Budget wedding: How to get married for £200

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It's time to go back to basics & remember what weddings are really about...

bride and groom wedding cake topper

© Kate Gilbert

The average wedding now costs a huge £22,000 - but that doesn't have to be a target. Francesca Beauman, author of How To Wear White: a pocket book for the bride-to-be is here to tell brides-to-be how they can have a great wedding and keep their bank balances in the black.

'A puffy dress, a tiered cake, limitless champagne: while sometimes it might seem that British law decrees that a wedding simply must incorporate all of these elements, it might surprise you to know that this is actually not the case. All that is really required is a ceremony at a registry office at a cost of about £100, plus a marriage certificate which will set you back less than a fiver, and the rest is up to you.

So free yourself from the diktats of the Victorians who were the first to turn weddings into the elaborate affairs they so often are today and go back to basics. Can we? Yes we can!

First, you need the right mindset. Treat the occasion as if you are registering a birth or a death, with the only difference being that you are registering your love and commitment (for fear of sounding like a bad Cliff Richard song).

Make the over-arching theme of the day the memories you share as a couple. So, for example, instead of spending a week's wages on a dress you will only wear once, consider wearing what you had on the day the two of you first met date (in truth, white is not a colour that suits many people anyway).

After the registry office, saunter along with some of your family (not all of your family, I beg you, however much your random cousins beg to be invited) and friends to a lovely local pub - maybe the one where you had your first date, or near the first flat you lived in together – and buy everyone a drink and lunch, followed by a hearty walk.

With some witty speeches, well-written vows, lots of laughter and plenty of love, the sincerity of the occasion, eschewing the many distractions of a conventional, marquee-type bash, will make it all the more memorable for those involved.

The point of the day is simply to have your friends and family present to witness the two of you make a public promise to stay together forever and ever, the hope being that should the prospect of divorce ever raise its ugly head, you will both be far too embarrassed at the idea of letting everyone down to go through with it. It is a very British approach to allow an emotion such as embarrassment to guide the course of one's life, but there it is.

Make the day about the marriage, not the wedding, and thus start as you mean to go on. And spend the money you've saved on a deposit on a house instead.

Alternatively, hark back to the original word for a wedding, a "bridelope" (bridal run), which referred to a bride being escorted from her old home, where she used to live with her parents, to her new home, where she was to live with her husband. Following this tradition won't cost you a penny; it may, however, cost your dignity.'

How to Wear White: A pocketbook for the bride-to-be by Francesca Beauman is available now, £8.96 (hardback), amazon.co.uk

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