In Australia, most weddings cost anywhere between $35,000 and $50,000. This is said to be the happiest day of your life, but despite a large part of the cost getting covered by the rellies, the majority of Australian newlyweds find themselves starting off their married life in debt.
While your big day is important, the last thing you want is to be discussing debt consolidation on your honeymoon. Without putting a price on love, here are 6 ways to save money on your big day. Your wedding bells shouldn’t be overshadowed by those wedding bills!
1. Be Realistic with Your Budget
First, the golden rule with planning a wedding is knowing what you really need. In Australia, the average wedding costs a reported $36,000. To afford this, 82% of couples used their savings to pay for their wedding day. That’s quite the expense, and it even sends some newlyweds spiralling into debt.
Because weddings are such big business, from the second we say “Yes!” to the proposal, we’re bombarded with an overload of wedding marketing. While these fun add-ons and extras are tempting, make a list of the essentials.
Most importantly, be realistic and honest about your budget. Ask yourself whether you really need the overseas hen/stag party, champagne fountain, drone photography, choreographed dances and designer wedding dress? There is a good chance that keeping it simple will result in a special day that is just as memorable—plus you won’t be stressed about the price tag.
2. Ask for Help from Friends and Family
With more people getting married later in life, this means you likely have a circle of friends with useful wedding skills. If your friends offer you their services, such as being DJ for the night or doing the flower arrangements, don’t be afraid to take them up on their offer.
There are so many ways to have your friends and family help with the big day. Some ideas are:
- DJ or music: Check to see if the venue comes with its own built-in sound system. If yes, ask the bridal party to come up with an upbeat playlist, including songs with particular significance to the bride and groom.
- DIY decorations: If you have a crafty friend, they might be willing to help you with DIY decorations for the service or reception.
- Bartender: Have any bartending pros in your family? Asking one to bartend for a portion of the service is a special treat, and it saves on service costs.
- Catering: If your loved one owns a restaurant, catering services make a wonderful gift idea. Additionally, a special baker in the family might be willing to put together a stunning wedding cake for free.
- Celebrant: Instead of hiring a celebrant, ask a trusted friend or family member to marry you. This is a touching way to include someone in your big moment.
Before making arrangements, check with the reception venue in advance. Make sure you’re allowed to bring in your own people, as some will have contracts with existing pricier suppliers.
3. Be Smart About Your Wedding Dresses
This is the biggest day of your life, so it’s only natural to want to look your best. Fuelled by social media sites such as Pinterest, there’s a lot of pressure to go all-out on your wedding dress. The dress is an expression of your personality and style, but if you are open to less traditional options, looking in non-bridal shops will ensure that the price tag is a fraction.
Likewise, if you know someone who is handy with a needle, why not buy a bridesmaid dress and get some extra unique touches put on? The same applies to bridesmaid dresses. With the film series Sex and the City kickstarting the trend for bridesmaids to wear different coloured dresses, why not let your favourite ladies choose their own frock?
Carrie Bradshaw may have had a freebie Vivienne Westwood dress for her big day, but forgoing the designer frock yourself could mean you avoid needing debt help six months after the nuptials. While your dress is important, you don’t have to pay something extraordinary to find a design you love.
4. Choose Your Date Wisely
It is a well-known fact that in wedding circles that getting married on a Saturday carries a significant premium. Why not look into a Friday or the day before a mid-week public holiday in order to make a huge cost saving?
Regarding the time of year, the offseason for Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Hobart will be in the cold months (May, June and July). Winter weddings can have their charm though, so consider your own timing needs.
Though the colder months might seem like a challenge, they can also be a great opportunity. Why not look into a place that has plenty of olde worlde charms, such as a farm or a winery? An open fire and a fake fur shawl with your dress will certainly add atmosphere and glamour.
In the Northern Territory, people tend to favour the dry season. In Brisbane, the temperature is fairly even, making it popular all year round for weddings. Travelling elsewhere for your wedding could mean more favourable temperatures without the high price tag. It’s a good idea to be flexible about your location and your date to save big.
