How to Plan Your Wedding During the Credit Crunch

By Suzanne Daykin

With the current credit crunch in full swing you may think this is not a good time to have your wedding, but planning your wedding within a budget and dare I say even cheaply is a great way to be creative and to avoid starting married life in debt.

To start with you may need to take your wedding glasses off, the ones that make you think all the wedding stuff being produced is a necessity because I am going to let you into a wedding secret - you don't need to have all the extras to have a fantastic wedding.

It is a good idea to start with a wedding budget, one that you can afford and that is realistic, how much do you have saved so far and how much can you save before the wedding? When you have the figure, you will need to stick to it.

Write down all the essential expenses to get married; the ceremony and the wedding rings, you don't even need the wedding rings to be married but you will probably want them. Now how much of your budget is left? You have paid for the absolute basics but you may want more?

A wedding dress and a new suit are nice, dresses can cost thousands and that would blow your budget, to get a gorgeous dress at a bargain price you will need to shop around. Visit the local bridal shops and wedding fairs, think about the dress that you want, you can even try them on to make sure, just don't buy it! Go away and think about the dress and the cost, can you find the same dress cheaper online? Can you find your dream dress being sold second hand? Even Oxfam have bridal shops if you are looking for a cheaper ethical dress and they are not just the lace creations from the eighties! Vintage wedding dresses are very fashionable at the moment, worth asking friends and relatives if they have a dress that you could borrow. When you have found the dress at the best price and it fits into your budget go ahead and buy it. One last check before you do - could you hire the dress instead? Sure you won't then have the dress to keep - but do you really need to keep it?

A new suit for your wedding is more of an investment if you have a suit that you can wear again, spending a fortune on hiring top hats and tails for all the males in the wedding party is not needed. Wearing their own gorgeous suits with matching ties or coordinated ties looks great and is a fraction of the cost.

Transport to the wedding in the basic sense is a necessity but it doesn't have to be a vintage or classic car or horse and carriage. These are nice but unless you have always dreamed of turning up at your wedding in a classic Rolls Royce they are more expense that you could save. Using friends' and family's cars is a nice alternative and they can still look the part washed and decorated with wedding ribbons.

So you can get to the wedding wearing your wedding dress, do you want anything else?

Guests would be nice and inviting your guests could cost you the rest of your budget, you don't need complicated folds, reply cards, or save the date cards. Send a card per family rather than to individuals as this can increase the cost, hand deliver those that you can and if you are feeling creative make your own. Just don't spend a small fortune on embellishments for the invitations, it isn't needed, the time date, and where are all you need.

Some photographs of the day would be good and this can be expensive. If you go with a professional, shop around, don't be afraid to negotiate on the price and ask for the negatives on a cd so you can do your own re-prints. Don't automatically go with their set packages, think about when and where you want the photos taken. Make sure you see their portfolio to ensure their style fits with yours and try and get out of having their wedding albums, they cost a fortune! Making your own album is good as you can mix photos taken by your wedding guests and your professional ones, giving you a real picture of the day.

Now that you have planned your wedding ceremony there is the celebration, or wedding reception, this can end up being the single biggest expense of your wedding budget. The key is to try and keep it simple, don't invite everyone you have ever met, invite the people that are important to you both. There is an increasing trend to have a cocktails and canapés reception rather than the big sit down meal. Think about having your reception in the evening where you can have your speeches and cake cutting at the beginning, followed by a buffet and dancing or have an afternoon reception, serving afternoon tea.

It is important that you keep your wedding reception within budget as this is one of those areas that is so easy to overspend, negotiate with the venue, a wedding during the week is cheaper than at the weekend and if you book in the quiet times like early January there will be room for more negotiation.

Wedding cakes are a traditional part of a wedding celebration and if you can't find a wedding cake that will fit within budget at a bakery take a look at those on offer at your local supermarket. You will be able to buy a plain cake that you can decorate with flowers or buy a cake topper that fits with your theme.

Wedding flowers are nice and flowers for the bride are part of most weddings, again shop around, find a new florist that is building up their reputation or keep it simple and carry a single stem. You can then use your bouquets to decorate the top table or the cake table. Decorating the tables with a mirror tile and candles is a simple and inexpensive decoration for the rest of the tables.

Don't feel you have to have wedding favours, if you have some wedding budget left then great, if not a simple hand written thank you note is perfect.

If there is a part of your wedding that you have always wanted find a way to fit it into your budget, having a cheaper wedding can still be about having your dream wedding, spend you wedding budget on what is important to you both, save on the rest and enjoy your day.

Suzanne Daykin is owner of

Suzanne has spent the last 12 years working in the Hospitality Industry as a wedding planner and event manager. Organising thousands of functions from small personal parties to large corporate product launches in the UK and Europe. Currently a work at home mum, Suzanne set up her own event company in 2006 and now looks to help future brides and grooms save money when they are planning their wedding.

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