Not going to lie. If you set a wedding budget and stick to it, we salute you. Because we sure didn’t. And we’re the norm. Bear with us here.
Wedding budgets are notoriously difficult. The issue is two-fold.
Firstly, you’ve never planned a wedding before. So how are you meant to know all the costs to factor in?
Secondly, wedding planning is an evolving process. Your budget may influence your venue choice, which may influence your guest number, which may influence the amount you pay for food and drinks, which may influence the amount left to spend on styling… or flowers… or music… or…
As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. If experience has taught us anything, the best way to approach your wedding budget is to have a figure in mind that you want to spend (or can afford to spend), then do your due diligence and start the planning process before you get rock solid in writing down hard numbers. Because certain things like the venue you choose will impact the amount you need to spend in other areas.
While it might sound like we’ve completely contradicted the subject of this article (ha, whoops), there are some very tangible things you can do to help keep your wedding within budget, provided you’re realistic about the budget from the start. Read on.
1. Invite the gang you can’t live without
It sounds obvious, but cutting down the guest list can be a job and a half. Break it down like this:
- Break your guests into groups (immediate family, close friends, uni friends, etc.) then see if a group can be left out. It may suck but if it’s the whole group then no one gets left out.
- Figure out the max cost per head you’re willing to budget for and how many people your venue will allow. This will give you an indication of exactly how many you can have.
- Ask your parents not to go overboard with inviting everyone they know.
- Politely say no to plus-ones.
- …and children.
- Only invite people who are definitely part of your future.
2. Consider a mid-week celebration or winter wedding
We’re totally here for winter weddings, and steering clear of highly sought-after seasons (the warmer ones) can be a money-saver with some venues offering a special rate. It’s also good to note that evening receptions can be more expensive than brunch or afternoon receptions because people tend to drink less during the day and require less styling (lighting, music, etc.).
Throwing a mid-week wedding isn’t a bad idea either. Again, some venues slash their venue hire prices during the week for those who want to get married Monday-Thursday.
Keep in mind though, that while some venues might offer a discount for cool months and mid-week shindigs, it’s not something to expect every time, as ultimately the amount of work for the owner or manager doesn’t change.
3. Take advantage of our ‘Sheddies Specials’
A bunch of our unique venues and vendors offer a ‘Sheddies Special’ on their profile where you might bag more bang for your buck like 10% off venue hire. Just take a look underneath the venue or vendor’s ‘Send Enquiry’ button. Here’s a handy link to head to our venue directory.
4. Prioritise what’s important
Deciding what’s important for your wedding can feel like a pretty obvious one, but it’s easy to get swept up along the way. And here’s how to figure out what these priorities are.
- Grab two pens and pieces of paper and sit down with you partner
- Pour wine
- Each write down five things that are super important to you for your wedding (e.g. live band, making a weekend away of it, shit-hot photographer, pet-friendly property – whatever it might be)
- Share and compare
The things you both have in common on your lists? These are the things you should put your budget into. And everything else is secondary. Stick these lists on the fridge and refer back to everytime Instagram serves you up a dose of FOMO (trust us, it’s bound to happen along the wedding planning journey).
5. Consider a cocktail wedding instead of sit-down reception
When it comes to food and the style of wedding reception you should opt for, pretty much anything goes these days. Over the past few years, there’s been a major boom in cocktail-style weddings, with couples going for much more affordable alternatives to keeping their guests fed including picnics, woodfire pizzas, gourmet BBQs and food trucks. Plenty of which you can find on WedShed.
There’s no rule for when it comes to feeding your guests, except the fact that there needs to be plenty of it and it needs to be easy to find by your guests. Read more on cocktail vs. sit-down weddings here where we weigh up the pros and cons.
6. Consider a destination wedding (hello WedShed Indonesia!)
Sure, you might have to initially shell out more dollars to get yourself there, but you might be pleasantly surprised by how much you can cut costs by hosting a wedding overseas, particularly if the wedding is more intimate. We’re about to share an entire collection of the most beautiful Indonesian wedding venues that will give you all the luxury feels at a reasonable price tag. Bonus? You can hang out and honeymoon after the big day is done. Sign up to our newsletter to find out when this market is launched.
7. Get married in a community-run space
There’s no shortage of beautiful town and council halls dotted across most countries – Australia and New Zealand are no exception. Community-focused venues are often very affordable: the catch being that you may need to hire in additional styling items, tables and chairs. Check if certain essentials are included and if not, gather quotes to make sure you’re completely across the overall cost of the venue.
Dress: Alice McCall via Shopbop
8. Find a dress for under $500
The average bridal gown is going to set you back somewhere between $1,500-$3,000 and if you’re more into the spirit of spending your cash on the other fun parts of planning a wedding, then beautiful dresses created by brands that aren’t traditionally bridal might be up your alley. Check out the usual places you shop – there might be a white (or of course, other coloured) gown that can easily double as a wedding dress. Also, consider a second-hand gown from a platform like Still White.
9. Be the DJ with a Spotify playlist
We’ll be honest – the very best dancefloors we’ve ever partied on at weddings have been ones with a professional band or DJ at the helm. Though we recognise this service may not be in everyone’s budget, nor their priority. We’ve put together several epic Spotify playlists to get you pumped, with a collection of tunes to take you from getting ready to hitting the D-floor.
- To purchase the premium subscription to avoid any ads.
- Good speakers or access to a sound system.
- A wedding playlist – or you can grab ours here.
10. Have a small bridal party – or none at all
While you’re not necessarily expected to cover all the costs for your bridal party (read our article here on brides vs. bridesmaid: who pays for what), there are definitely extra expenses that come with having bridesmaids or groomsmen. Think hair, makeup, accessories, maybe dresses and suits (depending on whether you’d want to pitch in here), bouquets, buttonholes, gifts. And obviously, the bigger the crew, the more money to budget here.
Know that having a small bridal party or forfeiting one altogether doesn’t mean that you can’t have your best friends involved – they can still get ready with you, drink that champers and be just as much a part of the day. If you’re clocking your budget though (and seriously, who ain’t), this could be an area where there are easy dollars to save.
Currently searching for a budget-friendly venue? Check out our round-up here.