Congratulations. You’re planning a wedding – that is awesome.
What’s not, though, is the kicker in the piggy bank that you’re probably about to encounter. Recent surveys place the average cost of a wedding somewhere between $35-65k. Of course, there are plenty of outliers above and below this mark, so don’t worry if yours is way below or above this.
Planning a wedding can be expensive. Not only is there the venue, transport and formal wear to organise, but you also have the honeymoon, decorations, and little bits and pieces like Bomboniere. It all adds up! So it’s no wonder that planning an affordable wedding is a priority for many couples who would prefer to put their money towards other life goals.
Did your mum and dad say their wedding cost 5K? What’s changed? Besides the cost of living in Australia. The rise in destination weddings both here and overseas is one thing that’s driven up the average. More and more of us choose to make it a long weekend event, gathering friends and family for three-day celebrations. The same goes for hens and bucks’ nights’, which often are several days long.
When it comes to planning your big day, reminding yourself (and others) that it doesn’t always have to be a BIG day can come in handy. The average Australian wedding costs $31,368, but there are plenty of ways you can plan your wedding to suit any budget.
Doing a little bit of research for your wedding day can go a long way. Whether you want to save on your entertainment budget or your formal wear, knowing what you should be paying for each service can be ideal.
One tip is to look for an unexpected wedding venue to help make more room in your budget. Everyone makes a beeline for traditional media, but sometimes the best venues aren’t always the most obvious ones. For instance, you might think that hotels are only good for wedding night accommodation. However, most have exceptional event capabilities and offer competitively priced packages that might give you more bang for your buck than a traditional venue.
Too busy with life to really plan your wedding in detail? Have someone else do it for you and check out our list of Wedding Planners in Melbourne to help take the stress away.
When it comes to the outline of your day, here are our tips on how to plan the wedding of your dreams to cater to any budget.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget
- 1.1 The Venue – How to Avoid Unnecessary Minimum Spends
- 1.2 The Food – How to Satisfy Hunger on a Budget
- 1.3 The Drinks –set Drinks Packages Save Serious Cash.
- 1.4 The Photographer – How to Save on Creating Memories
- 1.5 The Music – Epic Playlists Over Performers
- 1.6 The Emcee – Don’t Splurge on an Emcee – Make it Personal.
- 1.7 The Dress: Customise, Customise, Customise!
- 2 Tips to Have a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget
- 2.1 Book Your Most Important Suppliers First
- 2.2 Search for Inspiration…but Don’t Use it All
- 2.3 Get Married Outside of Peak Season
- 2.4 Trim Your Wedding Guest List
- 2.5 Save Postage on Your Wedding Invitations
- 2.6 Change the Day of the Week
- 2.7 Save Money on Church Decorations
- 2.8 ‘Thanks, It’s Rented
- 2.9 Skip the Signage
- 2.10 Give Your Nametags a Touch of Homemade Charm.
- 2.11 Digitise Your Memories
- 2.12 Does There Have to Be a Morning After?
- 2.13 Learn to Ask for Help to Save Money
- 2.14 Get Crafty and Do it Yourself
- 2.15 But, Know What You Can and Can’t DIY.
- 2.16 Look for Cheap Wedding Food and Drink
- 2.17 Make the Most of eBay.
- 2.18 Consider Cheap Wedding Invitations
- 3 Lastly, Focus on What Is Important to You
How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget
The average Australian wedding costs $36,200 – not a small change for anyone. And when it comes down to start your wedded life with a house deposit or a mountain of debt, it can be pretty tempting to just run away to the registry office. But before you go planning how to break it to your parents that there won’t be a big white wedding, here are our top tips to help you plan your wedding on a small budget so you can muster up that home loan.
The Venue – How to Avoid Unnecessary Minimum Spends
The first thing you book is also the most expensive, so you can either sell your kidney, or you can take the slightly less invasive route and find a way to lower your dream venue’s minimum spend. If you’re planning a wedding on a small budget, try searching for a cocktail wedding venue and save even more when you turn your reception into a weekday soiree.
Bonus savings also come when you have your wedding between January and October.
The Food – How to Satisfy Hunger on a Budget
It’s not every day that you have to feed such a large group of your nearest and dearest, and while you want everyone to eat in style, it can be hard to figure out how to get that gourmet menu without shelling out half your budget. If you’re searching for some low budget wedding reception ideas, take the time to put together a crowd-pleasing set menu and lock it in at a price that won’t kill your appetite.
The Drinks –set Drinks Packages Save Serious Cash.
