Katie Francis

Quality Checked

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Your wedding day should be one of the best days of your life. It’s a day for you to celebrate love with all of your friends and family. But it also is a huge cause of stress for soon-to-be newlyweds. With the average cost of a wedding in Australia being $36,000, it’s no surprise that many opt for a smaller gathering.

However, even if you plan on having an intimate, low-key ceremony, you can easily end up spending thousands more than planned. If you’re wanting to cut down unnecessary costs and save yourself some money, our list of money-saving tips can help.

Invitation and stationery costs

If you have a friend who dabbles in calligraphy, or a relative who can lend a hand with graphic design, you could easily save hundreds on stationery costs. If not though, don’t stress – there are ways to save while sending out beautiful invites and ordering luxurious-looking table fittings.

  • Minimise invitation bells and whistles: There’s no doubt that choosing a fancy paper for your invitations will be pricey. But if you’ve been dreaming of your perfectly crafted letterheads for years, you might feel like it’s worth the price. To save on other stationery aspects, consider flat printing for insert cards. This can save up to $500 per 100 invites. To save even more, consider directing recipients to your personalised wedding website on their invites. This will list all event details (like rehearsal dinners) to save you printing them on separate cards.
  • RSVP cards are a thing of the past: RSVP cards can end up costing you more than invitations. The fees associated with postage and stamps add up quickly. Consider using RSVP postcards, which let your guests post back their answers while avoiding stamp costs of posting actual letters. As an added bonus, you get to choose a fun print on your postcards to bring some quirkiness to the table! Websites like Zazzle have a great choice of postcards.
  • Bulk order: Order all of your prints (like invitations, place cards, and programs) at once. Bulk ordering saves on shipping costs and will help you feel organised and on top of everything.
  • Only order what you need: Organise your printing by couples, rather than individual guests. This could halve your stationery costs straight away.
For the actual wedding day, try opting for one main seating chart at the entrance, as well as one menu card per table. People won’t mind sharing a menu between them, and you’ll save a substantial amount on printing.

Location costs

A garden wedding means organising last-minute cover for bad weather, whereas a church wedding may limit guest numbers or influence the ceremony progression. Use the freedom that comes with choosing a location to save yourself some extra cash.

  • Weekday or weekend? Choosing what day of the week you marry on can save you thousands of dollars on the spot. Saturdays are notoriously more expensive, no matter the location; whereas Sunday or weekday weddings are usually cheaper. Planning a Friday wedding means guests can have a long weekend and celebrations can last throughout the weekend.
  • Timing is everything: While most opt for an afternoon or evening wedding, having a morning wedding may be surprisingly cheaper. You can go for a wedding breakfast or brunch, rather than a sit-down dinner – and instead of cake, you could opt for appetisers. It definitely has a more casual feel to it, but it does give you the extra time of day to extend celebrations.
  • Stick to one venue: Finding a beautiful venue that can accommodate both your ceremony and reception will save you thousands in transportation costs, both for you and your guests.
  • Is all-inclusive really best? Make sure you find a vendor who doesn’t require you to use their caterer/entertainment/decor. Many venues will let you outsource your own help and, if you know where to look, you can save yourself thousands.

Head costs

  • Be sparing with your guest list: While it sounds like common sense, it can be harder than you’d think to cut down your guest list. When you start considering extended family and friends, you could easily have a wedding of 300+. While a big crowd sounds fun, in reality, each guest will cost you at least $200. It might be more practical to limit your guest list to close friends and family only.
  • You don’t need ten bridesmaids: When you add up the costs of dresses, shoes, hair, nails, spray tans, makeup, and bouquets – bridesmaids can easily cost you $500 per person. While you might want your whole friendship group in your bridal party, it will be a lot financially smarter to choose two or three of your best friends. You’ll still get plenty of quality time with the rest of your friends during the big day.
  • Limit plus ones: While it would be lovely for every guest to bring a special someone, you’re looking at doubling your catering and beverage costs. If guests are single and know plenty of other invitees, don’t feel obligated to offer a plus one.

Outfit costs

  • Dress to the stars: There are hundreds of tried and tested methods out there to save on wedding dresses. You should start shopping early, to avoid last-minute rushes and expensive alteration costs. You can also keep any eye on social media to see when local bridal stores are having sales, trunk shows, or sample sales. These dresses can be anywhere from 20 to 90% cheaper than buying full price. Additionally, check out op shops and second-hand websites like StillWhite to find yourself a bargain.
  • One thing… rented? Many brides are choosing to hire their wedding jewellery instead of forking out thousands for an item they’ll likely wear once. Websites like JIRE let you hire tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewellery for only a couple of hundred dollars.
  • Bouquet hacks: To reduce bouquet costs, try adding inexpensive greenery as filler to a statement floral piece. This can save up to $50 per bouquet. Additionally, don’t feel obligated to have boutonnieres for the men; these can cost up to $1,000 each.

