The Godfrey Lewis wedding
At the age of 26, I am yet to hit what is known as 'wedding season' - when the hen do and wedding invites start to pile in, taking up all annual leave and monthly salaries while extended family and friends ask you to join them for their special day halfway around the world.
My first big wedding, however, was my older sister's, except instead of being a guest, I spent 18 months with everyone planning on creating the best wedding on a budget.
The average wedding now exceeds more than £30,000, yet this wedding, including food, venue, dress, suits and flowers came to under £11,000. Here is what I learnt along the way.
1. Forget the small details
The table favours, the canapés, the fancy invites; this is how weddings spiral out of control. Having spoken to people afterwards, nearly everyone admitted that they left their little sweets/photo frames/magnets on the table when they left the wedding. While small details can make the difference, for a moments glance, remember that what you spend hundreds of pounds on, will be forgotten in a heartbeat. Keep it simple, go to charity shops and borrow things that don't need to be bought.
2. Having artistic friends will help
The Godfrey part of the family are not an artistic bunch - the Lewis part of the family, however, are. Beautiful invite cards can often exceed £100, yet they managed to create them from scratch instead. Same for the beautiful centre pieces; log offcuts for a couple of pounds each, recycled jam jars and candles and eBay numbers spray-painted and flowers grown in the greenhouse meant it looked artistic for pennies.
3. Keep guests well fed and well entertained
One of the highlights of many people's day was the lack of boredom - the wedding had french cricket, croquet and even swing ball in the garden to keep everyone entertained. There is nothing worse than sitting around on phones as the evening drags on, so some party tricks between the day certainly fill it. Same for the ceremony - keep it short and sweet before people drift off.
Controversially, an open bar was not part of the wedding, something that can add thousands to a wedding cost. Instead, food offered included scones, hog roast and nibbles throughout the day as well as some hidden prosecco and wine meant no-one went hungry and the alcohol flowed until closing, instead of fancy nibbles that leave people hangry.
4. Laugh, cry, and have fun
Things might go wrong, or it could all run smoothly. But for over a year of planning, just enjoy the day otherwise all of that money will be wasted.