Summer is always a very popular time of year to get married, but with the average 2014 wedding costing over £20,000 according to some research, many couples are taking longer to tie the knot.
Being realistic from the start and asking yourself 'what can I afford to spend?' will help you determine your budget. It may be tempting to borrow to fund your wedding, but do you really want to start married life with extra debt?
A bit of research can help you to cut costs and still have a day to remember. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
The day of your wedding:
Getting married mid-week is often a lot cheaper than a weekend wedding. Avoiding Bank Holidays and peak times such as Christmas or Easter will also keep costs down. Venues offer lots of special deals for midweek weddings, so you might be able to afford to get married in your dream venue after all.
A sit down meal isn't your only option: a buffet, a BBQ or a hog roast are great alternatives and could work out cheaper - they will also make your wedding a little bit different from the norm.
Dress to impress:
A bride always wants to look her best on her big day, but why pay a fortune when the dress will only be worn once. There are lots of cost-effective options, with many of the big supermarkets now selling wedding and bridesmaid's dresses costing as little as £100. Don't rule out buying your dress online - there are lots of vintage and second-hand sites offering great deals. Oxfam have a great online bridal range with all dresses donated by designers, so you are guaranteed a quality gown as well as helping a charity.
Decorations & flowers:
Decorating your venue and getting your bridal bouquets can be more expensive than you think - especially if you go to a wedding specialist. There are lots of quirky alternatives for table centres, such as mini lanterns, candles, fruit bowls, or picture frames, all of which can be picked up in bargain stores. All you need to do is customise them to suit your style.
Fresh flowers are beautiful but can be pricey, so why not go for silk flower bouquets, not only are they cheaper but they will last longer and will be a reminder of your big day.
Instead of having a standard wedding cake, why not do something a bit different? Cupcakes are really popular at the minute, so why not buy one per guest and arrange them yourself on a cake stand, or if you have a guest who is a talented baker you could ask them to bake your cake.
Designing and making your own invitations and place settings means not only will you be saving money, but they will also be unique. There are loads of online sites selling 'do it yourself' kits.
MoneySense is a free, independent programme by Ulster Bank for schools and parents covering topics including banking, borrowing, budgeting and running a small business. Find out more ways to make your cash work harder in Jill Smyth's column next week