Arranging a wedding is one of the most stressful times you will ever go through in your life, however handling the cost of it all will be the biggest pitfall you will face. There are however a huge number of ways in which you can save money, so we have created the following checklist for you to consider before jumping right in.

Checklist Tip
1 Keep The Guest List Tight
2 Be Prudent With The Wedding Dress
3 Cheaper Transport
4 The Music
5 The Ceremony Venue
6 The Reception Venue
7 Wedding Support Over Gifts
8 Cater Yourself
9 Clever Flower Decisions
10 Trade Up The Cake
11 Make Your Own Invitations
12 Skip The Open Bar
13 Make Your Own Wedding Decorations
14 Honeymoon - Expensive Doesn't Mean Better
15 Research The Cost Of Everything

1) Keep The Guest List Tight

It can be tempting at first to invite all of your friends from school days, everyone you met while travelling and anyone you've ever shared a drink with. I'd recommend writing down a list of everyone you could potentially invite, including relatives, old and new friends. It can feel harsh, but you need to be strict with yourself and decide who actually needs to come. You then need to remember a huge number of people will expect to bring their other half. I actually attended a wedding recently where nobody was allowed to bring their partner, except for family members. This meant that all us friends had to go on our own, which is perfectly acceptable as we will be surrounded by friends anyway. People will act a little selfish, but it is important to remember that this is your day; if they don't want to attend then maybe they're not as close a friend as you thought. If people ask why they can't bring someone, have a consistent reason planned out, whether it's "we wanted a more intimate wedding with just close friends and family" or "the venue had a maximum capacity which we have already reached", a set excuse will work a charm.

2) Be Prudent With The Wedding Dress

You don't have to spend an absolute fortune to look gorgeous. The cost of wedding dresses is actually going down, largely thanks to wholesalers in Asia. While the average wedding dress costs just over £1,000, you can now find a beautiful dress on the high street for around £300-£500. If you really want to save money, you could consider a second hand dress. I know a bride who bought one for £20 as a backup plan, in case she couldn't find 'the right one'. Ebay is making it even easier to pickup a great quality second-hand dress at a heavily knocked down price, so don't rule out this option just yet. This also goes to the groom as well. My brother in law was going to get his suit tailor made in London, at a cost of £1,000. I then offered to buy the suit for him as a wedding gift and bought it from Next for £120, including the shirt, jacket, trousers, tie and pocket square!

3) Cheaper Transport

You could hire a limo for the day, or you could contact your family and friends and see if anyone owns a special vehicle which will make it that little bit cheaper. If someone owns a stunning vintage car, this could have a greater affect than your usual hired car. Many people are now venturing out and going for something related to their work or their surroundings (from a black cab to a tractor), however this won't necessarily appeal to everyone. I know someone who hired a **party bus** for them all to arrive as a group, which looked hysterical!

4) The Music

While historically you would always hire a band or a singer to play at your wedding, the use of a playlist or spotify is starting to gather pace. This will also allow you to make a personal list of all of your favourite songs. Even better, you could contact each attendee to write 1 song they would love to hear on the day, so you can cater to everyone's taste at the wedding. If you do decide to play a band, why not find out if anyone has any family or friends that play in one and would be willing to play for the day. HOWEVER, make sure you listen to them first. The last thing you want is for them to wreck the day. You also might want to bring along some equipment to play music on, just in case something goes wrong.

5) The Ceremony Venue

If you really wanted to save money, you could head straight to a registry office for just £119. You would need to provide at least 16 days of notice and have some friends there as witness, however this isn't popular among many as it can take away the magic of the day a little.

6) The Reception Venue

This will account to a huge proportion of your costs, therefore this should be a key consideration. The first consideration is how long you want to hire the venue for. You can save a lot of money by cutting back on the hours you will be staying there and then moving on to a new bar for the remaining party goers who want to carry on into the night. My sister had arranged with a local bar to ensure everyone could enter if they stated they were part of 'Jenny's wedding'. This ensured everyone gained entry, while the drinks were much cheaper and any damage caused on site wouldn't be charged to the couple. Try to pick a location based on the attendance number. If you think you could handle that many in your garden, then why not bring everyone back. Alternatively, many pubs are willing to make a deal for a section to be hired out for the evening. Even a village hall could be a lot cheaper than a wedding specific space or staying on at the building where the ceremony took place.

