I was so excited when my partner proposed to me that I completely forgot all the ‘Yes, of course!’ lines I’d rehearsed in the mirror and something along the lines of ‘what are you doing?’ fell out of my mouth instead. Very shortly after our engagement was announced, everyone started asking ‘have you set a date yet?’ and honestly, the wedding planning questions haven’t stopped since.
One of the biggest decisions for us was choosing where we wanted to get married, as obviously, this was also going to have the biggest impact on our budget. All you have to do is mumble the ‘W’ word and suddenly there’s a couple of extra zeros on the end of the price. I feel like we were fortunate in that the venue that we loved the most, offered a ‘all-in-one’ type package – basically, they supply everything except the flowers, photographer and officiant. Whilst we might be paying a little more for this type of service, it’s worth it to us for not having to run around arranging every little thing and knowing they will take care of it all for us. We also got to meet the owners who run the show, and there was a lot of comfort in that and it gave us the confidence that it’s not their first rodeo, but they’ll treat us special because it’s our special day.
In general, we’re pretty good at not living above our means, but once the wedding planning started, the purse strings got that little bit tighter, and we found ourselves not spending as much on the little things we enjoy. I adopted a pretty straightforward saving strategy, in that each time I get paid I have an automatic transfer set up to move a little into our savings account so that money is tucked away before I get a chance to spend it. I’m also yet to use my credit card for anything involved with our wedding, choosing to spend our savings instead. This has really helped me monitor my spending, and making sure I really consider if that particular item is what we would really want. Oh, and a good spreadsheet listing everything you’ve spent and on what helps. Who doesn’t love a spreadsheet?
So far, I’ve found wedding budgeting to be very much give and take – if I spend a little more on something, I then need to spend a little less on something else. For example, we splurged a bit on our photographer because he does some really amazing work and I was super impressed from first glance. Sure, we could have gone with someone more affordable, but would I love the photos as much if I did? Probably not. I then compromised by buying my dress off the rack, with the added bonus of it being on sale too (it’s stunning by the way).
We never had the expectation that our parents would contribute financially or even pay for our wedding so from the get-go, we knew we would have to knuckle down and put aside every cent we could to avoid getting into significant debt. We are fortunate enough to have very loving, supportive parents who chose to contribute what they could. As my Mum put it - I want you to have the wedding of your dreams without the worry of the debt. It’s just money. Their financial support is an added blessing, and we’re super appreciative for it, but we still need to manage our costs and budget effectively to get the most out of it. Saying that, budgeting is hard work! Especially when you’re trying to budget for something that you’ve never done before (like a wedding), and you don’t have the faintest idea of what is a reasonable cost to spend on a service. I suppose some of it is general knowledge, like a five-figure sum is too much for flowers (at least, for us it is), but for a lot of services, the providers just throw a dollar figure at you and you’re left to try and work out if that is a good deal or a total rip off. Who knows? I’m certainly no expert, but I figure if I get enough quotes from enough providers, a reasonable price would eventually become clear. So that’s how I’ve been doing it – getting quotes from everyone and comparing. I also found a cutthroat way to eliminate potential providers from the list – don’t get back to me in a timely manner? Cut! Impolite or don’t make a good first impression? Cut! Give me a grossly overestimated quote? You’d better believe you’re cut! Sounds harsh, but how else am I supposed to find what’s best suited for us?
All in all, wedding budgeting and planning has been a pretty smooth ride for me so far. I say me because, in reality, my fiancé isn’t bothered about what we do. He just wants to know where he has to be and when and wants me to figure out the rest. I’m happy to sacrifice a night out here and there if it means I can have the flowers I want, or having live music for our reception. When it comes down to it, to me our wedding is about declaring our love for one another in front of our family and friends and creating some long-lasting memories that we will talk about for the many years to follow. You really can’t put a price tag on that.