For celebrities and royals it is nothing out of the ordinary to splash out on expensive weddings (and in some cases multiple!). Prince William and Kate Middleton spent a whopping $33 million on their fairy tale wedding in 2011, $800,000 on flowers alone! (i)
But for the everyday commoner, the stats for wedding expenses are a lot different. According to ASIC’s Money Smart, the average Aussie wedding will set you back around $36,000; $18,683 on food, alcohol and venue, $4,271 on clothing and accessories, $3,983 on photography, $2,896 on entertainment, $2,896 on flowers and decorations, $941 on the ceremony, and $2,534 on other things like transport, hair and makeup, accommodation and stationery. (ii)
Do you think you will need to spend this much?
If, for example, you were able to shave $10,000 off your wedding budget; think of what you could do with it? Ask yourself, what is more important to you and your partner?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; start with a budget and try to stick to it. Plan ahead by writing lists, do some research and allocate your cash to each section. Remember to prioritise what’s most important to you; would you rather have an expensive wedding with your closest family and friends, or a more modest expenses list and spend the day with all of your mates?
While budgeting you should keep in mind what is really important to you and your goals for the future. Is it more important to you to spend $5,000 on a dress, or save this for setting up a nursery or an education account?
There’s plenty of tools available online to help you with your budget including True Bride’s Wedding Budget Planner.
Brainstorm ideas and cheaper options with family and friends; you might be pleasantly surprised by the creative and inexpensive alternatives suggested. You should also watch out for hidden costs such as going over time at the venue or with vendors, property damage and unexpected guests.
According to Easy Weddings, 62% of weddings occur on a Saturday. (v)
Unsurprisingly, October and March are the most popular months to get married, and Saturday the most popular day. Consider a less popular time or date to get married. Friday the 13th, for example, is quite an unpopular date for the superstitious.
Avoid a large gap between the ceremony and reception. Vendors like musicians and photographers will likely charge for this time. Lunch time receptions can also be considerably less expensive than evening as the meals are cheaper and it can cost the venue more for catering staff in later hours of the day.
Catering can be quite expensive depending on the size and social nature of your invite list. For the meals, consider catering yourself or hiring a family-owned restaurant, negotiate the meal prices, or opt for a family-style meal rather than gourmet.
As for the drinks, ask the venue if you can stock the bar yourself and stick to beer and wine. Kegs or bottles? Kegs may be cheaper, but if there are leftovers they don’t last long. You definitely don’t want to run out, so think about using bottles. That way if you do over stock, they will last for a long time after, whereas kegs won’t. Or if your guests are not big drinkers, ask to pay for drinks a la carte (as you go).
Finding your ideal venue for both the ceremony and reception can be difficult, not to mention expensive. What you might not realise is that the perfect venue could be right outside your back door, literally.
If you’re thinking of having a quiet and intimate ceremony then perhaps you or someone you know has a nice garden or outdoor area you could use. If you’re planning a much larger gathering, ask around for an open yard or paddock and consider hiring a marquee.
It can be difficult to avoid inviting everyone you know to your special day. But do you really need to invite your friend’s husband’s old Aunt June? With every additional guest comes an additional cost. Try to avoid inviting everyone you know (or even people you don’t!) simply because you feel obliged; it’s your special day, not theirs.
When you add up the expenses for music, entertainment, the photographer, catering, the celebrant, hair and makeup, and of course the cake; all of the vendors can be quite pricey. A great idea is to ask your guests for wedding help rather than gifts. One of your guests may be a hairdresser, no doubt they would love to get involved in your special day as a gift.
Another idea is to contact the local University or TAFE, they may have talented music, photography or makeup students that are a lot cheaper to hire than professionals. Be sure to ask for a demo or rehearsal before booking to avoid any disasters on the day!
Go DIY with a photo booth or music. Borrow a set of speakers from a friend and create your own playlist on apps like iTunes or Spotify. This way you’re sure to have the music you love and something borrowed!
Customised individual invites can be expensive to design and print. Try DIY and make your own invites; sites such as Vistaprint can be cheaper. Alternatively, order the invites and write each person’s name rather than have each invite customised.
Or go digital!
Send out ‘save the dates’ and invites via email or create a Facebook event. Using online invites and RSVPs can be completely free and easy to keep track of. But make sure to have some printed invites for your elderly (or tech-challenged) friends and family.
You’ve definitely heard it before, but less really is more. Keep table decorations simple and elegant to minimise the costs. Browse for sales all year round and consider buying pre-used decorations from friends or online.
Rather than having place cards designed and printed, make them yourself or hit two birds with one stone and add the name to the top of the menu.
Don’t be afraid of cheaper flowers! Combining inexpensive with more expensive flowers can help to fill the bouquets and keep the price down. Or perhaps you could grow them yourself!
It is tradition to give your bridal party a gift of appreciation. Simplify things and stick to the budget with a lovely hand written letter expressing your appreciation. You could pair the letter with a photo from the day and create a lovely personal gift.
Of course, the most important thing for the day is the dress… and the tuxedos too. To save on the dress, consider buying a floor sample or a second-hand dress. To avoid the expenses of alterations, opt for a lace-up corset-style back that is adjustable to suit you on the day.
Avoid custom made bridesmaid dresses and look for them directly off the rack. You could also have your bridesmaids wear the same colour of something they already own.
For the tuxedos, opt to hire rather than buy. Or keep it really simple and ditch the tuxedos for a more casual look or a suit that the group are happy to buy and re-wear in their regular life.
Don’t stress! Plan early to ensure everything has been taken care of, and if there are issues, keep calm and avoid throwing money at it as a solution.
We credit the following articles as source material from which this article was developed;
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