"Should we get married, or get a house?" Khai asked in January 2012. It was a pretty easy decision, as we both still wanted to travel and didn't want a mortgage to tie us down. So, we started the process of planning a wedding.
A couple of weeks later, while setting a budget, Khai was saying "It's just one day!", followed by my counter argument, "No it isn't, it's memories, forever forged into very expensive photographs!". Might this be a common conversation during the beginning of the wedding planning phase?
Neither of us were keen on spending tens of thousands on one day, but I certainly wanted to have a fun day with friends and family, and of course some beautiful photos to cement the memories (especially for Khai, his memory ain't that great).
According to a study by ASIC last year (check it out here), the average cost of a wedding in Australia is about $36000 - holy hell in a handbasket!! I'm glad it didn't cost us that much. Cos both of us would have much preferred going on a 6 month trip than spending that much on one day (we ended up doing that anyway, but a year later).
Each to their own, but I just couldn't justify spending that much on one day. So what do you do when you have a wedding to plan, but not sure where it's best to focus the funds? Here are our picks - a 'his and hers' perspective!
Food - People always remember the food. We were confined to having the in-house caterer at our venue (as most people are), BUT we would have loved to have a feast of all of our favourite dishes. It just wasn't feasible for us, but if you can, try to personalise your menu. If you're offered a menu tasting, do it, things might look good on paper, but taste like crap in reality. It's one area I didn't mind spending an extra $4 per person on to get the tasty mezze platters.
Flowers and decorations - Be smart with this category. Make sure you get quotes from at least three suppliers for the same thing (i.e. compare apples with apples), as prices can vary dramatically. Also, don't be pressured into adding anything you don't want, it's all too easy to get carried away with your decorator, and next minute you've spent $1200 on gold-dipped-antique-crystal tea-light holders.
Friends and family - This might be a strange category for you to 'save funds', but I've said this before... be strict with your guest list! Simply don't invite anyone that you don't want to be there and it'll immediately lower your costs. If your venue costs an average of $100 per person, think of how much you'll save if you don't invite those distant colleagues or frenemies!
Entertainment - This was my area of expertise, considering my 'entertainment' background. Looking back now, it was lots of fun being the entertainment on the night. My dance crew and I actually choreographed a special performance. Fortunately, Lel didn't see us practice too much and so she, along with all of guests were thoroughly entertained. Here is the video of the performance.
It's nice to have a performance dedicated for your wedding but if you're low on $$$, try asking someone you know. Just make sure you ask them nicely and ask them early (probably helps if you're actually friends with them). In addition, you should tell the DJ the style of music you want BEFORE the big day. And if you're bothered, you could even create a playlist so that it's personalised for your special day. I made a list of "must play" songs for the night + our guests had plenty of time on the dance floor!
Timing - I love working hard when I need to but when I don't have to, I like to take it easy. For this reason, our wedding day was short compared to other Weddings where they can start as early as 7am and finish after midnight. Remember, the longer the day, the more you'll have to pay!
Instead, our ceremony was scheduled for 4pm and we had time for a nice lunch with our respective families and chill. After the ceremony, we had a session with the photographer before going straight to our reception which finished around 11pm. I loved that I didn't have to stress or feel exhausted by the time the ceremony finished, hence having enough energy to dance with our guests and also perform!
Cars - To add to my point above, it was really nice to driven to the ceremony and the reception in a nice car by a professional chauffeur. More importantly, this ensured we arrived at all of our locations without troubling any friends/family (so they can enjoy the wedding). The money spent on this service is worth it considering the headaches you avoid (i.e. everything related to parking). Lel and I arrived in separate cars to the ceremony and then we (bridal party) arrived in the stretch limousine to the reception together! It was nice to feel special on our day and it added to the relaxing/happy atmosphere.
Our Wedding was fun and chilled, just the way I like life most of the time. Planning with Lel was pretty easy because we're both switched on and we didn't care about the same things, therefore we didn't clash! We we conscious of how much money we were spending on our Wedding because I didn't want it to cost a mortgage deposit. We still had other priorities and therefore didn't want to be broke for 12+ months.
Anyway, try to have fun with the planning process and most definitely have FUN on the big day! Remember, it's the start of a new chapter and you don't want to start it with stress, anger and resentment (it'll show in the photos)...
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