Top wedding planning tips

Wedding fever is gripping the nation as Kate and Will prepare to tie the knot on April 29, but if you’re getting married this year, make sure it goes without a hitch by sorting out your finances first.

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According to insurer Weddingplan, the average cost of a wedding is now a staggering £21,000 - enough to give any couple a major financial headache. But a bit of forward planning can ensure you don’t start your life together heavily in debt. Here are our top tips on arranging your perfect wedding day without blowing the budget...

Save, save, save

As soon as you get engaged, start making regular savings into a high-interest paying savings account. A tax-free cash individual savings account (ISA) is the best place to start if you haven’t already used your allowance this tax year.

Current best buys include Santander’s Flexible ISA, paying 2.85% on a minimum deposit of £1, and Halifax’s ISA Direct Reward account, which pays 2.80%, again on a minimum investment of £1. Qualifying current account holders can earn an extra 0.20% interest, increasing their tax-free returns to 3.00%. Both of these accounts are instant access, so you can get your hands on your cash whenever you need to.

If you have already used your ISA allowance this tax year then a regular savings account is worth considering. These usually run for a year and offer a high rate of interest which can boost the amount you save.

The HSBC Regular Saver (Preferential Rate) account pays a massive 10.00% annual interest fixed for a year, but you can only apply for this account if you are already an HSBC Premier, HSBC Advance, HSBC Graduate Advance or HSBC Passport customer. You must save between £25 and £250 a month into this account, and no withdrawals are permitted during the 12-month fixed term.

First Direct current account customers also have access to a highly competititive Regular Saver account paying 8.00%.

If you don't bank with HSBC or First Direct, you'll have to accept a slightly lower rate. HSBC's standard Regular Saver account is available to non-customers and is paying 5.00%.

Something borrowed...

If you don’t have time to save up for your wedding and need to borrow money to pay for the big day, then there are several options to choose from.

First, you could consider spreading the cost of your wedding with a credit card. The best purchase credit cards offer 13 months at 0% and, as long as you clear the balance before the deal ends, you won’t have to pay any interest.

The Tesco Clubcard Credit Card offers 0% for 13 months and after that has a typical annual percentage rate of 16.9%. You also earn one Clubcard point for every £4 you spend on the card, and the card also has a limited offer of 500 extra points when you spend £300 or more on purchases in the first two months after opening the account.

NatWest’s and Royal Bank of Scotland’s Classic cards also both offer 0% on purchases for 13 months, but these cards are only available to existing customers. After the introductory period is up, the cards have a typical APR of 17.9%.

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Another option if you need to borrow money is to go for a low-cost loan. Rates on personal loans have tumbled in the past fortnight, so there are plenty of excellent deals to choose from. Alliance & Leicester and Santander recently cut their rates to a market-leading 7.2%. However, you won’t get that rate direct; you’ll need to apply through a site like moneysupermarket.com.

Meanwhile, Nationwide is offering a rate of 7.3% exclusively through moneysupermarket.com. If you have a Nationwide Flexaccount, you'll get a rate of 7.2%.

Keep costs down

Think about any ways you can reduce the cost of your wedding day. For example, do you have any friends who could do your photography for free or at a reduced rate, or who might be expert flower arrangers willing to help decorate the church or registry office? Even getting a friend to act a chauffeur rather than using a specialist wedding car service can knock hundreds of pounds off your overall costs.

Consider having your wedding midweek rather than on a Saturday too. Wedding venues tend not only to have greater availability during the week than at weekends, but prices are often much cheaper.

Whichever day you get married, don’t forget to try and negotiate on costs – you might be able to get a discount if you haggle hard enough. Once you have chosen a venue, supplying your own alcohol during the meal is a good way to cut your costs, but you will get charged corkage, so check how much this will cost to make sure there will be a saving.

You don’t have to spend thousands on your wedding dress either. Ex-display dresses can be a fraction of the normal cost and Oxfam sells a wide range of wedding dresses, 95% of which are actually brand new, donated by designers and bridal shops that need to make room for next season’s stock.

The typical selling price of an Oxfam wedding dress is around £250 – a huge saving on the £826 estimated to be the price of the average wedding dress. Oxfam has 11 shops with bridal departments in locations including Southampton, Poole, Coventry, Leatherhead and Chippenham.

Be protected

It may seem like just another cost but wedding insurance is worth considering. It usually costs between £50 and £100, but will pay out if something goes disastrously wrong, such as your venue becoming unavailable at the last minute, or damage to your wedding dress.

It won’t, however, cover either one of you getting cold feet and pulling out, and most policies don’t cover lost or stolen wedding presents either. Contact your home insurance provider to see if they will extend your cover for free around the time of the big day.

You can find the right cover with our new wedding insurance channel.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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