5. Save Money on Tipples
There’s no doubt that watching your tipsy uncle shake his limbs to “Single Ladies” with your school friends is one of the funniest parts of any wedding, but alcohol can also be costly. How do you keep this expense down without seeming like a party pooper?
First of all, look into places that have a BYO option for alcohol. Then, head to supermarkets where you can buy wholesale in bulk. Offering beer and wine, as opposed to spirits, should keep the cost from spiralling out of control. For something special, offer a unique cocktail rather than a full-service bar. If you do choose to have a bar, ensure the staff have a cut-off point when the tab reaches a certain amount, after which it turns into a cash bar.
6. Try Second Hand Chic
The saying goes “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” therefore buying second-hand items for your wedding, even the dress, is fairly common and helps costs. Ask around to see if anyone in your network got married recently. They may have accessories or decor they’re eager to pass along.
Likewise, get creative and scour local second-hand markets to find novel props. If you’re a book lover, decorate the place with dusty antique books. If you love cheesy wedding music, why not show your sense of humour by buying some inflatable palm trees to give it an 80’s Cocktail theme?
Weddings are about expressing your individuality. When you use your imagination, you ensure your wedding is one to remember. Keep in mind you can also sell anything you purchase again after, getting back some much-needed funds.
7. Lower Your Printing Fees
Printing stunning invitations, save-the-dates, and menus for your wedding are a great way to impress guests, but they come at a high price. Luckily, some smart thinking can save you big on your wedding printing fees. Here are some ideas:
- Card stock: Though thick paper might look (and feel) great, it’s not your only option. Using two-ply for your invitation and one-ply for everything else can save you significant dough.
- Website: Instead of encouraging guests to mail back expensive cards, simply direct guests to a free wedding website for RSVPs.
- Bulk: Order all printed items in bulk at the same time to keep costs lower.
- DIY: Though hiring someone to custom write your stationary might be great, it’s also expensive. You can DIY your own wedding invitations for free and have them look just as stunning.
8. Opt for a Buffet
Food is often one of the biggest costs at weddings, but it doesn’t have to be. While a fully catered, multi-course meal is a special way to highlight the event, there are other low-cost options that work just as well. A buffet saves you on staffing costs, and you can save thousands overall.
When you choose a buffet, you also usually get more food for the price. Compared to a plated dinner, a buffet lets guests stay fully in control of what they’d like to eat, and it leaves more room for dietary needs. To save even more, look for a caterer that’s open to flexible dining or located outside of a big city.
9. Downsize Your Cake
A multi-tiered cake sure is a sight to behold, but it comes with a high price tag. One great alternative is to purchase a smaller display cake. This one is done up with all the frills and details you want in a wedding cake, but it’s just at a smaller size.
From there, serve guests from a sheet cake or a dessert bar. This is much cheaper per slice—and just as delicious. With a smaller cake, you still get your lovely cake photos without the same high price tag.
10. Hire an Up-and-Coming Photographer
Last but not least, avoid spending over your budget when it comes to a photographer. Yes, these are photos you’ll cherish for a lifetime, but you don’t need a high-end photographer to capture these special moments. While rates vary widely, seek new talent.
You can find excellent up-and-coming photographers on social media and online. If you’re not sure where to start, ask some seasoned photographers near you for a recommendation. These newer photographers often have the same skills, but they’re willing to work at a lower price to build their portfolio.
Get Your Dream Wedding on a Budget
Ultimately, your wedding is your big day, but it is important to remember that no event is worth acquiring enormous amounts of debt. It is about who is waiting for you up the aisle, not the size of the celebration. If you have blown the budget and are paying the price, seek debt advice immediately about easing the burden.
The last thing you need when you return from your honeymoon is countless letters from debt collection agencies. Cost-effective wedding planning is a great practice for setting a strong example for the rest of your married life. As the saying goes, you’re together “for richer and poorer,” so why not start strong?
If you need professional solutions with your debts, we’re here to help! Speak with us today for an obligation-free assessment of your situation. Call us on 1300 368 322 or fill in the contact form below. Congratulations on your big day!