Need to cut down your big day costs? Stretch your wedding budget and cut your spend with these top money-saving tips from Martin Lewis at moneysavingexpert.com
HOW TO HALVE YOUR WEDDING BUDGET WITHOUT ANYONE NOTICING
1. Do your research
The internet is a brilliant starting point for helping you to find all sorts of wedding-related things, especially traditional venues, but don't think of it as the be-all-and-end-all. Many wedding venues don't advertise online, so jump in a car and drive round the area you want to get married in – you might uncover some hidden gems all by yourself!
2. Guest count
Think very carefully about the number of guests you're inviting. The numbers soon add up – 70 people may sound like a lot, but it's only 15 members from your family, and 15 members from your fiancé's family, then ten friends each with partners.
Narrow down your wedding guest list and stick to close friends and family. One trick a lot of people use to cut the cost is to invite a limited number to the ceremony and wedding breakfast, and then invite many more to the evening party.
3. Look out for deals
If you're buying his suit keep your eye out for 25% off days (Marks and Spencer do lots of these). Collect points at Tesco and you can you could save big on wedding day alcohol or even wedding rings. Lots of supermarkets do 25% off when you buy six bottles of wine so if you're providing your own booze this is a great option.
4. Bring on the buffet
Food is the area where most couples go over budget, so look at how many people you've invited for the meal, work out your food budget, and divide it by the number of guests to get your per-head budget. Sit-down meals will cost the most: buffets, hog roasts and picnics are cheaper.
High street shops like M&S and Waitrose have party food sections that can be reasonably priced if you opt for platters. Also, ask your local supermarket to quote a price – it may turn out to be cheaper. Many supermarkets offer free glass hire too. Local, independent caterers may trump all offers you have though, so check out nearby cafes and restaurants.
HOW TO CUT YOUR WEDDING BUDGET
5. Haggle hard!
Gather as many quotes as you can, then play suppliers off against each other. The mention of a cheaper quote is often a quick way to get closer to the price you want. Offering a deposit upfront can sweeten the deal. This is a good trick if a supplier's deliberating over accepting a lower price –they'd much rather have cash from a serious buyer now than a promise from someone who could cancel later on.
Negotiating doesn't always have to be about money. If the supplier won't budge on the price, see what else you can get them to throw in – perhaps extra flowers or a fancier cake.
6. Fake flowers
Pick a wedding date just before or just after Easter or Christmas if you can. It often means the church is already decorated lavishly. You could also try making your own wedding flowers. It's amazing what you can do with some cheap vases and spray paints. You can find good quality flowers cheaply at your local market or grocer's shop.
7. Try DIY
Get your make-up done at a beauty counter in a department store, then simply buy the lipstick to touch up during the day. Department stores also occasionally run beauty courses that you could attend beforehand – then you learn a new skill, do your own make-up on the day just how you like it (à la Kate Middleton), and even help out at your friends' weddings in the future.
8. Think ahead
The further you book in advance the more likely you are to get a decent discount. Suppliers will usually be pleased to have the guaranteed business and will factor this into the price. Prices usually go up annually, so if you're planning a few years in advance try and bag this year's rates.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR WEDDING RECEPTION
9. Keep mum
If there's one thing that's guaranteed to increase the price of something, it's when people know you're having a wedding. So when negotiating try and avoid the W word. When enquiring about costs, call your event a party or celebration, and only once the price is agreed mention it's a wedding.
Want more? Here's are nine simple wedding budget hacks and six hidden wedding costs to look out for...