Yes, it's a boring topic but definitely one that needs to be addressed at one stage or another. There is no doubt that weddings can be expensive, with the average cost of a wedding in Australia reported to be somewhere between 31-65k (depending on which survey you believe). This is of course not to say you can't do it for less, because it is absolutely possible. (Just as it is possible to spend 150k!)
1. Be realistic.
It is important to look at your savings and make a realistic budget accordingly. Sure, it is always possible to go into huge amounts of debt, however I truely believe the best advice is - if you don't have it, don't spend it.
Make sure you speak to your and your partners parents about any financial assistance also. Never, ever spend money based on the assumption that you will receive a certain amount from a family member.
If you are living together and have no interest in a gift registry it may be worth having a wishing well instead of gifts. This money can then be used towards your honeymoon, or paying off any wedding related bills.
Make sure you prioritise - splurge on the things that are most important to you and save or leave out others that aren't of value to you and your partner.
2. The Ceremony + Reception
Of course your ceremony and reception can range from simple to extravagant and the choice is all yours. The general rule of thumb is the more guests you have, the more expensive your wedding will be. The cheapest wedding is a registry wedding with no reception or a casual get-together where friends and family pay for their own drinks. Of course most couples wish to cover these costs for their friends and family. Costs of venues can vary greatly and can include hire of the space, furniture etc. Wedding specific venues can also be more expensive than restaurants. The only way to really know however, is to get quotes for a number of venues (or for marquees and hire furniture if you're getting married on a property).
Again, as with all aspects of wedding planning it really does come down to what your priorities are. These will be different for every couple. It is really up to you what extras you add - cake, cars, music, photo booths, elaborate flowers, perspex signs, personalised stationery etc. The list really is endless - if you want it to be. Remember, none of these things actually make a wedding - the only thing you NEED is the legal paper work. (Sorry if that sounds grinch-like of me to say.)
For the groom and groomsmen, hiring instead of buying suits is something to think about if there is a high chance they will never wear that suit again. Of course it's always looking out for EOFYS, boxing day and flash sales too. If your partner wears suits for work it can make a lot more sense to purchase something nice that they will wear again. I am a firm believer on buying quality pieces that will be worn again, over cheap items that will be thrown out after one wear. With bridesmaids its a great idea to get them to choose their own outfits. It may again be a really nice opportunity for your bridesmaids to get a good quality outfit that they will love, rather than forcing them to wear something they are secretly (or not so secretly) cringing at. It can really seem like a waste of money if outfits are only worn once. For brides make sure to check out my previous blog about tips on how to find your wedding outfit. Of course there is nothing wrong with spending a little bit extra on your outfit, if it is really important to you. It simply comes down to what your and your partners priorities are.
4. The Honeymoon
Choosing a honeymoon destination is about balancing what you want with what you can afford. (Let's face it, the whole wedding is!) Many couples will wait a few months until after their wedding to go on a honeymoon, simply because it's not financially feasible at an earlier point. Don't go into debt simply because you want to keep up with the Jones'. The Jones' may in fact still be paying off their wedding debt from their 2010 wedding.
5. Remember what your wedding is about.
Don't get too swept up in all the material extras and what you feel makes a great wedding. Your wedding will be an incredibly magical time for you and your partner and this won't be because of anything material - it will be because of the meaning and presence of your loved ones (if you're choosing to share your day with them.) There's of course absolutely nothing wrong with splurging here and there and wanting your wedding day to be really special - just don't lose sight of the bigger picture in the process.
Check out our Practical Planning Guides for more helpful hints.
Image by Matt Godkin.