When it comes to your wedding budget you have definitely heard the following before: “Decide on a budget and stick to it!” and “You don’t want to start your marriage with crippling debt!”.
So let’s just skip past all those exclamations and get to the nitty gritty. Any time finances need to be discussed between a couple or amongst families things tend to get a little cloudy, if not tense.
So here we have our Breakdown and Average Cost, 5 Tips on Deciding your Wedding Budget, and our 5 Tips for Staying on Budget. And to our International friends out there planning on having a destination wedding in our beautiful country, we did not forget about you during this crucial stage of planning.
Breakdown and Average Cost
Lets first get our bearings. A budget is a large encompassing amount with many hidden amounts and we could sit here and ponder every detail for the next decade. But what is important to know, no matter what your budget, you need to divide your total budget into percentages and allocate it.
Here is the basic breakdown according to experts:
15% Catering and Beverages
25% Decor, Flowers and extra hiring
10% Photography and Videography
10% Music and Entertainment
10% On your Wedding dress, Grooms suit and Wedding Rings
5% Stationery and Gifts
5% “Just in case fund”“ For the extra’s
Use this as an adaptable guideline. You may decide certain aspects are not worth spending too much on and then relocate those funds to what matters to you most as a couple. Note that this breakdown only encompasses your wedding day, you may also need to factor in: An Engagement Party, Bridal Shower, Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, Rehearsal Dinner and of course your Honeymoon!
5 Tips for Deciding on your Budget
- Talking Money: While some brides’ parents want to remain truly traditional and pay for the entire cost of the wedding, other couples have started to solely foot the bill for their weddings with little help. Now most young couples are not in a financial position to cover everything quite yet, and some families like to step away from tradition. In this instance you and your partner should discuss what each of your parents could contribute respectively. Have these conversations separately with your parents, away from your partner. This will allow for a more open and honest discussion. And probably a bit more comfortable for everyone involved. Once each set of parents offer a final amount, add those together for your budget. If you, at this point, would like to contribute more or simply also contribute as a couple, decide on what you can realistically add to the budget. Congratulations, you now have your Wedding Budget!
- Savings and Goals: Find and start a cost-effective ‘Wedding Day’ savings account. Set this up for yourselves the first moment you get after your engagement. Compounding interest is a wonderful thing, and every last bit can make a large difference. Then decide as a couple what realistic percentage of your salaries you will be paying into this account.
This will also be a good opportunity to start thinking of financial goals as a couple. You can turn each goal into a game, it need not be frugal seriousness all the time. Goals are easier to reach when you really want to reach them together. Having this be a goal as a couple means you can perhaps sacrifice one date night per month as a couple, have a romantic night in, and put those savings into your Wedding Day Account. It might turn out to be a fun experiment to see how much you could save by staying in and end up putting a lot of savings towards your goal, as well as scoring on all that amazing quality time at home.
- Be Discerning: Take a look at our Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist to get an idea of everything that could possibly be needed for your Big Day. Now take a look at that breakdown. Then make a list as a couple of the Top 3 things most important to your day – whether that’s the catering, your dress, the entertainment etc. Those will now be the costs you are flexible to pay more for because they are most important to you.
And then also take a look at everything and as a couple decide on the Top 3 least important items. They will now be the expenses you are flexible on paying even less for, or completely omitting in order to obtain your Top 3 most important items.
- Cost of Season: Consider the season and day of the week. Consider having a Winter Wedding or not getting married on a Saturday. Summertime, weekends and other peak times will ramp up your venue’s cost considerably for obvious reasons. That is when they are at their highest demand and therefore highest value. Many venue’s offer Winter Wedding packages for more affordable prices because they tend to struggle to book events during this time, unless it’s at a discounted price. This is also off-peak season for Wedding Planners, Photographers, Florists etc. which means you may find lower prices for them at this time as well.
Even taking in mind the time of day for your Reception may impact your costs heavily. Brunch or daytime Receptions may cut down on many costs you may not even factor in – for example people are less inclined to consume a lot of alcohol during the early parts of the day and that could lower costs. Or extra lighting won’t need to be rented due to all the natural daylight.