Now you’ve got the food sorted; it’s time to tackle the eternal reception question; to open bar or not to open bar? We say why not have the best of both worlds? Enjoy an open bar as you celebrate the evening away, but save yourself some cash by having a set drinks package to accompany your meal. There’ll be no one quietly complaining about that.
The Photographer – How to Save on Creating Memories
‘You charge HOW much?’ was probably the response to your first quote for wedding photography. Yep, those treasured memories will cost you, but before you agree to mortgage your soul, consider negotiating a photographer for your ceremony only. After all, your friends and family will be snapping everything at the reception, and photo booths exist for a reason.
The Music – Epic Playlists Over Performers
Avoid the chance of a drunk performer messing up song lyrics during your first dance and create your wedding playlist. It’s an option that costs little to nothing, and it can add a wonderfully personal touch to your celebrations. Plus, you can keep the playlist and relive memories of your big day whenever you listen to it.
The Emcee – Don’t Splurge on an Emcee – Make it Personal.
Rather than hire a stranger to be the master of your ceremony, why not save money and make it a more personal and unique experience by asking a friend or family member to do the honours or prepare wedding speeches? As long as you get your reception plan down pat before the big day, there’s no need to fret that things will go awry (but maybe don’t pick that friend who tends to get a little too fond of the open bar).
The Dress: Customise, Customise, Customise!
This one’s a big one and likely an area you’re reluctant to skimp on, but don’t worry, we’re not expecting you to forgo the dress of your dreams. If you’ve got a specific vision in mind for the dress you’ll wear on your big day, why not create it rather than search high and low to find it. With a good tailor by your side, you can find a dress with great bones and customise it exactly how you like. This way, you get the perfect dress without the luxury price tag that usually comes when you find it in-store.
Tips to Have a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget
Book Your Most Important Suppliers First
Booking your most essential suppliers first can help you manage your budget throughout the wedding process. There’s no point splurging on parts of your wedding that you’ve agreed you can budget on and then not having enough when your dream photographer comes along—making a list of what to book when can be helpful to keep your mind on the task at hand.
We advise starting your wedding search with your venue. The average cost of a wedding venue equates to about 45% of the average wedding budget and can also help you set the date, which will, in turn, help your budget.
Search for Inspiration…but Don’t Use it All
Instagram and Pinterest can be great aspirational tools for planning your wedding, but they can also lead us into a false sense of the ‘wedding norm.’ Keeping an eye on the latest trends through celebrity weddings is all well and good until you find yourself spending more than you can afford!
If you do see weddings online that you want to replicate for your special day, pick one or two elements to bring across instead. That way, you can still have your very own luxe vibe while keeping your day affordable to your budget.
Get Married Outside of Peak Season
One of the most tried and true ways of keeping your wedding budget on track is to get married on a less expensive day or time of year. Many on-the-day suppliers such as venues, photographers and wedding car companies have different prices for weekday weddings or weddings during non-peak times of the year.
For instance, Saturdays and weekends are by far the most popular days to get married, while Spring is a much more popular time of year. So getting married on a Saturday in November is likely to cost you more than having a Thursday wedding in July.
Researching what days and seasons are most popular can help you keep your costs down while still book the venue or suppliers you like. Check out our ultimate list of Wedding Planners in Melbourne to help you organise a stress-free wedding.
Trim Your Wedding Guest List
Each time you add a name to your invitation list, you’re increasing your budget significantly. It’s not just the catering costs, but also the extra centrepieces, favours, rentals, etc. Don’t invite anyone you haven’t talked to in five years. Don’t feel obligated to let single people bring a date. Avoid feeling pressured to invite all your work colleagues. And don’t let your friends bring their children. You can also decide to eliminate categories like “relatives more distant than first cousins” or “friends from volunteer work.” By not inviting anyone from that group, you’ll help avoid hurt feelings.
Save Postage on Your Wedding Invitations
Forgo the inner envelope and blotter paper, which are leftover relics when ink needed time to dry and people wanted a new envelope. Rather than having a reply card, ask guests to reply online or by telephone. Not only will you save money on the printer bill, but it should also reduce your postage expense.
If you wear a size six, eight, or 10, check out sample sales, which generally happen once a year. It’s an excellent opportunity to get a designer dress at rock-bottom prices. You can also look on eBay, Craigslist and other websites for deals on used wedding dresses. Remember that cleaning the delicate fabric of a wedding dress may cost up to $250, so avoid the cheap clothing with the filthy hem. And many towns have a shop where you can rent a wedding dress, saving you hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
Change the Day of the Week
Have your wedding on a weeknight or a Sunday. There is less demand for these dates, so vendors will often be willing to give you a better rate. Check with your wedding venue to see whether they schedule at such times. While you may worry that some guests can’t make it, consider that many of them would have plans for any given Saturday as well. It may take a little more coordination for people travelling, but it’s just as likely they would have had to take a day or two off from work to come to a Saturday wedding anyway.
