Wedding on a budget: easy ways to pay without the jitters

For many couples, their wedding is one of the most expensive events in their life. That’s understandable, because let’s face it: you want to make your celebrations as special as your bond with each other.

But figuring out how to pay for all the different and unexpected bills involved can cause a lot of stress. Which isn’t very romantic, let’s be honest.

So how should you begin to work out your wedding budget, without accidentally breaking up over the bonbonniere?

Here’s how.

Figure out your non-negotiables

How much should you spend on a wedding? The answer is: it depends. Every couple – and each member of a couple, frustratingly – will have different things that are most important to them. Is it all about the dress for you? Maybe you're set on a certain location (have you been stalking it on Instagram for years?) Other people might be focused on the music, or the perfect flower extravaganza, or donut buffet. You do you.

Start with an honest discussion about the areas you would least want to compromise on when it comes to setting a budget. Figure out what’s a must-have, and what’s merely a want-to-have. Of course, that doesn't mean you won't have to compromise, but it's important your partner knows what you value – in weddings as in life.

Discuss how much each of you will contribute, and have honest discussions with your family

Long gone are the days when the bride's father paid for everything. Depending on your family background and expectations, many couples prefer to – and often need to – shoulder the bulk of wedding expenses themselves. And by bulk, we definitely mean bulk: wedding expenses can be intense.

That means communication is essential. Before you go any further with your planning, discuss how much you each feel comfortable contributing, and what you can reasonably budget to put away each month. Newsflash: this is not the time to be overly optimistic – if after your expenses each month, you can only put away a few hundred dollars, be honest.

It's a good idea to have the conversation about familial contributions early, too. Will your families be able to contribute at all, and if so, how much? Will both families contribute evenly? Is there an expectation that they’ll have a say in the guestlist and catering and if so, are you happy to compromise on these?

Get a rough idea of when you want to get married

This month, this year or this decade? Knowing when you want to get married will help you figure out how long you have to save, and how much you'll have to work with.

If you have a specific date in mind, work your budget out towards that date, and try to find venues within your budget and to your liking that are available on that date. If you have a specific venue in mind, you'll be a bit more limited by their availability.

Speak with friends who've been there, and absorb their wedding wisdom

If you've been to a wedding that featured elements you really enjoyed, don't be afraid to ask the bride and groom for their insights on how much things cost.

Many engaged couples find themselves shocked at the real price tag of a party once the word 'wedding' is mentioned. It’s a universal experience. So ask your married friends for words of wisdom. Some will probably say ‘elope’ – they’re only partially joking.

Build an overall budget, but make sure you have an emergency cash stash

Weddings are full of unexpected costs – from the cleaning fee that the venue operator might not have mentioned originally, to the cake cutting cost from the caterer, to the fuel charge for your wedding cars.

So check online for wedding budget planners to help you make sure you cover off all your potential costs, and start to break down your overall budget accordingly. Don't forget that some things will need to be paid for upfront, and you'll need access to cash ready to pay these or risk losing a vendor (and possibly your mind).

It's also wise to put aside a healthy amount of money to cover unforeseen costs you hadn't considered, or to deal with any emergencies. It will help keep you calm if these costs come up, and if you don't use the money you'll have a nice little fund for your oh-so-blissful honeymoon.

Consider alternative ways to finance the upfront costs

Weddings involve a lot of upfront costs – like deposits on locations, progress fees for gowns and suits, and instalment payments for catering.

If you don’t have cash to hand early in the process, consider using a personal loan as a tool to loosen up your cashflow. That means you can get access to the funds you need to plan the wedding you want, while you’re working on your savings plan in the background and making repayments on the loan as you go. Smart, huh?

If that sounds like a good strategy for you and your fiancé, we can help. To get started, take a look at Latitude personal loans.