From the seven-tiered hand piped cake, to the designer dress you desperately need, there are many wedding expenses that are, well, expensive. That said, while the average trip down the aisle now comes in at a whopping $36,700, there are ways to keep a lid on the costs. Here are six suggestions that could help keep your wedding budget under control – so you can have a great day, but still afford that tropical honeymoon.
1. Don’t budge on the budget
One of the biggest mistakes is jumping into the planning stage before you’ve sat down and worked out a realistic budget. This often leads to disappointment (when you realise you can’t afford the 12-piece band you had your heart set on) or worse – a complete budget blowout. It’s critical to get a clear, realistic amount in mind and stick to it! This might sound obvious but most couples blow the budget by moving the financial goal posts along the way, or because they haven’t properly tracked their costs. A good tip is to create a spreadsheet and list all of your expenses as they occur, so nothing gets missed.
2. Get creative and cut costs
Not only is this fun, it’s a serious way to save. If you’re not overly comfortable with creativity, recruit a crafty mate and do it together (that’s what bridal parties are for, right?). There are so many aspects of the wedding that, if you’re willing, you can do yourself. Think invites, flowers, table settings, decorations – even the cake if you’re really game. Maybe you could ask a guest with an eye for style to do the photography, or if you’re into fashion, design your own dress? For DIY inspirations look no further than Pinterest and creative wedding blogs (like Something Turquoise and Style Me Pretty).
3. Cut back on tradition
Remember that it’s your day, and just because many things are ‘tradition’, you don’t necessarily have to incorporate them into your nuptials. Have a think about why you’re embracing certain traditions on your big day – is it because you want to, or just because you feel you should? If you’re not too bothered about a sit down meal, why not serve your guests a gourmet BBQ instead? Even if you feel it’s taboo, you can ditch the matching bridal dresses, cocktail hour and matching platinum wedding bands if you’re not fussed about those traditions. Remember that cutting back on certain aspects doesn’t necessarily mean compromising. And it may lead to a day that’s refreshingly relaxed for you and your guests.
4. Pick your priorities
OK, so your wedding is an important day, but it’s still just one day! So unless you’ve got an unlimited pot to dip into (and who does?) chances are you can’t afford absolutely everything you want. With this in mind, chat to your partner about the things you both want to be a standout on your special day. Is it a fancy degustation meal, a free flowing bar, or an epic destination? Getting this clear will make it much easier to divvy up your budget further down the line. And once you’ve worked out where you won’t compromise, you can look into where you can save a little (for example, getting slightly cheaper wine in bulk, or offering wedding cake as dessert).
5. Look at low season
Surprise, surprise, it’s more expensive to plan a wedding in Spring and Summer – the weather is better, so prices will be at their peak. But while lots of people are hell bent on spaghetti straps and bare feet, you may actually prefer an Autumn or Winter wedding. Choosing this time of year will automatically save you money, and it’ll probably also mean your day will be more unique than the standard celebration (cocktails around an open fire, anyone?). Price also depends on the day of the week, so don’t rule out Friday and Sunday for your special day – or even a mid-week marriage (you’ll just have to give your guests plenty of notice).
6. Keep it intimate
It’s a basic equation – the smaller the number of guests on your wedding list, the lower the cost. This is the best way to reduce your wedding day costs (although, as many couples say, it’s also possibly the hardest part… do you draw the line at cousins or second-cousins?). If costs are really a concern, a clever approach is to keep your nuptials really small and tell people it’s a ‘family and a couple of best friends only’ event. When people realise it’s such an intimate affair, they’re much less likely to be offended if they’re left off the list. You can always have a more relaxed (and less expensive) celebration like a BBQ or picnic with all your friends at a later date so they all feel included. The main thing to remember is, it’s your special day and you should only invite the people you really want there.
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