Budget weddings - tips for saving money

Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life and every bride and groom wants it to be perfect. However, if you are struggling to fund your dream wedding and don't want to end up paying for the day for years to come, here are a few tips on where and how to save money.

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Keep it simple

Forget Peter and Jordan or Posh and Becks - simple weddings with plenty of personal detail are all the rage these days which is good news for those on a budget. Close friends and family only will keep the cost of invitations, food and drink down and will enable you to spend a little more on the elements that really matter to you.

There's no need to compromise on everything. Once you've set a budget, make a decision as to the things you must have, whether it be expensive flowers, an amazing cake or a horse-drawn carriage. The chances are you've been dreaming of your perfect wedding for some time so if needs be, splash out on one thing... you can always make savings elsewhere.

Get a little help from your friends
Enlist the help of your friends and family - among them may be dressmakers, flower arrangers, or arty types who can design and even produce invitations. They will enjoy helping out and it could save you some serious cash, even after you've bought the materials. If they need a little persuasion, ask them to think of it as a wedding present.

If fresh flowers prove expensive, consider making your own paper or fabric flowers to decorate tables and the reception area. You'll find plenty of 'how to' videos on Youtube - and once you've got the hang of it, you'll be creating them in no time. Save money by using cut-off material - just remember to stick to your chosen colour theme.

The dress
A beautiful bridal gown often takes a sizeable chunk out of the wedding budget but there are ways to save money. Wedding dress stores will often have an end of line sale where you may be able to pick up a bargain, but it's also worth checking charity shops, high street stores such as Monsoon and even BHS which offer good bridal ranges, and eBay is always worth a look (though you'll need to be sure you know what you're buying if you opt for second-hand). Off the peg dresses or once-worn gowns can always be adjusted by a professional seamstress and it could save you £100s.

Alternatively, why not consider a bridesmaid dress - these are often much cheaper than bridal gowns and usually come in a range of whites and creams.

The food
Wedding cakes can cost a pretty penny but you can knock plenty off your budget by choosing a store-bought centrepiece - Marks & Spencer offer an excellent alternative to the specially-made variety or alternatively, buy a ready-iced white cake and add flowers and accessories. A simple solution to the pricey food problem is to swap the sit-down meal for a hot buffet.

Some hotels and wedding venues offer all-in packages that often include the ceremony, the food, the photos and so on. It can prove an excellent option for couples on a budget but do be sure to check exactly what you get for your money, as well as the dates available for that 'good deal' and how many other weddings will be taking place on the day as communal areas can get crowded. Most places will offer a discount for winter and weekday weddings.

Ask for a discount
Finally, be wary of mentioning the word 'wedding' - if you're having a small do, call it a family celebration or reunion to avoid a marriage price hike. And don't be afraid to negotiate - it's always worth asking for a discount, whether it's on food, the venue or the dress. If you don't ask, you won't get!