I purchased a secondhand wedding dress that actually made me money
Out of concern for the environment and slave labor, and because I’m a complete tight-arse, I prefer to always buy secondhand clothing where possible, and my wedding dress was no different. I had a look on Gumtree and found loads of brand new or only worn once wedding dresses for $500 or less. The brand new dresses made me a bit sad, until I found out that it’s common for girls to buy a dress and then change their minds and buy something else (it doesn’t necessarily mean their weddings were cancelled!)
I found one seller that was selling off a load of ex-bridal shop stock, and I liked a couple of the dresses in the photos, so I went along to have a look. When I arrived the dresses that I was interested in were gone, and the other dresses didn’t interest me, so I was about to leave empty handed when the seller said she had one more wedding dress that she could show me but it was damaged. She then pulled out the MOST STUNNING DRESS EVER. It was exactly what I was looking for: a pastel pink strapless ballgown with a train, and the only damage was a couple of small tears. The seller wanted to clear out the rest of her stock, so she sold everything for $500, which included 5 additional wedding dresses and 28 formal dresses. I couldn’t believe it, I would’ve paid $500 just for the wedding dress I wanted! I sold some of the wedding and formal dresses on Gumtree and not only made my money back, but made a profit!
I chose a school camp venue rather than a wedding venue
Wedding venues are expensive. The venues I looked at charged a minimum venue hire fee of $5,000 for just 4hrs, and in some cases you were sharing the venue with 2-3 other wedding parties. For my wedding, I wanted an outdoor, rural location with amazing views and plenty of guest accommodation, and I had to have exclusive use. I looked at a variety of unorthodox venue options including school camps. The venue I choose, Midginbill Hill was perfect because it was a school camp venue during the week but also operated as a wedding venue on weekends. I paid just $1,000 for exclusive use of the venue for from Friday-Sunday. There was also more than enough accommodation for all my guests, and with three different types of accommodation, guests could choose what suited their taste and budget.
I didn’t pay for anything that could be done by myself or friends or family
As a graphic designer, I was able to design the invitations and other materials myself. My wedding cake was going to cost over $1,000, so my mum made it instead (and it looked stunning!) The chair hire company wanted to charge $300 for delivery, so a friend with a van collected the chairs for us.
I borrowed, purchased secondhand, and shopped around where possible
I asked if friends and family and the venue had things that I needed before I purchased or hired anything. I found that a lot of things were cheaper to buy rather than rent. I purchased lots of things from Gumtree, and then sold them again after the wedding. For the few things I did rent, I found that prices varied dramatically between vendors, so I shopped around.
I sent my invitations digitally
Although many people will consider this tacky, I saved a small fortune by sending digital invitations. Even though I have access to trade printing prices, I still would’ve had to spend $200+ on professional invitation printing, not to mention another $50+ for stamps and envelopes. And I still would’ve had to contact all the guests digitally anyway so that I could find out their mailing addresses. It just seemed like an unnecessary waste of time and resources, so I elected to send the invitations digitally. I used a free bulk mail program called MailChimp, and I also create a wedding website so people were able to find out more information about the weekend and RSVP.
Going digital made life so easy. Using MailChimp enabled me to track exactly who had opened the invitation and who had followed the link to the website, so I could easily see who needed to be follow up. I received an email notification each time someone RSVPed, and I was able to export a list of all RSVPs from the back-end of the website and save it as an excel spreadsheet – which was so much easier than having to manually input a stack of RSVP cards into a spreadsheet!
I kept flowers to a minimum and made my own bouquet
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. For my wedding, I spent just $30 purchasing fresh cut flowers from a flower market. I made a rose bouquet for myself plus I scattered rose petals down the isle. I didn’t have a bridal party and I didn’t worry about corsages or button hole flowers, which kept costs down and gave me one less thing to worry about.
I didn’t use a wedding caterer
I found wedding caterers to be incredibly expensive, with prices ranging from $60-$180 per head, so instead I looked at other catering options. I asked one of my favourite restaurants (a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant called Kuan Yin that my husband and I went to for our first date) if they did wedding catering and was delighted to discovered that they did. At $40 per head, it wasn’t the cheapest option that I found, but they supplied a huge buffet of delicious fresh food with plenty of leftovers, so it was excellent value for money, and we received great feedback from even our most carnivorous guests.
I didn’t take things too seriously
Wedding are supposed to be about having a fun and celebrating love! I didn’t want to get caught up in wedding traditions or spending money on things just because it was “expected”. I cut out loads of expenses that just didn’t interest me (such as wedding cars), and my husband and I did things our own way. Overall, everyone had a great time, and we received lots of positive comments from guests who said that it was the best wedding ever!