How to have a budget friendly wedding in Scotland

If you’re getting married in Scotland you’ll want to consider is working out your wedding budget. But how do you plan a wedding budget? And what is the average cost of a wedding in Scotland?

Average cost of a wedding in the UK

According to a Bridebook survey, the average cost of a UK wedding in 2022 was £19,037.
Does that sound like a lot?
Bear in mind, it’ll be a mix of luxury budget weddings, as well as elopement-style weddings.

Budget influences

There are a lot of things that can impact your budget for your wedding in Scotland. Venue hire varies a lot dependent on whether you’re getting married at an exclusive-use venue, or somewhere that will have other weddings and events on at the same time. (An exclusive use venue is when you’re the only wedding they’re hosting that day). Other supplier averages such as photography, floristry and cakes will vary as the statistics may include prices taken from hobbyists or novice suppliers who are still establishing their business, or according to the average coverage which may be less than you need for your day. Likewise, the size and scale of your wedding may impact the cost of the service you’re using on the day.

If you want to get a more accurate picture, it’s worth enquiring with the suppliers before you set a definite budget for your day, or alternatively take the average costs and set them as a minimum spend.

couple having confetti thrown at them after their elopement wedding ceremony at Montrose Street Registry Office in Glasgow
Small wedding at Montrose Street Registry Office, Glasgow

What are the sizes of weddings?

One very big factor on your wedding budget in Scotland is the size of your guest list. What couples determine as small, medium or large weddings varies a lot.

On average, research suggests that couples will spend £200 per guest at their wedding.

So speaking entirely from professional experience:

  • An elopement or tiny wedding will be anything from just the couple, to approximately 20 guests.
  • A small wedding may be up to 40 guests
  • A medium wedding is up to 60 guests.
  • A big wedding is approximately up to 80-100 guests…
  • And a large wedding is usually from 100+ guests.

Budgeting For A Big Wedding in Scotland

If you fall into the category of having a large wedding, then obviously your costs will go up accordingly. It’s easy to see why the average wedding budget becomes increasingly stretched. If averages are based on 80 guests, having a wedding with 120 guests will increase your costs by 50%. That means you’ll need to think about increasing your budget – not just for the cost of the meal per person. It is estimated that every guest costs the couple on average £200 – that’s for drinks, food, table linen, buffet, wedding stationery, table centrepieces etc.

Additional costs for big weddings

If you’re planning a big budget wedding in Scotland, you’ll need a larger venue to accommodate everyone. As that will likely require more venue staff on hand to serve your guests. If you’re hiring buses or transport, you may need to book an extra bus for those additional guests. If you have more tables, that may require more table linen or chair covers to be hired. You’ll need to increase your budget for centrepieces, wedding invites, place settings, favours, and size of the wedding cake.

There’s additional food and drink – a drink on arrival, canapes, a glass for speech toasts, tea and coffee, and the evening buffet. You may need two photographers at your wedding to maximise the number of candid photographs and to catch all the action and fun.

Additional bridal party costs

Often at large weddings, the couple extend the bridal party numbers too. More bridesmaids and groomsmen may mean more outfits, shoes, jewellery, bouquets or buttonholes, more wedding cars, hair and make-up. It may also require additional accommodation.

So if you take the average cost of a wedding but increase your guest list by 50%, then of course your budget will need to follow suit.

newlyweds kissing in a rowing boat on Loch Ard by Altskeith House in Stirlingshire
Wedding at Altskeith House, near Aberfoyle, Stirlingshire

How to find wedding suppliers on budget in Scotland

It can be tempting to ask suppliers to cut their quotes to help you meet your budgetary requirements. In some cases they may agree to do so if they desperately need the booking or if it’s a last-minute booking, however, it may mean not booking your first choice of supplier. The question is that if you have to settle for less than your first choice, will you be disappointed or wonder ‘what if…’ afterwards?

Risks With Hiring Cheap Wedding Suppliers

There’s a concept that you can have cheap and fast but it won’t be good; cheap and good but it won’t be fast; and good and fast but it won’t be cheap. It’s called the Iron Triangle, or Triple Constraint Triangle. Regardless of how you think you can cheat the triple constraint triangle, you won’t.

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen in weddings in Scotland is a huge increase in referral groups of couples looking for a last-minute supplier because their cheap wedding supplier has bailed. The cheap wedding supplier either isn’t replying to them; or got a better offer of better-paid work and they’ve taken it. Even if the couple haven’t parted with their cash yet, they’re still stuck with an unrealistically low budget for that supplier and it’s going to be a hard task to find anyone else who can match that. Suppliers aren’t obliged to help you out if your budget is a lot lower than their minimum asking price. With the clock ticking, the chances of being able to increase the budget before the big day are very slim.

Beware Red Flags with Low Budget Wedding Suppliers

There are a few stories of couples who took a risk with a low-budget supplier and got lucky. But for every happy ending, there are dozens of stories of woe. Stories of suppliers not showing up on the day, offering too-good-to-be-true services then disappearing with the deposits. Alternatively, the service was below expectations. You don’t want to be left with a bad experience on what should be a one-off experience of their lives.

