Wedding Planning Task No. 1: Budget


Marriage is one of the greatest investments most people will ever make – emotionally and financially. Unless you are fortunate with parents which has offered to cover the bill, chances are this day will be one of the priciest in your life.

When I was doing me own budget assessments for my wedding day, some of the thought proccesses I had was:

-Is it fair to spend more on a dress I wear for a few hours than my monthly salary?

-Shoes: same here – cant I just use my neutral coloured heels jazzed up with some pearls and flowers?

-Decor: is it for me or the guests?

-Flowers: they wont last, expensive from a florist and are environmentally unfriendly on top of that. Wouldnt green foilage be just as pretty? Not to mention more creative and individual?

-What can I DIY?

-What do we really need and what is just a wonderful extra? (those wonderful extras could also be sources of stress!)

-Do I really need gold cutlery and blue glassware? What about that fancy carriage or horse for arrival?

-Will my guests have a better time if I hire an Ït band to perform? Or can we just listen to that same music on my spotify?

-Invites – most people just chuck’em in the bin don’t they? This day and age might’n we just email everyone – many countries (read:south africa) postal system is pretty unreliable any way, eh?

-Favours: nice principle but will anybody really care about whether you give or not? Or if I do feel pressured, can I handcraft or upcycle?

Well these are things that my fiancé feel are pretty non-essential but the wedding industry is trying bullying us into thinking we need! I haven’t yet decided if I agree or not but I still feel quite strongly about that horse and gold cutlery…

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Image Credit: Ruffled Blog

If you, like me, are just starting out with your budget planning, there are many things to bear in mind. Here is what I can share of my budget discovery tour so far:

The first thing to do is to check what the essential costs are (venue, catering, marriage officiant, hiring, wedding rings, photographer) Here it is up to you to choose between venue and how many people to cater for, but expect to pay between R15.00o -R30.000 for  a beautiful venue in the winelands, food anything between R150 – R500 per guest depending on your serving style (buffet for example is cheaper than 3 course sit-down)
Then you can decide how much you want to spend maximum in total. For example: you have calculated that your essential costs are R50.000. Your max budget is R90.000 = you got R40.000 to split between your dress, hair& makeup, grooms clothing, wedding music, bridesmaids hair, gift for mothers and groomsmen, and all those other hundreds of hidden costs down to vendor tips, ring cushion and your manicure.

Alcohol is a biggie – are you having an open bar?  Will you serve cocktails or just wine and beer? An open bar with spirits will definitely end up costing you half an arm. At least it feels that way anyway when the bill arrives.

There will be a lot of payments to keep track of – download a budgeting template here or just search for it online – there will be many to choose from, all filled with stuff you might never have heard of. Try to remember that some of these are just an excuse to pour money down the drain. Your marriage is not going to be happier just because you splashed out on a designer tiara!

I found Confetti budget planner quite useful . It automatically splits your budget into the approximate amounts you can expect to pay for each area of expenses. You can keep track of actual costs, paid so far and amounts due. So clever and FREE!

Favorite tips (some wacky) I have received from friends, magazines and the web

(You can also follow my budget pinterest board = millions of free frugal ideas)

  1. Use curtains or sheets as table cloths. Great idea if you have loads of curtains lying around that you dont mind some curry and wine stains on. Otherwise I think I’d might as well rent from the cheapest hiring company!
  2. Hire music students for ceremony or dinner music Check with local university. Or skimp the live performance in favour of iPod
  3. Turn off your Pinterest account Hahaha. As if I could ever! But what it means is that it is so easy to just want want want it all. (Have you ever heard the word “wedding porn”??) Tune out and ask yourself what you really NEED. And consult with your spouse to what details are necessary and which are in the add-on-if-possible bin
  4. Cut the guestlist Brutal but true. Intimate weddings are often the most memorable. It is gonna be a busy day either way – wouldnt it be nice to be able to talk and catch up with every guest for a few minutes? Try this guestlist sharpening tool to give you more clarity whether people qualify to attend your big day.guest list
  5. Buy your dress second hand or online from China You might have a chill up your spine by reading this! But guess what? All those fancy-pantsy wedding gowns in that glamorous wedding shop are ALSO manufactured in Asia and shipped in wholesale. You might as well do that yourself. Try DHgate, Aliexpress or even Ebay. (I wasnt very impressed with Amazon)
    I DO recommend you to go to real bridal dress trials though – it will give you a great idea of what style you feel the best in.
    The risk by looking too much is that you get overwhelmed by choice, and the prospect of not trying before you buy online. If the dress you buy isnt “the one”you could always sell the dress again -maybe even for a profit- on Gumtree (you could search for your dress there too). My advice to myself is to buy a dress too large and then have it adjusted by a seamtress locally for a perfect fit.Ashlyn dress at Anna Campbell: original R70.000 + import duties
    DHgate: R1600-R2000 + import duties
    Good luck browsing!
  6.  Wedding invites I just have one word: D.I.Y ! If you are vaguely familiar (or check your network) with a picture editing program such as Indesign or Photoshop, you can download a free wedding invite template online, personalize it and take to your local printshop. Even better: consider skipping the paper invite and send by email instead. Better for the environment hey? Personally I think the simpler the design, the more elegant the invite.
    I made my own save the date, invite, table numbers, thank you cards and logo in a few hours and they turned out quite ok I think – just a photo and some fancy fonts.
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Would you like to purchase this stationary design (cheaper than your average graphic designer) Contact me here

Good luck with the budgeting! Remember to involve your partner and family if they will be paying. This is not the right time to have disagreements with your loved ones. I am gonna try to remember: it is just ONE DAY out of my life. (A very special one, of course 😉
If it is special enough for gold cutlery – well I guess we will find out!

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