Not everyone dreams of a big wedding, of long, trailing dresses and horse-drawn carriages: more practically-minded and cost conscious couples are now stripping the wedding ceremony down to the bare minimum and are doing it themselves.

As more couples now choose to wait a few years before tying the knot, a simple, practical wedding is a far more viable option than a childhood romantic dream event. Thirty something couples often want to take on the job themselves rather than leave it to family members, and in our recession-hit times, wedding budgets are often pared down to a minimum.

DIY weddings may be increasing in popularity, but that doesn’t mean couples have to do without all those things that make a wedding special: the gorgeous dresses, the fabulous setting, and above all the memorable party afterwards. All of this is easy for couples to plan themselves without spoiling the big day.

While a destination wedding on a Caribbean island may be idyllic, it’s unlikely you can afford to fly all your friends and family over. A popular trend therefore is to plan a wedding ‘staycation’ in the countryside – gather up your friends and family to a country park or manor for a wedding on your own terms.

The venue

Top of your wedding planning list should be finding the right venue. Don’t worry about St Paul’s Cathedral being booked, get creative and find a venue that will cost you nothing more than permission from the local authorities, with national parks and public gardens something definitely worth considering.

Outdoor weddings don’t come with aisles or altars of course, but you can create your own using natural pathways in a suitable location (a bridge can make a great alternative to walking down an aisle). With a little imagination even a makeshift altar can be created from a natural outdoor feature.

Make-up, hair and clothes

With so much else to consider, prospective brides mustn’t forget themselves on the big day. Do your own make-up and find a friend that is prepared to do your hair. Ensure you get the look you want and are comfortable with in your own time, thus avoiding too many appointments on the day of the wedding. Likewise, with most bridesmaids hating the dresses they’re made to wear, why not let them choose for themselves – with a few guidelines, of course.

Centrepieces

Centrepieces are often seen as the thorn in the side of every wedding planner, but they don’t have to be dreaded: first, decide on the theme for your wedding. This doesn’t have to be anything definite; it could just mean the colours and textures you would like to be dominant in your wedding picture. It doesn’t have to be elaborate: a tall vase or a small floating light centrepiece will suffice. Votive candles or tea lights look great in any centrepiece and are really cheap to buy.

Stationery and flowers

Invitations can be printed off on your own computer at home; simply buy some good quality coloured paper from your local stationers to use. Similarly, napkins, music and even wedding favours need to be remembered (write lots of lists!) but can be bought easily or created by you; handwritten cards add a nice personal touch. If you don’t have time to get flowers on the day, use dried flowers and DIY the bouquets as far in advance as you like.

Furniture is another thing to remember, ensuring there are enough chairs for the guests. Don’t forget the cake stand, which doesn’t have to be expensive – try looking in your local charity shop. To complete a glass theme, a glass dining table looks spectacular in the centre of your reception room.

Finally, when trying to stick to your budget, remember to haggle and use local suppliers; and while this is ‘do it yourself’, it doesn’t mean you can’t delegate – this is your day to shine, so relax and enjoy yourself.

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