Let’s face it, weddings are typically very expensive. It seems as soon as you mention the word ‘wedding’ prices soar, and all the little bits and pieces really seem to add up. When I was planning my wedding, as I was determined to keep costs down as much as possible, while still having the wedding that I wanted.
Here are some of the ways that I managed to save money on my wedding:
1. Avoid wedding venues
Venues that specialise in weddings tend to be expensive. The wedding industry is extremely competitive, so vendors have to spend a lot of money on marketing and that money needs to be recouped somehow. Try looking at restaurants, bars, halls, art galleries, bed & breakfasts, resorts, and estates that don’t specifically promote themselves as wedding venues or spend a lot of money on marketing.
For my wedding, I wanted an outdoor, rural location with amazing views and plenty of guest accommodation, so I looked at school camps. The venue I choose, Midginbill Hill was perfect because it was primarily school camp but they were also able to do weddings and it was very cheap compared to comparable wedding venues.
2. Avoid paying for a venue all together
There are plenty of venue options that are totally free, such as your backyard, a park (but check with council because you might need a permit), the beach (once again check with council) or maybe a friend or relative has a nice yard or acreage that you could use. Other venues might not charge you a venue hire fee if you spend a minimum amount of money on food or accommodation. Just keep in mind that if you’re having the reception in an area without facilities, you’ll need to bring in everything yourself, which might end up costing you more money overall.
3. Avoid packages (maybe)
Many venues offer inclusive per-head packages that include venue hire, catering, seating, tableware, etc. These packages are a great way to save time and stress to a minimum. I found that to have everything the way that I wanted, it was going to cost me more money to get a package, but if you’re happy to forgo some of the extras that aren’t included in packages or cost extra (like decorations, alcohol, etc.) they might be a cheaper option.
4. Avoid hourly drink packages
One thing that years of working in fundraising taught me – hourly drink packages are generally always more expensive than paying on consumption. If for example you pay $70 a head for a 4 hour drink package, each guest will have to drink about 10 glasses of wine in that 4 hour period, but on average people will drink half that at most (and a lot of people won’t drink at all). If possible, set up a bar tab, or better yet, supply your own drinks if your venue will allow it, so that you pay bottle shop prices instead of bar prices. If you want to save even more money, have a cash or dry bar.
5. Choose a budget caterer
When you’re paying per head, the cost of catering can really add up. I found wedding caterers to be extremely expensive, so I looked at more unorthodox catering options. I found mobile food van style caterers to be the most economical option, and there are a variety of different options to suit your taste such as pizza, burritos, burgers, etc. If you’d prefer something a bit more upmarket, many restaurants also offer wedding catering. Just ask a few of your favourite places. For my wedding, I used a restaurant that supplied an unlimited buffet for about half the cost of the caterers that I looked.
6. Keep the guest list to a minimum
For each person you invite, you need to pay for their catering, drinks, chair hire, place setting, etc. And if they bring a partner, all those costs automatically double. It’s no fun, but if you want to save money on your wedding, consider culling the guest list, and/or not allowing plus ones. There’s also the option of having a “wishing well” where guests give you money instead of a gift, so if you do invite more people hopefully they will cover their costs (but don”t count on it!)
7. Don’t buy flowers as a wedding package
I used to work at a florist shop, and I know for a fact that as soon as you mention the word ‘wedding’ the price of flowers soars. Floristry is an art form like any other, but if you’re prepared to learn, you can buy fresh cut flowers and make your own bouquets and centerpieces. Or you can buy individual bouquets. For my wedding, I just had my rose bouquet plus rose petals for the isle (as there was no bridal party). I purchased the flowers from a flower market a couple of days before the wedding and put the bouquet together myself for a total of $30. To purchase a rose bouquet from a florist would be at least $100, while a wedding package would be $500+
8. Look at renting vs buying
For my wedding, I weighed up the cost of buying vs renting for everything I needed, and looked at a number of different rental options because I found that prices varied dramatically between vendors. Americana chairs were $30 to purchase or $4 to hire, so I elected to hire them. Cutlery, crockery and glassware was cheaper to purchase new rather than to rent, so I elected to buy those. I was lucky enough to find a secondhand wedding pack on Gumtree that included everything that we needed for $600. After the wedding we gave away some things to friends, kept other things as keepsakes, restocked our cutlery draw and glassware, and sold the rest on Gumtree for $400.
9. Borrow or buy secondhand where possible
I saved a small fortune by buying as much as possible from Gumtree, and borrowing things from friends. Instead of renting some items, I purchased them secondhand and then sold them again after the wedding. Ask friends and family if they have any of the things that you need, even if they don’t, they might know a friend of a friend who is willing to lend you something for free or cheaply.