Save Money on Church Decorations
For religious weddings, consider having your wedding near a major holiday. The church will already be decorated, saving you lots of money on flowers. On other days, look for simplicity. A candlelit ceremony can be romantic, gorgeous, and inexpensive.
‘Thanks, It’s Rented
Here’s an affordable wedding tip that often slips the couple’s minds! Get the wedding dress of your dreams for a fraction of the price tag by renting or borrowing for the day! With fantastic online services now available, you can get the dress you’ve always wanted without trying to figure out what to do with it after your big day.
Skip the Signage
Planning a wedding on a small budget can be tricky, which is why sometimes keeping it simple can be best. Our recommendation? Save time and money by skipping unnecessary decorations like ‘Mr & Mrs’ signs – if your guests can’t figure out who is who, you probably shouldn’t invite them.
Fancy letterpress services and the like can be costly to start with and frustrating if they get it wrong. So, if you’re looking for some truly unique wedding ideas on a budget, we recommend trying to craft your table place cards yourself. Try writing guests names on pretty leaves or strips of bark from your garden for a rustic spin.
Digitise Your Memories
Guests’ books are a great way to keep track of all the beautiful people who shared your special day but to be honest, half your guests will forget to sign it, and the other half are likely to forget they’ve already signed it and will sign it again – we’re looking at you, Uncle Mark. We recommend skipping the process altogether or using an iPad app to keep track and avoid embarrassing double-ups.
Does There Have to Be a Morning After?
We’re not sure who started the ‘wedding recovery’ tradition, but we wish they hadn’t. While it’s always an excellent idea to keep the party going as long as possible, planning a wedding on a small budget doesn’t always accommodate two celebrations. Please keep it simple and ditch the traditional family brunch the next day; trust us, your budget will thank you for it!
Learn to Ask for Help to Save Money
If you want to have a cheap wedding, pool your friends’ and family’s resources. Think of musicians you know, well-spoken friends who could be your officiant, and crafty people who can help you assemble things. They will generally be honoured to be a particular part of your big day. Also, look for money-saving tips everywhere. Check websites and ask friends and family members what they did to save money on their big day.
Get Crafty and Do it Yourself
It can be fun to make parts of your wedding DIY. Throw a “pitch-in party,” where you ask your friends to be a particular part of your wedding by helping you assemble favours and make invitations, centrepieces, and other homemade inexpensive touches. Be sure to put out delicious snacks and have inspiring tunes on the stereo so that your friends feel like they’re at a party, not just part of an assembly line.
But, Know What You Can and Can’t DIY.
DIY-ing for your wedding can be a great way to save money, but knowing what you should and shouldn’t do yourself is also crucial. Sometimes going down your route will cost you more money than if you’d had someone else do it for you from the start. Suppose you are looking at DIY for your wedding, research advice from what couples before you have done. It could very well save you in the long run.
Look for Cheap Wedding Food and Drink
Be honest with your caterer about your need to save money. Ask them which are the least expensive entrees and whether a buffet is cheaper than a seated dinner. See if they’ll let you provide your liquor or serve only wine, and beer will be more affordable than a full bar. Also, consider only having the bar open during your cocktail hour, then performing an inexpensive wine with dinner. Especially if you and your fiance don’t drink, consider having a dry wedding.
Make the Most of eBay.
eBay, eBay, eBay. It’s an excellent source for everything from second-hand dresses to wedding favours, cake toppers, ring pillows and more. Be sure to allow ample time for the auction to end and for shipping. Look for trusted sellers whose feedback indicates they have accurately represented what they have sold.
Consider Cheap Wedding Invitations
Don’t go for engraving—regular printed invites work just as well. There are a variety of cheap wedding invitations available on the internet. For a casual wedding, consider printing your invites from your home computer. Stationery stores now sell printed paper meant to use in a home printer as cheap wedding invitations.
Lastly, Focus on What Is Important to You
There’s no point in splashing out on a wedding if you’re going to look back on what should be a special day and regret it. Focusing on what is important to you can help you decide what you do and don’t put your budget towards.
We suggest choosing a handful of wedding features that are important to you and focusing on them as your must-haves. That way, if your planning starts to get a little bit out of hand, you can look back at these must-haves and compromise on the rest. Looking for a Wedding Event Planner? Look no further, Vines of the Yarra Valley have you covered.
Please don’t lose sight of what you want your wedding to be about, and your budget shouldn’t lose sight of it either.