Step away from the spreadsheet! Here’s how to shake up your spending and keep that wedding budget under control…
Work out what’s most important
Have you always dreamt of having a big chocolate fountain or arriving at the church in a horse and carriage? Or maybe you can’t stand the thought of a party without live music? When it comes to handling your wedding budget, it’s better to be selective and invest more in the things that really matter to you, rather than involving too many elements and then having to compromise on everything. Get your must-haves sorted straight away and make cuts on the less important details.
“Sit down as a couple and list the key elements of your wedding, then rank them in order of importance to you both,” say Nancy and Katie, the duo behind planning company Lily & Sage. “There isn’t a right or wrong answer – it’s about you as a couple and not about what others have done. When allocating budgets, use the rankings to guide you.”
Think about where you’re really spending big
Not blowing your wedding budget is more about keeping individual numbers below their ceilings than it is about spending as little as possible. For some aspects, like the photographer, venue and dress, splashing the cash is unavoidable. Insurance also falls into this category. When you’re parting with your hard-earned cash, it pays to keep big transactions protected.
Also, it can be economical to invest more in certain things, because they will save money elsewhere. A well-chosen venue with wow-factor can mean you end up spending less on extras like candleholders, flowers and lighting, for instance. Those notorious ‘small spends’ can really add up.
“Try not to go overboard on decorations,” says Victoria Morris from Sophisticated Weddings. “It’s easy to get carried away, but often the scenery at your venue is stunning enough. This budget is better spent on ensuring the comfort of your guests.”
Allow guests to gift you cash
No, we’re not talking about selling shares in your celebration, inviting investors or raiding the bank of mum and dad. We’re talking about the modern gift list services that allow your guests to gift you cash.
Many couples make use of providers like Prezola and Buy Our Honeymoon to fund their dream getaway as newlyweds. It takes the pressure off their own bank balances because they don’t need to budget quite so much. The downside is that you won’t be able to predict the value of your guests’ donations, so wait to see what you’ve got before making bookings if you know you won’t be able to cover any shortfall yourselves.
And if you think family members might be interested in contributing to your funds, Jennifer Granlund of Jenny Wren Weddings & Events believes it’s best to get the conversation out of the way early.
“No decisions can be made until you know how much money you have to work with. Think seriously about what your own limit will be, what you want to spend and what you can realistically save. Speak to family about what they might contribute, even if it feels awkward. You can then make plans that are achievable for your budget. Finally, allow a 10 per cent contingency fund to accommodate any changes.”
Approach DIY with caution
DIY-ing your day is a popular way to save money, but approach it with caution. Sometimes, making things yourself can end up costing more, simply because you don’t have the equipment or access to trade prices like professional suppliers do (stationery, we’re looking at you). And sometimes, it can end in disaster because you take on a task that’s too big or more time-consuming than you realised.
Pick-and-mix planner Laura Devine of Devine Bride knows this well: “My clients often think they can save money with DIY details – and you can if you have the time to spend on it. But most people don’t. You also need the right tools, and before you know it you’re spending a fortune on glue guns, wire cutters and washi tape!”
Plan carefully. Do you want to spend the final 24 hours before your wedding taking thorns off roses and hand-tying bouquets, or would you rather be chilling in the spa? You don’t have to do everything yourselves. And if it’s something that you think is really workable, give yourself a practice run or, better yet, book onto a workshop. Armed with the right tools, time and techniques, your homemade, budget wedding plans are better equipped to be successful.
Words: Lauren Fraser