Saving money on your wedding: how to have the reception you want at a price you can afford.

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By Wedding Ideas magazine

If you’re planning your wedding and are looking for ways to cut down the costs, it’s time to get creative with flowers, drinks and the extras that can easily add up.

  • You don’t have to spend a fortune on champagne. There are many wonderful sparkling wines that offer great flavour and value for money, and guests probably won’t even notice the difference.
  • We don’t recommend that you skimp on your wedding dress, but there are bargains to be had — check out the annual designer dress sample sales for some gorgeous gowns at unbelievable prices.

SAVVYWOMAN TIP: Oxfam may not be your first choice of shop to buy your wedding dress from, but it has its own bridal department with 11 specialist bridal shops around the country and a limited range online. Some dresses have been donated by designers, others are second hand.

  • When choosing your flowers, sometimes less can be more. Single blooms are cheap and simple but make a big, beautiful statement.
  • Use flowers that are in season. Save money on flowers by using those that are in season and locally sourced. And remember, foliage is much cheaper than flowers and can be just as effective.

SAVVYWOMAN TIP: Websites such as The Real Cut Flower Garden sell British flowers by mail order.

  • Reduce stationery costs. Leave out some of the unnecessary bits of paper that often come with invitations. Do people really need an RSVP card? Ask guests to phone one of you instead, or better still, set up a wedding website where guests can find out all the information they need and RSVP for free.
  • Use disposable cameras. They’re a great way to get lots of informal shots that will capture your day from your guests’ point of view. This is especially important if your photographer is not staying for the evening celebrations. Or ask guests to bring their digital cameras and upload the photos afterwards to a dedicated web page.
  • Cut down on the flowers. Instead of splashing out on acres of flowers, think about using other decorations as well. Elegant arrangements of candles will be just as impressive and give a lovely ambiance. Scented candles can also smell as good as flowers.
  • Ask friends to save rose petals. If you’re getting married during the summer, ask all your loved ones who have roses to save the petals for you. They can easily be dried out to make beautiful confetti, and they are bio-degradable.
  • Think creatively with your hen night. Have a hen night where you and your girls use the time to bond while also making place names, decorations, wedding favours or the table plan.
  • Use decorations that are already there. If you get married in a church and spend money on decorating it with flowers, don’t leave them behind — take your flowers with you to decorate your reception as well.
  • Book in at a beauty counter. If you’re doing your own make-up, go to one of the beauty counters at a department store — they offer free advice and makeovers, and often give you great deals on the make-up they’ve used on you.
  • Work out whether a ‘booze cruise’ would save you money. If you’re sourcing your own food and drinks, a trip to France might work out cheaper.

SAVVYWOMAN TIP: Bear in mind that when the euro is as strong as it currently is against the pound, you may not save much money and Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Oddbins are all closing their shops in Calais due to falling sales.

  • Consider getting married abroad. You can often get a lot more for your money in an exotic location and the whole thing will be one long holiday. Fewer guests will be able to come though, so be sure you’re happy to have a smaller, more intimate occasion, and always hire an experienced planner to help with the legal stuff.
  • Forget the traditional gift list. Instead, how about letting guests buy you parts of your honeymoon? Many tour operators now offer gift tokens and ‘experiences’, like a candlelit meal on the beach, which guests can buy for you.
  • Speak to your parents before you set your budget. Find out what they might like to contribute or specific things they’d like to pay for. Agree with both sets of parents about who is paying for what, and how much, before you spend it.
  • Check out the high street. You can save money on all those items you need to buy for the big day — bridesmaids’ dresses, accessories, shoes, suits, flowers, stationery, favours, cakes and decorations can all be found on the high street. Department stores are particularly good.
  • Get crafty and make things yourself. DIY brides can save a fortune by making their own personalised jewellery, stationery, favours, cake, flowers and even bridesmaids’ dresses — and they’ll be exactly as you want them! Or utilise the talents of your loved ones to make these things for you.

Useful links:
Wedding Ideas is the UK’s best-selling bridal mini mag and is packed with money-saving tips for every budget. It’s available at WHSmiths, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and all good newsagents.

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