Work out your budget
... and stick to it. Sit down together and decide what you can realistically afford for your wedding and which aspects of the process are the most important to you. For example, you may not care how you get from the ceremony to the reception venue but you would like to spend a bit extra on flowers.
Be ruthless with your guest list
This is the first place you need to consider to prevent costs from spiralling.
Sometimes it is tempting to invite every distant relation or friend of a friend, but with each invitation your costs are rocketing. If money is tight, make a list of your closest family and friends, the ones you really do not want to miss the day.
It is nice to do something terribly original with wedding invitations but, while this is nice, it can cost up to £90 for a set.
If you want to make your invites personal, pop into a stationers and pick up some decent card, gold and silver pens or a calligraphy pen and set to work writing them yourself. Stationers also often sell glitter and other decorative items that you could glue to your invitation.
"We bought gerberas from a local garden centre and put them in pretty plant pots on the tables as a centrepiece, then told the guests they were welcome to take them home afterwards as a way to remember the day."
Simple arrangements can be just as effective as larger ones, so do not feel you need to go overboard. A small posy for the bride is often enough, with one main arrangement in the ceremony room.
Every bride wants to look beautiful on her wedding day but you don't need to bankrupt yourself in the process.
Hire a dress from a local shop or hit the High Street in search of a bargain. Shops like Monsoon, British Home Stores and Debenhams have beautiful gowns to buy from as little as £100, with matching accessories to boot. If you opt for a ‘ballgown’ design, you can always wear it on other smart occasions.
Some of the bigger charity shops, such as Oxfam, have a dedicated bridal section.
“We didn’t want to spend a fortune on a horse-drawn carriage or limo so we bought some ribbon and balloons and decorated the car with those. Our friends ‘helped’ us a little when we drove away from the ceremony to the reception by adding pots and pans and shaving foam that said ‘Just married’ on the back windscreen. I don’t think a hire car would have allowed that! It was nice having our car as part of our wedding day; it made it more personal.”
Can you borrow a smart sports car or vintage vehicle from family and friends? Or have some fun decorating your own car.
The cheapest catering option is to provide your own food (if you are hiring a hall), although restaurants, hotels and pubs might insist that you use their catering facilities.
A finger buffet may be the cheapest and easiest option. If you can stretch your budget more, you can order sandwich platters from supermarkets or from local delicatessens.
Some supermarkets do wedding cakes at vastly lower costs than those charged by a cake maker. Or ask a relative who is good at baking to help out.
Buying in bulk is the most cost effective option. Wine merchants and supermarkets often offer good discounts on bulk buys, while some places also offer a glass-hire service, the cost of which is sometimes refunded if you return the glasses clean and undamaged at the end.
Cava is a great alternative to champagne.