Weddings

12 ways to save money on your wedding

Spend less and still create a day to remember.

Your wedding day should be a day to remember - but that doesn’t mean it needs to cost a fortune. Here are 12 savvy ways to cut costs while still having your dream day.

1. Agree to a budget and stick to it

Before you even begin making calls to get quotes from caterers, venues and florists, sit down with your partner and agree on how much you want to spend.

"Once you start making those calls you might get a fright," Christchurch wedding planner Emma Newman warns.

"But it's actually better - even if you have no idea what things are going to cost - to sit down and work out what you can afford first and then you can decide what your priorities are and what you're prepared to cut costs on."

2. Swap gifts for favours

If you’ve been living together for years, chances are you already have everything you need to start married life together. So ditch the gift list and instead ask your guests to offer up a skill as their gift to you.

From asking an aunt to make your cake, to having a musical friend sing you down the aisle. Not only will this save you money, it means that everyone will have contributed to your big day in a unique and memorable way.

3. Be flowery

By making your own bouquets and floral arrangements, you can shave a considerable sum of money off your total spend. Get someone you trust to go to a flower market and buy the flowers for the bouquets on the morning of your wedding, and then put together some simple arrangements.

Do your homework beforehand by visiting a flower market a few weekends before your big day, and finding out what's in season - the flowers that are in season will be cheaper.

On the day, keep your bouquets in buckets in the fridge until you're ready for the ceremony.

4. Something borrowed (or hired), something saved

Is there anything you can borrow for your big day – a friend's wedding veil, jewellery, outdoor tables and chairs for the reception?

If you're not going to wear a bridal gown, you could hire a fabulous designer dress to wear instead.

5. Grab a cab

Do you really need to arrive in a lavish car? Your guests probably won’t see you turn up at the venue anyway because they'll already be seated, awaiting your grand entrance when you walk down the aisle. Newman suggests taking a taxi. If you go corporate, you'll be guaranteed a nicely valeted ride.

6. Think outside the square when it comes to venues

While we are spoiled for choice when it comes to stunning wedding venues in New Zealand - from beautiful historical homes to chic coastal set-ups, you can save a lot of money by thinking outside the square, here.

Do you have friends or family with a beautiful garden or a bach by the sea? Could you marry in an art gallery or cafe? Is there a place that holds special memories for you both?

Some of the loveliest weddings we've attended have not been at traditional wedding venues, and simplicity was the order of the day.

7. Be generous (and smart) hosts

The one area Newman recommends NOT skimping on is catering.

"If you have people spending a lot of money to travel to your wedding, it can be really bad form to then expect them to pay for their drinks. Feeding and watering people is going to be your biggest expense, but you can still trim costs in other ways. Can you cut the numbers? Does it need to be a sit-down dinner? Could it be a more casual lunchtime affair or a late afternoon barbecue? Couples are opting for food trucks or later in the evening cocktail parties.

"Two thirds of the weddings I do now are canapes, or couples serve meals like ham on the bone - casual, simple, in-season food. I love the fact that New Zealanders are getting very cool at throwing amazing weddings that haven't cost them the earth - like serving big bowls of strawberries and cream instead of traditional dessert in the middle of summer."

8. Do you really need a band?

You can't beat live music for atmosphere and effect, but a five-piece band can set you back by a few thousand dollars. Newman suggests putting your money into live music for the ceremony instead - such as a solo guitarist, violinist or harpist - which would probably cost around $600 - and then hiring a DJ for the reception.

DJs should cost around $500 and with Spotify it's just too easy for them to play your requests.

9. Go digital

While it's lovely to have beautifully designed paper invitations to send out, to get them printed is a big expense, not to mention an extra hassle (when was the last time you bought a stamp, or made note of someone’s address?).

Use an online invitation service for your save-the-dates and invitations – not only is it cheaper (or free) and kinder on the environment, it's also an easier way for people to RSVP and for you to keep track of who is coming.

10. Go 'vintage' or 'rustic'

The beauty of vintage or rustic is that beauty is seen in the old and recycled or upcycled. You can burn old candles in jam jars, tie bouquets with inexpensive brown string, decorate the venue with foliage from the garden outside, set the tables with napkins and mismatched crockery collected from op shops, wear your grandmother's wedding dress - and the overall effect: simply stunning.

11. Hire your photographer for a shorter amount of time

Wedding photos are precious and the couples that don't have professional photos to look back on always regret it. But wedding photography doesn't come cheap.

Many wedding photographers charge standard rates for the day, but some may be open to negotiating on price if you expect them to be there for a much shorter period of time. The photos that you'll treasure and likely hang on your wall will be the 'official' images taken during and immediately after (or before, in some cases) the wedding.

The photos taken at the reception, or of you and your bridesmaids getting ready, could easily be taken by friends on their phones - or provide disposable cameras.

12. Help your guests save money too

By giving your guests plenty of warning, they can book their flights at cheaper rates. This also gives them more time to shop around for cheaper accommodation.