“What do we really need to spend to get married?”
This should be the first question you ask yourself when setting a budget for your wedding. Do it as an experiment, a fun challenge: find the bare minimum, absolutely essential costs of getting legally married. If you can work this out, for your type of ceremony, then you will know that every additional penny in your budget on top of this cost is for a want, not a need.
For example, here in England, if you wish to have a church wedding then there is a basic, compulsory cost of £456 to marry in a church in your home parish (both of you must live there) and a cost of £497 if the church is outside your parish in 2017. (Source)
If instead you plan to have a civil ceremony (which we did), then you are first required to give Notice of Marriage before your wedding at your local council register office, which includes a fee. For us, in 2016 in Wakefield, this was a fee of £70 (£35 for each person).
Then there is the ceremony fee. After some research I found that Leeds City Council offer a special budget ceremony on the last Monday of every month at Leeds Town Hall, for just the couple and two witnesses, for £50. There is also a provisional booking fee of £35.
So for us, the minimum cost to get married in a civil ceremony close to our home was £155 (this is actually what we ended up doing). I was very pleasantly surprised by this. Apparently, the average cost of a UK wedding is a smidgen over £20000 (source). To my mind, this means that the ‘average couple’ are spending £19845 on wants.
Wedding receptions are optional.
While the reception may be the part of a wedding that receives the most focus and planning (and money), it is optional. You are no less legally married than the next couple if you don’t have a party after your ceremony.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a reception, but a reception shouldn’t figure into this exercise–the calculation of the minimum cost of your wedding–because it is optional.
Now, hopefully, you’ve found your figure. Your minimum cost. What you really need to spend on your wedding. I’m assuming it’s nice and small, and perhaps you too are surprised by how little it is. It might be a good idea to write it down, just to remind yourself that everything you spend over this amount is your choice. The costs of getting married do not spiral out of control on their own.