How to save a fortune on your wedding

Katie Collins/PA

With wedding season in full swing, couples throughout the country are likely to be watching the pennies in the countdown to the big event. Money worries may not be the most romantic start to married life, but with the average wedding now costing a staggering £20,273 according to figures from HSBC, it is a genuine concern as the recession continues to bite.

Of course you don't need to spend anywhere near this much to have a day to remember, so we quizzed some bloggers in the know to share their top tips on cutting the cost.

1. Alternative venue
Venue hire tends to be the biggest expense and venues are now getting wise to couples looking to save costs by choosing Friday or Sunday weddings, or opting for off season dates. "Prices are not as good as they used to be," says Rebecca Norris, author of lifestyle blog Florence Finds who married her husband Pete in 2009. "So try looking for a venue that isn't normally a wedding venue instead. Restaurants or gastro pubs are perfect for this as they have all the facilities you need for catering and entertainment. We held our wedding in a historic building that is now an Italian restaurant. The food was delicious and a good compromise on the Italian wedding we wanted. Best of all, the restaurant hire was free as the food and drink covered the costs."

2. Cut-price cakes
A professionally made three-tier wedding cake starts at around £300 and wedding forums are buzzing with a great tip to slash this cost by more than a third. Off-the-shelf celebration cakes with plain white icing are available in different sizes from supermarkets such as Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Asda from as little as £10 each. Ready to customise with your own decorations, such as such as ribbon, sugarcraft, fresh or silk flowers, and styled with a tiered cake stand or pillars, it is possible to make a huge saving for a little extra time and effort.

3. Modern mixed tape
Entertainment is key to make your evening go off with a bang but the cost of hiring a DJ or live band soon adds up. To save costs without compromising on music, Chloe Addlington, author of popular wedding blog, Adore, suggests asking your guests to RSVP with their favourite song. "You can then make a playlist with everyone's favourite tunes. It's cheap and your guests will love hearing their choice played."

4. Photobooth fun
An increasingly popular way to keep your guests entertained, perhaps while you are having your professional pictures taken, is to set up a DIY photobooth. "I did this at my wedding using a couple of old picture frames and various words and captions printed onto card," explains Charlotte O'Shea, who runs popular blog, Rock My Wedding and married her husband James in 2009. "We then provided a dressing up box that included various hats, glasses and wigs – all easily found from charity shops or even your own loft. It provided hours of entertainment for guests and made for some memorable photos."

5. Seasonal blooms
Flowers are another costly area that can quickly get out of hand if you don't plan carefully. "Choosing seasonal flowers is a key way to keep your budget down," advises Norris, who has a season-by-season guide on her blog. "An even bigger saving can be made by buying in bulk and using a single bloom in a bold colour throughout the wedding for maximum impact. For modern schemes try carnations packed together, or gypsophelia (babies breath) in romantic drifts for a more rustic look."

6. Save on stationery
Stationery is an often overlooked cost but one that can get expensive if you fork out for professionally printed invitations and menus, as well as a table plan and order of service. So instead look to the internet, which is awash with templates that can be downloaded, customised with your own details and printed yourself. "Free printables are a fantastic way to save on stationery expenses," advises Chloe, who has recently posted a round-up of her favourites.

7. Second-hand savings
Buying second-hand pieces for your wedding no longer has the stigma it once did and sites such as are a fantastic source to make savings on everything from decorations to dresses, as well selling on your own items after the big day. Set up by a newly-wed who wanted to share the beautiful things she has sourced for her own wedding, Sell My Wedding is a specialist marketplace that brings together buyers and sellers. In addition to wedding attire, decorations are listed by theme such as seaside, vintage, rustic and contemporary

8. DIY veil
To save serious money on your wedding will involve a fair amount of time, commitment and DIY, but surprisingly one of the easiest things to make is your veil. "You can buy a pattern and silk or tulle for around £20 online - it will take you less than an afternoon to make and give you huge satisfaction on the day," says Norris. "It's a fun part of wedding preparation you can do with your mum or friend." For a more fashion forward look, she suggests making a birdcage veil with Russian netting for less than £5.

9. Host a craft day
Even if you're not naturally a creative person, you may find yourself eager to learn when big savings are at stake. Specialist wedding items like decorations and favours all come at a premium, so it really pays to get stuck in yourself. Absorb yourself in wedding blogs for clever and affordable ideas and rope others into help. "Consider hosting a tea party pre W-day, " suggests O'Shea. "Not only does this give you an opportunity to get together with your nearest and dearest, you could also spend the afternoon making various decorations such as bunting and paper garlands."

10. Break with tradition
The traditional wedding schedule may include a sit-down wedding breakfast followed by an evening event with further catering for additional guests, but breaking with this formality is a good way to save money and add a personal touch to your wedding. Consider holding a late afternoon ceremony, followed by a drinks reception and casual meal or buffet in the evening, or a very intimate ceremony and meal with your closest family and a party for everyone else after.

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