The nuptials of Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, an American actress, could cost $2.8 million by one estimate, but they’ve managed to save money on one part of their big day. The 1,200 members of the public they’ve invited to watch the wedding on the grounds of Windsor Castle will have to bring picnic lunches, because food and drink won’t be served.
The bring-your-own-food policy will help keep costs in line for Prince Charles and the British royal family, who will pay for “core aspects” of the wedding, including the reception, music and flowers, according to a statement from Kensington Palace. (British taxpayers will pay for the security, which cost $8.5 million for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.)
But what about people who don’t have taxpayers helping them foot the costs for their big day? What does a modern non-royal couple do when they see the price of hosting a wedding, complete with three-course meal and free drinks for the evening? Experts have plenty of tips on how to save money on wedding costs.
Here are just a few cost-saving measures:
• Consider a winter wedding — it’s a less popular time to get married, so venues sometimes offer discounts
• Shop for a dress in the prom section of a department store
• Get a less-elaborate cake (one with just two tiers, or a sheet cake)
• Serve cocktails in small glasses
• Stick with in-season flowers
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It’s always better to budget ahead of time. Many couples look back on their big day with big regrets. Some 74% of couples go into debt on their big day, according to a survey last year released by the wedding website The Knot. And 61% of those people put the expenses on their credit cards.
The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. was $33,391 in 2017, The Knot also found. Such figures, however, represent those who use The Knot website and likely skew higher than the average cash-stretched American couple who don’t use a wedding-planning website.
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It’s perhaps no surprise that many couples feel like they could have done things differently: 43% admit to “flat out regret” about their wedding, a recent survey of couples found.
Brides said they wished they had spent less on the dress and invitations, and more on the honeymoon, rings and a photographer. A separate survey by wedding site Zola found that couples most regretted spending on flowers and decor, followed by hair and makeup and catering.
But couples aren’t the only ones who want to save on wedding costs. Spare a thought for the 1,200 “commoners” who will be bringing their own picnic to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. They’ve got it easy compared to most official wedding guests. Those attending U.S. weddings shell out a lot too, and said they expected to pay an average of $703 per wedding in 2016.