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For richer or poorer: budget wedding ideas
By Tammy May

Love is free, right? Not according to Bride To Be magazine whose 2010 survey found that the average Australian wedding costs $49,000. At MyBudget, we often see couples who have debt-hangover from their wedding, which is certainly not the ideal start to a marriage. It’s time, therefore, to replace the popular notion of the perfect wedding with nuptials that are perfectly affordable.

Vow #1: We will not go into debt for our wedding.

It’s easy to get carried away with wedding plans because a wedding is a very emotional event. You want the day to be perfect, which means you’re more likely to let expenses get out of control. But you can eliminate that risk. Before you start writing a guest list—even before you set a date—make a commitment to each other that you will not go into debt for your wedding. This means you’ll need to use existing savings or create a savings plan to pay for your big day.

Vow #2: We will create a wedding budget and stick to it.

After you’ve agreed on the total budget amount, create a wish list of all the things you’d like to include in your wedding—everything from the venue to V8 Supercars! Don't hold back. Once you’ve written down every budget item you can think of, organise the list into descending order of importance with the “must haves” at the very top, the “would likes” in the middle, and the “could live withouts" at the bottom. Prioritising your budget items in this way will help you to cut costs on those things which are less important to you.

 Vow #3: We promise to compromise by focusing on what’s important.

Compromise is not only the key to a long, happy marriage, it’s also one of the cornerstones of financial prosperity. Good money management is about controlling your spending and making choices based on what you can afford rather than what you want.

Cost-conscious wedding compromises:

Traditional wedding expenses Cost-conscious compromises
Large bridal party including multiple attendants
  • A small bridal party—perhaps just a best man and head bridesmaid
  • No attendants at all
Wedding dress from a bridal boutique
  • A second-hand dress (after all, a wedding dress is only worn for a few hours)
  • An evening gown, cocktail dress, pants suit, something comfortable!
Formal dinner reception for a large number of guests
  • Less  people = less money
  • Cocktail-style reception
  • Self-catered party in a hall or other venue
  • A casual party at a private home
Luxury hire cars to transport the bridal party
  • Borrow like-coloured cars from family and friends
Professional makeup and hair styling
  • Do your own hair and makeup or ask a friend to help
Floral bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids
  • A single lily or home-made posy
Professionally printed invitations
  • Create and print your own invitations
  • Use standard-sized envelopes to avoid extra postage
  • Email is another option
Floral centrepieces for reception tables
  • Cluster of column candles or tealight candles
  • Large-headed flowers such as hydrangeas or greenery
Professional wedding photographer
  • Ask  family and friends to take photos
  • Find a professional photographer who gives you ownership of the digital negatives—this   will save you considerable money on photo printing costs
  • Order your prints and albums via an online service
DJ and/or live music
  • Ask a friend to introduce the speeches and other activities
  • Create a  playlist of songs on your iPod or MP3 player—ask a friend to manage the music for you
Guests given a slice of wedding cake to take home in a box or bag
  • Serve the wedding cake for dessert
Guests bring gifts such as kitchen equipment, bedding and homeware
  • Request cash or monetary gifts—the “wishing well” concept is becoming more popular
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