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So you’re getting married. Chances are, one of you is picturing dresses and champagne bottles, and the other one is visualising a shrinking bank account. Sound about right, ladies? Or maybe that’s not you, and you’ve both got the financials totally under wraps. Either way it’s worth spending time working on your wedding budget and considering not just how much you spend, but how you spend it?

This blog post follows on from Part 1, which ran through more general decision making and how to navigate this planning adventure without losing the plot . In this post we will talk about dollars and cents, and how you can create the wedding of your dreams without blowing your budget (or sending your hubby to drink)

So how much are we talking?

Depending on your source, weddings in Australia cost on average somewhere between $26,000-$53,000 . That might seem like a little or a lot to you, but remember that there is such a huge range in spending across couples – we’ve handled budgets from $10,000 to $300,000 – and there really is no perfect figure . Everybody has different resources and expectations, and the number you settle on should be based on your personal situation. Sit down and talk as a couple and talk about what you can realistically afford.

If your parents offer to help pay, great! Just make sure you have upfront conversations with them first about whether the money comes with any strings attached. Do you really want your mother in law dictating every decision? Are you actually happy for your dad to invite all of his workmates? Are you parents & in-laws the types of people who will try to out compete each other? If you’re going to accept financial gifts, then make sure you’re clear about everybody’s expectations. This will help you avoid some potential nightmares down the track.

Priorities, priorities

In the last instalment we talked about writing a priorities list for your wedding. If you went ahead and did this, well done! This should hopefully mean you are on the same page as a couple, and you have decided together which elements of your day are most important to you. This will also help you allocate your budget.The usual big ticket items for weddings are: venue, food & drink, stylist, bridal dress, photographer/videographer and flowers. These will be followed by a host of others, including things like cake, celebrant, music, photo booths, decorations and favours. That being said, there is no specific list you ‘should’ spend your cash on, and if you decide you want to blow big money on a team of white stallions for you and your bridesmaids to ride down the aisle, then that’s totally your call! Whatever your taste, a priorities list will really come in handy when you need to make decisions for the sake of budget. Moments will come up where you realise that you can’t have the best of both, and that you need to dial back one thing in order to afford another. You might, for example, realise that you need to choose between an expensive photographer and the best drinks package. What’s higher on your list? Photographer or drinks? If you have your heart set on your dream photographer, then opt for the cheaper drinks package. And if cutting something like a photo booth or lawn games – which was your mum’s idea anyway – free’s up funds for something you actually care about, then be ruthless and cut it. Priorities, people!

Have a budget but be flexible

When you first decide on your budget, don’t apply rigid dollar values to each item – for example: photographer $4000, flowers $2000 – because you might find that prices differ to what you expect. Instead, go ahead and contact the suppliers you want to lock in and get quotes for the exact services you need. Your ideal vendors might turn out to cost a little more than you thought, but it’s not worth letting a dollar figure get in the way of your dream wedding. Instead, look at your remaining budget and see how much room you have left to move. Once your high priority items are locked in, you can usually work with those smaller things that don’t matter so much to make them fit. And if you’re worried about how you’ll make this happen, talk to us! We’ve wrangled hundreds of budgets and we know all the tips and tricks when it comes to making weddings work.

Don’t send yourself broke

This might be something people joke about when wedding time comes around – ‘She better be worth it mate’, ‘Prepare to work your ass off for next 30 years’ (ha ha) – but in truth this is a serious point to consider. Yes, your wedding is important. But it is just one day, and there is much life yet to live. If you spend your entire savings, max out your credit cards and take out loans to cover costs, then you best believe the first years of your marriage will be spent working hard. Some of us are blessed with family who help financially, but for many of us we need to front up in part or full by ourselves. Your first year of marriage should be spent travelling, dining out, adventuring together and building your life as a couple – not arguing and stressing over a stack of bills. Maybe it’s worth shuffling your budget a little, just to save your sanity later. I know that gourmet degustation menu looks amazing, but trust me, in two years time nobody will remember what they ate for your wedding dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I think beautiful weddings are worth every penny – in fact I built my business on making it so for you – and you shouldn’t be afraid to invest money in this once in a lifetime moment. But also remember that you don’t have to blow your budget out on making it extra just because other people expect you to. Set your limit together, and be smart with how you spend it. You can achieve a beautiful wedding no matter your budget.