Weddings can be a very financially draining exercise. We all know that couple who went into serious wedding debt and lived on indomie and garri for months after the wedding. If you don’t want that to be your story, here’s what you do:
Save, Save, Save!
Start saving from the engagement day. The average engagement lasts up to two years – leaving plenty of time to start saving. You can save 20% of your income each month. Open a savings account to keep all your wedding money in one place and earn interest.
Plan on a Budget
First things first, decide on an initial maximum amount you are willing to spend on your wedding. You would need to keep that in mind for when you start planning and researching. This amount may change with extra donations coming in from friends and family or when you know how much everything will cost.
Before you draw up a wedding budget, plan ahead. Decide on what kind of wedding you want to have. Decide on type of venue, flowers, decorations, wedding gown, catering, etc. Do something that will suit you and your budget best.
Do research, get quotes. When you have decided where you want to hold your wedding you can start doing research on what is available in that area. The research that you’ll be doing is to make sure what and which services you’ll be able to pay for. Find out about possible discounts.
Keep Track of Expenses
Tell your family and friends how much you paid for what and let them know when their contribution has been used. What is most important gets the most funds. What is most important to you? What can you not live without on your wedding? Plan a reserve. A reserve is specifically a budget for your debt and can help you for emergencies or any wedding debt you might accumulate.
Tips to cutting down costs
Avoid the peak season: Some locations are cheaper when you get married during the off-peak season. The peak season in South Africa is usually in the warm summer months: between September and February but the Durban winter months aren’t that cold either. Get married on any other day than Saturday.
Cut down on the guest list: Opt for a smaller, intimate wedding. Have a smaller bridal party (one bridesmaid and one best man). The bridesmaid can double as the maid of honor or ask your mother to do it.
Consider cheaper food options or buy in bulk: Opt for a buffet-style or lunch wedding reception because these options don’t cost as much as a dinner reception. These are increasingly becoming popular. Or if you want to be really creative, hold a tea party with desserts instead.
Have the wedding ceremony and reception at ONE location: Do everything at one venue. it cuts the cost of transportation.
Do-It-Yourself: Don’t pay for anything you can do yourself such as wedding invitations, decorations, etc. Ask your family or friends to play the photographer, MC, DJ, make the wedding cake, etc.
Have a cash bar: Alcohol can eat up a lot of your money. Instead of an open bar, let your guests pay for their drinks.
Compromise a little: If it seems that you won’t be able to pay for everything beforehand it’s time to start compromising. What can you do without? What can you delay? You can delay the honeymoon and or expensive wedding rings. There will always be another time to go on your honeymoon or buy the ring you want. Try not to borrow money for your wedding.
Whatever you do don’t ask your guests for money! This can seem very selfish especially if they already have to pay for their own transport, accommodation and a wedding gift. Only when they offer to help pay for the wedding (especially those who cannot attend) can you accept the money.
Shireen Louw is one of South Africa’s top wedding photographers and is based in Cape Town. Check out her blog for her latest shoots and wedding advice.