Unveiling the Budget: The Average Costs of a Wedding in 2024

21 March 2024
A Day For You, Made By Us


With the average wedding price in the UK set to hit around £21,000 this year according to Bridebook, planning your big day can be an exhilarating but expensive task. The costs can soon mount up, and if you’re not careful, you can blow the budget well before you’ve covered all the elements of your day.

Almost two thirds of couples admit to overspending, and that’s no surprise when there’s catering, photography, attire, rings, cake, flowers, and the not-so-minor matter of the venue to consider (and that’s just for starters). It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so here’s our insider guide to help you allocate your wedding funds, and see you on your way from rings to the reception with confidence - and perhaps even a bit of cash to spare.

Cost of Venue Hire

It’s probably your biggest decision after saying “I do”, so unsurprisingly the venue often takes the largest chunk of a wedding budget. Out of the average wedding cost of £21,000, over 40% of funds is spent on the reception room – with the average being just under £9,000. Obviously, a Hebridean castle is going to set you back a little more than your local Parish Hall, but your perfect venue is probably the most important part of your day – and Macdonald Hotels offers ideal reception spaces from grand ballrooms to intimate areas with incredible views. You can also choose to marry at many Macdonald properties, saving £550 on a church wedding or £50 at a register office.

Décor Costs

The first hidden cost to consider is that venue hire is often on a room-only basis, with some locations charging extra for everything from chair and table hire to linens, glassware, candles and even the staff. Thankfully there are no nasty surprises with wedding venues at Macdonald Hotels - for example, our Whirlwind Wedding Packages at Alveston Manor and Houstoun House feature décor including chair covers and sashes, a white or red carpet arrival, and cake stand and knife hire as part of the price. So there'll be no need to fret that you’ve forgotten any decorative details.

Marquees Hire Cost

Many couples like to make the most of the summer season with a marquee reception. According to Bridebook, the average price for additional marquee hire is around £4,200 – but a very special package at Macdonald Leeming House, Ullswater, includes marquee hire as part of a luxury celebration that will wow your guests whatever the weather.

Craxton Wood

Wedding Catering Costs

Are you feeding the five thousand, or is it a table just for twelve? Naturally, the number of guests has the biggest influence on your budget, and with an average catering spend per guest set to reach £71 this year (based on £5,700 for 80 guests), it’s perfectly acceptable not to invite mere acquaintances if you’d like to keep your bills down.

Save With a Catering Package

Alternatively, you can save money by booking a catering inclusive package, which at Macdonald Inchyra Hotel starts from just £55 per person and includes venue hire and décor, wedding breakfast, evening buffet, wedding coordinator, and a honeymoon room for the newlyweds too. If you know you'll have hungry guests, the late availability package at Macdonald Kilhey Court includes canapés, a three-course wedding breakfast, and an evening feast of bacon and sausage sandwiches with chips for your evening reception - which should help soak up the prosecco nicely. 

Wedding Cake

Possibly the best bit of the day! If you want a stunning centrepiece that tastes as good as it looks, you can expect to spend around £5-6 per portion for a dessert slice (usually 2”x1”x tier depth), or a little more for a finger portion (half the size). You can easily find a delicious three-tier cake serving 100 guests for around the £500 mark, but be careful - there's another hidden cost here, as bakers will usually charge extra for delivery, set-up, and additional floristry or decorations. As the cake is usually mere crumbs of the average budget, accounting for less than 2.5% of costs, perhaps you can feel free to indulge a little more here. Each Macdonald Hotel keeps a list of highly-skilled cake-makers for you to sample from – the wedding diet begins tomorrow!

Wedding Attire Costs

You don’t have to spend a fortune to look gorgeous. Although the average spend for a wedding dress is around the £1,350 mark according to Hitched, you can get glamorous and great-quality wedding dresses from High Street brands for a third of the price. Just make sure you save a bit of your budget for last minute alterations.

Save By Hiring

Suit hire is available from as little as £80, and bridesmaid dress hire from around the £50 mark – and you can always ask your bridal party to cover the costs of their own outfits. If you’re not sure where to look, Macdonald’s wedding planners can give you plenty of thoughtful advice.

Hair And Make-Up

All it takes to dazzle is a radiant smile, but having professional make-up and hairstyling never hurt! Doing your own could save you up to £500, but it's always worth splashing out on this as you'll be looking back at your wedding photos forever.

Bride and groom at Norwood Hall

Wedding Rings

As we said in our wedding planning guide, make sure you choose rings you love, as you’ll be wearing them for the rest of your lives. Prices depend on band size, material and stones, and can range from £150 up to £3000 and beyond. Our research tells us that couples tend to spend £500 per ring, which would cover a platinum band or – if you shop around – a decent 18-carat gold affair. As you will hopefully be wearing your sparkling engagement rock by the time you read this, we’ve left this cost out of our considerations!