- Cost of Formality: Consider the formality and style of your Big Day. Some couples may feel more at home with a formal setting, or have been looking forward to a very formal upscale do. This is still achievable if your budget is not as scaled up as your tastes, but then you may have to consider less guests to make a 3 course sit down meal service possible. You might want to leave out Bridesmaids and Groomsmen to save on 6 or more well matched outfits. It is do-able to have an expensive looking wedding without breaking your wedding budget, however sacrifices will have to be made.
On the other hand you may decide on a less formal style. And with that choice you may get away with less expensive food service – with a buffet style or food stations. You may get away with less expensive decor. You may get away with more guests and cutting a lot of costs without ever having to cut on style. A less formal wedding does not equate to a less stylish one.
5 Tips for Staying on Budget
- Trim that guestlist: Trim it down some more. This is really a surefire, universal way to bring down your costs. Having an adult only wedding is an easy way to do this without guests having hard feelings. With estimates that can easily reach R800 per head, every person should count and mean something to you and your partner. If you and your partner are struggling with this choice here is an acceptable list of people you may further trim off your guestlist:
– Missing in action family members
– Friends you have not heard from in years
– Work friends and neighbors
– Friends of parents neither of you have met
- Hire a Wedding Planner: This may seem like an extra expense that you could potentially cover with your own planning skills and with the help from friends and family. But their experience is invaluable as well as their connection with suppliers and venues. They do the research for you – which Photographer suits you and whether they would be available etc. They could easily gather 3 different Florist quotes for you so that you can decide how much you are willing to pay. They know the in’s and out’s of supplier contracts and are more aware of potentially hidden costs. And last but definitely not least they keep track of all the costs and payments.
- Keeping Track: You will not believe how quickly that amount could slip out of your control. Your wedding budget is very much like your bank statement as a struggling student, you almost always have a lot less than you thought! And you can’t control what you simply don’t know or ignore. Keep track of everything. Whether this means you use one of the many apps online or create a spreadsheet with your expenses, just keep track. Feel free to use our comprehensive Wedding Budget Tool.
- Save where you can: Whether that means helping with decorations, or not handing out expensive Guest Favours. When you and your partner sit down with your supplier-contracts ask yourselves: “Would anyone notice if we just didn’t do this?” You don’t need your new initials custom set onto every detail. You probably don’t need 3 shades of Blush or Nude on your wedding invitations.
Here are 2 quick money saving areas:
Stationery: These can be beautiful and special without needing to customise every aspect. For your formal invitations opt for white envelopes and standard sizing to save on costs without compromising the look of your invitation itself. Or Go Green and send out not only electronic Save the Dates but also electronic RSVP cards.
Wedding Cake: Although cutting the cake is such a big part of your Wedding Day consider booking only a small special ceremonial cake. Save the beautifully handcrafted sugar flowers and fondant for the ceremonial cake and serve individual delicious cake or dessert servings to your guests to cut down on costs. And to make sure no one feels left out of your cake-cutting-moment, have your guests’ servings in a matching style to your cake, or have your caterer pipe your new initials in caramel or a raspberry reduction.
- Don’t: Don’t under any circumstances dip into an investment in order to fund a more extravagant wedding. According to Forbes almost half of couples spend more than they had anticipated and only a mere 6% of couples manage to come in under budget. Through online surveys it has also become clear over time that most couples regret the amount they paid for their wedding and would in hindsight rather have spent less. So be smart with your funds, learn from others mistakes. If you cannot afford your dream wedding with your available budget, rather postpone your wedding a bit and save more! Because remember, “You don’t want to start your marriage with crippling debt!”
I said we would not leave out our international brides to be. If you are looking into Destination Wedding in South Africa I am happy to announce you have chosen a fine destination. We have beauty that does not come with a steep price tag. With the Rand doing poorly against the Pound, Euro and Dollar most internationals can expect to pay much less for a wedding with all the bells and whistles here in our lovely Western Cape Province. We offer scenic settings of almost every biome – beaches, bushveld to winelands. With World Class Chefs, Venues and Accomodation at a fraction of the price.
Not only are all religions welcome, with Judiaism, Islam and Hinduiasm well represented. But we also offer legal same-sex marriages.
Just like our local brides you can follow our TopTips on how to bring down your costs. The Northern Hemisphere enters Winter just as we down here enter our Summer and our peak season: November – April.
Article by INKT for Top Wedding Suppliers