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Planning your wedding is a super exciting time but it is so easy to get carried away and have your budget blown out of the water.  There is a whole industry set up to help you spend your money on a raft of things to make your day ‘perfect’.  Add the ‘W’ (Wedding) word to any conversation and it is amazing how fast the costs escalate.  So what is the best way to have the day you want without being saddled with debt that lasts far longer than the big day?

Firstly, you need to set a wedding budget (or spending plan if you like that term better :-)).  Sit down with your partner and anyone else who is helping you pay for the wedding and be clear who is contributing what and how much the total budget is.  Discussing money is difficult but it is better to have these conversations up front, as you do not want any money resentments to creep in and harm your relationship, especially when you are just starting out on your new life together.

No one has an endless budget, except maybe Kim Kardashian, so the next thing is to figure out your priorities.  What are the things that you and your partner feel are most important to make your day what you want it to be?  Everybody is different so for some people it is all about the dress or the venue or the cake.  Make sure you rank your priorities.  This ranking will give you guidance on how to spend your budget.

I got married in 2007.  We wanted a relaxed, fun wedding, that wasn’t too traditional and reflected us as a couple.  Our priorities were the food at the reception, the cake and some photography.   Lesser ranking priorities were the invites, flowers, bonbonniere, bridesmaids outfits and transport to the wedding.  Our budget was $10,000 and these are the ways we made our budget stretch further:

(1)    Avoid getting married in the big cities if you can.  We had a choice of getting married in Sydney or my husband’s home town of Rotorua in New Zealand.  Rotorua, despite being know as ‘the smelly town’, was an easy choice.  He had more family than me and everything was a lot cheaper than Sydney.  The favourable Australian dollar/New Zealand dollar exchange rate gave our budget an extra 20% boost!

(2)    Keep the guest list down.  My husband is Maori, so he has a tonne of relatives.  We could have had a cast of thousands but we decided to talk to his family and find out who we absolutely had to invite.  In the end we invited 29 people, mind you 36 turned up but that is another story!  Keeping the numbers down is a big money and stress saver.  You actually have time to talk to your guests as opposed to being on some tour of duty!!!  We were lucky as we were paying for the wedding it meant that we had more control over the guest list, which made it easier.

(3)    Skip traditions that don’t work for you.  We totally dumped the idea of bonbonniere.  We figured none of our guests would want another candle or packet of sugared almonds.  It saved us time and money.

(4)    Get your craft on.  Making things your self can save you money and give a real personal touch.  We had a friend make our wedding invitations for us.  Friends of mine have made their own head-pieces, wrist- pieces and table settings.

(5)    Say ‘Yes to the dress’, but keep it in perspective.  You don’t think it at the time but your wedding dress is something that you will probably never wear again.  Mine was worn once and has sat in the closet ever since.  Given the dress was never a major thing for me, it was a great place to keep costs down.   I did look into renting, but they tended to be the more ‘princess’ style dresses not really my thing.  I thought about going non-traditional, but in the end I settled on a simple dress and got 10% off for paying upfront.  Then a further 10% off when I took it out of the country to my wedding!  One of the advantages of getting married overseas!

(6)    Figure out if there is something your bridesmaid/s can wear that they already own.  Yes I really did this!  (Check out the photo above!) My bridesmaids wore black and something they already owned.  Yes they didn’t match but that was not important to me.  I wanted them to be comfortable and happy and not roped into wearing some dress that they never liked or would wear again.

(7)    If you hire a photographer, don’t have them for the whole day.  Photography is crazy expensive.  We had a fantastic photographer but we only hired her for a few hours around the ceremony.  For the reception we just had friends and family take pictures and we put some disposable cameras on the table for some very funny selfies!

(8)    Skip the video all together, we just had a couple of friends video the ceremony for us on their hand held cameras.

(9)    Shop around.   It pays to shop around and if you are spending a lot of money don’t be afraid to ask for a discount.  You might be surprised what suppliers will do to get your business.  Check Facebook and Esty for many wonderful small businesses that might be more affordable.

(10) Keep it simple.  Try and keep it as simple as possible so that you enjoy it and your budget will thank you for it.

Weddings can be expensive affairs.  Make sure you set your budget and stick to it.  I always remember what my mother told me when ‘financial problems walk in the door, love flies out the window’.  So make sure you don’t fall into the trap of starting your new married life with an unmanageable wedding debt and make sure most of all that you relax and enjoy your big day.  It goes really fast!

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