Engagement rings

Wedding Flowers Cost

Buttonholes, bridal bouquets, flowers for the venue... there are many ways to make your wedding look blooming brilliant. Couples usually spend around £1100 on floristry – around 10% of a typical budget – but a way of keeping costs down is to use flowers that are in season, or to mix plenty of greenery with strong pops of colour so you’re spending less on stems.

Each Macdonald Hotel keeps a preferred list of professional florists who will tailor their displays and bouquets to match your style and spend. Alternatively, you can book your wedding at a venue with gorgeously landscaped grounds, such as Macdonald Forest Hills or Craxton Wood – where there’s usually plenty of floral colour already on show.

Cost of Stationery

Everybody loves a hand-written invitation in the post, but the unfortunate reality is that many of them will be cast into the recycling bin (once dates have been noted on calendars, of course). The average of £400 may seem like a lot to spend on something so fleeting, so if you're less of a traditionalist you may prefer to send digital invitations - which can cost next to nothing - and save the cards for any relatives who may not be online.

Transport Hire Cost

Won’t Dad let anyone else drive his shiny new Mercedes? If you can’t hitch a lift, then you’ll need to organise travel for the groom, best man, groomsmen, as well as the bride and bridal party, to whisk you all between your ceremony and your reception. If it’s a bit of a trek, you may have to put on transport for your guests as well. The average spend is around £700, and that’s without plumping for a pumpkin carriage, but you can easily save here by marrying and partying in the same place – an option available at many Macdonald wedding venues.

Wedding Accommodation

After your dream wedding day, you’ll need somewhere sweet to spend the night. Many Macdonald Hotels including Aviemore offer a romantic overnight stay for the happy couple as part of a wider wedding package – a welcome saving when the supposed average cost of wedding accommodation can run to around £2,000. Also, if you’d prefer your guests to make their own arrangements, we can offer discounted rates on overnight stays at many of our venues.

Pittodrie Couple with Piper

Wedding Planner and Toastmaster

Feeling overwhelmed by how much you have to do before your big day? Consider employing a wedding planner – they’ll have an enviable list of industry connections and may even be able to bag you some discounts if you go with their recommended suppliers. You can expect an average cost of £2,400 for their hire, but many Macdonald wedding packages include their services as standard. We can also include a Toastmaster (often an extra £500 if booked outside a package) to keep your day on schedule, without you having to worry about where your more wayward guests have wandered off to!

Registrar or Celebrant

Don’t be fooled – these are not one and the same, but you don’t necessarily have to pay for both. A registrar legally officiates a wedding and oversees the approval of marriage licences. Meanwhile, a celebrant can lead your ceremony but cannot legally marry you unless you’re in Scotland – so if you’re elsewhere in the UK, you’ll still need to pay some small additional legal fees. The price of either is usually around £300, and the wedding team at your chosen venue can put you in touch with the officiant that’s right for you. We often include their services in our wedding packages, too.

Auqua Sulis Elite Wedding Package

Photography Costs

You don’t have to have a snapper following you around from that first glass of fizz right until the venue’s lights come up, but be prepared to flash up to £4,000 if you want every part of your day documented. Most couples tend to spend a more manageable £1,400 (around 7% of the average budget) on their photographer, which can often include up to six hours of coverage. A digital album instead of a printed book will also help to keep the cost down. If you want to make sure you never forget a moment of your big day, you can also hire an additional videographer at around the same rate.


Do you want a live band, string quartet, club classics, party anthems..? Either way, you’ll want to make sure everyone is on the floor.

Live Bands

According to Encore Musicians, you’ll pay up to £2500 for a three-hour set from a highly-rated four-person live band, but you can often get a booking for half that price if you plan in advance and are more focused on a party atmosphere than super-slickness.

Save With a Wedding DJ

A much more thrifty alternative is a wedding DJ, usually charging around £500-600, and it’s more likely that they’ll take requests too! As always, Macdonald Hotels regularly updates its register of brilliant wedding entertainers for you to choose from - and if you book the late availability package at Norwood Hall you can include a top-quality photographer, stunning two-tier cake, and a DJ and disco for just an extra £1200.

Honeymoon Costs

The cost of this is all down to you! It could be two weeks in Bali or a weekend at Bath Spa, so we haven’t included this cost in our average spend. The Honeymoon Guide suggests that 39% of couples spend around £5000-8000, with 17% spending a cool £10,000.

Either way, you can help to balance the budget by scheduling your big trip for a year or so down the line, giving you more time to save, and perhaps enjoying a more affordable suite stay with Macdonald Hotels in the meantime. Alternatively, ask your guests to contribute to your honeymoon instead of having a gift registry (surely you have a kettle and toaster already..?)

Rose petals on a bed at Bath Spa Hotel