When you’re booking any supplier, here’s some notes to keep in mind:

  • You have means of contacting them – phone, or email address, ideally. Don’t expect a reply in the middle of the night, but do give them a few days to get back to you.
  • You receive a contract. Always read the contract and ask questions if you’re unsure. Despite what suppliers may say, if the contract has unfair terms and conditions, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is legal. Google will also tell you about fair contract terms and conditions. Sort out the contract before you hand over any money.
  • You see some evidence of their work at previous weddings. For photographers, this might be a full gallery from a wedding, not just cherrypicked portfolio images which may be from second shoots or workshops.
  • Ask about their experience if you’re not sure. Newcomers are often a lot cheaper, but the lack of experience may result in important things not being managed properly on your day.
  • Remember you have a 14-day cooling-off period with any contract in the UK.
  • Have a look at Google for reviews. Facebook reviews can be switched off. Read the reviews thoroughly, and remember that occasionally some people may be giving negative reviews maliciously so judge the replies from suppliers.
  • If you want follow-up opinions, ask in other wedding groups whether people have used their services before or had experience with that supplier.
  • Check out scam websites and groups – the number of incidences of rogue suppliers setting up has increased in recent years.
  • Trust your gut instinct. If something seems too good to be true, then walk away.

Should I ask friends to help with my wedding to reduce costs?

It may also be tempting to rope in friends and family to help out by filling some of the roles of suppliers. However, while the idea might be appealing in the early stages of planning, it can cause a lot of stress as well for both the person who has volunteered or agreed to help, as well as for the couple who have specific ideas of what they want. With no formal contract in place, it can be problematic to guarantee what they will deliver and may have insurance implications too. For example, suppliers may be asked to produce liability insurance certificates before they can work in particular locations. You also have to consider that they may not end up enjoying your wedding as a guest if they’re “working”.

So what to do?

couple having a registrar wedding ceremony in the snowy Pentland hills surrounded by guests
Small Wedding in the Scottish Pentland Hills

How Can I Save Money On My Wedding

When you can’t afford to increase your budget then it’s worth compromising some of your wedding guest list. Reducing it by ten people could allow you to reallocate your budget towards areas that are a priority. Just taking three guests off the list could be the difference between having a budget for an entry-level photographer or a budget for a highly experienced photographer. Remove another ten guests (a table) and you’ve got enough for a videographer. On average, UK couples spend £200 on every guest they invite – excluding venue hire.

Benefits of little weddings

The benefit of smaller weddings is that you’re more likely to speak to all your guests on the day. The bigger the wedding, the less likelihood you have of spending time with each person in attendance. It can end up feeling like a speed dating event trying to say hello to everyone.

Invite the people you love. The people who when you look up from your table, you recognise and are glad that they came. The people that either you or your future spouse would recognise. People who you’d happily take out for dinner. Those you’d make a beeline to go for a chat with. The people you would hug as soon as you see them. The ones you want to drag onto the dancefloor for a boogie. Invite the people who you want to introduce to your immediate families. Your friends and family that you’d post a card on their birthday or send a gift at Christmas. The people you’d invite into your home to stay, or would visit on a trip.

Realistically after the wedding, you won’t feel bad about not giving out plus ones if it’s meant you’ve been able to manage your budget. I’ve photographed weddings where parents’ friends with no connection to the couple have been invited. A lot of the time they refuse to join in the “big group photo”, and hang out at the bar instead. The parents don’t have much time to chat with them either as they’re usually busy with other family members, or being involved in the wedding party activities. These are absolutely the people to cut from your numbers if you’re struggling with budgeting for the things that genuinely matter to you.

If you want to read more about small weddings, this blog post on why small weddings in Scotland are awesome is worth a read.

people digging out a wedding arch on a beach on the River Tay
Friends helping with DIY elements at a wedding

What Is the Cheapest Time of Year To Get Married in the UK?

If you’re struggling to cut the guest list because you don’t want to offend anyone, either invite them as an evening guest or opt for an off-peak or mid-week wedding. Off-peak season is generally November to March; while off-peak days are Monday to Thursday.

According to a Bridebook survey in 2022, 81% of weddings were held between April and October. 77% of weddings were on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in 2022. These are peak dates for all wedding suppliers.

Winter wedding packages

It’s worth looking out for venue wedding packages for winter weddings in Scotland. Meanwhile, other wedding suppliers – such as photographers – may be happy to offer a reduced coverage package for midweek weddings.

You could also look at a hybrid method – hire a photographer for a few hours, then have friends and family step in to snap the fun stuff in the evening. That way, you make sure you get the key high-pressure moments right (ceremony, family formals) and you can let your friends have fun taking the easier photos of the dancing and party.

Of course, booking an off-peak wedding package in Scotland may impact your guest list. It may mean that some guests aren’t able to attend due to work commitments, but it leaves the decision to them rather than you.

Should I elope or have a wedding?

Another option, of course, is to elope. There are lots of options for small weddings in Scotland on a budget. Ditch the entire guest list, and blow the budget on an elopement. Book the best florist, hair, make-up, outfits, photographer, book an incredible venue or location and have a honeymoon of a lifetime. Scottish Elopement packages are becoming increasingly popular, they’re romantic and wonderful and you can always host a big family party at a later point to celebrate.

It’s a great way to ensure you have the wedding you will love without offending people by sending them an evening invite instead of a day invite, or not extending the invite to their new partner or children. You can also opt for a lot of different locations and venues for your wedding in Scotland to help keep to your budget. I also have some great tips for what to take with you if you plan an outdoor wedding in Scotland.

couple walking through confetti after their small wedding at the Bothy in Glasgow
wedding at the Bothy, in Glasgow

Alternative Wedding Venues For Budget Weddings In Scotland

If you’re getting married in Scotland, you can of course get married anywhere. There are some fantastic budget wedding venues in Scotland. So your options for your wedding venue could include:

So this gives you a lot of freedom to research possible locations and potentially save money on your actual ceremony venue. I’ve photographed weddings at lots of unusual locations and it’s allowed couples a novel way of saving money on their Scottish weddings.

Whether you are planning a big shindig or a wee wedding, I’ve got packages that you can tailor to suit your needs on the day. Have a look at my wedding approach . Drop me a line today to find out if I’m available for your wedding – I’d love to hear more from you about what you’ve got planned!