Here’s10 of the best ways to do it (without looking like a cheapskate).
1. Go digital with your invitations
Sending out professionally-printed wedding invitations will cost you an arm and a leg. So send out e-invites and even create your own wedding website for free.
It’s an environmentally-friendly solution that will allow you to avoid paying postage as well as printing costs.
What’s more, a website will be a handy place for guests to find information about the venue, such as directions, as well as to post their pictures and comments after the event.
Moonfruit is a good place to start. It’s open source software which offers a range of templates – and won’t cost you a penny. Otherwise, a quick Google search will reveal plenty more options.
2. Buy fewer flowers
Wedding flowers cost a fortune, especially if you want floral arrangements on the tables and in the church/ceremony venue.
One way to keep the cost down is to choose non-floral table centrepieces that you can make yourself – such as tall candles surrounded with multi-coloured glass pebbles.
Or use just one single flower in the middle of each table. It can make a big impact without costing the earth.
3. Double-up guests as late-night photographers
Paying a photographer to capture your wedding day in its entirety can add hundreds of pounds to your budget.
So why not move key ‘picture’ events (such as the cutting of the cake and tossing of the bouquet) forward – and pack the photographer off early?
Then, for the evening, ask guests to take pictures themselves with their cameras or phones and email them to you, post them on your website, or on Facebook. You’ll have hundreds of decent snaps to choose from and you could even set a prize for the best!
4. Opt for a buffet over a sit-down meal
With a per-head cost of as little as £11 or £12, opting for a buffet over a sit-down wedding breakfast can cut your catering bill by up to 30%.
Another fun option, if you are holding your wedding in a large hall or outdoors is to go for a hog roast, which can feed up to 150 people – although you will have to provide a vegetarian alternative for the non-meat eaters.
5. Have your cake and eat it
Save money on catering by serving your wedding cake as the dessert rather than splashing out on a separate one.
And, these days, you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds on a fancy wedding cake. You can buy traditional three-tier versions from posh supermarkets for about £1 a slice. Even better, ask a talented friend or relative to bake one.
6. Keep a tab on the free booze
Put on a completely free bar and you’re bound to get a nasty shock when it comes to paying the bill – especially as people tend to really ‘go for it’ when someone else is paying for their drinks.
So keep the bar bill under control by paying for beer, wine and soft drinks – but not spirits.
When it comes to the drinks served before the meal, offering Pimms rather than champagne is also a way to be generous and frugal at the same time.
7. Hire amateur (but good!) musicians
Musicians or a band can bring some real pizzazz to a wedding celebration. But you don’t have to pay the earth for a big name.
One way to find a group you like for less is to scope out the talent playing in your local pubs and have a chat to them about how much they would charge to play for a couple of hours.
An even cheaper option is to see if any local schools or music colleges have talented students who could provide musical entertainment for a fraction of the price.
Just remember to hold an audition or go to see them perform at a concert first!
8. Book a DJ
Hiring a DJ rather than a band can slash your entertainment budget by a massive 60%.
Further savings are also available if you get the DJ to come in just for the disco and not for the pre-dinner drinks, when a playlist played via an iPod will often work just as well. You could even ask for your guests to email requests for it in advance
9. Shop around for a wedding dress
Whether you have your heart set on a designer wedding gown, or are looking for a dress that you could wear again, there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount you spend.
High street chains such as Coast and Phase Eight do some beautiful wedding dresses that won’t break the bank, and you can also find bargain ready-to-wear dresses at websites such as net-a-porter.com.
Thrifty brides-to-be with designer dreams, meanwhile, can check out specialist wedding dress charity shops such as Oxfam and Barnardo's. Also, check out sellmyweddingdress.co.uk – a website selling second-hand gowns which you can be pretty sure have only been worn once.
10. Use a credit card
Using a credit card to pay for everything from booking the venue to buying a dress will give you access to extra protection you would not receive if you paid in cash or by debit card.
This is because credit card purchases worth more than £100 are covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which states the card firms are jointly and severally liable with the merchant should anything go wrong – such as the venue flooding or your dress failing to turn up. The protection applies even if just the deposit is put on the card.
A 0% purchase credit card is also a great way to spread the cost of a wedding without incurring any pesky interest.
The best 0% purchases cards on the market at the moment are from Santander and Tesco Bank. They both offer 18 months of interest-free spending – giving you some breathing space to clear any surplus costs until way beyond your first anniversary.