Top 10 Ways to Save Money When Planning a Wedding

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Engaged couples often joke that as soon as you say ‘we’re getting married’ to the likes of catering companies, dress makers, beauticians and event planners, prices rise higher than a five-tiered, marzipan-frosted wedding cake.

With the average nuptials now costing up to $48,296 according to Bride To Be Magazine, it’s no wonder some people are stressing rather than celebrating. Some couples are even going as far as to forego their honeymoons! To avoid such drastic action yourself, I decided to put together my top ten tips to help save you money for your perfect wedding.


Tip One: As obvious as it sounds, set a budget

Work out how much you can realistically afford to spend. Sit down with your partner and discuss what you want your big day to look like (and, consequently, cost!) Will your parents be helping out? Is it worth considering taking out a loan? Put together a budget and separate the big wants from nice-to-haves. For example, If you set a budget and stick to it, you’ll be less likely to have blow-outs closer to the date, ultimately saving you money.


Tip Two: Start saving in advance

Once you know how much you want to spend, start saving as soon as possible. Consider locking your savings away in an account that earns it interest as you add to it. Help each other be vigilant, and not be tempted to use the money for other things. 


Tip Three: Phone a friend!

One of the best ways to save money (and avoid painful life lessons) is to ask experts – people who have already tied the knot. (Casually) interview your married friends – get them to tell you what is and isn’t worth the cost. Ask if they found any good deals or good value cake makers, beauticians, function venues, or if they have any friends in those industries who would be willing to help out. Reward them with extra wedding cake and a personalised thank you note on the day.


Tip Four: Shop around for the right venue

You can save a lot by comparing prices. Don’t be tempted by the first venue you visit, and let restaurants and function planners know you’re looking around – you might be able to negotiate a better deal. See if you can tentatively book appointment dates so you don’t have to commit on the spot. Alternatively, see if any of your friends/family have a beautiful big home or farm you could borrow. You’ll save a bundle and have extra for decorations!


Tip Five: Buy online

Shopping online is a great way to save money when you’re planning your wedding – you can buy everything from rings to table decorations and invitations online, and in doing so, potentially save yourself a small fortune. Plus there’s plenty of variety. Just be sure to give yourself lots of time, and don't forget to double check how long shipping will take if you’re buying from overseas.


Tip Six: Be dress-smart

As any bride will know, one of the best parts about the wedding is the dress. You’re the centre of attention, the photos will last forever, all eyes will be on you – it’s the one day where you get to let the princess dreams run wild. Most girls I know have sketched/Googled their dream dresses (some of them don’t even have partners) and who hasn’t ended up getting emotionally involved with an episode of Say Yes to the Dress or Four Weddings? Basically, it’s a big deal. It can also seriously muck up your wedding budget. There are cheaper options, though - one of my girlfriends ended up getting her dream wedding dress recreated overseas via an online dressmaker for just $300 – a tenth of the price of the original. If you want (need) couture, many women sell their designer wedding dressers on eBay after they get married for a fraction of the original price. To save even more money, perhaps you could plan to do the same? That Collette Dinnigan hand-embroidered Swarovski crystal strapless gown just became a lot more realistic.


Tip Seven: Save on the little things

Instead of buying expensive bridal mags (um hello, $20 is ridiculous, especially if you buy more than one…or ten even), borrow them from your local library for free. Use your phone to snap pictures or photocopy ideas you like and start a Pinterest board (added bonus – if you want, you can easily share ideas easily with close friends and family).

Speaking of Pinterest, check out others’ boards and get crafty - hit the crafts store for do-it-yourself invitation and program kits. With a computer and some creativity, you can get inexpensive, one-of-a-kind results.  If you wanted to, you could easily make your own invites and table pieces.


Tip Eight: Think differently about the music and entertainment

Many people I know say the entertainment is one of the best parts of a wedding, so it’s important to find something you and your guests but also  your wallet will love.

Consider hiring a DJ rather than a band. Or, you could hunt down a local singer – just make sure you try them out first! Lots of uni students and aspiring professional singers do weddings on the side.


Tip Nine: Be judicious with your guest-list

Be realistic – alas, you’re not Kate Middleton, and the company of your attendees comes at a cost per head, and generally those heads are quite expensive. Save money by inviting everyone to the wedding and less to the reception. Alternatively leave out children and co-workers where you can:  not inviting whole groups causes less fights - and when it comes to plus ones, invite spouses, fiancés, and live-ins only. Your husband-to-be’s sister’s dodgy ring-in who redefines ‘open bar’ is not a must have. Think about it – if you invite 70 guests instead of 100 and its $100 a head (drat those expensive heads), you’ll save $3,000. (Boom.)


Tip Ten: Rethink the food and drink

An afternoon high tea, canapé, or dessert-only reception can be nice and personal, and you’ll save money rather than spending extra on a formal sit down dinner. Create your own lolly bar – buy wholesale and treat your guests to a selection of chocolates and sweets instead of expensive desserts. Ask if you can bring your own alcohol, otherwise set a bar tab and stick to it. 


Do you have any great savings ideas for planning weddings? Has someone you know had a real budget blow out? Let us know in the comments below.