Throwing a barbecue for loved ones is truly one of life's great pleasures and it's a brilliant feeling to be surrounded by friends and family, with the sun beating down and great food sizzling away on the grill.

But planning a barbecue can be a serious endeavour and for those who have not done it before, it can be difficult to know exactly where the best place to start is.

Read on for our guide to planning a barbecue.

Picking a date

Choosing the right date can make or break any party and it is vital to check calendars in advance to make sure the people you want to attend will not already have plans.

Ensure you don't choose a date when any of your loved ones are booked to attend weddings, while Glastonbury weekend might need to be avoided if lots of your friends have tickets.

Once you're sure you've got the right date, send out some invitations. These can be as informal or as formal as you like, but your friends and family will appreciate the effort if you take the time to send an old-fashioned invite.

For most, a text message, an email or a phone call will be suffice and your guest list will start to come together. You don't want to attract too big a crowd, but also you don't want it to look a flop, so achieving the right balance is key.

Aim to have between 15 and 20 people attending, depending on how much outside space you have for entertaining.

Food and drink

If you're planning your barbecue on a tight budget, it can be a good idea to ask your guests to bring their own food and drink, or at least some cans of alcohol to add to the collected pile.

Obviously you will have to contribute yourself too, so it is worth stocking up on barbecue staples such as sausages, vegetable kebabs and burgers.

Supermarkets always have great deals on booze during the summer and you'll be able to stock up with more than enough cans of beer to sate the thirst of all of your guests. It's worth buying some bottles of spirits and soft drinks as well, in case the party gets extended into the evening.

Back up plan

Unfortunately, your barbecue could still be ruined if the weather is particularly bad on the day you have chosen for your party. If you were not able to put a reserve day in place, you'll need a back up plan to avoid having a lot of unhappy guests on your hands.

If you have the room to do so, having a gazebo or a similar structure in your garden can lessen the impact of the rain, while some of the best barbecues on the market now come with their own roof, with manufacturers well aware of how the British weather can spoil matters.

Get prepared to bring your guests indoors if necessary and it can be a good idea to have party games or board games lined up to bring out, or you could gather around the television for a favourite food.

If all else fails, you can always order in pizza for everyone!

© Axonn 2015