How to plan your dream wedding on a budget

Many girls dream about what their wedding day will be like. Unfortunately making those dreams a reality can be costly. Moneybags journalist Jessica Anne Wood looks at how you can plan your dream wedding, and keep it stylish, on a budget.

The first step to your wedding planning should be to draw up a budget. If you do not know how much you have to spend and don’t keep track of where all that money goes, it will be easy to blow your budget.

“Having a beautiful wedding is important because those memories will last a lifetime. However the newly engaged couple need to take care not to break the bank. It’s amazing how planning can have a big and positive effect on your wedding budget,” says Eunice Sibiya, head of consumer education at First National Bank (FNB).

Keeping your wedding on budget

Sibiya offers four steps to help keep your wedding within budget.

  1. Set a budget and do your research:

Regardless of the size of the wedding you are planning it will require a lot of time and attention. You will also have to be thoughtful about your budget. As soon as you start planning your wedding, your budget needs to be a top priority.

Are you and your fiancé paying for the entire wedding, or are family members chipping in? How much can you afford to pay towards your wedding?

These are just two of the questions you will need to consider. “All these discussions need to happen as soon as possible so that you can determine your budget,” notes Sibiya.

Once you have set a budget, do your research. See what other friends who have gotten married have done and ask them how much it cost. By doing your research you also get a better idea about how much things will cost, such as venue hire, the wedding dress, catering and flowers.

  1. Decide on three big things to spend on and stick to them:

While you will want every aspect of your wedding to be the best, you need to decide from the beginning what your big ticket items will be. These are the items that will take the largest part of your budget. Sibiya suggests choosing three such items.

“Every bride is different – so one bride might not be worried about having a fancy wedding dress, but she might want an extremely glamorous venue, whilst another one might want extravagant decor. The point is you need to assess your finances and settle for what you can afford without ‘breaking the bank’,” explains Sibiya.

Once you have decided on your three big items and know how much they will cost, you will have a better idea of what you can afford to spend on the other aspects of the wedding.

  1. Always shop around for suppliers:

There are a number of stores that offer wedding paraphernalia, so don’t be afraid to shop around. Not only might you find things cheaper elsewhere, but you also might find something you prefer in the tenth or twelfth shop that you visit, and not in the first.

While a wedding planner can help make the process a lot smoother, and add a professional touch, they can be pricey. If you want to plan your wedding yourself, Sibiya advises doing your research on vendors, setting up meetings with them and then comparing prices.

When comparing prices, also remember to take into consideration the quality of what you are getting, as well as the service. Just because something is cheaper, doesn’t necessarily mean it is the better deal. You might be missing out on a service that one of the other vendors will offer.

“Without a wedding planner – you have to be very careful with pricing because there are other factors that you need to consider when sourcing a service provider, for example are they adequately experienced, will you be getting quality materials for your money and what else will be included in the package that you are paying for. All these factors will indicate whether you are receiving good value for money,” says Sibiya.

  1. Tap into your network:

When planning your wedding, also remember to see what resources you have at your disposal. For example, you might have a friend or family member who is a baker and can give you a good discount on your wedding cake.

Look to see what skills your friends and family possess and see if you can get them to help you out or give you a discount on their service. This can include anything from photography, wedding invitations, and bridal make-up, to the DJ and entertainment.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your network, you would be surprised at how people are willing to help and contribute their skills to your special day,” reveals Sibiya.

Other things to keep in mind

In addition to the above points there are a few other tips you can make use of to keep your wedding within budget.

  • Book a venue out of season or on a weekday. This often results in a better price for the venue compared to booking in the height of wedding season and on a weekend or public holiday. For more information on a winter wedding, click here.
  • Book in advance. By making all of your bookings in advance, you might be able to negotiate for a better price and save money.
  • Give yourself a little manoeuvring room. By leaving yourself a little extra cash in your budget, you will be able to manage any unforeseen or extra expenses that might crop up during your planning.
  • Manage the guest list. While you will want all your family and friends at the wedding, remember to consider what this will cost you. For each guest you will have to pay for catering. If there are people you hardly know or never see, consider why you feel obliged to invite them to the wedding. If you can’t think of a good reason, don’t invite them.
  • Also consider the children and plus one policy. During your planning you need to decide if children will be invited to the wedding, as well as single guests being allowed to bring a partner. This will impact on your catering budget.

By planning and structuring your wedding properly, you will be able to keep an eye on your budget and hopefully stick to it.

“Your wedding will only last for a few hours, but with attention to the details and good planning it is sure to be one of the best days of your life. What’s more important is to start your marriage on a financially secure footing; because the last thing you want is for your wedding to be a reminder of how you got yourself in debt,” concludes Sibiya.