Planning a wedding is a tricky task, and it’s easy to end up spending more than you originally planned.
Whether it’s a low-key ceremony and reception with family and friends, or large and lavish affair, it’s important know your financial limits and stick to them.
But as I have found out, that is harder than it seems.
Even though I’m usually pretty good at saving money, I’m finding myself overwhelmed by the budgeting aspect of my wedding day.
I asked certified financial planner and money mentor at Firefly Wealth, Adele Martin for her expert advice on how to get creative to stop blowing out the wedding budget.
Here’s what she had to say.
Create a realistic budget
Martin says in order to do this, first think about the future, post-celebration.
“Are you willing to delay starting your family for another year in order to have a full-blown traditional wedding with all the trimmings?” Martin says.
“Or would you prefer not to completely drain your savings, so that your post-wedding life isn’t spent worrying about how you’ll afford your next trip, house or child?”
Plan the must-haves
“When planning your nuptials, it’s important to list what you and your partner consider to be must-haves,” Martin says.
There are many elements to a wedding to consider, including reception venue, ceremony venue, celebrant, flowers, food and beverage, and the list goes on.
The key is to figure out which is most important to you, and how the spend will spread over the other elements.
Here are some things you may want to consider:
- Choose a venue wisely
“Consider venues that can host both the ceremony and reception in one place,” Martin says.
Also consider a destination wedding. The overall cost per person may be less than a wedding in Australia, especially in Fiji, Bali and Thailand.
One thing to be wary of with destination weddings is that it may be difficult to alter options within the packages they offer without the cost blowing out, so check carefully if the package offers everything you want.
As for decoration and decor, the venue may be able to supply them, or you could be crafty and make some yourself.
Ask someone strong to carry the flowers from the ceremony to the reception. There’s no need to buy completely new flowers for each.
- Consider ways to cut down on food and beverage prices
“If you both don’t particularly love alcohol, you may choose to stick to serving only beer and premium wine over top-shelf wines, spirits and cocktails,” says Martin.
Likewise, if you’re not a foodie, and would prefer to mingle with your guests, a cocktail reception is a much cheaper option than a traditional sit-down 3-course dinner.
Jump on the latest food truck trend, and save money by providing your guests with one type of food.
Also consider whether you really need to provide wedding favours.
Are you, or someone you know a great baker who could whip up a wedding cake instead?
Wedding cake alternatives like cupcakes or donuts are a cheaper way of providing dessert, especially if you don’t mention to the supplier that it’s for a wedding.
- Find the perfect dress on sale
“Think about buying a second-hand wedding dress, or look for sales,” Martin says.
If you have a lot of bridesmaids, you could get in touch with the store for a discount if you are buying the same type of dress.
You can even rent wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses, which would also save on dry-cleaning costs.
- Think about alternative entertainment
A live band, string quartet or DJ is a nice option, but can get expensive.
Think about plugging in an iPod with a killer Spotify playlist.
You can even ask guests to add their favourite songs to a specially-created wedding playlist ahead of time.
- Get your guests to post photos on social media
Everyone with a smartphone can be an amateur photographer, so if you prefer to live in the moment, you might be able to create a hashtag and encourage guests to post to social media with it.
You could also pass around a Polaroid camera to take candid happy snaps. A photobooth is also another money-saving option.
- Go with e-invites instead of paper invitations
It’s easier and cheaper to invite guests via Facebook, email or by asking them face-to-face, rather than printing out expensive save-the-date cards and wedding invitations.
If there are guests who aren’t on social media, print invites for them only.
- Consider the cheaper off-season time of year
If the time of the year you get married isn’t really that important to you, “consider having an off-season or mid-week wedding,” says Martin.
Many venues put on winter specials.
- Skip the engagement party and kitchen tea
Ask yourself if you really need to throw an engagement party, kitchen tea event, and hen’s and buck’s parties. It could be enough just to throw one party that covers all of these, or forgo some that aren’t important to you.
A modern option could be a combined hen’s and buck’s party.
- Honeymoon where you have your wedding
A destination wedding could combine a honeymoon with the wedding.
Make sure you tell the accommodation you are booking that its a honeymoon, as they usually provide an upgrade, or send some complimentary treats.
Be upfront with suppliers
“When gathering quotes for your expenses, don’t be afraid to be upfront with the supplier,” Martin says.
“For instance, if you are trialling bakers for your wedding cake, let them know exactly how much you’re willing to spend and what you’d like for the price.
“Be open to compromise, but don’t let vendors talk you into blowing your budget. You can do this with various vendors until you receive an offer you are happy with.”
Get help from the family
“If your parents are able to help fund your wedding, lucky you! Find out how much they’re willing to contribute in the early days of planning, so you can figure out how much you need to save to make up the difference,” Martin says.
Have a safety net
Finally, have a contingency plan if something goes wrong and you need to spend a little more than what you first planned.
“Having anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 in your contingency will allow you to cover last-minute or hidden costs without blowing out your budget,” Martin says.
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