And save that cash for your dream honeymoon.
1. Do lunch, not dinner
Sit-down lunches can be 30%-40% cheaper than a dinner-equivalent, and you’ll have ample time for a good nap in the afternoon before your honeymoon the next day.
2. Book a restaurant, not a hotel ballroom
Restaurants may serve better food than hotel ballrooms and at prices up to 50% cheaper.
3. Save on expensive wedding favours
Instead of that personalised ornament which people will throw away in their next spring cleaning, replace with tea cakes. Your guests are less likely to grumble about the first dish being served late, and you can pack home the leftovers for tea!
4. Buy or rent second hand gowns
No one will know your preloved gowns are not new with a good dry cleaning at around $60 per dress and a fitting alteration. So if your bitchy relative makes a snarky comment, just tune her out and think of that high-tech fridge you could finally afford from your gown savings.
For wedding slippers, just get anything that has lots of bling. You can find these easily at neighbourhood shops.
5. Order your flowers from a wet market florist, and don’t be afraid to go artificial
Go fresh for your flower bouquet, bridal hair flower accessory, groom pin corsage and immediate family pin corsages. Consider artificial flowers for everything else e.g. bridal car decoration, reception table centrepiece.
6. Source your photos and videos from guests
Instead of spending a few thousands on actual day photography and videography, sponsor friends (who have an interest in taking photos and videos) with a free lunch and a small token of appreciation. Encourage your guests to upload their photos and videos with your designated hashtag on social media.
7. Hire a freelance makeup and hair artist, or get your friends to help you
No need for expensive bridal packages. You can find freelance artists online easily. Ask for their portfolio of photos and do a test run with them before committing.
8. Let your sisters choose their own gowns and experiment with their makeup
Decide on a central theme or colour, give your girls a reasonable budget to source for their own dresses and let them have a makeup party while you’re having your own makeup done in the morning. This is something you may not want to stinge too much on.
9. Borrow a friend’s car, take a taxi or the train
It’s not imperative you are seen inside the latest Ferrari or Volkswagen van. You’re on a tight budget, and as long as you get to your destination and sign your marraige certificate, any mode of transport works.
10. Minimise the Groom’s costs
Let him wear his usual office clothes and shoes, and buy a patterned vest to wear over his long sleeved collar shirt.
11. Save on pre-wedding photoshoot and wedding montage costs
Get Groupons or ask your friends to take photos of you in whatever you want to wear. Feel free to maximise your preloved dresses. Make your own photobooks and even actual day montage using free montage softwares.
12. Treats for family and friends who help you prepare for wedding
Throw a simple pre-wedding party with your favourite fried chicken or Thai food, instead of splurging on a high class restaurant.
13. Budget for miscellaneous costs
Set aside a small but reasonable amount as token for the Justice who is presiding over your wedding.
Buy your guest book and silver/gold markers from the local bookstore and jazz it up with glued ribbons and stencils.
Buy wedding CDs from CD shops or create your own iTunes tracklist.
For Chinese weddings, decorate used shoe boxes with glued cutouts of wedding magazine paper for your hongbao (red packet) boxes.
Buy your own wine and liquor and negotiate corkage fees with the restaurant.
Plan your big day in advance so you have time to DIY or source what you need without paying a ridiculous premium.
14. Wedding rings
If you’re not in a rush to buy your rings, wait till Christmas or Valentine’s Day for special deals, or visit jewellery brands’ warehouse sales. Skip the engagement ring altogether.
15. Take stock of your overall expenditure
Note down all your expenses in an excel sheet and track your actual expenditure. Be brutal where you have to be, but remember to treat the people who help you well.
There are extremely frugal couples who spend a lot less for their wedding, and then there are others who are willing to pay the price of a small apartment for their “once-in-a-lifetime” event.
But for engaged couples who want to plan a beautiful wedding, yet allows them to save for their first home or baby, these are my suggestions on how you can successfully plan your once-in-a-lifetime wedding within a tight budget.