Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wedding magazine. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to email@example.com.
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Expert advice for cutting costs
Q. We're getting married in a rustic barn and my guests all appreciate good food, but I have a limited budget and don't want it to look like I've scrimped.
Can you suggest ideas for a great looking menu and tell me where I can't afford to cut back?
A. Mat Thackwray says: One option would be to offer your guests more substantial canapés during the drinks reception and then a two course menu rather than three. Individual Yorkshire puddings with rare roast beef and horseradish, chicken liver parfait on toasted brioche with hazelnut and honeycomb crumb, stilton crumpets with quince jelly and mini quail Scotch eggs are crowd-pleasers.
In keeping with the rustic theme, another idea is to serve food on wooden boards as sharing platters, for either a starter or the main course. Try marmalade-glazed gammon, malt-cured rare roasted beef, Moroccan chicken, homemade chutneys served in Kilner jars and retro crayfish cocktails. Most importantly, never compromise on the quality of the food.
Q. All the wedding dresses I've looked at seem to cost a fortune and are completely out of my price range. Do you have any styles that cater for brides on a budget?
A. Ellie Sanderson says: There are many ways to ensure you don't blow your budget when choosing your wedding dress. Wedding boutiques tend to sell their samples off once a year if not twice, and that's a terrific way to get a bargain. For example, we would sell a £1,950 dress in our sale for as little as £450; it's all dependent on condition, of course, but for the sake of some loose beads and a dry clean, you could find yourself saving hundreds of pounds.
Another way is to buy a simple inexpensive well-made dress and style it with accessories from the high street. Another tip worth considering, if your budget is really tight, is an Ivory Bridesmaid dress (pictured opposite). These are made from the same quality materials and could be styled to look amazing. I've seen many girls do this effortlessly.
Do not be tempted to buy a cheap copy of a dress online. If it looks too good to be true, it is. I've seen so many girls suffer by buying online, when it turns up in the wrong colour or fabric and is badly made.
Be shrewd in other areas of your bridal party budget too; when you find yourself asking your fifth bridesmaid – stop!
Q. My fiancé is thinking of hiring rather than buying his suit but needs to convince his best men to do the same when they don't have a lot of money and none of them are exactly top hat and tails types. Is there a wide choice range of suits for them to choose from?
A. Mark Fish says: Yes and hiring is definitely the cheaper option. Our custom made suits start from £400 to £600, versus beautifully made suits for hire that come with a waistcoat and tie for £93 to £108.
We have a large choice of slim fit cuts to hire with shades of blue proving very popular with the younger men this year. There's also the more classic morning suits in greys and silver for the more traditional look.
Q. How can we keep the cost of our wedding photography down without feeling disappointed after the event?
A. Aksela Kolodziejczyk says: People often think they're saving money by asking a friend to take pictures, but in the end the majority are left seriously disappointed. Photographs are your memories of that special day and if they don't look great there's no second chance. I've actually taken photographs for a few couples who regretted not hiring a professional and wanted to recreate parts of their day.
To keep costs down, you can book a photographer for less hours, asking them to cover the most important parts of the day, like getting ready with family and friends and the ceremony. Like myself, most photographers offer half day or reduced hours of coverage.
Choosing a faux leather or a leatherette cover for your album can keep costs down and most photographers offer various size options.
Q. I've always dreamed of having really unusual flowers at my wedding and am getting married next autumn. I'd like to use the same flowers in my reception décor, but don't have a huge budget. What would you suggest?
A. Kate Thomas says: Autumn flowers are wonderful and the choices available make it a great time of year for keeping costs down. Stick with seasonal flowers, as they are more cost-effective. You have a great choice of deep pink, burnt orange into reds and greens, and can use hips and berries as well as plant materials that are beginning to change colour.
Some of my seasonal favourites are dahlias, celosias, amaranth, physalis, and sedum in different colours plus rose hips, rubus and other berries.
I got married in the autumn because of the truly amazing colours and textures of the plant materials available. Never be afraid of using mixed colours in your wedding designs, they make for a talking point at your wedding and awesome photographs too.
Owner, menswear store
This pretty rose print umbrella definitely made me smile, especially as it reminded me of my mum's wise words 'always carry a red umbrella and it'll cast a rosy glow on your face'.
This brolly from Rosemarie Schulz will definitely do just that and comes in two other colours – pink or champagne – perfect for well prepared brides-to-be.
For more information visit rosemarie-schulz.eu
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