Many women dream of designing the perfect wedding day. As they find themselves getting further into the wedding planning process, small but important details can really start to add up. The Government’s MoneySmart website reports that the average cost of an Australian wedding sits at $36,200, while a survey run by Bride-to-Be magazine found the average to be much higher at around $65,000. Whichever estimate is right, it’s still an awful lot of money to spend on one day of your life.
The ceremony, dress, photography, transport, reception and honeymoon are all considered wedding necessities and usually come with a hefty price tag. Add in the extras that provide aesthetics (like stationery, flowers, styling, lighting, hair, makeup and gifts) and it’s easy to see how costs can get out of hand.
That’s why it’s important to set a budget and to stick to it.
But let’s face it, in all likelihood your budget will blow out along the way and you’ll be forced to make some compromises. If you’re in this situation you can reduce costs by being ruthless with your guest list, cutting back on numbers at the risk of offending some people, or you can find other ways to save. You may have to do both.
If you find your wedding plans exceeding your budget, here are a few ways to reduce your incidental costs (without your guests knowing).
1. Reduce paper
There can be a lot of paper associated with a wedding: save-the-dates, invitations, RSVPs, order of service, seating charts, table numbers, place cards, menus … the list goes on. For an informal wedding, you may be able to get away without some items like individual orders of service or menus, by strategically placing a few around your venue.
Electronic save-the-dates and invites are gaining popularity for informal weddings and can cost a fraction of paper versions. Stationery websites like www.minted.com allow you to set your stationery to a theme and customise elements including colour, shape and paper weight, for a low cost. They can also offer free envelope design and guest addressing, which saves a lot of money. Most of their templates have free matched wedding websites, negating the need for printed RSVPs which can be managed digitally through the site.
2. Try not to blow out on the dress
The bride will be the centre of attention on the day and therefore her dress will – and should – be the most significant outfit. But it can also be one of the most significant costs. Add in a veil, shoes, lingerie, jewellery and it can really stack up. It’s generally cheaper to buy vintage or off the rack, although some brides like to have their dress custom made. If buying off the rack, keep an eye out for trunk sales of designers you like. And before purchasing your chosen dress, it is worthwhile looking on pre-owned wedding dress sites such as www.stillwhite.com.au, as you may find someone trying to sell that particular dress brand new, unaltered and heavily discounted.
3. Save on the reception
You can save on venue costs by having your wedding out of peak season or on a week day. Many venues have a hire cost and a minimum spend which will need to be factored in. A cocktail reception will save you money over a sit-down affair. Another way to save is to serve either cake or dessert – not both. By that stage of the evening your guests should be so merry they won’t even notice.
4. Getting married overseas?
If so, you may be eligible for the Australian Tourist Refund Scheme. This is a way to save money on bigger ticket items like your dress or wedding bands. A long as you meet certain conditions, such as purchasing the item in Australia within 60 days before your international flight, you can claim the 10% GST back. Visit https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Ente/Tour/Are-you-a-traveller for more information.
5. Get smart with your decorations
Save on decorations by choosing a reception venue at a restaurant with a lovely view. Your guests will be too busy gazing at the scenery to notice that you’ve taken a ‘less is more’ approach on the décor.
The type of flowers you want and whether they are in season will have a huge impact on price. Reuse flowers from your ceremony – bring ceremony flowers to the reception, use the bridal party bouquets on the wedding table. Or, if you’re brave, do your own flowers. One of the prettiest, yet simplest, floral table arrangements I’ve seen contained only 2 white ranunculus, a white snapdragon stem and a little baby’s breath in a mason jar – certainly something you could DIY. Although if you choose to do this, accept offers of help because you won’t want to be bothered with these kinds of details the morning of the big day.
Also be sure to check out sites like www.weddingswap.com.au, www.tradesy.com, www.upcycledbride.com.au and www.etsy.com which are online market places where you can buy and trade gently used or handmade wedding items.
6. Skip the wedding favours
Bonbonniere is a cute touch and a nice way to thank your guests for their attendance but a heartfelt, handwritten, thank you card in the weeks following will mean more to them. The reality is that people will get drunk at the reception and forget to take their wedding favours anyway, or they will take them and throw them out when they get home. Seeing as it’s not mandatory to give bonbonniere, I say don’t bother.
There are lots of ways to save money on your wedding, these are just a few suggestions. Check out The Knot’s article ‘26 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding’ for more.
Image credit: Victoria’s Secret