For guests, weddings are a chance for a great party with all your mates, leaving you with little more than good memories and a sore head the next day. For the couple in the spotlight, there’s the lifetime of happiness to look forward to, but also unfortunately, a mountain of debt.
According to IBIS World research, the average cost of a wedding in Australia is a huge $36,200. It’s a massive expense for what is essentially an eight-hour day, so if you’re planning to tie the knot, here’s how to keep costs down.
Set a Budget
This is the first and most important thing to do. Sit down with your partner, work out what you can afford and stick to it. Without this, things are going to get out of hand very quickly.
A general rule is to allocate half of your budget to the reception, then split the rest between music, photography, flowers, the dress, suit, cars, invitations and anything else.
Be Ruthless with the Guest List
Figure out quickly who your closest friends and family are and set some rules early. Maybe you’ve had to see everyone on the list within the last year, or only long-term partners are invited.
Forget the generic “plus one” invite. If you don’t know who you’re inviting, don’t do it. Cut the kids and co-workers too.
You can always invite everyone to the wedding ceremony, especially if it’s in a church or park, and then only invite the closest people to the reception. Whatever your strategy, be clear from the get-go.
Time it Right
Off-peak times like Fridays or Sundays, or even during winter will make a huge difference in price for reception venues. If you’re heart set on getting married on a Saturday in summer, sacrifice something else to be able to do it. Simple as that.
Don’t Mention the W Word
Telling suppliers it’s for a wedding is like screaming from the rooftops you have heaps of cash to burn. Everything from the cake to car hire prices will have a wedding surcharge, so while you may be excited and want to share the great news, keep it a secret from those sneaky suppliers.
Put aside some time to do invitations, table features or decorations yourself. Recruit friends to help with the prep and make it a fun activity.
Guests aren’t going to notice gold trimmed scalloped edges on invitations that cost you an extra $5 each to print. And let’s face it, most invitations are on the fridge for two months then get tossed.
Cut the Extras
Flowers on every table are going to be a lot more expensive than candles on each table, so think long and hard about what extras you can cut. Borrow nice cars from mates to save on fancy care hire, cut out spirits on the bar, or choose a venue that doesn’t need much dressing up.
Choose the Right Shoes and Suits
Brides probably won’t wear the wedding dress again, so may as well buy shoes and jewellery that they will. Wedding outfits are a big investment, so are worth getting the most out of. Same goes for the groom’s suit and shoes. If you’re buying all these things brand new (there are heaps of places you can buy pre-loved wedding dresses by the way) think beyond the one day you’ll actually wear them and whether they can be worn again.
Main pic: Bridesmaids movie.