Wedding planning on a budget

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When it comes to wedding planning, everyone's budget is different. For some, spending £20,000 is not considered out of the ordinary whereas for others a few grand is too much.
I'm a very happy newlywed, having married my beautiful wife, Naomi, last month. Having worked hard to turn our finances around over the past few years, we knew we couldn't afford to overspend and our budget was definitely at the lower end.
However, after a bit of research, we found that we could radically cut loads off what is considered to be a normal wedding cost. So if you're getting hitched in 2015 and need to save some serious cash, here are some of the things we did to cut costs.
Ask around
Before going out and looking for quotes, turn to your friends and family to see if they have the skills to help, or know someone who could.
Family really wanted to be involved in the planning so loved contributing in some way. My niece who is a hairdresser did the bride's hair and our invitations were made for free by a local printer who is a friend of one of the bridal party.
A summer wedding is a fashionable choice but works out a lot more expensive. That's why we opted to marry out of season and chose a winter wedding, as the prices jumped down considerably.
We chose to get married at a local pub, which was quite small and could only hold about 50 people. As a bonus, it meant we didn't have to spend much money feeding our guests.
We negotiated a package deal and hired the whole place, with a sit-down meal, evening buffet and drinks for around £2,000. When things are tight, that can seem quite a lot but, overall, the value for money was amazing.
Wedding flowers can easily add up to hundreds, even thousands, of pounds in the blink of an eye. My wife decided to make our own bouquets. We found flowers cheaply in supermarkets and YouTube did an amazing job of providing tutorials to make bouquets for the wedding party. All in all, we spent less than £30 on flowers for the whole day.
I nearly shed a tear when I got a quote from a photographer – more than £1,000 just for a CD of the shots, not an album.
In this day and age, where pretty much everyone has a smartphone, why not just ask your guests to become photographers for the day? Set up a private Facebook group or sign up to a free account and ask your guests to upload their own pictures.
We put some signs on the tables with instructions for an I Spy photo game. This then doubled as (free) entertainment and got us loads of unique shots for our wedding album.
The dress
Another massive purchase for a few hours of wear is the dress, which can easily cost £1,000.
My bride looked at hiring a dress, finding one secondhand, buying one from the high street or going to a factory outlet – there are loads of money-saving options to find the perfect dress for well under the national average.
You can also get dresses from eBay for around the £100 mark, which are made to measure from China. There are some reports of bad quality but my wife looked stunning in her dress, which cost just £89.
However much money you choose to spend on a wedding, don't overstretch yourself. The last thing you want is unnecessary financial burden as you head into married life.
Ricky Willis is an award-winning blogger and author of the blog.