Wedding Budgets: Where to Spend and Where to Save

By Lorna Urwin

These days the Pinterest-perfect image of a dream wedding seems to demand excessive spending at every turn. It's enough to leave even the most budget-savvy bride struggling to know what to spend! The reality is, you can create your perfect wedding and stick to a healthy budget. The key is to define clear priorities for where you'll spend the most money and then be frugal with the less important parts. Ultimately, there will be expensive parts of your wedding, but you get to choose what those parts will be. Once you know the areas of wedding planning you are willing to spend on, then it is easy to save in the other areas. Read on for a straightforward look at the advantages of spending vs. saving on a few key wedding areas.

 

The venue

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Image by Wild & Grace 
Venue: Kauri Bay Boomrock

Spend

From grand to laidback, rustic to idyllic, your venue has a big impact on the atmosphere of your wedding. Venues often have a further impact, as some offer various additional services and support. If the atmosphere is a priority, or if you have a gorgeous place in mind with particular meaning to you, it may make sense to pay extra for your dream setting. 

Save

Choosing a smaller or simpler venue can cultivate intimacy at your wedding. A home or back garden wedding is the ultimate example of this, but you could also use a quaint barn or a simpler local venue like a park or hall. Add some inexpensive but beautiful decor and you're well on your way to a unique and personal location full of charm.

Browse venues here

The dress

wedding, budget, spend, save, dress, venue, catering, expensinve, weddings, pinterest, brides, planning, styling, cakes, ideas, inspiration

Image by The Official Photographers 

Spend

For many a wedding is a once in a lifetime opportunity to wear a gown like no other. (And of course a veil, too!) Does the idea of wowing your family and friends with a show-stopping look fill you with excitement and confidence? Or is the dress part of what will set your wedding apart as something uniquely extravagant? Then spending more to get the perfect dress may be the right decision for you!

Save

If the dress isn’t a particularly integral part of your vision, browse for simpler dresses with lower price tags, or look for a vintage or pre-owned bargain. Alternatively, maximise the value for money by choosing a style you'll rewear, whether a white dress or something less conventional. Or for a truly frugal option, take direction from Keira Knightley and wear something you already own and love. As a bonus, these strategies don't just save money, they're eco-friendly too! 

Browse dress vendors here

Photography

wedding, budget, spend, save, dress, venue, catering, expensinve, weddings, pinterest, brides, planning, styling, cakes, ideas, inspiration

Image by Grey Area Productions Photo + Video

Spend

Quality photography is something you and your family are guaranteed to cherish long beyond the wedding day. These are the glimpses of the wedding that will stay in photo frames, and that your children and grandchildren will be looking at long into the future! As such, it’s almost universally seen an excellent investment and something worth spending a bit more on.

Save

If photography is important to you but you need to keep costs low for this area, reach out to photographers you love, explain your situation and how much you love their work and ask if they are able to offer a smaller, personalised package that would suit your budget. 

If you could take or leave the quality of the photography and merely want a few snapshots, enlist a friend with a reasonably good camera to fulfil the role. Or have the best of both worlds by hiring a professional to shoot for a shorter period (perhaps some gorgeous ceremony shots and couple portraits), and then have a friend help out with extras like an engagement shoot or ‘detail’ shots.

Browse photographers here

Flowers

wedding, budget, spend, save, dress, venue, catering, expensinve, weddings, pinterest, brides, planning, styling, cakes, ideas, inspiration

Image by Amy Kate Photography

Spend

Flowers add a classical element to weddings. Done well, they can truly tie various decorative elements of the day together. They also boast significant aesthetic power - their natural presence can enliven even the plainest of venues. 

Flowers can also have a transformative effect on the bridal party. Bouquets and boutonnieres add a celebratory and unique ‘wedding’ look that sets the couple and their attendants apart from the other guests. 

Save

You can remove the expense of flowers altogether by swapping them out with creative (and longer lasting) alternatives. Think things like lanterns, fruit displays, or even reusable potted plants for centrepieces, and brooches or silk flowers for bouquets and boutonnieres. 

If you can't part with at least some floral elements, save money by cutting down a number of flowers you buy, or consult with your florist about cheaper ‘lookalike’ alternatives to expensive blooms. Your florist may also be able to advise ways of bulking out arrangements with cheaper features like extra greenery.

Browse florists here

Food and drink

wedding, budget, spend, save, dress, venue, catering, expensive, weddings, pinterest, brides, planning, styling, cakes, ideas, inspiration

Image by Tracey Buyce Photography

Spend

Food and drink is inevitably one of the most direct ways guests interact with your wedding. A meal full of high-quality fare is, therefore, an important aspect of your guests' overall enjoyment. Conversely, a less-than-quality meal could leave them with lasting negative associations of the event!

Save

To save on food you don't have to sacrifice quality. Instead, you could reduce the quantity of food you offer by having an earlier wedding meal like brunch or lunch, or skipping the cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres. Forego expensive ingredients as much as you can or, if you must have them, include them in canapés rather than the main course. You could also axe the dessert course in favour of serving the wedding cake, and/or keep your wedding cake tiny and commission a separate, less elaborate cake for serving to guests. The same goes for drinks: reserve champagne for toasts only and save by reducing the variety of alcohol on offer (say, to only wine or beer, or a signature cocktail).

Browse catering and cakes and sweets

Music And Entertainment

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Image provided by Asch-Rose

SPEND

For people who love music, spending on a live band is a worthwhile investment in your day. A great band will have everyone from kids to grandparents on the dance floor having a ball. Get a band that will appeal to everyone by choosing one that plays plenty of classic songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Make sure they have videos you can watch before you book, and check out their reviews to see what other clients are saying. A good band will cost anywhere from $2500 - $5000 but along with the food, it is what your guests will remember most fondly from your wedding.

SAVE

Ask the band if they can help with ceremony music and microphones. They will likely be able to assist with a sound system and mic for your celebrant at very little additional cost if you've already booked them for the reception. Add a live musician to sing you down the aisle, or have someone from the band take care of playing the right songs at the right time via iPod if you prefer.

Hopefully, we’ve given you some ideas when it comes to weighing up how you’ll spend that precious budget. Ultimately the decision is a personal one, closely tied to the things you’re most passionate about and the things that will make the day unforgettable for you and your guests. For further advice, be sure to check out our article on where to save and where to spend!



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