So, everyone knows how expensive a wedding can be, but surely there are ways you can have a gorgeous wedding without having to sell an organ to pay for it.
I have worked in the wedding industry for over 20 years as a hair and makeup artist and finally in 2017 I got to be…. the bride. Organising my own wedding started slowly, but I now have some new ideas and perspective on it all.
Firstly I’d start with a list of services you will need and do some research on prices for each of them. That will give you a great idea of what is a good price and what is not so good. Is $350 for a celebrant cheap, or is it expensive?? You won’t know, unless you get some quotes (3 quotes per service should give you a good general guide).
Tip #1; Venue
This is the top expense in planning a wedding, so how do you minimise the cost??
- Firstly the more guests you have, the higher the cost. So make sure you select your friends and family selectively. If you and your partner have not seen them for a year or so (time frame is at your discretion) then, maybe they shouldn’t get a reception invite.
- Cocktail menu is far cheaper than a sit down multiple course meal. Just make sure there will be enough food, so people (especially those with special diets) don’t have to hover at the kitchen door all night, just to get fed.
- Book your wedding in Winter and/or on a weekday. Summer and Spring weekends are always the most popular for weddings, and most venues don’t need to do much to book those days out, however the likeliness to get a winter weekday wedding is more rare, so they are more likely to jump at the chance to book you, and often offer discounts and added extras to make their package more appealing. If they don’t automatically offer, don’t be afraid to ask.
- Be flexible on your date, venue and shop around. Even if you have your heart set on one venue only, check out similar others. Some venues price and/or service match to secure your wedding and if you are flexible on date, you are more likely to get the venue you really want. If they already have a booking on your date, but multiple rooms, they are less likely to flex for you.
- Book your reception and ceremony at the same location. Many venues offer discounted and even free ceremonies for couples who have their reception there.
- Choose a pretty venue, or one that supplies their own decorations, so you don’t have to worry about and pay for decorations.
Tip #2; Photography and videography
Now this is one area that I highly advise you not to choose based on price. Obviously you will need to take this into account at some point, but ultimately, just remember your photos and video are what you have left at the end of the day and the last thing you want to be reminded of for the rest of your life is how bad they are and wishing you had gone with someone else.
My mum and dad hired a family friend for video and to this day (over 40yrs later) they still regret not hiring a professional, as the footage was useless and I gotta admit, I would love to have seen their wedding video.
The best thing I can tell you is research their quality of work, their qualification and experience, then look at their prices. Compare and choose the one who suits your style and budget best.
Tip #3; Hair and Makeup
Now I might sound a bit biased here, but trust me, this advice is not just coming from me, it’s coming from my brides too!
Just remember your make-up will be seen in your photos forever, so you don’t want to look back at them and ask yourself… “WHY did I do that?? or That was so 2016!!! or my favourite, “Oh, now I get why I needed to hire a make-up artist!”.
I have done way too many post wedding photo shoots, where the bride hated her make-up so much that she re-hired the photographer, booked me for hair and make-up and re did it all. A very costly venture.
Do not choose hair and make-up on price
The average in Adelaide for make-up is $85-$120 per face, hair is $60-$120, hair and make-up packages are around $180-$250, anything much lower or higher than that, is a BIG worry and warning bells should be going off.
So, how do you know who to choose?? (apart from me that is…insert cheeky smile)
Ask yourself these questions…
- Are they qualified in Make-up Artistry from a make-up academy of some sort? (Not a Tafe certificate 2 in retail skin care and make-up, or beauty therapy cert either, these are slightly different courses and do not educate enough to be a freelance make-up artist.)
- How long have they been qualified in the industry?
- Do they have good quality pictures on their website and facebook pages, that are not just selfies and friends, and all their work is of young sexy women?
- Do they have photos of real clients without any filters, or heavy photoshopping. I just spoke to a photographer the other day who refused to allow a makeup artist to use a client’s photos, because the makeup was so bad, the photographer had to photoshop an entire face of makeup on the bride. The photos were not the makeup artist’s honest work at all. (some photographers charge extra for this, so a good makeup artist will save you money)
- Do you like their work?
If you’re budget really cannot stretch to give you a good make-up artist, then what do you do?
If you are not too bad at your own hair and make-up, do your own, BUT there are some vital things you need to know.
Make-up artists need qualifications to learn because of the physics relationship between photography and make-up reflection. (I could talk about this till the cows come home.) You want to look good in person, but you also need to look good in your photos.
There is a reason why most make-up artists don’t just buy their products from a retail store. If you are going to do a DIY wedding make-up, get yourself a good pan-chromatic foundation that is specifically designed for photography. This does not mean get a darker foundation, nor does it mean thick, or heavier makeup application.
