The moment you say ‘I Do’ is one you should remember forever – and for all the right reasons. There are so many elements to take into account and with them the need to budget accordingly. On average, a wedding here in the UK will cost a couple just over £16,000. It’s a big investment and while it’s worth every single penny, understanding where these costs are going allows you to adjust and alter features to suit your needs. This is why we’ve created this guide to wedding costs, covering all the things you need to consider and the average costs for each.

What Will You Need to Account For?

It’s easy for unaccounted and unrealised costs to crop up during wedding planning. For most celebrations, you’ll need to consider the cost of:

  • The wedding venue.
  • The ceremony costs.
  • Catering/Food.
  • Alcohol.
  • Entertainment.
  • Outfits/Clothing.
  • Ancillary items.

Wedding Venue

One of the biggest expenditures from your wedding budget will be the wedding venue. Most locations will ask for a budget upfront with the rest of the money due a few weeks before the actual day. We recommend that you set aside around 30% of your overall budget for your venue since the average one in the UK costs anywhere between £4 – £6,000.

When choosing and budgeting for your venue, remember:

  • Always ask for prices inclusive of VAT.
  • Get detailed information about what the quote includes.
  • Check whether catering or decorations are included in the quote.
  • If the venue is supplying alcohol, ask whether they charge a corkage fee and how much this is per bottle.
  • If alcohol is included, ask how much is offered per head.
  • To ask if they have a minimum spend or cash bar option.
  • Ask whether you have the exclusive hire of the wedding on your day?
  • Ask if you have to use their recommended suppliers.

In this, you also need to understand whether there are any additional hiring fees. Marquee weddings continue to be incredibly popular since they can be personalised easily. If you’re opting for this scenic option, you’ll need to consider other costs such as furniture, heating, generator and decoration hire fees too.

Ceremony Costs

The cost of your wedding ceremony will depend on several factors. If you’ve booked a traditional wedding venue, the cost of this may already be included in their quotation (make sure you check!). However, if not, or if you’re planning something unconventional, here are some average costs you’ll need to consider.

  • Notice of intent to marry – £35 per person.
  • Registrars fee – £46/£86 depending on wedding location.
  • Venue surcharge (if only holding ceremony/reception there) – Anywhere between £100 – £300, depending on the venue.
  • Wedding certificate – £11 (£35 for urgent or £50 if married abroad).


In the UK, couples tend to pay between £1000 and £2000 for their wedding catering. This price will vary largely depending on the number of guests, how many courses you wish to serve, what type of cuisine you want and what type of dining experience you’re looking for. For example, if you want a 5-course sit-down, traditional meal, you’ll likely spend more than a buffet-style or hog roast wedding breakfast. The catering in an event is where couples typically overspend so it pays to do your research.

Many venues offer catering options as part of their budget. And caterers tend to provide private or group tasting sessions which you will have to pay for but may be able to get dedicated, should you book through them. When budgeting for catering, consider that your budget must cost:

  • The food itself.
  • The waiting staff, chefs etc that will be attending on your big day.
  • The equipment needed to make, serve and present your food to your guests.


Offering a bar or alcoholic drinks on the day will also eat into your budget. The main thing you’ll need to consider here is corkage fees. This is the service charge applied for:

  • Chilling and storing alcohol in advance of the big day.
  • Staffing fees for the waiting team.
  • The use of glassware.
  • Potential breakages.
  • Disposal of glass bottles.
  • VAT.

Some venues charge this fee per head while others will charge per bottle opened. Typically, this costs anywhere between £12 and £15 per wine bottle, £15 – £20 per prosecco and £20 – £35 per champagne bottle.

You will also need to consider what type of alcohol you’re serving. Generally, it’s more expensive to serve spirits but a single bottle will go further than a bottle of wine. So consider your audience. Equally, you could choose to have a cash bar whereby guests pay for their alcohol.


The entertainment at your wedding should symbolise your relationship and the life you plan to have together. It should be fun, engaging and help you and your guests to create memories to last a lifetime. The options here are vast. You could choose to simply have a speaker with your iPhone plugged in and a playlist of your favourite songs. Or, you could have a juggler or magician that moves around your guests, impressing them with his skills. Some couples opt for live bands to bring their favourite tunes to life or fireworks that mark the end of a very special day. The right option for you will come down to budget and preference.

Hiring a DJ will set you back somewhere in the region of £200 – £450. If you want to hire a band, you’re looking at the higher end of £800 – £1000. A wedding magician in the UK will cost between £300 and £500 for a 2-hour performance. And, you could look to spend upwards of £1200 – £1500 on a wedding firework display. Work with your budget and find an entertainment option that suits you both perfectly.


Finally, one of the other big expenditures will be your outfits. The wedding dress, the groom’s suit and the bridal party’s clothing. As with other areas of wedding planning, how much you spend is down to you. Many couples now ask their bridesmaids and groomsmen to choose and pay for their suits. It’s become a trend to have a fixed colour theme and ask guests to choose outfits that suit their style and your wedding look. This way you’ll save money from not having to buy the same outfit multiple times. You can also hire wedding suits to bring down the costs, with average prices starting around £100 per suit.

It is the wedding dress that tends to be the most expensive outfit of the day. In the UK, you can expect to pay around £1500 for a designer dress with prices soaring as high as £5000 for those that want to spend it. Alternatively, many high street brands have now released their range of bridal dresses to help couples stick within stricter budgets, such as ASOS and Monsoon.

Ancillary Items

Depending on the type of wedding, there may be additional costs you need to factor in. These include things like:

  • Hotel rooms for the bride and groom/guests.
  • Postage fees for wedding stationery.
  • Replacement items, such as lost ties or boutonnieres.
  • Feeding the vendor staff throughout the day.
  • Alteration fees for the wedding dress.
  • Undergarments and accessories.
  • Transportation from the venue to the reception.
  • Unexpected guests.
  • Wedding favours.
  • Etc…

The best way to make sure you’ve covered all bases with your wedding planning is to enlist the support of professionals. Finding a wedding planner that you bond well with will help your big day go off without a hitch. At South West Marquees, we’re here to make one element of your planning considerably easier – finding the perfect venue. Our marquees are the ideal spot for you to celebrate with loved ones and come together on this special day. For more information or to speak to a member of our team, please do get in contact here today.