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Budgeting for your Wedding


The average Australian wedding costs over $40,000.  That's a huge amount of money for most people, but especially if you are a bride on a budget.  It means you need to be smart about your wedding planning.

No two weddings are alike, so it's impossible to provide a hard-and-fast guideline that tells you exactly how much you can expect to spend on your wedding.  However, in our experience you can expect to break down your budget like this:

  • Dresses, jewellery, make-up and suits - 15%
  • Ceremony including celebrant and music - 5%
  • Reception including hire, catering and drinks - 40%
  • Must-haves - cakes, stationery, transport,
    photography - 25%
  • Flowers - 5%
  • Honeymoon - 10%

Regardless how you break down your budget, here are some tips for controlling costs:

  • Set a budget at the start - and then stick to it.
  • Get organised!  "You can't possibly see the big picture
    if your wedding plan is a pile of crumpled pieces of paper!" says wedding planner Cathrin D'Entremont
  • Be very clear about your vision before you select your vendors.  This will save you time and money, as you are able to show suppliers your vision - in pictures - of what you want your wedding to be.
  • Open a wedding account at your bank - that way you'll know exactly how much money goes in and how much comes out.
  • If your parents are contributing to your wedding, ask for their financial assistance up front.
  • Examine contracts carefully.  Read the fine print and make sure you consider all additional charges such as GST and staff overtime charges.
  • Don't be afraid to negotiate.  Most vendors will consider a discount if you ask nicely.
  • Remember, once you pay a deposit you are probably legally bound to pay the full amount - so you can't change your mind!
  • Shop around.  Don't blow all your money in the first shop you visit.  Take the time to visit the sales, shop for your wedding at an online wedding shop and browse through catalogues.  The potential savings will surprise you.
  • Get crafty!  "Use the resources in your family," advises Cathrin D'Entremont.  "Perhaps Aunty Ina is a dressmaker and can make the bridesmaids dresses; Uncle Joe may be handy and can build the wishing well.  Friends and family are usually honoured to be a part of your preparations."
  • Consider your guest list carefully.  Inviting fewer people can make a big difference to the bottom line of your wedding budget.
  • Be financially smart.  Don't put your head in the sand and pretend you've got an unlimited budget.  Check your wedding budget balance regularly to ensure you stay on track.
  • Finally, and probably surprisingly, consider a wedding planner.  A good wedding planner and event manager will be able to save you their fee and much more in negotiations with your vendors.  They have the benefit of not being emotionally involved in the negotiations (so are more likely to save you money) and the power to negotiate based on not only your wedding but also other events they are organising.  If you do decide to employ a wedding planner, make sure you get a firm quote and don't pay a percentage of your budget (unless it is fixed) or your wedding planner will have no incentive to save you money.

Remember: while weddings are romantic, debt is not.  The most important thing about your wedding day is that two people are joining their lives together.  It's not about whether you spend $5,000 or $100,000. The success of the event depends on the way you express your happiness and how you share that with your beloved family and friends.

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