Save money on your wedding

Weddings are expensive and far too many couples get into debt to cover the cost. Yes, everyone wants a beautiful and memorable day, but some old traditions come with hefty price tags. Remember that financial issues are a huge cause of marital trouble, so it’s important not to start your lives together in the red. With a little creativity, it’s possible to create the perfect day at a reduced price. Here’s how:

Pre-wedding budget
Do your budget before writing your dream list. If your wedding is the most important thing to you, then use your everyday budget to work out where you can cut back in order to save. You could cut down on takeaway coffees (insert link to coffee article), give up smoking , save on groceries and eating out. If you don’t already have a carefully planned annual budget, check out our advice about sorting out your finances.

Ordered priorities
Once your budget is complete, prioritise your list of must-haves and put an estimated budget for each.  Then set up a separate bank account for the wedding. Take a look at our Savings Account Guide to find the best savings account for your needs.

The easiest way to cut costs is to be ruthless with your guest list. Remember – those who really care about you will understand. A rule of thumb: if you haven’t spoken to a guest in over a year, don’t invite them.

Electronic invitations may not be traditional, but they’re environmentally friendly and a definite saving. Websites such as provide you with simple, easy steps to creating an online invitation.
Should you wish to make your own traditional invitation, visit websites such as Weddingcrafter for creative ideas.

Venue hire will usually be your biggest cost. Getting married out of season is a sure way to save, as well as booking a venue mid-week. Also look for a place that offers the ceremony and reception in one spot. Don’t just research on the Internet – take a drive to explore the areas you like. Some of the real gems out there don’t advertise on the Internet.

Be careful of opting out of venue hire in order to save. “Using your home or a park can be much more costly as you are basically re-creating a venue from scratch”, says Nicci Le Cok, wedding planner and owner of Nicolette Weddings. “You may or may not need a marquee, but on top of that you will need enough tables, chairs, glasswear, fridge facilities for your bar etc. You also need to evaluate if your home or park has enough bathroom facilities for your guests as this can also be quite a costly item to arrange.”

Wedding Planner
Whether you choose to use a wedding planner or not is entirely dependent on your budget and schedule. However, don’t eschew the possibility of taking on a wedding planner without investigating it first. They can, in fact, save you money, not to mention time and effort. “Not only do I save my clients money by making use of my established relationships with wedding industry suppliers by qualifying for discounts or knowing the best place to get certain items from, but I can also help my clients get the most out of their wedding budgets,” says Le Cok.

Make sure your wedding planner works carefully within your budget so there won’t be any last minute surprises. Be clear about what you are prepared to spend and ask them if there are any extras or hidden charges you should be aware of before you let them make purchases on your behalf.

If you can’t afford a planner, sign up to websites such as Hitched, and become your own planner. On Hitched, you can manage your budget, get advice from other brides-to-be, and be privy to all kinds of tips, leads and competitions.

A breakfast or lunchtime wedding is cheaper than dinner. Not only will the venues charge less, but the guests will eat and drink less, too.“It is also a huge saver to host a canapé reception instead of a three course, sit-down meal,” says Le Cok. You can cut costs further by cutting out dessert and serving your wedding cake instead. This practice is more common than you think.

Serve a special, signature drink and the rest can be a cash bar. Or open the bar only at certain periods during the event.

The dress
Trying to find the perfect wedding dress without spending a ton can be disheartening.  You need to be relentless in your search –and don’t give up!  There are always specials and sales so keep your eyes open. Olivelli and Bride & Co offer a variety of dresses at reasonable prices.

Only use flowers that are in season. Or try an alternative: “It is often just as pretty to hire more décor, such as table lamps, candelabras, or a spread of fairy lights, than to buy flowers,” advises Le Cok.

Photographers and make-up artists
Some photographers can set you back R20,000 or more. Hire someone who is starting out – there are plenty of talented young photographers and make-up artists waiting for a break! If their portfolio is good, ask them to do a test shoot and make the call from there.

Alternatively, get your make-up done for free at Bobbi Brown or MAC. Buy a lipstick and touch-up kit the first time around, and tell them it’s your wedding day the second. Anyone would be honoured to do the job!

Go for bigger tables rather than plenty of small ones. This will save on tablecloths and centrepieces, and also allow people to mix better.

Le Cok’s Top Tip:
“Keep it simple. There’s no need to invite 200 guests if you’re on a tight budget, nor is there a need to fill your reception room with a thousand imported orchids. Often a simple table layout with some pretty, local and in-season flowers and a couple of candles can be a lot classier than over-doing it on details.”

Moneybags’ top tips
Ask for help. Everyone has a talent and a skill, and everyone loves a wedding. Use your resources.
Research and negotiate. Get as many quotes as possible on every item, and play one supplier against another.

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All prices and information correct at time of publication and subject to change thereafter.

Image courtesy of Nicollette Weddings