Creating a budget for the big day
Whether you’re planning a large, luxurious, lavish and luscious wedding or a small, intimate affair, smart budgeting could help free you from financial worries, so you can enjoy your special day even more.
Following these steps may help ensure no one’s worried about debt on the honeymoon. And remember, even if you only plan on doing the walk down the aisle once, it’s just a day… and the rest of your life is what it’s all about.
Starting with massive debt and stress about money is a less than ideal way to continue your life together.
1. Plan early
Given that the average (is there such a thing?) Australian wedding costs $36,200, the sooner you start saving, the sooner your dream wedding can become a reality. (I hope your parents are all over this stat!)
The day after the engagement is fine… tho some do start even before that… like while you’re watching the latest episode of Batchelor in Paradise and dreaming about finding Mr or Mrs Right.
2. Create a budget
Take stock of your income and calculate the maximum you can afford to spend on the wedding – and your ideal cost scenario. Will your parents be pitching in and what can you expect from them?
Knowing what you can spend in each area means that you’re all over it when negotiating with suppliers. If you don’t have room to move, you can play hard-ball or find someone else who is willing to come to the party.
No-one will remember if you had the world’s largest bouquet or the best tablecloths or the food you serve (unless the oysters are dodgy,) it’s all about celebrating your love and new life.
3. Talk to your family
If you’re part of the bride’s or groom’s family and want to contribute, let them know. You could contribute a set figure or fund a specific part of the ceremony, such as the flowers, drinks (very brave move!) or venue.
If you’ve got friends in the right places, make sure you include them in your planning. Chances are, they may also know some others who are happy to help.
What must you have at the wedding and what can you compromise on? For example, do you want a live band but aren’t fussed about fancy table decorations? Do you want the Disney fairytale carriage experience, or your mate’s EH Holden will do the trick? Agreeing on your priorities up front can help you clarify which aspects to save for and which to downplay or skip altogether.
Do you want the amazing Vera Wang frock that you can rock on the day and hang in the cupboard for the rest of your life and drag from home to home; or would you rather spend it on the honeymoon or save for a housing deposit? Life’s full of compromises!
5. Start a spreadsheet… if you must!
Once you have an idea of your budget and priorities, it’s time to dive into the details. OK, not everyone loves this part, but it is really necessary!
If you’re an excel nerd, use a spreadsheet to list a maximum cost for every wedding-related item from bouquet to band and compare it with vendors’ quotes. Don’t forget to take into account hidden costs like insurance, corkage and the marriage licence or celebrant as well as costs related to the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon.
Otherwise, a wedding planning notebook is fine… as long as you have something to track it all in.
6. Stay accountable
Avoid blowing out your budget by keeping your spreadsheet (or Kikki K notebook) up to date, setting up a wedding-expenses-only bank account, and sticking to your guns as far as your limits and priorities are concerned.
If you’ve created your budget and despair of affording your dream wedding any time soon, don’t worry. Here are some tips to help you reign in your costs.
- Limit your guest list to your favourite people: At $100 per head, every 10 guests cost you $1,000.
- Think outside the box when picking a wedding venue: A park, garden, art gallery or friend’s house may be more affordable than a hotel, and the natural ambience can save you money on decorations.
- Book an out-of-season wedding: It can be cheaper to schedule a wedding in winter, on a week night or a Sunday morning.
- Keep your menu simple: Stick with the specialties of the season and region, consider canapes or buffets over three-course meals, and ask for house spirits (not top-shelf varieties) or beer and wine.
- Investigate hiring over buying: If there’s some items you don’t need forever, like suits or gowns it may be worth hiring for the day and giving back. No dry-cleaning necessary!
Call in an expert
While you may call upon a wedding planner to help you organise your special day, a financial planner may be just as important.
A professional financial adviser may help you create and stick to your budget as well as stay accountable – so you can focus on the important things, like celebrating with the people you love!
If all that just sounds too hard, run off to the Registry office and have a party when you make the announcement!
And hey! Congratulations!!
 Australian Securities and Investments Commission, ‘How much can a wedding cost?’. MoneySmart. Available at: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/budgeting/simple-ways-to-save-money/how-much-can-a-wedding-cost