7) Wedding Support Over Gifts

It is tempting to write up a gift list of things you would like from all your guests. You could however see if you have any creatively talented individuals among the list who would be willing to take on any of the tasks themselves. From catering to photography, these all add up on the final bill, therefore it would be extremely frugal to utilise this opportunity. A recent wedding I attended had a friend handling the wedding video. She did it all for free and produced something breath-taking (as she is a semi-famous YouTuber and Vlogger), which saved an extra £1000 which had been budgeted for.

8) Cater Yourself

Do you have any chef's among the group? In fact, they don't have to be amazing, it can be all easy-to-cook food, as long as it can easily be made up at the venue in bulk. My sister had food made before the wedding, then had it all frozen beforehand. She also requested people to bring a home-made cake with them if they had the chance. This made for a mouth-watering table of goodies! You can also normally persuade some people to get involved in the waitering, especially if there are any teenagers among the group who could do with some extra change.

9) Clever Flower Decisions

I'm going to sound like a typical guy here, but the flowers will die within a couple of days of the wedding and they will cost you a fortune. On the other hand, there are threecheeky tricks you can take to cut back here. Firstly, if you were to choose fake flowers, the costs are drastically less. A few people may notice they aren't real, but who cares! Secondly, you could buy a single rose for each table and for each bridesmaid. This can often look more elegant than oversized bouquets. Third, when talking to the florist, don't mention you are getting married. They tend to hike up the prices when they see an opportunity. Instead try to enquire about the ones you are interested and get a definitive price, then you can mention your wedding afterwards to see if you can get a bulk discount.

10) Trade Up The Cake

My sister had a really nice idea, to ditch the overpriced wedding cake (being offered at £300) and instead paid a local baker to design some beautiful cupcakes. She only needed 80 of them and due to the large scale production, she was charged £120, under half the price of what the wedding cake would have cost. This also ensures every attendee will have a piece for themself. Over here in Brighton there are some great cupcake makers in the lanes that create such stunning designs you would feel honoured to provide these for your family and friends. Plus they will probably taste a hell of a lot nicer than a wedding cake. Even better, you could find out the different flavours and ask each attendee on the wedding invitation what flavour they would like.

11) Make Your Own Invitations

We plan on designing up some wedding invitations over the next few months, which you can print off and send off to all your family and friends. At the end of the day, you don't need an expensive brand or design, you could just send over your chosen invitation to a company like Vistaprint and then choose the material you want. Even better, if you are creative then you could actually design all of them up yourself, but be prepared to go absolutely insane, as this will take an entire weekend to complete...time to crack open the bubbly and get sparkling!

12) Skip The Open Bar

This burns me to say it, as there is nothing greater than an open bar at a wedding, but the costs will go through the roof. Instead you have a few options. You could provide 1-2 free drinks each, before the cash bar is open to everyone. Many people just set a couple of bottles per table and then once they are gone then people have to pay if they want any more. An alternative option could be to arrange a BYOB (bring your own booze), however remember to check with the venue if there is a corkage charge, or if they even allow you to bring booze into the premises. A large number of venues are adverse to people bringing outside alcohol in, as this drains the amount they could earn, however for the venues that do allow it, corkage charges can be ridiculous if you don't negotiate beforehand. You can also have a go at bartering on the price per bottle they will charge. You never know unless you try, they might have a particular bottle which you can bring down the price on, which you could advertise to everyone attending as the best option.

13) Make Your Own Wedding Decorations

A large number of bridesmaids have called us up requesting creative classes and sessions to help design the decorations for the wedding, such as bunting making. This is something we are considering introducing, so do let us know if this interests you and we will make sure we introduce it very soon. From the table covers to the place mats, there are so many things you can design yourself.

14) Honeymoon - Expensive Doesn't Mean Better

It is a natural thought to look at the president suite, in an expensive hotel on a desert island. I'm not saying you shouldn't stay in the Bahamas if you have the budget for it, but there are so many ways you can stay in a nice location at a fraction of the cost. For example, you could stay in an incredibly **posh hotel in Prague** with all the trimmings at a very reasonable cost. Or stay in the sun in Portugal with none of the high costs. We should know, we offer cost-effective **Lisbon hen do's**! If you want a beach resort, why not consider Sharm El Sheikh instead of the Caribbean. Once again, the hotel will be significantly cheaper and you barely have to leave the resort, as the beach will be on-site, with guides driving you to any of the activities you want to try out.

15) Research The Cost Of Everything

Don't put your money down on anything until you've thoroughly researched all options and competitors. From photographers to wedding cakes, you might think you're getting a good deal, yet a little bit more digging could find you a cheaper option or might reveal you're paying over the odds.