When I first sat down with my fiancé to map out the initial budget it all seemed easy enough. I opened an excel typed expenses down one side and estimated costs down the other. The average Aussie wedding according to Moneysmart is $36,000.
We wanted a small wedding focused on quality company, and good food and wine. So surely it won’t cost more than the average Australian wedding, right? We set up the rough budget before we had any idea of where to have the wedding or how much a good photographer would cost. And let’s just say things were not as blissful and optimistic the second, third and fourth time we reviewed the budget. As the budget was updated with quotes, I started begging to elope instead of going ahead with this big expensive day!
But we persevered, and thankfully I have zero regrets with what still is the most special day of our lives to date. The day was exactly what we both had hoped it to be!
I thought I would share some of our tips for planning an unforgettable wedding day when you are paying for it yourself!
1. Hit up Ebay/ Gumtree to pick up a bundle of bridal magazines
I love magazines so the next day after the proposal I was at the newsagents dropping $20 on one magazine. Once I calmed down and did a little more internet research I scrolled through Ebay to find a bundle of recent Bridal Mags for $10 the Magazines were worth $60. Another win was discovering the App called ISSUU where you can scroll through bridal magazines for free!
2. Start Pinterest boards for your dress, bridal party attire, reception decorations, and flowers
Oh, the hours I have spent pinning all the beautiful things on Pinterest! Pinterest boards are a great way to visually collect ideas for what you want things to look like, you can share the board with your bridal party or vendors such as florists to give them an indication as to what you are hoping things to look like.
3. Join Facebook groups for the area you plan to get married
My Husband and I fell in love with a venue which is a 2 hour drive from where we live, so I jumped on Facebook and joined a local wedding planning group. This group has been such a valuable resource for collecting recommendations for local vendors such as musicians, cake makers, and a florist. To further add to the benefit, by keeping it local you will avoid those nasty travel fees.
4. How did people plan weddings before Instagram?
Another great way to visually stalk, I mean research providers such as makeup artists, hairdressers, florists, cake makers, venues, photographers… the list can go on.
5. Use a Google sheet or excel document to collect your quotes and record deposits paid and balance due
I collected at least 3 quotes for everything and the variance in price was huge for things like makeup, hair and flowers. I didn’t always select the cheapest quote I received, but I certainly never selected the most expensive.
6. Think about your guest list early
The size of your wedding is the largest driver of cost, as most food and beverage plans are priced per person. Start creating a list and think about how many people are musts —this will help you figure out the venue size. Then, you can save yourself some time by ruling out venues that aren’t right for the size of your guest list. Come to an agreement with your partner on plus-ones and children and communicate your stance with your loved ones. If you set expectations early, you’ll avoid hurting feelings later.
7. Set a target budget
Talk with your partner to get an idea of what kind of wedding you both imagine having and do some research to understand what it might cost. Day of week, time of year, geographic location, and size all will have a substantial impact on the cost. To arrive at a feasible target budget, consider your available savings, as well as your monthly capacity to keep saving. Importantly, as you determine what’s affordable to your budget, keep in mind your other financial goals. Some couples may value the opportunity to celebrate their marriage with loved ones in a big way, and others may opt for a smaller gathering in order to realize their goal of homeownership (for example) that much quicker. Have a conversation with your significant other to make sure you’re aligned in how you prioritise wedding expenses against other goals.
When building our budget, my fiancé and I found it helpful to identify our non-negotiables. Being self-proclaimed foodies who also LOVE Aussie wine, this was priority one for us, followed by a super talented photographer, and musician. This helps to understand where to allocate money first. We also discussed the areas we were willing to DIY to save money—for us, this meant painting signs, and early morning trial run the day before the wedding flower markets haul.
I’d suggest using Etsy to look for other creatives to assist if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body.
Lastly, leave room in your budget for unexpected expenses. Trust me—you will forget to include an item or two in your budget. We ended up hiring heaters due to a cold snap in the weather. The thing about planning a wedding is you’ve probably never done it before. Leaving a line item for things you’ve forgotten to budget for will provide a little cushion.
8. Start saving!
Working backwards from the total target budget, set up an automatic monthly savings amount to make sure you save up everything you need and don’t leave yourself short at the end. Ideally you will have some cash savings to get you started as when you first start booking things you will need to pay a deposit.
For example, assuming your big day will cost $55,000 you already have $10,000 savings to put towards the day and you would like to have the wedding in 18 months’ time. You will need to save $2,500 each month.
If you can’t manage this amount you will need to revise the budget or move the date, so you have longer to save.
The most important thing to think about when planning a wedding is to do it as a couple. It’s going to be a special day for the both of you and knowing you planned it together will make it even more special.
I hope your wedding day will be as unforgettable and special as mine was for me.