I recently came across our wedding budget spreadsheet on my computer (we got married in March) and as I browsed over the expenses, it occurred to me that I learned a lot of cost-related lessons throughout the wedding planning process. Although I don’t intend to be getting married again anytime soon, I thought I’d publish some tips for other cost conscious brides in waiting.
- This is the big one. Your budget is going to blow out. A lot. This is the general consensus from everyone I’ve spoken to about the wedding planning process. Despite our best intentions preparing a detailed budget, we still went over by a huge amount. Turns out weddings and all things associated with weddings are hugely expensive. If you want to avoid budget blow out, obtain quotes for everything before you put together your budget and commit to your guest list. Also make sure that you research extensively so you minimise the chance of surprise expenses cropping up.
- Quote extensively as there can be tremendous variation in pricing between vendors. When I was obtaining quotes for the big ticket items, I would draft an initial email providing as much information as possible (including photos of what I wanted) and requesting a quote. I would then research vendors (google, forums, wedding directories, Instagram hashtags), shortlist 5-10 vendors and email them my template email. When I got the responses back, I would automatically reply to the vendors completely out of my price range saying thanks but no thanks. I would then have 2-3 vendors within my price range that I could have further discussions with. I found this a very effective way to source vendors. Not only does it give you comfort that you’re securing a competitive price but how a vendor responds to you and how long it takes them to respond to you tells you enough about them to decide whether or not to proceed.
- There are opportunities to save, or at least, make the most of your spending. We made sure to pay for expenses with our credit cards where possible (paying off our credit card balances in full of course) to earn frequent flyer points. Where you are spending thousands on a venue, food and drink, the points do add up. In hindsight, I should have planned ahead and bought more items second hand. For example, I could have saved a search on eBay to notify me when second hand wishing wells, candle-holders, etc came up for sale. However…
- There are some things that are difficult to buy online and it’s often worth just buying them in-store to save yourself the hassle of returning things. I initially tried purchasing wedding dresses from BHLDN, Tadashi Shoji and J Crew to try on thinking that this would be a more economical option. I ended up spending a heap on shipping and return shipping costs because the dresses just didn’t fit right on me. Similarly, we initially bought my husband’s wedding ring on Blue Nile. It looked fine on the website but when it came, the sizing was wrong and we realised it wasn’t really his style. It was much easier to buy a suitable ring in a bricks and mortar store.
- Before you say yes to the dress, find out how much it’s really going to cost you. I purchased my wedding dress around 2 months prior to the wedding and came in for fittings about a month prior to the wedding. At the fitting, I was told that standard alterations would cost $660. This hadn’t been discussed at the time that I purchased the wedding dress but by then I felt that it was too late to do anything about it. Further, I hadn’t factored in that dry cleaning the dress after the wedding would cost around $600 as well.
- Don’t bother printing anything with guests’ names on it until the final week, and even then, be prepared for some cancellations. We had a welcome board and some little “order of events” cards printed out about two weeks prior to the wedding. These things cost about $100 altogether and both had to be reprinted days before the wedding due to last minute cancellations and table reshuffling. If you are having a table chart, it will save you headaches if you have a design where you can adjust the tables easily.
- Decide what’s important and scrap things that don’t matter to you. I couldn’t have cared less about arriving in a fancy car. Firstly, the road wasn’t visible from the wedding ceremony location anyway and secondly, it was a tradition that just didn’t mean anything to me. So I was driven to the wedding in my car, by my sister. My husband drove us from the ceremony to the reception in his car and I have to say it didn’t take away from the day at all. We didn’t have a wedding party so we saved money on additional bouquets, clothes, etc and were still able to share the day with the people most important to us. I also opted for super comfortable, plain, white, basic heels which were a steal at $70 and later resold for $50.
- During the final days before the wedding, it’s really easy to spend. The hype. The stress. The chaos. The last final days are when you start buying those random items you didn’t even realise you needed. Umbrellas in case it rains, double sided fashion tape, spanx… By this stage, I wasn’t even thinking twice. I’m not really sure how to avoid this, but I will say, keep the receipts! At least you can return everything that doesn’t end up being used.
- Give away the flowers at the end of the reception. I had always wanted to do this for my wedding and I’m so glad that I did. Our wedding flowers were absolutely gorgeous and I could see that people were just lighting up at being able to take a bunch home with them. It was a really lovely way to finish the event.
- Try not to lose yourself in the wedding planning process. I spent way more on a dress than I ever thought I would. In hindsight, I could have purchased a white designer dress that I could wear again and felt more like myself, rather than going all out on a traditional wedding gown. If I could go back in time, this is the one thing that I would change.
(Our gorgeous wedding cake as shown in the above picture was by Caked Out, a talented baker based in Adelaide, South Australia).
That Career Girl