This pushes the amount spent by British couples on weddings abroad to 1.7 billion.

Better weather, affordable airfares and the opportunity to combine the ceremony and honeymoon were the main reasons given for having a wedding abroad.

Whether you are planning a wedding at a French chateau, on the beaches of Thailand or on an island in the Maldives, you will first need to consider how to budget and pay for tying the knot abroad.

Weddings are an expensive business, and will involve transferring thousands overseas but prices will seem more affordable if you can get a decent exchange rate.

Plan your marriage abroad well in advance

Ideally, start at least a year ahead. Consider your destination thoroughly and whether the formalities required make it easy to get married there.

If your budget allows, make a preliminary visit - it is easier to get an idea of what you want and can afford when you have seen what is available in person. Whilst there, try to research any hidden extra costs involved in choosing a destination and venue, such as document translation fees.

Set a wedding budget limit and stick to it

Having a budget will help you prioritise what you want your wedding to include and ensure costs do not spiral out of control.

Hire a wedding planner abroad

They should be able to liaise with local suppliers and get you the best deals and cheap wedding venues.

Shop around your chosen destination for a planner you like, ask about the different types of service they offer and for references and photos of their work. Make sure you let them know your budget before you start planning.

It is vital that you check the small print very carefully to find out exactly what services they include in their price and what they will charge you extra for.

Alternatively, cheap wedding packages abroad can save you hassle and keep your costs manageable, without any unexpected extra expenses.

Beware local wedding fees

If you are organising the wedding yourself, you are likely to get charged a foreign transaction fee every time you pay the venue, photographer, caterers and so on.

High street banks typically charge you around 25 (or more) for a payment overseas, and they may also charge commission and take overseas delivery charges.

It is worth considering using a foreign exchange specialist instead, as they generally offer much lower fees.

You can cut the cost of transfer fees by setting up an overseas bank account and transferring your money in one go. You can then make payments locally.

Use a foreign exchange specialist

This can be a good way to negotiate the fluctuations of currency exchange rates. They can offer you expert guidance on when is a good time to trade to get a favourable exchange rate.

They will typically offer exchange rates that are around 3-4% better than those available from a bank, which can add up to saving a significant sum.

When planning a wedding you will have a series of fixed payment dates in mind, meaning you can take advantage of locking into an exchange rate with a foreign exchange specialist for up to two years in advance.

By doing this, you will not have to worry about rates worsening as you pay for the different elements of your wedding over the year.

Be careful with credit cards abroad

These can incur transaction fees if you use them to pay for anything overseas. When paying suppliers, credit card transactions can be even more costly, as they can also charge commission and will probably offer a poor exchange rate.

Check local wedding laws and customs

You need to check the period of time you have to be present in the country before you can get married.

Some countries require you to have visas, and it is your responsibility to get these. In some cases you can even save hundreds if you book your visas well enough in advance.

For the most up-to-date information, contact the relevant embassy. In some countries you will also have to wait for the documents to be translated. Check with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for more information.

Avoid arriving the day before the wedding

Allow at least four days to visit the local Public Register Office if needed. This will also give you time to sort out any last-minute changes and find ways to try and avoid any sudden unexpected costs and legal fees.

Case study: A wedding in paradise

Phillip and Jade Wood got married in Koh Samui, Thailand, and money was an important factor in their decision.

"Obviously the weather played a great part in our decision in getting married abroad, but the cost was also a huge factor for us. It seems to be so much cheaper to get married overseas these days, and if you use a currency specialist it saves you even more money."

They left most of the preparation to the wedding planners in Thailand, who went on to exceed their expectations. They organised everything from accommodation for the 75 guests, to providing guidance on the whole planning process, arranging every detail perfectly. They also chose to use a currency specialist, to ensure they got the most from their funds.

"Our dealer was fantastic. We understand that it is very difficult to predict how a currency will move over the course of a year, but our dealer gave us some really insightful guidance on the current financial market and what implications could affect the Thai baht.

We had a rate of 52 baht to the pound in our minds, which we wanted to budget to and base the cost of the wedding on. Once the rate got to that level, we were contacted and we were able to lock into the amount we had wanted before it moved against us."

"We traded 12,000 in total and saved 1,500 by using a currency specialist rather than a bank - which meant we had more money to spend on making the day extra special. The saving was the equivalent of the cost of a wedding dress, so we were really glad we used a currency specialist!"