This arti­cle is by Bernadette Chap­man, founder of the UK Alliance of Wed­ding Plan­ners and Events Direc­tor at Dream Occasions

I have noticed a dif­fer­ence in bud­get allo­ca­tion over the last 18 months due to the eco­nomic uncer­tainty we have all faced, bride and grooms included. Cou­ples are being more real­is­tic about what they can afford and reluc­tant to get into debt for their wed­ding. So if you are newly engaged how can you ensure you spend the money in the right areas?

What’s in the wed­ding ‘pot’?
Think about when you want to get mar­ried, is it this year or in 18 months time. Do you have sav­ings set aside for the wed­ding, if not then work out your expen­di­ture vs your income, what is a real­is­tic amount to save? Add this fig­ure to any con­tri­bu­tion from fam­ily to give you your real­is­tic budget.

With­out pro­duc­ing a bud­get from the out­set it is very easy to get car­ried away and spend money unnec­es­sar­ily. For exam­ple 45% of your bud­get will nor­mally go on the recep­tion, this only leaves you with 55% for all sup­pli­ers, out­fits and the ceremony.

Are there some fam­ily mem­bers that will be pro­vid­ing a ser­vice or skill as their wed­ding gift to you? Always have a con­tin­gency of about £500–1,000 for those items you never knew you ‘needed’! In order to cut costs think care­fully about every aspect of the wed­ding and what your pri­or­i­ties are, what areas can you save on?

Tal­ented helpers
Ask friends and fam­ily or even the local com­mu­nity to actively help you with the wed­ding. Per­haps some­one has a hid­den tal­ent like cake mak­ing, hair & beauty or does some­one have a lux­ury car that can be used as the wed­ding transportation.

Maybe your in laws are enthu­si­as­tic gar­den­ers, they could make up pots of flow­ers for you to use as cen­tre pieces or line the patio with.

Home­made with love
Where pos­si­ble con­sider get­ting cre­ative and make the design items for the wed­ding. Not only will it give your wed­ding a design edge it will be totally orig­i­nal and memorable.

Con­sider grow­ing herbs before the wed­ding and use as favours in the nap­kins on the day. Visit a local craft shop for mate­ri­als to make the table plan, put the paper on a can­vas then mount each table list. Go to your local fab­ric shop and buy some funky mate­r­ial, use as table run­ners or cut into napkins.

Get wise
If you need to cut costs then think about what is really impor­tant and where money can be saved. Does it mat­ter that all sta­tionery coor­di­nates? Instead of flow­ers why not have can­dle hold­ers instead? Storm lanterns are beau­ti­ful and inex­pen­sive to hire. Why pay hun­dreds of dollars  for hair/makeup when a friend can do it for free instead.

Enthu­si­asm vs Expe­ri­ence
Con­tact your local col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties; those study­ing music could play at your drink recep­tion or maybe there is a uni­ver­sity band that would love to enter­tain you for free? The cater­ing stu­dents might want to make canapés or your cake for you. And let’s not for­get those study­ing floristry, I’m sure they would pro­vide their ser­vices for free as long as you buy the flow­ers (whole­sale) for them.

At the same time though work out what is impor­tant to you, if pho­tos are espe­cially high up your list ensure you pay for a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher – this isn’t the time to ruin future mem­o­ries for the sake of a few hun­dred dollars.