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How to keep the costs of your wedding down

Zoë Fielding

Having a wedding can be expensive, with lots of hidden extras. So the more you can plan – and set priorities – the more likely your finances will live happily ever after.


1. DRAW UP A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT

Even if you’re not planning a huge celebrity-style bash, a wedding can run to tens of thousands of dollars, if you let it.

There are a few “fixed costs” to a wedding, such as fees to the celebrant and for the marriage certificate, that you can’t avoid. Almost everything else is a matter of choice.

First of all, think about how much you can afford to spend and then work out what you can do with the money you have. If you plan to take out a loan to pay for the wedding, be realistic about how much you can afford to borrow, and set a time frame in which you would like to pay it off.

2. LOOK AFTER THE PENNIES

Seemingly small costs, such as invitations or table centrepieces, end up being much bigger than you expect. Even very basic invitations will set you back $2 each plus postage. That doesn’t sound like much but if you’re planning to invite 100 guests that’s more than $250 straight off – and for every dollar more they cost, it’s $100 extra to the bottom line of your bridal budget.

3. PULL IN FAVOURS

You’ll be surprised at how many people are simply dying to help out with your big day.

Ask around if anyone has a particular talent they’d like to show off. Friends might arrange the flowers, make the cake or perform music for the ceremony. Maybe a family member has a big house or garden that could even serve as the venue? The personal touch can make the day even more special and save you money as well.

4. BE FLEXIBLE

If your first choice isn’t available or costs too much, be prepared to workshop other ideas. If in doubt, can you leave it out?

Think about your priorities, what’s important to you and what’s not. Photography may matter more, say, than flowers. Cut corners on things you don’t care as much about and put your pennies into the things you really value.

5. ASK FOR PRACTICAL PRESENTS

Not everyone feels comfortable with this, but gifts that help towards the costs of the wedding can be a real money-saver. A group of friends might buy the cake as a wedding gift or pay for the cars to drive you to and from the venue.

6. THINK OUTSIDE THE SQUARE

A wedding doesn’t have to involve dinner, drinks and dancing.

Would a picnic or barbecue on the beach suit you better? An afternoon cocktail party might be just as sophisticated as a glitzy dinner-time reception. Venues are often cheaper to hire on weekdays – but your guests might find it harder to attend.

7. KEEP IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE

Even if you can’t afford some of the trimmings, focus on what you do have.

The main things are that the bride and groom, the celebrant and some close family and friends show up on the day. The rest are just details.

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