Cheap wedding ideas

Save money on your wedding


Do you solemnly swear to make a budget, honour it, be true to it in good times and bad, in sickness and in health from this day forward?

Over the course of your relationship you will have many financial challenges including buying a home, saving for holidays and maybe even having kids. Creating a budget for your big day and sticking to it will start good financial habits that you will benefit from for the rest of your life.

Follow these MoneySmart wedding tips to save heaps on your big day.

Talk about money early

Have a discussion with your partner early about how both of you will fund your wedding. You don't want to start married life with a big debt and lots of stress.

If your parents are willing to help out with the cost, speak to them about how much they might contribute. Add their contribution to the money you have put aside for your wedding and make this your wedding budget.

If you don't have any money put aside you will need to start a savings plan. You can use our savings goals calculator to create this plan or try our TrackMyGOALS app.

Saving goals calculator


If you can avoid it, try not to pay for your wedding on credit.  Interest can add hundreds, even thousands of dollars to your bill. Check out our credit card calculator to see the impact paying by credit will have on your married life.

Credit card calculator

Think about what you really want from life after you get married. If buying a home is a priority for you, then have a low-cost wedding and save your money for a home deposit or an investment that will grow your money.

Prioritise your dreams

Prioritise those aspects of your wedding that are most important to you. Use your budget to juggle your priorities. Can you happily wed without a photo-booth but would love a wedding car? Write a list to help you figure out what really matters and what doesn't. By compromising in some areas, you can afford to splurge (or spoil yourself) with others.

Have a picnic or backyard wedding

Make your wedding really cost effective by having your special day in your backyard, at a friend's house or at a local park or beach. These weddings are often the most memorable because you can do it exactly as you want and put in those personal touches.

Just remember that if you organise your wedding in a public place you may need to book the area with the local council. Before you book a caterer or hire a marquee, do your research and compare suppliers' quotes. For some items, you might be better off buying than hiring. You can also try borrowing some items from family and friends.

Have an out of season wedding

Is your heart set on having your wedding at a restaurant or reception centre? If so, consider a winter wedding and expect to save a third of the price. A summer package of $120 per head at a wedding reception centre can easily become $80 over winter. Venues and guests are also more available during the cooler months.

Or have a Friday wedding. It's usually cheaper and you and your guests can enjoy a self-imposed long weekend.

Car, photography and decorating shortcuts

Cut your car hire costs by finding a reception venue that will also hold your wedding ceremony or choose a reception venue close to the church or park you want to get married in. Alternatively, ask a friend who has a nice car to drive you to the wedding.

You can also save by hiring a photographer for the formalities only and arrange for a friend with a keen eye to photograph the rest of the night. If you're into social media, create a hashtag for your wedding and put up signs to ensure guests tag their pictures. That way you can enjoy more natural and less staged shots taken by loved ones.

You can reduce your decorating costs by skipping the floral centrepieces at the reception venue and using simple tea lights or candles instead. Many venues will set up candles free of charge. If table centrepieces are a must-have, buy less by putting more guests on fewer tables or make your own.

Save on drinks

Find a venue that offers an all-inclusive food and beverage package, as you may save taking that option. Try to avoid paying for alcohol on consumption at reception venues as the bill can skyrocket on the night.

You can also try finding a venue or restaurant that lets you bring your own alcohol, and keep an eye out for liquor sales in the lead up to your big day to get the best deal.

Cut your cake, guest list and bridal party costs

If you are at a reception venue you can scrap the dessert course and just have your wedding cake for dessert. Your cake doesn't have to be three tiered and white - try another kind of cake and keep it simple. This can really keep your costs down.

Be tough when you are working out your guest list. Ask yourself: 'Is this person an active part of my life?' before you add them to the list. You can save a lot on venue costs by inviting less people.

If you reduce the number of people in your bridal party you'll need less bridals cars, less bouquets and less floral button holes. Consider giving the people not in your bridal party other important jobs, like ushering or doing a reading or a speech.

Also when you are buying things for your wedding try not to tell the suppliers the item is for a wedding. You may get it a little cheaper. Of course this will only work for items that are not obviously wedding items.

Read our case study on bridesmaids costs.

Spread out your wedding bills

Try spreading out your wedding bills across the year. When you book cars, flowers, venues, suits or dressmaking, arrange the payments for different times. This will reduce your temptation to put everything on credit.

Use the TrackMySpend app to keep track of your wedding expenses as you go and get payment reminders in the lead up to your big day.

TrackMySpend app

How much can a wedding cost?

wedding coupleCheck out our wedding infographic to find out how much people spend on their weddings and the sacrifices they made to get down the aisle. 

Don't blow all your hard earned cash on your wedding day. Have no regrets, get savvy and put that money towards building your life together.

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Last updated: 13 Jan 2015