Congratulations. You’re planning a wedding – that is awesome.
What’s not though, is the kicker in the piggybank that you’re probably about to encounter. Recent surveys place the average cost of a wedding somewhere between $35-65k. Of course there are plenty of outliers above and below this mark, but overall, wedding spending is apparently on the rise.
So what’s changed? The rise in destination weddings, both here and overseas is one thing that’s driven up the average. So too has more brides buying couture or made-to-measure bridal gowns.
The price increase might also reflect a change in the way we approach weddings. More and more of us choose to make it a long-weekend event, gathering friends and family for three-day celebrations. Same goes for hens and bucks ‘nights’, which often are several days long.
Now, the last thing we want anyone to do is suddenly panic and take out a loan/re-mortgage the apartment/start selling their body, because that’s not what this is about. You can plan and enjoy the most amazing wedding on a shoestring. Weddings aren’t about flashing big bucks, they’re about joining families and celebrating with your loved ones. Remind yourself of this as often as you need to.
But these recent figures do highlight the fact that, in all honesty, your wedding will most probably make a dent on the savings.
You know your budget and what you can afford better than anyone so spend your money the way you want to and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty. Don’t want a cake but want to fork out on a giant slippery slide? You have our support. Prefer to make a playlist than hire a live band? Whatever you wish. You do you.
We thought it might be helpful if we shared some of our top ways to save money when planning a wedding.
1) Have a small bridal party
Always dreamed of having your six besties stand by you at the altar? That’s potentially 6 x $$ for hair and makeup, flowers, boutonnieres, tans, nails, clothes, gifts and accessories. Of course, these aren’t all necessities but typically, the bigger the bridal party, the bigger the cost.
2) Hold your ceremony and reception at the same place
Most of our amazing WedShed venues fall into this category – the all-encompassing, one stop place to say ‘I do’, then party the day and night away. By having your ceremony and reception at the same place, you save money on hiring two spaces and also the travel costs incurred from getting everyone from A to B.
3) Get married on Friday. Or Sunday.
Or Mon-Thurs if you think your friends and fam won’t mind. Basically, getting married any day other than Saturday can help score you a discount.
4) Choose a venue that allows you to bring in your own vendors
By having the flexibility to work with your own preferred wedding vendors, such as caterers, you can shop around and pick a team based on your own personal preferences and budget.
5) Enlist local wedding vendors
Travel costs money. Try and save here by hiring wedding vendors that are local to your wedding venue. You’ll also be supporting the surrounding community, which is a feel-good thing.
6) Op shop and bargain hunt
Did you know that things like knives and forks often cost less to buy from an op-shop than to rent from a hire company? And you get to keep them and sell them afterwards. If you have the patience and time (or a very kind mum and mum-in-law, like one of us), hit up second hand stores. Also, check out garage sales and council clean-ups of nice suburbs to find old lounges, chairs, rugs, coffee tables and other items that you could use for styling.
7) Use your Christmas’, birthdays and tax returns wisely
Any time you’re likely to be gifted, use it as an opportunity to get something for the wedding. Shopping vouchers can be used for wedding shoes, tax returns can be spent buying styling items that you can then display in your home post-wedding. Double-win.
8) Buy alcohol when there’s a deal
Alcohol lasts a long time. Sign up to receive deals from different liquor outlets like Vinomofo and stock up on your wedding grog when it’s on special. Or, purchase a bulk order from a boutique winery/brewery to see if there’s a deal that can be done.
9) Share food
Big, banquet-style platters of food to share are going to make a caterer’s job easier than the chicken–fish-chicken-fish plate drops of more traditional venues (plus, we think platters are more communal and fun). Also, cocktail-style weddings with canapés and charcuterie are a money-saving way to feed plenty. Consider gourmet BBQs, animals on a spit, picnic hampers and other fun ways to serve your grub.
10) Re-invent the cake
So long as guests have something to satisfy their sweet tooth, we sincerely doubt anyone will miss the wedding cake if you decide to cut costs here.
You could replace the wedding cake with a fun and cheaper alternative like a:
- stack of lamingtons
- donut bar
- milk and cookie station
Or, do what one of us did and contact the local Country Women’s Association, as many branches in country towns will be happy to offer their baking services. This way, the money you spend goes to bettering the lives of women and kids in rural settings.
11) Choose a venue that is already stunning and doesn’t need much decorating
Ahem, such as all of our WedShed venues. Just add a few flowers, some pretty lights and you’ve got an unforgettable space on your hands.
12) Accept offers of help
Time is money. By accepting help when it’s offered to you, you’re less likely to take time off work to get things organised.
13) Be smart about your wedding dress
We have a few tips here:
- Check out non-bridal boutiques to find gorgeous dresses that you could wear as a wedding dress, without the price tag.
- Shop the sales – sign up to all the e-newsletters from all the boutiques you love, so you’re the first to know when there’s a discount up for grabs
- Hire a dress – hey, you’re likely to only wear it once, so renting-a-dress isn’t that crazy if you can find one you love
- Buy a second-hand dress – there are plenty of different online outlets that allow brides to buy and re-sell used wedding dresses
14) Enlist your friends
Does one of your mates have beautiful handwriting? Get them to paint wedding signs or hand-write your invitation envelopes (or ou could do a calligraphy course with someone like theblackline by lauren and DIY afterwards). Have a chum that works in hospitality? Get them to design you a signature cocktail. That’s what friends are for, right?
15) Design your own invites – or send e-invites
Have you heard of Canva? It’s this genius, free online design tool that enables even the most uncreative person to create surprisingly professional-looking design work. Save cash by putting together your own bespoke invitation, and shop around for the best printing price.
OR: forego paper invites. While they’re a beautiful keepsake for you, for everyone else they’re just a fridge ornament and then most likely a piece of recycling (was that too harsh?). Consider cutting costs by using a service like Paperless Post to send out stylish digital invitations.
16) Share your wedding vendors
Once you have your venue locked in, find out if they have a booking the night before yours or after and if they’d be happy to share your details with the other couple – you could potentially share floral installations or extra hire items? Or if it’s a destination wedding and you’ve got your heart set on a photographer from your hometown they might discount their price if the other couple books them too.
17) Hit the sales
Besides booking your suppliers, you’ll also be hitting the shops – so make note of the big sales like Black Friday, Cyber Money and Vogue Online Shopping night where you could pick up dresses, suits, gifts etc.
Have you got any tips you’ve read or been passed on that you can share? Please give generously below.