The word ‘wedding’ often conjures up beautiful memories and thoughts of romance, new beginnings and celebration. But there’s another word that goes hand in hand with weddings, certainly for the bride and groom and potentially their families too and that’s ‘spending.’
In times gone by it was often the tradition for the bride’s family to cover the majority of the wedding-related expenses but that’s no longer the case and the lines about who pays for what have become blurred. Today, many couples cover the cost of their wedding themselves. And with the average wedding costing over $35,000 (according to Moneysmart), budgeting becomes a significant factor in wedding planning.
Keep Things in Perspective
Taylor says keeping things in perspective is essential when planning your wedding. “Everyone wants their wedding day to be absolutely perfect but it’s vital to remember that it’s still just eight hours or so in the whole scheme of your lives together. I’d caution anyone about spending a fortune and therefore, starting your union as a married couple in debt.”
Start with a Budget
Understanding your budget is key for Taylor who, by her own admission, hadn’t been to a lot of weddings and had minimal understanding of the wedding industry. She admits to being quite naïve about the cumulative expenses and had certainly underestimated what weddings cost. For example, Taylor’s initial budget for the entire day ended up covering just the venue.
Taylor recommends starting the entire wedding planning process by sitting down with your partner and talking through what kind of wedding you want. Consider your expectations of the day and put together a guest list to ascertain numbers. Knowing your budget determines many other factors. Some important questions to consider are, ‘Is the wedding you want actually affordable? How much are you willing/able to spend on your wedding day?
Paying for a Wedding on Credit / With Loans
Ideally, Taylor feels it’s best to avoid paying for your wedding on credit or by taking out a personal loan, in part because these funds incur such high-interest rates. However, she also understands that not everyone is in a position to save for their wedding day and may need to rely on such loans/lines of credit to cover expenses. She recommends exploring all alternatives prior to going down this path. One idea might be an interest-free loan from a family member. Another suggestion is to have a conversation with the family about any financial assistance they may be willing to provide. Parents and grandparents may wish to contribute in some way toward wedding day expenses.
For Taylor, it’s back to that big picture view. “My advice to clients is to talk budget early on. Discussing what matters most to you in your lives can often lead to a conversation about trade-offs. For example, everyone wants to have their dream wedding but to have all the bells and whistles at the cost of potentially delaying purchasing your first home by a few years or delaying plans to start a family, is significant.” Compromises often need to be made.
Taylor adds, “It’s 2022 – most couples are living together before they get married, many already have children and so, in a multitude of ways, their lives have already started. Couples need to look carefully at their goals and individual circumstances and work out exactly where their wedding days fit into that big picture.”
How to stay on track with your Budget
One of the advantages of planning a wedding is that there’s typically a long lead time. Taylor says this makes it easier from a financial planning viewpoint as you can set your expectations and base your budget and savings plans around that. “For those planning a big wedding, the date tends to be quite far off which means that after you pay the initial deposit, final payments are generally not due until much closer to the wedding date (be it 60 days or as little as seven days) which gives you the opportunity to set / reach certain savings milestones along the way.”
Track your Expenses
Taylor believes that a lot of people fall into the trap of not tracking their wedding expenses. “And, before you know it, you’ve well and truly exceeded your budget. An excel spreadsheet is a great way to keep track of when final payments are due, overall spending to date and how you’re tracking against your overall budget.”
Taylor’s Pro Tip – “Don’t be tempted to pay off your vendors early. That money is better sitting in your account either accumulating interest or offsetting your mortgage.”
Compare, compare, compare
Taylor suggests that couples shop around to find the best value. She found there to be an ‘astronomical range’ in prices for comparable services and items. Comparing and doing your research is the easiest way to cut costs. “Don’t settle on the first vendor you come across, just like you would compare your home and contents insurance on websites such as Compare the Market, do the same with your vendor.”
Needs versus Wants
Taylor would encourage couples to write a list of essentials that is regularly referred to. It’s important to be clear on the ‘must haves’ verse the ‘nice to haves.’ It’s all too easy, she says, to become side-tracked by unnecessary extravagances. Taylor is a case in point.
“Having to postpone my wedding due to Covid, I effectively got an extra five months of savings and caught myself Googling ‘arrive by helicopter’!”
Cost Cutting Measures
Taylor offers these handy hints for reducing wedding expenses.
Delegate – Perhaps someone you know is an amazing photographer, a baking whizz or an incredible florist? Think about approaching talented friends or acquaintances to see if they might lend a hand or provide their services at a reduced rate.
Get Creative – With everyone having access to the likes of Canva and endless online courses, tap into your own creativity when it comes to wedding invitations or decorative table items such as candles or even stylish, dried flower arrangements.
Hire rather than buy – Be it the suits for the groomsmen or venue related items such as linen, tableware etc, look into hiring rather than buying.
Cocktail rather than fine dining – Consider whether a sit-down lunch/dinner is a must. A cocktail style wedding is often a more affordable option.
Setting the date – Couples sometimes opt to host their weddings on days other than Saturdays which may be set at a premium price at certain venues.
The Wedding Dress – If you find your dream dress, hold off. Like most things, bridal outlets tend to refresh their stock around February / March. Keep an eye out for off the rack sales.
Bridesmaids’ dresses – Rather than the bridesmaids wearing expensive and often custom-made dresses, consider finding a colour that will suit everyone and let the bridesmaids choose something more affordable instead. Speaking of the bridal party, it’s important to set clear expectations with them. Provide them with estimated costs and ensure they know what costs they will be out of pocket for.
Set Fixed Costs – Wherever possible, agree on fixed costs ahead of time such as the celebrant, photography, flowers, hair and make-up etc.
Return Options – Some alcohol suppliers may agree not to charge for alcohol that isn’t consumed on the day and may also provide glassware as part of the overall spend.
Honeymoons and Making it Official
Taylor says couples often forget to include a honeymoon in their wedding budget. “It’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement of planning your wedding that you completely forget about your honeymoon.” These days, some couples have a ‘wishing well’ where money is requested in lieu of wedding gifts, but Taylor believes that relying on this money to cover the honeymoon is risky.
Another step couples often forget is the lodgement of the marriage certificate.
“I assumed that our deacon would take care of this but two months after our wedding he advised us that this was something we needed to apply for online at an additional $60 fee.”
*Needless to say, when it comes to the cost of a wedding, there’s a lot to think about. Naturally, everyone in attendance on the day, from the bride and groom to their wonderful family and friends hopes to be part of a happy and memorable event where everything flows beautifully. The wedding day should be one of the most incredible celebrations couples experience in their lives together but ensuring that that single day is not the tipping point to a period of debt or financial difficulty for a couple is also important.
Connect with Taylor on LinkedIn
Taylor has been a Financial Planner with Invest Blue since 2018. The company’s dedication to helping clients live their best possible lives aligns beautifully with her own values. Outside of work, she enjoys taking her dog to the beach, catching up with family and friends and the occasional Netflix binge.
If you would like to talk to Taylor or one of our advisers don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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