Young couples are choosing between buying a house and having a wedding as they tighten their belts, according to a top Northern Ireland celebrity wedding planner.
Anthony Millar - one half of wedding planners Ant and Dick - says people are getting very nervous about having weddings in the current economic climate. But he insists it is more than possible to hold a memorable wedding while saving thousands of pounds.
“Not a lot of people can afford to buy a house at the minute and they’re worried about the cost of a wedding,” he said.
“I think in all honesty - although I’m not an economist - that there’s a lot of over-panic on what the situation is. I think the wedding suppliers in Northern Ireland are much more reasonably priced compared to the UK.
“I think there’s a bit of the panic button going on at the minute, but it doesn’t need to be like that - people can do it themselves and make it gorgeous.”
Ant and Dick are resident wedding planners at Wedding TV which is covering the Wedding Extravaganza at the Odyssey Arena this weekend. They will be on hand at the show to offer advice to brides-to-be, performing makeovers and hosting the bridal catwalk.
The pair can also offer advice on credit crunch weddings and how to have your perfect day without breaking the bank.
“There’s cutting costs, there’s cutting costs and then there’s seriously cutting costs, “ Ant says.
If you’re hellbent on having a huge celebration at a venue, wedding fairs are ideal for picking up deals, he says.
“If you book there and then, you can attract major discounts. And haggle - you have to treat them like Turkish stall holders,” he says.
“There’s also the option of doing it at home. We all know somebody with a big house or a big garden. It’s all about roping in the people around you. A friend can take photographs, a friend can do the cake, a friend can do the stationery.
“The services you would normally hire - most of them can be done by anyone. You could do your own catering - it doesn't have to be a five course meal. It can be a beautiful buffet.”
As for the dress, many brides are now saving hundreds by going for vintage instead of new - after all, you only wear it for one day.
“If you go online to eBay or Oxfam, you’ll find designer dresses for pennies because a lot of people want rid of them - for whatever reason,”Ant says.
“As for the flowers, rather than having a huge big bouquet, a nice single flower like a lily or a gerbera can be very effective. You can create a really stunning piece by doing very little.”
The groom's attire can be picked up in a high street shop such as Primark, which are doing nice suits for around £40, he says.
“Stick on a couple of nice accessories and it looks like you’ve paid a couple of hundred quid,” he says.
“And if you’re buying your drinks in the supermarket, go for what’s on offer. How people judge a good wedding is not the food or the flowers but how drunk they get.”
Eco-friendly couples will also find that by counting the pennies they are also helping to save the planet, he points out.
“If you’re having your wedding at home, you’re automatically cutting down on the services that would have to be driven in, so you are cutting down your carbon emissions. A reclaimed dress is eco-friendly because you are recycling,” Ant says.
The Wedding Extravaganza Show takes place in The Odyssey Arena, Belfast, from October 3 to 5. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the ticket hotline on 028 9073 9074 (priced £9) or at the door on the days of the show at a price of £10. For more information go to www.weddingextravaganza.co.uk.