How to budget for your wedding

Lameez Omarjee
2018-07-11 07:49
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From the invites to the venue and décor, planning a wedding can be stressful, and heavy on the pocket. But wearing a second-hand dress, cutting the guest list and ditching party favours are some ways that a financial planner and Fin24 readers have suggested to trim the wedding budget.

Financial planner for Alexander Forbes retail Happy Ngale recommends that couples start with the budget and decide how big they want their wedding to be, and where the venue should be.

"It is crucial to keep the budget in check by ensuring that you are only spending based on your affordability," Ngale advises.

"I know it’s one of the most important days of your life, but it’s just not worth going into your marriage being crippled by debt because of your wedding.

READ: Savings habits of SA's top finance brains

"It may not be easy, but you’ll have to say no to some things or choose a more modest option with some things. Marriage is hard enough without the added pressure of finances - what’s most important is that you’re getting married, not that your bridesmaids have matching silk bathrobes when you’re getting married," says medical doctor and Fin24 reader Celin Sadie.

Tips include: 

Save up

1. Find a cost-effective savings account

"A savings account is a great way of accumulating funds for your wedding. You will need to find a cost-effective savings account by analysing the taxation of proceeds from that account, financial adviser fees, and investment manager’s fees," says Ngale.

Couples should search for the most cost-effective option, says Ngale. "That 0.1% difference in fees compounded to the number of years you will be saving, has a significant impact on the end results."

There are now even wedding stokvels, says Ngale. "You could join a savings stokvel where you take turns to receive lump sums of money, or become part of a grocery stokvel for functions whereby each member of the stokvel will bring non-perishable food items for the wedding, and that takes care of 60% on the food budget," Ngale suggests. 

2. Start saving as soon as possible

Dentist Vimbai Magagula says that it’s important to start saving as soon as you decide to get married. Months before the big day, opt to have a romantic night in, as opposed to going out for dates, as this can be quite pricey, she says. "Rather put this money towards a honeymoon fund."

Smart spending

3. Cut costs on the gown

"Try to cut costs and be realistic about what you can and can’t afford," says Ngale. Look for sales, rent a gown instead of buying a new one, ask friends to do hair and make-up, let family do the catering.

"Avoid the not-so-important 'cultural expenditures' and focus on the important ones," says Ngale.

Sadie also believes couples should consider whether certain things have meaning to the couple, or if they are just tradition or something everyone else does at their wedding. Sadie goes so far as to suggest not to buy a second ring or wedding band, and to rather continue using the engagement ring.

Sadie had alterations made to her sister’s wedding dress to save on costs. Brides can also rent gowns or buy them second-hand. Magagula adds that brides should consider buying white gowns and not necessarily wedding dresses.

4. Venue and food

Other ways to cut costs include choosing a buffet over a plated dinner, suggests Magagula. "Don't have bridesmaids, as this will cut costs of bridesmaid dresses," says Magagula.

Magagula chose to get married in winter. "Don't get married on a Saturday or in summer, as these times are more expensive… Wedding venues usually have winter specials, as couples don't like getting married during this season."

Magagula also advises that you choose a venue that does not require you to use their vendors, as this could be pricey. Other venue tips include having the ceremony and reception at the same place.

"Try to do most of the decor yourself. DIY projects tend to be cheaper."

Both Magagula and Sadie advise couples not to have an open bar.

Sadie also suggests that if the venue has dessert then there is no need for a wedding cake. "My husband and I asked ourselves that question when as soon as anything has the word wedding attached to it the price triples."

Sadie adds that for extras like photographers and décor, perhaps rely on friends to help. "Instead of getting an official photographer and videographer, which can easily cost more than R20 000, we decided to ask some friends. Once again we were fortunate enough to have [friends] in the media business to do our videography. It obviously wasn’t their speciality, but again you have to decide where you’re going to make compromises," she says.

5. Guests

Make it an adults-only wedding, Sadie suggests. "If all our guests were to have brought all their kids we would have had about 40 extra people. We made exceptions only for close family."

Journalist Katya Stead also says couples have to be “ruthless” with the guest list. “We had under 50 people, who really meant the most in the world to us,” said Stead. Apart from probably saving hundreds of thousands, it also made the day more meaningful, she adds.

Stead also suggests couples scrap wedding favours, as no one actually remembers the wedding favours of the day. She had opted to have handmade favours which cost less and were meaningful.

After the big day

6. Stay frugal

Magagula suggests couples try to sell as many wedding items as possible, and even pawn gifts if they have duplicates.

"Don't feel pressurised into going on honeymoon immediately after the wedding. Rather save up for it and go when you are financially stable," she says.

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