Wedding Budget Tips

Bride and groom and other family members may fret and hem and haw over funds spent on a wedding. But there may be a few shortcuts to a more efficient budget.

Tradition has previously suggested that all wedding expense be paid by the bride's family, but most couples today either pay for wedding expenses themselves or share the expense with various family members.

"It was just too much for my father to carry alone," says Nina, who married a year ago in London. "And since I'm an accomplished person myself, I felt guilty letting him spend his savings on my wedding."

Instead, the bride and groom shared wedding and reception expenses but Nina's dad picked up the tab for a small rehearsal dinner at a local restaurant.

Wedding costs may vary from £30,000 for a blow-out all-traditional 300-head-plus event to a few hundred Pounds for a small, family-only backyard gathering.

There is really no limit to the amount of money spent on a wedding depending on the location, entertainment and number of events and number of guests invited.

A four-day event that lasts from Thursday through Sunday morning may include a get-to-know-you Thursday evening dinner for guests from out-of-town; a day of golf for guests; rehearsal dinner for the bridal party; spa day for the bride and her bridesmaids; the wedding itself plus the reception and entertainment and Sunday brunch for gift-opening and departing guests.

The total can easily add up to several tens of thousands of Pounds.

But there are lots of simple ways to tighten that budget with a few tricks of your own, and a little help from talented friends.

*Invitations may be hand-made with some nifty paper from a local gift store printed by your printer and hand-delivered to friends and family members the guest list is small.

*Flowers may be picked from a local garden and tied together with some luxurious velvet or satin ribbon for a fresh stem bouquet.

*The wedding itself may be held in a friend's backyard or an open field lush with flowering plants or sunflowers.

*A beach wedding may need standing-room only (hence no rental chairs or overhead on tents.)

*Additional lights or a photographer's additional equipment can be left at home when the event is backlit by a cascading sunset.

*Instead of traditional wedding attire, the bride and groom may opt for more casual clothing such as shorts or a simple suit and delicate dress.

*Rehearsal dinner may be a potluck where each member of the wedding party provides a favourite dish.

*Invitations may reach across the ethers via the internet with a simple rsvp for an outdoor wedding at a local inn or at a farm which requires minimal fees.

*A wedding gown (an easy £1,500 for designer gown) may be borrowed from a friend's closet or passed from a close relative. A few stitches from a local seamstress or tailor will freshen the gown to your own specifications.

*Grooms may ditch a rental tuxedo and opt for a white shirt-only and casual pants if the wedding takes place outdoors or at the beach.

*Additional decorations for either a formal reception or a more casual at-home wedding may be made by a talented guest with silk flowers or plucked from a friends' garden.

*A trove of candles in various shapes and sizes but in one colour (such as cream or peach) can decorate an entire backyard with a romantic and inexpensive theme.

*Talented friends with musical instruments may gather as a impromptu band for a close-knit reception.

*If your heart is still set on tradition, opt for a day in the middle of the week when restaurants and locales for special events may be more likely to come down on prices.

*Choose to have a one-day event with both wedding and dinner wrapped into one, skipping the traditional rehearsal dinner and cocktail hour.

*Schedule the actual wedding close to the evening so you can easily slide past a traditional cocktail hour and move guests directly into dinner.

*Find a friend with calligraphy talent and ask him or her to create a dinner scroll, which lists each guests' table number and name instead of printing pricey plate names.

*Buy champagne and wine in bulk and have it shipped directly to the location of your wedding whether it is at a restaurant or a friend's home. Bulk prices are about 13 percent lower than individual buys.

*Encourage an aspiring filmmaker to tape the wedding (with strict instructions) for a personal memory.

*Inquire at a local college or journalism school that offers photography courses for an outstanding student who may be hired at a fifth of the cost of traditional fee for a professional photographer. Provide the student with a nominal fee and all film costs.

*If you choose to have wedding programs, invent your own format and print at your own expense. Colourful papers and cardstock can be purchased in bulk at a paper or craft store.

*Create one small festive-looking wedding cake for cake-cutting purposes, but invest in several sheet cakes for serving your guests. An elaborate cake to serve all your guests can be expensive, while sheet cakes can cut the cost of cake-serving in half.

*Instead of hiring limousines for the wedding party, ask favours of your friends with roomy SUV's who can accommodate a group.

And above all, be ready to adjust your budget from beginning to final dance. Your wants and desires may change, and cost-cutting measures may add up to fewer expenses.