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Beautiful budget weddings
By Tammy Barton

Love is free, right? Not according to Bride to Be magazine whose national survey found that the average Australian wedding now costs $49,000. So this week we take a walk down the aisle with Jennifer Rayner, a wedding planner with Amaranthine Weddings & Events, as she gives us some tips about planning a beautiful, budget-conscious wedding.

Begin with the end in mind— The first place to start, even before you set a date, is with a budget. Understand how much you can afford and how long you may need to save. The friendly team at MyBudget is here to help, so please don’t hesitate to call. “Know what is a ‘must',” says Jennifer, “And, with everything else, be willing to compromise”. MyBudget also recommends hiding your credit card! If you can avoid borrowing to pay for your wedding, you’ll avoid starting your married life in debt.

Ceremony & reception— The equation is simple: less people, less money. If you must have a big wedding (there’s one of those “musts” Jennifer warned us about) she says that cocktail-style weddings save money because they demand less waiting staff, crockery, cutlery and glassware than sit-down dining. Some venues may also allow you to self-cater. If you’re planning a sit-down reception, consider a self-serve buffet as opposed to an a la carte menu. Or how about a party at home?

Flowers & décor— Jennifer recommends using greenery for centrepieces. “If your heart is set on flowers, large flowers such as lilies and hydrangeas can fill an arrangement cheaper than smaller ones. Candles are another way to create a beautiful ambience while saving on the cost and labour of floral centrepieces.”

Bridal wear— Brides are increasingly shopping for their gowns and bridesmaid dresses from online stores and eBay. Jennifer warns, “There are some great success stories—brides who get beautiful dresses from overseas manufacturers at a fraction of the price you’d pay at a bridal boutique.” MyBudget’s Chantelle—pictured here on her wedding day with husband, Darren—is one such success story. Chantelle had her gown and outer-coat custom made through an online manufacturer and she was delighted with the outcome. But Jennifer warns that you run a risk ordering online from an unknown manufacturer—make sure you do your research. If buying from a boutique, it pays to shop around. Call stockists (usually listed on the designer’s website or catalogue) to find the lowest price in town. Gowns are also the perfect item to buy second hand. They’ve only been worn once and often for less than 12 hours!

Little things that add up— Don’t hire cars; borrow like-coloured cars from friends or family. Find a talented friend to do the wedding party’s hair and makeup, or practice doing your own. Ordering a cake? Forget to mention that it’s for a wedding—the word “wedding” tends to attract premium pricing. Serve your wedding cake for dessert. Toss the bouquet and opt for a single lily or simple posy. Print your own invitations and use standard-sized envelopes to avoid extra postage. Look for a photographer whose wedding package includes you owning the digital photos. This is likely to save you considerable money on photo printing costs. Upload your digital photos to an online service such as Kodak or Snapfish. Not only can friends and family members view and order photos direct from these services, but you can create a gorgeous wedding album using their photobook templates. Forget about a DJ or wedding singer; manage your own music from an iPod.

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