A WEDDING is one of life's "big ticket" items, like a house or a car.

A WEDDING is one of life's "big ticket" items, like a house or a car.

Whether we want a quick village wedding in Centane or a fairy tale wedding in Sun City, we all look for ways to cut expenses.

Sometimes we do it out of sheer necessity and at other times we do it so that we can afford other important things, such as a cosy home or a car after the wedding.

Whatever your reason may be for scouting out budget wedding tips, the following list may be able to help you keep a few rands in your pocket after your big day.

lSchedule your wedding "off-season." Nearly 70percent of all weddings take place in December of each year. Even in matters of the heart, the laws of supply and demand apply. If there are lots of brides competing with you for locations, limousines and florists, the price goes up. You will probably find better deals on virtually every wedding service if you schedule your wedding in one of the "off season" months.

lSet the time for early in the dayIf you're the average couple, your biggest wedding cost will be for food and beverages at the reception. A beautiful morning brunch will set you back less than dinner fare. And unless you have really outrageous friends, there will be far less alcohol poured before lunch time. Better to have a wonderful morning reception than be forced to pinch pennies for an evening event.

lFind a low-cost location.If you are flexible about the "where," you can save a lot of money on your location. Don't knock your childhood church. If you or your parents are members of a church, the location fee will probably be waived.

lSelect a non-bridal bridal gown.Bridal gowns aren't the only white dresses in the world. It may be that the perfect wedding dress for you is not found in a bridal salon, but among the women's evening-wear section of a department store.

l Decorate strategicallySpend your money on the things people will see the most throughout the event - not things they'll only glimpse at momentarily.

Your guests may not notice the flowers that decorate the end of each pew as they take their seat, but they will notice the bouquets and boutonnieres on the wedding party during the ceremony and reception.

Another budget-friendly decorating touch are tiny, white twinkle lights swathed in tulle. The most strategic way to decorate is to pick a location that needs little or no embellishment - a garden in bloom, a scenic beach, a fully-restored historic building or a spectacular cathedral.

lSelect flowers that are in season and locally availableIf you do, you'll probably find you can save considerably on cost - especially if you make it clear with your florist that cutting cost is a high priority.

lTheme the wedding to hide what's not included. Picking a theme for your reception celebration can be a great way to cut costs. For example you can go for a Xhosa, a Zulu or an Ndebele theme.

l Harness the talents of family and friends Don't be afraid to let those close to you know that you're looking for ways to keep your wedding budget under control.

They may offer their own skills to help you save money or they may know how to help you find a great deal. Your uncle with the classic car or horse cart may be willing to play chauffeur for the day and your cousin, the computer-graphics wiz, might be able to create spectacular wedding programmes on her computer and all you'll have to do is pay for the paper.

lCut your guest list It may be painful, but the simple truth is that there is no quicker, easier way to control your budget than by limiting the size of the wedding.

Again, your single biggest cost will be reception food and alcohol, so you can reduce that expenditure by paring down the number of mouths. Remember that single guests who aren't in a serious relationship can be invited solo.

You may invite parents only and you need not invite anyone whom you haven't spent time with in the last five years - even if they invited you to their wedding. -