Atelier waterproof liquid is my favourite foundation. Don’t forget though, your bridesmaids should follow this advice too, they will also be in your photos. Another option is for them to pay for their own hair and make-up so you don’t have to.
Don’t get a dark spray tan, if a tan at all. Photographers HATE obvious and dark fake tans. It may add to your photo re-touch costs.
Tip #4; Flowers
Flowers were originally introduced to weddings, to hide the smell of body odour, as daily showers is a relatively new thing. So their purpose now is purely for looks and tradition.
The cheapest tip I have is grow your own flowers, then pick them the morning of, wrap them in ribbon and viola! A gorgeous rustic looking bouquet.
I have also had a bride order a whole stack of roses from the supermarket at half the cost of a florist, pick them up the morning of and again, wrap in ribbon and done.
If you have an ABN, do what I am doing, go to a local wholesaler, get the flowers you want and do a flower workshop with your bridesmaids. I’ve gone with real touch fake flowers, so I can organise it all well in advance. 5 bouquets are costing me less than $250 total. A saving of anywhere from $500+!!
Tip #5; Bonboniere
These are little thank yous for your guests. I’ve gone with something my guests can use, while making it personal. We are doing little spice jars, with my fiancée’s special recipe inside. The ingredients we are getting in bulk and the jars we got from a Cheap As Chips (a discount variety store) for just $1 each.
I also looked on Ebay and Etsy for lip balms, as an option. I found some for as low as 69cents each, and we just needed to print labels for them.
Ebay and Etsy are fantastic websites for this type of thing.
Tip #6; Dresses and accessories
Top tip for saving here is don’t have too many bridesmaids, if any at all. The less you have the less you have to pay for and organise. Some brides also get their bridesmaids to pay for their own dress etc. That is another option if they are ok with it.
If you are a little sew savvy, make some simple styled dresses yourself. I’ve had a few brides do this and they were great. Or get a relative or friend to help out.
There are heaps of cheaper online dress shops that are great. However there are some dodgy ones too, so do your research, check reviews and make sure the pictures on their profile are their pictures, not the designers pro photoshoot of the dresses they are copying.
Look for a second hand dress, either a hand-me-down, or go to Savers/Red Cross. Nowadays they sell a lot of brand new dresses donated by dress shops who need to make room for new stock. There are also many wedding buy and swap facebook pages where you can get second hand stuff at far cheaper prices.
Go shopping in the stock take end/beginning of year sales. I got a stunning dress for just $250!!
Borrow Grans/mums/friends jewellery. There is your ‘borrowed’ covered.
Tip #7; Cake
Most of the time, you serve a dessert, the cake often gets forgotten and not eaten, so swap your dessert for your cake instead. This should save you the cake prep fee and possibly cheapen your food package, while ensuring the cake doesn’t get wasted.
Fake it! Do a fake cake for photos and buy a cheap, non decorated one for eating. Give the kitchen staff the edible one, and no one will ever know.
I am doing a 3 tier cake and the 2 top layers will be fake. That way, we still get to cut it and everyone will think it is all real. I was thinking of making it myself with foam and a simple fondant decoration, but a friend has offered to make it for me and is only charging me $200, so I figured I’d save myself the effort for that price!
Tip #8; Music
You can set up a laptop to a good speaker system and dance the night away. However keep in mind, if you don’t have a good MC, if there are any dull moments throughout the night, you will have to grab that mike and get the party going yourself.
If you have an entertainer in the family, ask if they can be MC for your introductions and to guide all the formalities of the night.
Tip #9; Gifts
If your budget is tight ask for money as gifts, instead of a registry. That way the wedding should pay for itself and you are not left with a huge debt and a whole stack of toasters and vases when the wedding day is over.
Tip #10; Internet
What a great tool, for research and saving money on purchases, downloading budget and planner tools free.
Ebay and Etsy are great online stores and Pinterest and Instagram are brilliant for inspiration and sometimes for finding great suppliers, like me! 🙂
You can also join wedding Facebook groups and forums on wedding websites, where you can ask questions, get opinions, share your opinions etc. regarding ANYTHING wedding.
My Final piece of advice is no matter what happens, just remember that the #1 Goal of your wedding day, is for you and your special other half to be united in marriage, so as long as there is a celebrant and 2 witnesses, the rest is all secondary. So stay focused, enjoy the ride and don’t stress about the little things.
If it all gets too hard, there is always Vegas, or go straight to the registry for around $300. Done.
Happy wedding planning!!