Although the economic climate has caused many of us to tighten our belts, there’s always been one area where people have still been happy to spend.

Whilst the figure has fluctuated, since 2009 the average amount Brits pay for their wedding day has not gone below £20,000.

It’s an eye-watering precedent for many couple and families to follow, with many succumbing to the pressure of wanting everything to be perfect for their big day.

But after encountering one too many huge price-tags while planning their own summer wedding, Paul Miller, an aircraft engineer and Vanessa Fawdington, a nursery manager, decided to make their day truly special by keeping it in the family.

This meant they ended up spending just £5000 on what was still a magical and photogenic occasion which as Paul, 31, points out: “I think by today’s standards is remarkable.”

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So how did they do it?

Paul, from Yorkshire, explains their motivation for keeping it unfussy was never about the money – but about the principle.

“We always wanted it to be simple and small, but like all couples we wanted it to be as glamorous as it could be – we simply refused to pay an arm and a leg for it!

Paul Miller

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“We held meetings with all the castles, hotel and numerous wedding venues across York, and to be honest, although we could afford them, everything just seemed such a rip-off.

“On top of that, I quickly got really annoyed at being told we were obligated to have this, that or the other.

“For example, one venue said, ‘if you want to use us, you MUST have a wedding breakfast for at least 100 people.’

“We didn’t even want 100 people!”

1. Wedding venue

When it comes to wedding expenditure, a survey conducted by You and Your Wedding shows the venue comes top and on average, Brits shell out £3397 for their dream location.

But this discussion over the wedding breakfast came as “the last straw” for Paul and Vanessa, and they decided to re-think their approach.

Paul Miller

Describing his Nan’s garden as “just as good as any hotel”, Paul asked her if they could use it for their wedding – and she was delighted to be asked.

2. The dress

Wanting your dress to be perfect is not just the preserve of a ‘bridezilla’ – and many brides-to-be will spend in the region of £1098 for their dream creation.

But Vanessa, 24, saved nearly all of this by choosing to keep it in the family and wearing the same gown her own mum did on her wedding day.

Paul Miller

There were some minor costs incurred on Vanessa’s stunning gown: “It was last used in the eighties with the obvious era association, so it was adjusted for size and made a little more modern.”

3. Wedding breakfast

Even with a small wedding, keeping your guests fed and watered is costly. At an average of £2882 per wedding, food is the third biggest cost and at £1187, drink comes fifth.

Paul and Vanessa did pay for and provide wine for the reception.

Paul Miller

But another family touch which meant they did not have to splurge on food was having Paul’s dad provide the fish and chips for the wedding breakfast.

They also kept dearly missed members of the family close through the breakfast by having piano recordings done by Paul’s late grandfather as background music.

4. Entertainment

At an average cost of £692 per wedding, keeping guests entertained is in fact one of the lesser costs.

Luckily, Paul’s brother was able to step in and take care of the evening’s merriment as his band, Pauper Kings, played in the evening.

The couple had met at a Pauper Kings gig in 2011, and their first dance was to their rendition of Boyce Avenue’s ‘A Thousand Miles’.

5. A friend of Paul’s loaned them his Jaguar for the day, ensuring they could travel in style

Paul Miller

As Paul points out, “there were still the unavoidable costs, such as the minister, legal fees, the cake, the marquee for garden, seating for the guests and, of course, the wine.

“We did use a professional photographer, as we personally felt this was one of the areas you should not scrimp on.

“But we still found a great photographer for £600 all in.”

Read more: Meet the world’s oldest best man who organised the stag do aged 102

So do Paul and Vanessa have any advice for other couples fed up of the mounting costs?

“Make things yourself! For example we got the local wood shop to cut a log into discs, which was the centrepieces started.

Paul Miller

“Avoid wedding fairs and package deals. They are simply herding you into what THEY want you to buy and making you think it’s what you need.

“Don’t feel that you are obligated to do things on the suppliers, venues or anybody else’s terms.

“Also, be prepared to disappoint some family or friends. You cannot avoid it, so aim for what YOU want for the day and stick to it!

“Once you have decided what you want, shop around hard and search, compare, haggle – play them against each other.

Paul Miller

Based on their own experience, Paul and Vanessa’s best tip is: “Do NOT even use the wedding word. For no reason the costs rocket when it’s for a wedding.”

Five months down the line, the newlyweds have no regrets and remain immensely proud of the day they put together.

“It was so important to give Vanessa everything she wanted (fortunately for me she was not a ‘bridezilla’) but a key word we used was ‘reasonable’.

“Even if we had £50k to spend it would not have been different. Clearly a wedding is all personal opinion, and our wedding will not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it was exactly what we wanted – and that is the most important thing.”

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