How to have an inexpensive wedding

4 Dec

Yesterday was Aaron (Aaron’s? Should there be an s there?) and my 8th wedding anniversary. We both thought our anniversary was today until I checked our wedding certificate at nearly 4pm when I got a feeling that it was the third and not the fourth. Yes, yes, I know it’s terrible that neither of us knows the date we got married. But in our defence, we originally were getting married on the 4th, but changed it because the flight to Fiji on the 5th was full. There was availability on the 4th, so we changed the wedding date to the 3rd and now we always get confused when our anniversary rolls around.

I’ve already told you about the day we started going out, so I’m not going to write a soppy ode to my Boo (that’s Aaron, in case you were confused) post.

Instead, I’m going to tell you how to have a wedding that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. When Aaron and I got married, I was working full time, and earning approximately $400 a week after tax. Aaron was in university and earning approximately nothing. We wanted to have a lovely, fun wedding, but we obviously didn’t have the funds to spend very much on it. In total, our wedding cost us (er…me… but that’s ok, because now I earn  hardly anything with my sponsored posts, and Aaron brings home the bacon) about $1000. Yes, you read that right. Here’s how we did it:

1. Leave a large gap between the engagement and the wedding so you have plenty of time to shop around and find things for cheap. Also, you can book airline tickets around 9 months in advance and the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets as they are based on availability (i.e. there are a set number of tickets at the very cheapest price, a set number at the next price and so on, so obviously the cheaper ones will go first. At least that is how it works in Australia. I know, I used to be a travel agent).

2. Find out when bridal shops are having sales. Sometimes you can get a really good deal. Usually there are good sales in June, before the end of the financial year. I got my dress for $500, which was on sale from $1000. I got in before we even got engaged, but what can I say, my mother in law told me the bridal shop was having a really good sale, we went, I found one I loved, I put it on lay-by. I knew that Aaron and I would get married one day (11 months later, as it turned out).

3. Photos don’t have to cost you thousands. There are plenty of TAFE (technical college) and university photography students or recent graduates that want to get into wedding photography and/or portrait photography. They have the know how, but not a lot of real world experience. They are more often than not jumping at the chance to get some experience and photos for their portfolio by shooting your wedding for very cheap. Like $100 cheap (just for shooting and retouching, then you can print whatever you want with the disc/usb/however they get the digital images to you). For that price, you can hire 2 or 3 of them just to be safe. I had a TAFE student take photos at my wedding, plus my Dad (when he wasn’t doing Dad duties) who is also a photographer. Photos from both turned out great. If you don’t know any photography students, just call a local campus and speak to the photography department who I’m sure will be happy to give your info to the students.

I was going to put a photo of our wedding here, but all of the digital copies were lost in the thunderstorm. I could take a picture of some from our album, but that wouldn’t do them justice. Sure, I could go and get one scanned, but guess what? That’s too much effort. Sorry.

4. Suits also don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. We got Aaron’s for $89 at Kelly Country. It wasn’t even a suit, but a tux. Oh yeah, we went all out! Or you can hire suits/tux’s from most formal and bridal shops. I’m pretty sure you can even hire wedding dresses from some places. There’s a thought. It’s not like you’ll ever wear it again.

5. If you get married in a church, consider also having your reception there. Usually churches have plenty of tables, working ovens, microwaves, refrigerators, etc. and usually a separate hall (i.e. not the same room the ceremony is held in) where all could be set up nicely. Finger food can be made ahead of time and just heated up (by friends of the family who are happy to do such things for you for free) when needed and put on tables.

Or if you know someone who has a big nice house, an afternoon reception would be nice there as well. Aaron and I had ours at my lovely host family’s house. My host mum used to be a chef and did all the finger food for us as our wedding present and even had people going around offering it to everyone on trays as well. They had a pool table at their house, so all of the guests had a great time just hanging out, playing pool, and eating. It was very low key, but very memorable, and fun. Everyone had a great time.

Alternatively, you can hire a big nice house for the night (or 2 so you and the bridesmaids can sleep there the night before) and have a reception there. My sister in law did that for her reception, and it worked really well.

6. Get married in the morning. This could be fairly early on, say 8 or 9, followed by a finger food brunch (to keep costs down), or at 11 or so like we did. I had enough time to get ready, but we didn’t have to feed our guests a 3 course lunch. After the wedding, there were some little sandwiches and nibbly things in the church hall, then the reception started in the early afternoon, after we had photos done. That way, we didn’t have to feed people lunch. They could get something in between the wedding and reception, or fill up on finger food. Their choice.

7. Get married on a weekday. Everything is cheaper! We got married on a Friday. Although our reasoning was purely due to flight availability for our honeymoon.

8. Don’t serve alcohol. Alcohol is expensive. If you have your reception at a venue that serves alcohol, people can buy their own if they like. Another benefit of a morning wedding is people aren’t so keen for the alcohol at the morning or afternoon reception. They won’t even notice if there isn’t any.

9. Don’t invite everyone and their mother. The more mouths, the more money. Only invite people you really, really want there. Do you really personally know 200 people? Don’t feel like you have to invite everyone to the reception either. You can invite people to the wedding only.

10. If you can’t live without a 3 course dinner reception, consider doing the finger food thing as a reception with all of your wedding attendees, then for dinner, only invite family and best friends to a sit down dinner reception. HEAPS of people do that these days.

What other money saving wedding ideas do you have?

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One Response to “How to have an inexpensive wedding”

  1. ambercease December 5, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Great tips! My hubby and I got married by a pastor (but it was just us, no ceremony) and want to have an actual ceremony and reception for a vow renewal… these are awesome days to cut down on costs!

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