How to afford that family wedding

The euphoria surrounding an engagement is rapidly followed by the realities of finance. As a parent you want to help, but the cost of a wedding can be astronomical, with the average absorbing over £20,000, with a significant proportion being spent on the reception. Here Marc Lockley shows you how to make your gift go further by having a Champagne reception on an Asti Spumante budget:

1. Budget properly. The bride should sign up free to and use their wedding planner to financially plan the event. Set realistic but tough targets, it is amazing how a little planning and creativity will enable you to save money.

2. List the must-haves and nice-to-haves. The chosen venue needs to satisfy the wishes of the bride and groom and many requirements have a potential for negotiation. Suggest they list what is important and also other areas which would be nice but not necessarily essential. For example:

Must-have: Friday or Saturday in August

Room for 120 guests

Countryside setting

Nice-to-have: Toastmaster

1am bar extension

Honeymoon suite at venue

3. Have more than one location in mind. It is easy to set your heart on a location, but view at least two or three which have similar facilities to the number one choice.

4. Keep emotions low key. When viewing the venues the couple should not give away their desire to book as this rings pound signs in the manager’s eyes. Be keen but not committed, stating they like the venue but occasionally commenting on the 'upside' of other venues they have in mind.

5. Keep them guessing. The manager should be left thinking a couple of venues are being considered and price will be a significant factor in the decision. They should ask for a quote based on achieving all their must-haves and nice-to-haves. When they are in a position to book use the following ideas to help gain better value for money.

6. Fridays are the new Saturdays. To help improve upon the price they could say they are prepared to be flexible on days of the week in order to gain a better price.

7. 'Pop' the question of corkage. Venues vary in their charges with some offering it free to secure the booking. Find similar venues that will offer better corkage and inform your ideal location, saying that you need them to reduce the cost significantly – try free at first.

8. Bestow the virtues of a competitor. The bride and groom should remind the manager of the need for a good price and to tell him or her Hotel B is charging £1000 less including the honeymoon suite and have given a 1am bar extension – beat the price and they will book now.

Remember if you manage to save £1500 that can go some way towards a luxurious honeymoon.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.