Interview: The Bride Who Planned Her Dream Wedding for Under $20k
The average wedding in Australia now costs $51k.
I’ll just give you a moment to get up off the floor because um sorry wtf?!
Between saving for our first homes and scoffing the necessary amount of avocado on toast that our generation needs to function, where are we supposed to pull fifty fucking one thousand dollars from?
If you don’t fancy selling both kidneys, all your eggs and, well, probably your actual eyeballs, you’ll have to find other ways of creating your dream wedding for less. I recently caught up with a bride who did exactly that. Alex and her husband Toby laid on a stunning wedding for 70 people for under $20k – and it certainly didn’t LOOK like it was that cheap. Trust me, I was there!
Want to know her secrets? Good, because she tells me ALL of them in this interview!
TBG: Hi Alex! Thank you SO much for letting us into your world of beautiful budget weddings! Let’s get started. Did money worry you when you first got engaged?
Alex: I wouldn’t say it was a major concern. We were aware of the fact that getting married was always going to be expensive, but we knew we weren’t going to go crazy and spend our life savings on one day of our lives.
TBG: Had you discussed how much you’d spend on engagement rings with your partner before you got engaged?
A: I was lucky enough to get to choose my own engagement ring. We briefly discussed the price and what the limit would be before finding a jeweller who custom made a beautiful ring for me without breaking the bank.
TBG: Wow! That was lucky! Did you have a budget when you first started planning your wedding?
A: I don’t think we had a firm budget in mind from the get-go. It was actually something that we decided on the more we got into the planning process (which probably isn’t the way you’re meant to do it!) I think we approached the budget with quite a relaxed mind. We decided that $15,000 would be a rough budget to aim for, but if we went slightly over that we weren’t going to be too stressed about it.
TBG: Were you and your partner in agreement on budget and how much to spend on various aspects of the wedding?
A: We were definitely in agreement on how much we wanted to spend for most aspects of the wedding. Flowers were the only thing that Toby probably didn’t value as much as me and something he wasn’t as keen as spending a large amount on. He actually said he’d be happy to pick some out of the garden and arrange them himself! Thankfully, I put my foot down on the flower issue and was beyond happy with how they looked on the day. Our florist did an amazing job!
TBG: They certainly looked beautiful! So, did you go over budget?
A: While we had a rough budget in mind, we weren’t so strict with it that we added everything up to the exact cent. We know we didn’t go too far over what were hoping to spend.
TBG: Did the cost of key elements of the wedding shock you?
A: I truly don’t think you have a great sense of how much a wedding costs until you plan one! We were especially shocked that most venues seem to have a hire fee (on-top of food, drink and furniture). Almost every venue we looked at had one. One place we looked at was $7000 just for the venue itself. We were incredibly lucky that the venue we went with, didn’t have a hire fee, just a food and drink package per head.
TBG: The average cost of weddings in Australia in 2018 is around $51k. Now that you’ve planned and executed a wedding, does this sound excessive, or do you think you could easily have got carried away and spent this much?
A: If people are happy to spend that amount and are able to, then good luck to them but now that we’ve gone through the experience of planning a wedding, we can confidently say that you definitely don’t need to spend that amount in order to have an amazing day. There was never any danger of us getting overly carried away!
TBG: What aspects of your wedding cost the most?
A: Food and drink definitely costs the most! But it's a lovely way to give back to your guests – they've taken time out of their lives to celebrate with you. Delicious food and drink is the perfect way to thank them for that.
TBG: What aspects of your wedding cost the least, or which did you cut back on the most?
A: We were fortunate to have family and friends contribute certain things. Toby’s mum made our wedding cake. A family friend made our arbour. Another friend made some of our signage. Our venue also provided a lot of the furniture so we didn’t need to hire much.
TBG: Was there a specific thing that you omitted from your plans, or majorly cut back on to save money?
A: We didn’t want to spend money on a wedding band or DJ, as we felt that music was something we could do ourselves. We just made a Spotify playlist and played it through a speaker, which worked really well. People danced all night long, so I'm taking that as a sign it was enjoyed!
TBG: Do you think your wedding would have been less stressful if you’d spent more money?
A: I don’t think so. We were comfortable with the amount that we spent. I think a wedding is inevitably stressful, regardless of the amount you spend!
TBG: This is a bit of a weird one, but do you think your wedding would have been more enjoyable if you’d spent more money?
A: Definitely not! We had the best time and I feel weirdly proud that we were able to pull off a wonderful event at a relatively low cost.
TBG: On a scale of 1-10, how much did costs influence the choices you made for your wedding? (1 meaning you didn’t choose based on cost at all, 10 being you chose everything entirely based cost)
A: I'd say about 6. We were budget-conscious, but we still spent on the things we really wanted. It was a nice balance.
TBG: That sounds like a good approach! It'd be horrible to lose sight of what you really wanted because you were too focused on cost. Did you take out a loan or borrow money from others to fund your wedding?
A: We were lucky enough to have our parents contribute to the overall cost of the wedding, which made a huge difference! Of course, for some people this isn't possible, so we were really grateful that they were able to pitch in. We funded the rest ourselves.
TBG: Now for the tricky question of gifts. There are a few new trends going around that people seem to be opting for when it comes to gifting, now that the days of toasters and gravy boats are long gone! How did you approach gift lists or receiving money as a gift from wedding guests?
A: Yeah, that was a hard decision. As we already lived together, we didn’t feel we needed any specific gifts for our house, which I suppose is the traditional way of wedding gifting. We had a wishing well for those who wanted to contribute a financial gift, with a plan to put it towards our honeymoon.
TBG: Okay, so the all important dress! Did you have a budget in mind for it?
A: I definitely didn’t want to spend a massive amount on the dress, as I was very conscious of the fact that you only get to wear it once. I ended up finding my dress at David Jones of all places! Don't discount the department stores! You don't always have to trawl through bridal boutiques to find something perfect. Mine wasn’t even a wedding dress specifically, but it was a white evening gown. That made it substantially cheaper than an actual wedding dress.
TBG: Now THAT is a tip! Write that one down, ladies! So, Alex. You were lucky that you found something you loved at a reasonable cost. But, what if you hadn't? What would you say was the maximum you’d have been comfortable paying for a wedding dress?
A: Probably no more than $2,000.
TBG: Were there any aspects of the wedding planning that were ‘dealbreakers’?
A: I wasn’t willing to budge too much with the flowers! On the whole, I think we were fairly flexible with what we were prepared to spend on most things.
TBG: Do you have any tips or advice you would give to brides planning weddings for under $20k?
A: I think the things that are most important to spend a bit more on are the food, alcohol and wedding photography. Apart from that, you can realistically save money on most aspects of the wedding! One tip would be to look at Etsy for things like invites. We made ours using a template we found on there and then had them printed at a local paper store. Also, take up any offers from friends or family to help with certain things. It actually was really special to know that people close to us had contributed to different parts of the wedding. It made it feel really personal to us.
So, if you're planning a wedding and feel overwhelmed by the cost, channel Alex's tips and look for ways to DIY your dream day. Oh, and that all-important dress tip – remember that on your next shopping trip!
Have you planned a wedding or special event on a budget? We want to hear from you! Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.