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How to save money when you’re getting married

Posted 06.12.2022
How to save money when you’re getting married

Whilst the act of getting engaged breaks out all the happy vibes, once you have stopped showing off your new engagement ring to everyone, the reality of planning the wedding soon kicks in. 

We all know weddings don’t come cheap, with estimates on the average cost of a wedding in Australia ranging from $30,000 to $50,000, depending on what you read.

But the truth is weddings are as expensive or cheap as you want them to be. So, it is important not to get seduced by convention and what the industry might consider ‘must-have’ items. 

Your wedding is exactly that, your wedding. And you can host it however you want. 

With that in mind, if you are looking to keep costs down whilst still making a wonderful day of it, here are 14 ways to save money when you’re getting married. 

  1. Have a small wedding party 

One of the best ways to save money when you are getting married is not to have a big reception. According to Easy Weddings, you should budget between $100 to $160 per guest in Queensland alone! That figure is likely to rise further if your wedding is due to take place in Sydney or Melbourne. 

It follows then that the more guests you invite to your reception, the higher its cost will be. For instance, 100 guests will set you back up to $16,000. That’s one expensive party! 

Whilst choosing who to invite can get a bit political, as a rule, the fewer guests you invite, the cheaper the reception will be. Limiting guest numbers to between 50 and 75 is a good aim to have. 

  1. Have a smaller bridal party

Whilst it is understandable you’ll want your siblings and besties to be in the bridal party, this can lead to increased expense. For instance, five bridesmaids and five groomsmen equate to five dresses and five suits. Then, of course, there is the cost of their hair, make-up, shoes, flowers, nails, gifts and other accessories to factor in also. 

So, a simple way of reducing costs is to limit your bridal party to a maximum of two people for both the bride and groom. 

  1. Hold the ceremony and reception at the same venue 

Many venues around Australia incorporate spaces for both your ceremony and reception. Unless you’ve always wanted to get married in a church, it is wise to host your special day somewhere that can offer you two spaces. 

Not only will this save you money on paying for two separate settings, but it will also save you transport costs as well, in terms of getting everyone between them. 

  1. Get married mid-week 

As Saturdays are by far the most popular days on which to get married, it follows that they are the most expensive too. 

Therefore, to save money on your wedding, consider getting married on a weekday, particularly on Mondays or Tuesdays. On these days, you could score yourself a much-reduced price when it comes to hiring a venue. 

If you give people enough notice, visitor numbers should not be affected. 

  1. Don’t buy new 

One of the costliest mistakes brides and grooms make is to buy everything they need for their wedding brand new. However, simple searches in Op shops, or online at places like Facebook Marketplace, can unveil a veritable treasure trove of items. 

Whether it be vintage cutlery, fine China plates or crystal glassware you are after, these items can often be sourced at much more affordable prices online. It does take a bit of patience, but it is well worth the effort. 

A great thing about doing this is that after your wedding, you can on-sell them. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. 

  1. Source local wedding vendors 

Travel adds a significant cost element to weddings. Therefore, where possible, you should try and use local wedding vendors. 

As well as supporting small, community businesses, doing this enables you to tap into their supplier networks, which could lead to cost savings for anything from food and flowers to dress hire and entertainment. 

This also extends to jewellers. Shopping locally for wedding and engagement rings at stores like Larsen Jewellery will ensure the quality of your purchase.

  1. Share food 

With several hungry guests to feed, catering for your special day usually involves a substantial cost. 

While alternative drop has been the traditional meal choice for many brides and grooms, increasingly large banquet-style platters are becoming more popular. 

As this makes a caterer’s job much easier, it usually involves a cheaper cost. This is especially true if you have a cocktail-style wedding with charcuterie and canapés. 

Other ways to save money on your meal option include food trucks, a BBQ, gourmet pizzas, picnic hampers and animals on a spit. 

  1. Stick with beer and wine 

One money trap brides and grooms fall into is funding a fully stocked, open bar with a raft of top-shelf choices. This is a cost that can quickly escalate, especially when guests get into the party spirit! 

A much better idea is to provide beer and wine all night, along with a couple of soft drink options, as this will keep your costs down. 

If you want a Mai Tai or Harvey Wallbanger, consider running a cocktail hour at the beginning of your reception, then switch to beer and wine after. 

When it comes to sourcing the alcohol, as it lasts for a very long time, it is worth looking out for deals from BWS and Dan Murphy’s. The latter of which has a terrific returns policy, should you order too much. 

Also, check out what’s available online with Vinomofo and Boozebud. 

  1. Don’t listen to Marie Antoinette 

Marie Antoinette might have uttered the immortal words ‘let them eat cake’, but you don’t have to! 

Cakes can be expensive, and not everyone is a cake person. So, it is a good idea instead to look for alternative dessert options. 

As a rule, guests will be happy with whatever sweet offering you give them. So, think outside the box (or maybe that should be inside the box?) and order cheaper yet delicious items like doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies, Belgian chocolate or lamingtons instead. 

Another excellent option is to contact your local CWA (Country Women’s Association), which often offers baking services. Doing this will enable you to provide your guests with several different, homemade sweet options. The money you outlay for it will also go towards bettering the lives of women and children in rural communities – which is a lovely thing to fund. 

  1. Be smart about your wedding dress 

Most brides know what style of dress they want to wear for their special day. However, buying it brand new can be an expensive endeavour. Indeed, according to Wedded Wonderland, the average cost of a wedding dress in 2018 was $5180.  

If you don’t intend to keep your dress after your wedding day, consider hiring a dress or buying one second-hand. Doing this will significantly reduce your costs overall. 

  1. Hire a DJ 

Music is an important part of any reception, as that is when the party starts. 

As a rule, wedding DJs are much cheaper than live musicians and tend to have excellent packages that cover all your musical needs. This includes the ceremony, and your first dance, to cocktail hour and your evening party. 

If you have a good sound system available at the venue, as well as Spotify Premium, you could even choose to dispense with the cost of a DJ by running your wedding ceremony playlist yourselves.

  1. Dispense with traditional bonbonnieres 

Traditionally five white sugar almonds were given out as party favours or bonbonnieres at weddings to represent love, health, happiness, fertility, and long life together. 

However, sugar almonds are pricey, so a great way to save a bit of money is to get creative.

There are a host of things you can put in your bonbonnieres that cost less than $1 to $2. This can include a small, wrapped chocolate heart, some jelly beans or mints, as well as non-foods like flower seeds. 

  1. Get the digital negatives 

Typically, wedding photographers charge an arm and a leg to provide you with more prints than you could ever need. 

If you can, try and find a photographer who enables you to purchase just your digital wedding photos.  

This way you can print out only the ones you like best for framing and keepsakes, which will save you a lot of money. 

  1. Go the non-floral route 

Flowers are beautiful. And expensive. But apart from your bouquet are they really necessary?  

That is for you to decide. However, one alternative option is to decorate your setting with eye-catching balloon arrangements, which can add equal amounts of colour and wow factor to proceedings. 

Consider an upscale balloon arch as the backdrop to your wedding ceremony. Also introduce balloon displays at your reception instead of floral ones. They are a great way to make a visual statement without costing you the earth.

  1. See Christmas and your birthday as a cost-cutting exercise 

Lastly, another clever way to save money for your wedding, is to view Christmas and your birthday as an opportunity to source things for your special day. 

Often you will be given vouchers which could be used to buy anything from shoes or jewellery to bridal gifts and party favours. 

If not given vouchers, you could simply put together a wishlist of items you need for your wedding, that friends and family can give you for your birthday, Christmas or evening engagement party.