How to Save Money on a Beautiful Wedding in the Social Media Age

How to save money on a beautiful wedding: The key to saving money on your wedding is creative thin...

How to save money on a beautiful wedding: The key to saving money on your wedding is creative thinking and a lot of research. Talking about how much your wedding cost is like being a mother – everyone has an opinion and everything you do is wrong.
 

How to Save Money on a Beautiful Wedding in the Social Media Age
One said a wedding should cost no more than $1000 on a nice dinner for family and friends, with a snide aside to "use the rest for the house deposit you're always whingeing about".
Finding the perfect venue for your wedding, and the perfect spot for your wedding photos, can be a challenging task.

Another said I was unrealistic and $50,000 was normal for a Sydney wedding at 2016 prices.
Meanwhile, a colleague told me that his brother's wedding reception cost a sheep; slaughtered on his farm, roasted on a spit, and served on paper plates.

Ultimately you should have the wedding that will make you and your partner happy. Including no wedding at all, if that's your preference.
Many engaged couples will be looking for a few tips to keep costs down.

1. Be creative about venues

My fiancé was happy for me to make the wedding plans as long as I didn't go overboard. His one request was to be married in church.

It's not for everyone, but I was surprised to find it was a cost-effective choice. A fee of about $700 covered the venue – a beautiful sandstone church near the harbour – as well as the service.

Civil celebrants typically charge the same amount but the cost of the venue is extra, with many councils charging $1000 or more to use a public park or scenic spot.

One of my cousins used a pop-up wedding service, a business that travels all over Australia and sets up somewhere for a day, with decorations and a photographer. Couples can book in for hourly slots, and then hold a reception elsewhere.

It's the reception venue where costs can spiral.

You will usually pay more if the venue also provides the catering. Don't forget there are many venues with kitchens where you can bring in your own caterers.

I found a Sydney sailing club – a ferry ride or short drive from the church – where we could have our own food and entertainment. It cost $800 and we had to organize decorations and cleaning.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth, of My Wedding Décor, says popular wedding venues can be half the price if you have a mid-week wedding.

2. Research online

I had no choice in the matter because we were living in London and getting married in Sydney. I organized the whole event remotely, with some back-up on the ground, and then flew in two weeks beforehand. The advantage was that I was able to do a lot of research online.

The biggest expense at a wedding is usually the food and alcohol.

I spent a lot of time on Google finding caterers and then emailing them. They often asked me to come in for a tasting. I felt that would be time-consuming and leave me open to a hard sell but being almost 17,000 kilometres away, I had a good excuse why I couldn't.

Instead, I got about 10 different quotes, which ranged in price from under $30 to upwards of $75 per guest. I filtered according to price, the menu, online reviews of the business, and how responsive they were to my emails. I found you can save quite a bit by opting for a buffet rather than plated meals.

We also got an alcohol package, which cost almost as much as the food, though we made sure teetotallers and children were not included in that tally.

I also used the internet to find my dress. Through an eBay listing, I found a dress shop near London holding a sale of shop samples. I found the dress of my dreams for £600 ($1200 at 2009 exchange rates) – expensive but good value as it was the French label, Cymbeline, marked down from £2500.

There are other ways to save on the dress – one of my relatives got her wedding dress made in China for only a few hundred dollars, and I heard recently about an online marketplace for brides to sell their dresses.

3. Embrace the homemade

Apparently getting married in the social media age can mean some serious self-imposed peer pressure. Many brides are inspired by the weddings they see on Instagram and Pinterest.

But there's another millennial trend that's just as Instagrammable but healthier on the bank balance – the "maker movement" or the embrace of homemade and artisanal craft.

One of the best things we did was to look around our circle of family and friends and think about the talent we could tap into. We did this mainly because it felt meaningful to get people involved – it's the personalised touch – but it also helped save costs.

My cousin, a professional florist, arranged our flowers at cost price. My mother made the wedding cake, though we paid a cake maker to ice it for us, and then decorated it with flowers.

One of my friends from high school designed our invitations, and another friend sang for our first dance as bride and groom. We called in a favour from a family friend to drive me to the service in his vintage Rolls-Royce.

Our biggest saving was photography. I was shocked to be quoted $3000-$5000 for a package that didn't include digital copies of the prints, or any reproduction rights. Instead we enticed a photographer friend to do the honors in exchange for an airline ticket from Vienna to Sydney.

4. Keep things simple

Big wedding parties add to costs, especially if the bridesmaids wear matching dresses, carry bouquets and have their hair and make-up done alongside the bride. I simplified my life – and lowered the expense – by having just one bridesmaid and one flower girl – and my husband had his brother as best man.

Friends of mine went one better, exchanging vows and then drawing names out of a hat to see which guests would witness the signatures on the legal paperwork. However, if you're wearing a big wedding dress, a bridesmaid is a good idea, as you may need help in the bathroom. Ahem.

Embrace simplicity with the guest list, too. We had about 110 adult guests – our catering and alcohol bill of about $7000 would have been double if we had 220 and half if we'd had 55.

Remember that intimacy is romantic as well as frugal.

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