breaking the bank. We will delve into various aspects of planning, from setting a budget to choosing the right season, location, vendors, and even clever DIY elements, focusing on key areas where savings are hidden. Intrigued? Let’s begin this exciting journey of planning your dream European wedding without the financial stress.
Very important: Setting a realistic budget
Start your wedding planning by setting a firm, realistic budget. This process requires complete transparency between you and your partner about your financial resources. Consider using a wedding budget tool or hire a financial planner to help you navigate this process. According to Hitched.co.uk, the average cost of a UK wedding in 2021 was around £16,005 excluding the honeymoon, so consider these figures when planning your budget.
💰 Europe: what is the average cost of a wedding?
It’s worth noting that the cost of a wedding can vary significantly depending on numerous factors, including the venue, meal, decorations, music, photography, and so on. Furthermore, the cost per guest can also vary depending on these factors. Here are some estimates for a wedding of 100 people.
- United Kingdom: The average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2022 was £18,400, up 6% from the previous year, with significant expenses being venue hire, wedding dress, photography, videography, and catering among others
- France: In 2021, French couples allocated an average of around 12,000 Euros for their wedding, typically for about a hundred guests.
- Germany: In Germany, a wedding cost on average between €10,000 and €20,000.
- Spain: In Spain, the average budget for a wedding was about €16,000 to €20,000. This would therefore be approximately €160 to €200 per person.
- Italy: In Italy, a wedding cost on average about €20,000. This would correspond to approximately €200 per person.
Sources : Hitched (UK), Le Parisien (France), Hochzeitsplaza (Germany), Zankyou (Spain), Matrimonio (Italy).
Choosing the right season
Choosing the right season to tie the knot can significantly influence the overall cost of your wedding. Across Europe, the peak wedding season generally spans from May to September, with June and September being particularly popular due to the pleasant weather. However, planning a wedding during these months might mean paying a premium due to the high demand for venues and vendors.
An off-peak or shoulder season wedding – that is, outside of these popular months – can offer numerous benefits. Venues and suppliers often have more availability and may offer attractive discounts to fill their calendars. According to wedding planners across Europe, choosing to wed in the off-peak season can bring about savings of up to 15-20% on venue hire alone.
Trimming the guest list
One of the most effective ways to cut your wedding costs is to reduce the number of guests. This decision might not be an easy one, as it involves balancing close relationships and the desire to celebrate with a broader circle. However, a smaller wedding often means less financial strain, allowing you to allocate your budget to aspects that are most important to you.
Apart from the financial implications, a smaller guest list can also add an intimate, personal touch to your wedding. It allows for more meaningful interactions with each guest and the chance to create lasting memories with your loved ones.
When planning a European destination wedding, another key aspect to consider is the travel factor. This consideration becomes particularly critical if a majority of your guests are based outside of Europe. Each additional guest not only increases the cost of your wedding, but also imposes potential travel, accommodation, and logistical expenses on your guests.
Airfare, train tickets, accommodation, and other travel-related costs can add up quickly, making it expensive for guests to attend your wedding. Depending on where they’re travelling from, your guests could be facing hundreds, if not thousands, of Euros in costs. As a result, some may decline the invitation, which could be disappointing for both parties.
Choosing an affordable location
The location of your wedding can significantly impact the overall cost. Europe boasts a myriad of stunning wedding destinations, each with its unique charm. However, popular locations like Paris, Rome, or London might be more expensive due to high demand. Instead, consider less-frequented yet equally enchanting locations for a budget-friendly option.
Countries such as Portugal, Greece, and regions like Apulia in Italy, or Galicia in Spain, are hidden gems that can offer the same historic and romantic charm at a fraction of the cost. For instance, a wedding in Portugal, a country famous for its beautiful coastline and charming vineyards, can cost between €10,000 to €15,000.
Negotiating with vendors
The negotiation process is a vital part of planning a budget-friendly wedding. It might be uncomfortable, but the potential savings are worth the effort. Remember, prices aren’t always set in stone, and many vendors are open to discussion, especially if you’re willing to be flexible or if you’re marrying in the off-peak season.
Start by researching average costs for various services in your chosen location. In Italy, for example, you could expect to pay between €600 to €2,500 for a professional wedding photographer, while a DJ might charge anywhere from €500 to €1,000. Having this knowledge in hand can help you understand if a vendor’s price is fair and gives you a base for negotiation.
Using local resources
Utilizing local resources is a fantastic way to save money while also adding a unique, personal touch to your wedding. European countries are rich in cultural traditions and local produce, both of which can be harnessed to create a memorable and budget-friendly event.
Start with sourcing local, seasonal food and drinks. Local caterers will have strong connections with regional producers, enabling them to source high-quality ingredients at lower costs. For example, if you’re marrying in the Champagne region of France, local champagne will be a much more affordable and authentic choice than imported wines. Similarly, a wedding in Greece could feature local olive oil, feta cheese, and fresh seafood, reducing the food cost while offering an authentic Greek culinary experience.
Consider DIYing certain elements of your wedding. For instance, average costs for wedding invitations can range from £400-£460 in the UK. By designing and printing your own, you could save hundreds of pounds and add a personal touch to your wedding.
Implementing DIY elements in your wedding, like personalized invitations and stationery, can save substantial costs while adding a unique touch. Opting for DIY decorations, such as table centrepieces and signage, can reflect your personality and theme better than store-bought items. Homemade favours, from jam to infused oils, can express gratitude to your guests in a charming and affordable way. Self-made floral arrangements, while requiring some skill, offer an opportunity for substantial savings. Utilizing resources like Pinterest, Canva, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Skillshare can guide you through these DIY processes, ensuring a budget-friendly, personalized European wedding.
Hiring a Wedding Planner
It may sound counterintuitive when talking about saving money, but hiring a wedding planner can be a financially savvy move. Wedding planners are experts in their field with insider knowledge and connections that most couples don’t have. They can help you make the most of your budget, save time, and reduce stress, allowing you to enjoy your big day.
A wedding planner can negotiate with vendors on your behalf and has the experience to know when a price offered is fair. This knowledge could potentially save you thousands of euros. For example, a planner in France may charge a fee of 10-15% of your total wedding budget. However, the discounts and savings they can negotiate may offset this fee, resulting in a net zero expense or even savings.
Planning a Honeymoon in Europe
If you’re planning a wedding in Europe, why not extend your stay and enjoy your honeymoon there too? This approach can help you save on travel costs and gives you an excellent opportunity to explore more of Europe’s rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes.
Start by considering countries or cities you’d like to visit that are near your wedding destination. For example, if you’re marrying in Spain, you could honeymoon in Portugal or France. Or if your wedding is in Italy, why not explore the Amalfi Coast or the countryside of Tuscany for your honeymoon?
Consider off-the-beaten-track destinations for a more budget-friendly option. Instead of the more touristy areas, think about visiting less popular but equally stunning regions. For example, instead of the French Riviera, consider the stunning landscapes of the Dordogne region. If Italy is your chosen destination, the serene countryside of Umbria offers a peaceful and less costly alternative to Tuscany.
Altogether, these tips should prove instrumental in planning a budget-friendly European wedding that doesn’t compromise on elegance or charm. It might require time and careful planning, but the result is entirely worth it. With a realistic budget, the right choice of season, a trimmed guest list, affordable location, savvy negotiation, utilization of local resources, clever DIY solutions, and perhaps help from a professional, you can make significant savings on your European wedding.