I can’t really afford to get married!

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It concerns me that sometimes people would love to get married but choose not to because of the perceived cost. Having a huge wedding with extremely expensive clothes, limousines, fully catered reception, bands DJs, fireworks and more is a relatively recent phenomenon which is often fuelled by TV shows and an expectation that all weddings have to be like this. One hundred or even fifty years ago weddings were much more affordable. Receptions were often held in someone’s home, the dress was made by a dress maker or relative and whole families contributed to helping the wedding to happen.

Some of the best, most enjoyable weddings I have been to over recent years are in fact weddings which did not cost the earth. Their main characteristic was the involvement of family and friends. People absolutely love to be asked to do something. It gives them a sense of worth and ownership which translates into wanting the bride and groom to have the absolutely best day possible. Below are my 10 tips for planning an affordable wedding:

  1. Ask people to do something to help. Usually they will be honoured to be asked. Have someone keep track of the delegated jobs and remember to thank everyone afterwards.
  2. With technology and easily accessible, lovely paper, people are becoming very good at doing their own invitations these days. They can be very inexpensive and look great.
  3. Ask friends and relatives to decorate the wedding and reception venue.
  4. Have a helper buy and arrange flowers in glass jars or vases. In addition experiment with flowers well before the wedding so that you and others can do the bouquets and buttonholes.
  5. Have the reception catered for by family and friends. Send out a ‘savoury’ or ‘sweet’ request with the invitation. Pay for some staff to do the dishes and cleaning up. Overall this will be much cheaper than the $100 plus per head you may be paying at a reception venue.
  6. Have the reception in your home or a friend or relative’s.
  7. Make your own cake or enlist the help of a good cook friend. Chocolate mud cake and fruit cake can be prepared in advance.
  8. Visit op shops leading up to the wedding so that you can amass an eclectic collection of plates, glasses, cups and saucers for use at the reception – an inexpensive but funky aesthetic effect.
  9. The dress. Not everyone will like this, but think about it. You don’t have to pay $3000 or more for a bridal shop dress. You can borrow and alter; buy on line (make sure you choose a size which can be taken in if necessary); look in op shops and good vintage shops; choose a beautiful dress which is not a ‘wedding dress’ (it will be much cheaper) or take a pattern or picture to a dressmaker and have the dress made.
  10. Enlist the help of friends and their vehicles. Have the wedding and reception at one spot. This means only one car trip.

One area where I do think it is wise to use a professional or at least to know the person you are asking has expertise, is photography. You only get one shot at the recording of your special day and you want to make sure they do a great job.

I hope these tips are useful. If you have others which have helped create an affordable wedding for you or others, please send me an email so I can add to the list. I’d love to hear from you.