Found your reception venue but unsure how to spruce it up? Luckily, the most beautiful decorations aren't necessarily the most expensive. Over the coming weeks, read my top tips for creating your dream décor on a shoestring - and, if you haven't done so already, start a scrapbook for all your ideas. Write notes and collect photos, magazine tears and internet printouts - anything that inspires you.

Work with what already exists
How much decorating you need to do will depend on your venue. Celebrating in a medieval castle? A few candles, tea lights and flowers will do. If it's in your local village hall or social club, you'll probably need to be a bit more creative - think about what decorations link with your theme and take it from there.

Be shopping savvy
Think past the usual wedding suppliers (check out, and your local garden centre). Keep an eye on - a friend of mine picked up half her decorations there. Plan your shopping wisely - particularly if you're looking for seasonal decorations. And, if you're having a winter bash, scour the post-Christmas sales for bargains and ideas.

Do it yourself
Use candles, flowers and fabrics to create handmade adornments. Tea lights dotted around the venue, groups of pillar candles in different sizes, and altar candles with decorations around the bases are all simple and effective - buy in bulk from Choose seasonal blooms, opt for large flower heads - hydrangea, peonies, gerberas and lilies are great - and ask your florist to mix them up with greenery and foliage. Marrying in winter? I went to a gorgeous wedding decorated with silver- and gold-painted twigs and berries, as well as holly and ivy. Use fabrics to create sumptuous displays and hide unsightly areas (market stalls are your best bet), and satin or organza ribbons ( to add instant glam to vases, tables edges and chairs.

Next time: top tablecentres on a budget