Ten tips for a cheaper wedding

Close up of wedding cake figurines on stacks of coins

The average wedding now costs in the region of £18,000, and in the wake of the recession, many couples are putting off their nuptials because of money. You don't have to spend a fortune, though. Check out these ten tips for a cheaper, but none the less cheerful do.

Fix your budget
The key to an affordable wedding is sticking to your budget. Work out what you can (not what you want to) spend, and roughly estimate how much you can assign to each element, discussing between you what is most important and ditching the unnecessary nice-to-haves. And don't overspend.

The ring
The engagement ring often accounts for a sizeable portion of the wedding spend, but you don't have to splash the cash on a celeb-sized sparkler. Consider trading in your saved up Tesco Clubcard points and swap them for Goldsmiths reward vouchers, which will triple their value.

If you're really lucky, a family member may have a ring that they will be only too happy to pass down - it's romantic and free. And when it comes to the wedding bands themselves, just go for a simple, plain band and save yourself some cash.

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.

Go off-peak
The date you choose could make a huge difference to the cost of your wedding, with Fridays and Sundays often half the price of a Saturday at venues, and an even greater discount for midweek weddings. By the same token, you could save a bundle by having a winter weddings, where suppliers of all kinds of marriage supplies will offer discounts in order to get bookings.

Dress savings
The wedding dress can also turn out to be a big expense, so try to find reduced prices by searching for outlet stores or end-of-line discounts on everything from shoes to bridesmaids' dresses. Secondhand is also an option if you're really strapped for cash, and since most brides only wear their dress once, you could be pick up a real bargain.

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.

Wedding packages
These days a number of hotel chains offer all-inclusive wedding packages for those on a budget, typically for just under £1,000, including a buffet or meal for a certain number of guests, and room hire for the reception. Holiday Inn, Old English Inns and Britannia Hotels are some to try - but do make sure you know what you're getting included in the price.

Local venues
You might be dreaming of that stately home for your venue, but when money's tight, it's wise to look elsewhere. Check your local area for possible venues such as church halls, village halls or sports clubs, which can be decorated so you feel just as special, and will come in at a fraction of the cost. If you're having a small do, consider hiring a holiday property for the occasion, but do remember to ask the owner to check whether it's okay.

Eat out
The British weather isn't always terribly predictable, but if you're willing to risk it, a wedding picnic is a great way to save money. With blankets for guests (and a few umbrellas just in case), you can still have a beautiful and romantic do - and you can even ask your guests to bring a bottle or some posh nosh for the occasion.

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!

Have you pulled off a super cheap wedding? What advice would you give to others? Leave your comments below...
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