Wedding saving and budgeting

Happily ever after

Your wedding is one of the happiest days of your life. But you don't want to get into so much debt that you're still paying it off 2 years later. There are lots of ways you can keep costs down and still make sure your big day is memorable.

Work out how much money you need

Decide what kind of wedding you want and can afford. You may plan for only a handful of guests with a no-frills ceremony and small reception but even a small event can cost thousands of dollars.

Smart tip

Do your research on the internet or ask friends how much they spent on their weddings.

The cost of a wedding will depend on the:

  • Number of guests
  • Venue of ceremony and reception
  • Celebrant
  • Bridal party dress and hair and makeup
  • Food and drinks
  • Wedding cake
  • Music
  • Cars
  • Photography
  • Flowers

Work out how much you want to spend on each item to come up with a total cost. Use the savings plan to write down each cost and how you plan to save for it. If your parents or friends offer to contribute, take this into account.

How much can a wedding cost?

Wedding cake

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

Start saving for your wedding now

Try to start saving as early as possible for your big day. Open a savings account or a term deposit to earn a high interest rate on your savings. Learn more about the compound interest you could earn on a savings account. Don't be tempted to use the money for anything else.

Work out how much you'll need to save each week to reach your goal.

Savings goals calculator

If you can, try and pay for big items like the wedding dress or reception in instalments, and avoid using your credit card wherever possible.

Case study: Peggy and Denis prepare for their big day

Couple working out how much they can afford for their wedding dayPeggy and Denis are getting married in six months. They worked out that they could afford to spend $30,000 on the wedding. A year ago they put $15,000 in an online savings account paying 5% interest. They also made deposits of $750 a month into the account. With not long to go before their big day, they have saved $25,000 and are well on track.

Cheap wedding ideas

There are many ways you can reduce the cost of your wedding.

Have a picnic or backyard wedding

Have your wedding in your backyard, at a friend's house or at a local park or beach. 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.

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.

Hire a photographer for the formalities only and arrange for a friend with a keen eye to photograph the rest of the night. Create a hashtag for your wedding and put up signs to ensure guests tag their pictures on social media.

Reduce decorating costs by skipping the floral centrepieces at the reception venue and using simple tea lights or candles instead. 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.

Smart tip

Think about buying the wedding dress and tuxedos second-hand or online

Cut your cake, guest list and bridal party costs

Scrap the dessert course at the reception 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. Making your own wedding cake 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. Make your own invitations to save money.

Reduce the number of people in your bridal party. This will mean less bridal cars, less bouquets and less floral button holes. Give special 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.

Start saving early and look for ways to cut costs. You want your wedding day to leave happy memories, not huge debts that will take years to pay off.

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Last updated: 21 Nov 2018