15 money tips for planning a wedding

The cost of weddings in Australia continues to rise, with couples paying an average of $36,200 for their big day.

According to market research by IBISWorld, over half of the cost of a wedding goes to entertaining guests at the reception, with food, alcohol and venue costs averaging $18,683 per wedding.

Source: ASIC, IBISWorld April 2012

Most couples have had to make financial sacrifices in order to afford such a large sum of money, including putting their social life on-hold [20%], delaying plans of buying a home [25%] or remaining unmarried [6%].

Source: ASIC MoneySmart survey, December 2013

Top money tips

To help couples prepare for their wedding, we reached out to our network of friends and Stockspot clients to ask them for their money tips based on their experience.

Here are the 15 top (serious and amusing) responses that we thought we would share:

  • Before you start booking anything – do a budget. Guaranteed you will almost fall off your chair at the first total, it adds up very quickly! If it’s outside the number you and your fiancée had in mind, it’s a good opportunity to sit down together and figure out the areas you want to invest more in and the things you can cut back on.
  • As you collect quotes and estimates avoid mentioning the word wedding. Instead insert words like celebration, party or gathering of friends. Florists, car hire and photographers all charge a premium to be a part of your wedding.
  • Create a wedding website/invitation rather than sending hard copy printed invites (expensive and most people throw them away afterwards). For grandparents and guests that are more “old-school”, we ordered to print a small batch of invites online based on one of their templates – was easy, cheap and looked nice.
  • Instead of spending a fortune on a designer wedding dress, consider one that’s pre-loved. We got my dress through a website called StillWhite.com.au where we found dresses that either haven’t been worn as brides have changed their mind or worn for a few hours that’s since been dry-cleaned. We actually ended up selling our dress on that website after the wedding and got some money back.
  • Leverage your contacts – one of my friends had an eye for detail so we asked her to make the table arrangements. Our family friend also worked at a florist so we were able to source cheap flowers. We had a friend who knows someone with a nice car. Essentially there is always someone you know, or someone you know that knows someone else that can give you mates rates – a wedding is super expensive so utilise them even if you feel like a tight arse!
  • Only use a photographer for a special wedding shoot instead of paying for the entire day. With the quality of phone cameras and superb Instagram filters these days, we started a hashtag for the wedding and encouraged everyone to post photos using the hashtag. We then used an online Instagram printing service like Printstagram to print off a wedding album and thank you cards to guests. The best photos are taken by family and friends anyway as they capture people off guard.
  • We saved money by not having a sit down dinner. We did great cocktails and LOTS & LOTS of finger food. It also meant you weren’t stuck at a table with people you don’t know, it was easier to mingle with everyone and gives you more flexibility with venues/caterers etc.
  • Décor is one of the most expensive things. Try and pick a venue that doesn’t need too much theming. Remember less is more sometimes – instead of fresh flowers use candles, tea lights and fairy lights for an evening reception. Always ask what the venue provides e.g. draping, table clothes before you order anything.
  • Make your own place cards, menus etc. Shabby chic is all the craze right now so handmade looks fab not tacky.
  • Serve the cake for dessert otherwise it is a waste. Most people are drunk by the time the dessert comes around anyway so you don’t want to pay for a cake and dessert.
  • Have a DJ and brief them on the type of music you want to play. Bands are great but DJ’s are cheaper. Most people just want to boogie at the end of the night. AVOID playing Nutbush City Limits unless you have a mullet.
  • Try not to allow family to pressure you into inviting (and therefore paying for) distant family members who you haven’t really had much contact with in YEARS. Or if mum really wants her 3rd cousin there, ask that she pays their way.
  • Consider a winter wedding or a weekday, a lot of venues have deals for these.
  • Always negotiate! If you don’t ask you don’t get. You can try negotiating a lower price for paying cash. You could see if your venue will let you bring in your own alcohol.
  • Elope. Get married in Hawaii with a few close friends or family and leave it at that.

Start saving early…

We suggest that anyone looking to save up for a large expense should start as early as possible. That way, you’re able to maximise the time you have to accumulate the required amount and take advantage of the benefits of compounding to give your savings a boost.

If you start having conversations with your partner about eventually getting married, that could be a good time to start putting savings aside rather than waiting for when you get engaged.

As you can see below, your savings timeframe dramatically affects how much money you need to put aside each month to reach the goal of $36,200:

Timeframe Amount to save per month
1 year $2,996
2 years $1,487
3 years $984

Assumes an after-tax interest rate of 1.5% p.a.

Consider options…

With interest rates at the lowest level in over 50 years, make sure to shop around for the best rate if you decide to put your money into a savings account. A higher rate will mean you have a better chance of keeping up with inflation.

If you can start setting aside money at least a couple of years before the wedding, you could consider investing some of that money into a portfolio of shares and bonds. There is more risk involved with this option but this can be reduced through diversification and by having a timeframe of at least 3 years.

A diversified portfolio has historically achieved higher returns than bank deposits over the medium term which means you might be able to set aside less money each month than with a savings account.

Timeframe Amount to save per month
2 years $1,410
3 years $907

Assumes an after-tax return of 7% p.a. based on performance of diversified portfolios over the past 20 years.

Hopefully you’ve managed to find some useful tips. Weddings can be a lot of work so make sure to enjoy your big day!

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Wedding image: studiosomething.com

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Larry Lee

Chief Marketing Officer, Stockspot

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