Food and beverage costs

  • Go (environmentally) disposable: Choose environmentally friendly disposable plates and cutlery (made from bamboo rather than plastic). This saves on paying for real china plates, eliminates the potential for breakage AND means less washing up!
  • Choose your signature cocktail: Try to have only one cocktail on offer to save on alcohol costs, then switch to beer and wine later in the day. Also, don’t worry about grabbing that $1,000 bottle of gin you saw at the bottle-o; your guests will be having too much fun to ask which brands you’re serving. Keep an eye out for specials on alcohol leading up to your wedding if you’re catering to find a great deal.
  • Switch up the dinner plans: A sit-down dinner is traditional wedding etiquette. But these days, many couples are opting for a more relaxed setting. Choosing a wedding buffet means guests have the freedom to choose between different meals rather than a set offering. This also allows people to go back for seconds, meaning you won’t need to worry about hangry guests when it comes time to cut the cake. This laidback version of a course meal can save anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 for a 100 party wedding.
  • Having your cake and eating it too: Those three-tiered, floral wedding cakes you’ve been eyeing off can cost you thousands of dollars. A recent trend is to have a ‘display cake’ on show for your guests, which has all the bells and whistles of an expensive cake. When it comes to serving guests, a regular sheet cake (that still tastes amazing) will be served. Having an incredible display cake can still cost a few hundred dollars, but will be hundreds less than buying an actual one.
  • Switch up your dessert game: Instead of a wedding cake, why not try a dessert buffet, a doughnut wall, or even cupcakes? Having smaller dessert offerings will be cheaper than a huge cake, and might minimise food wastage too.

Decor costs

Will you go for impressive floral arrangements, a beachy vibe with Hamptons-inspired decor, or choose a rustic theme and have mismatched furniture and handwritten note cards? The freedom that comes with wedding decor is exciting, but it also can get out of hand quickly when it comes to costs.

  • Flowers are a girl’s best friend: You may have dreamed of a huge floral arrangement, but avoided thinking about the costs. Flowers are one of the hidden extremities when it comes to wedding costs, and a wall full of them will certainly tip your budget over the edge. To save, you could choose flowers that are in season and focus on inexpensive flower fillers (like baby’s breath). Try to stick to a few types of flowers that match your theme, rather than going crazy. You might even prefer having candles and single floral stalks as centerpieces rather than vases. If you do opt for vases, choose plastic over glass to reduce breakage.
  • Recycling is key: An interesting idea is to recycle the bridesmaids’ bouquets, and other floral pieces during the reception, as table decor after the ceremony. This also works with furniture; while you might pay a moving fee, using the same chairs for your reception as you did for your ceremony will minimise furniture costs.
  • Switch up your centrepieces: Instead of expensive floral centrepieces, try incorporating fruit (like lemons or oranges) as decoration. Depending on your theme, this could be super flattering and definitely cheaper than flowers.

Photography costs

  • Find local talent: Professional photographers are super expensive. While their work is incredible, you can save yourself money by finding an up and coming photographer who charges significantly less.
  • Book by the hour, not the day: Most wedding parties hire their photographer for the whole day. But in reality, their services are only used for a set number of hours. Try hiring them for eight to ten hours instead, to save yourself a full day’s rate and to still get all the wedding photos you desire.
  • Go old school: Hiring a photobooth can be super expensive. Try grabbing a few Polaroid cameras and leaving them around the reception for guests to take themselves and add to your photobook.
  • Less is better: While there will be a number of expensive photograph packages to choose from, save yourself the time and money and opt for the basic one. You can always go back and get hardcopy prints and albums if you choose to later on.

Final notes

Having the perfect wedding is something many of us dream of, but sometimes, budgets can get in the way of making it a reality. These super easy tips for saving money on your wedding can be extremely helpful to help you have the wedding of your dreams, on a budget that won’t break the bank.

If you’re looking for more ways to save money on the wedding you’ve always wanted, some Aussies are opting for destination weddings.

Written by: Katie Francis

Katie Francis is a Content Writer at Jacaranda Finance. She has a Bachelor of Business (Marketing)/Media & Communications from the Queensland University of Technology.