How to plan a wedding on a budget


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Did you know the average cost of a wedding in Australia is a staggering $36,200? ASIC's MoneySmart website breaks down the cost and shows food, alcohol and venue hire is the largest expense, at $18,683, followed by clothing and accessories at $4271. Photography costs come in at $3983, then entertainment $2896, flowers and decorations $2896, the ceremony $941 and sundries such as car, hair, make-up, accommodation and stationery at $2534.

But imagine settling for, say, a $10,000 wedding bill and putting $26,000 away for a deposit on your new home or investing for several years to build an even bigger deposit.

Your big day needn't be expensive if you're willing to put in the work. Kate White, creative director of Katering and author of The Australian Wedding Book, has some helpful tips on how to reduce the cost of your big day.


White says there are many ways to trim your budget and a lot rests with research, planning and a bit of creative flair from the bridal couple. "Start with the ring. Look at antique jewellery - pre-loved rings have incredible craftsmanship, treasured stories and a history. They are surprisingly very affordable," she says.

As food, alcohol and venue form the largest cost, consider hiring a quaint community hall or similar. We attended a wedding recently where the bride and groom hired the gorgeous Woodville School of Arts in the Hunter Valley and asked guests to bring a plate and a rug for a garden party. Alcohol and entertainment (yes, a barn dance) were provided and it proved to be a memorable and fun event. White suggests a cocktail reception rather than a sit-down affair. "Better still, to reduce the budget, have a brunch or afternoon tea over a four-hour period - less staff costs, less alcohol and less food."

White says roasting spits are a great way to feed large numbers. She also recommends "station food", with displays that can be done in advance such as antipasti, a Greek bar and a brushcetta bar.

"Have a caterer provide the savoury items and ask your guests to bring an item for the dessert kiosk or table. Alternatively, don't make a big deal about dessert and serve a slice of brownie made by grandma or a mini ice-cream bought from the supermarket. It's all in the way you serve it!"

Buy a pre-loved dress. "Look at companies like still for a designer bargain as from time to time they have clearances. Revamp your mother's dress, perfect for that something-old element. Alternatively, have a seamstress make a design you like out of the fabric you like," suggests White.

Photography is another big cost, so why not ask friends or family to assist? "Allocate someone to do the official photographs of the family and bridal party and then either have bridesmaids or friends with Polaroid cameras assist with the guests. Hashtags are another great source to get everyone's photos of the day via social media."

Reduce the cost of entertainment by using your iPod playlist. White suggests giving a friend or family member the job of creating a playlist for all ages. "Alternatively, get a friend to DJ. A lovely idea is to ask your friends to send in a favourite song to get them on the dance floor. This also helps gather a playlist."

White also suggests buying flowers from the markets. "Just wear one flower in the bride's hair and forget about the bouquet or wear a wrist corsage made up of flowers or greenery from trees and walkways."

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