Everything you need to know about budget weddings

Sadly, not everyone can afford the lavish wedding that Will and Kate had last year, so most of us have to scrape together the money we have and work within a well-planned budget. It’s not all bad though! All it takes is knowledge of where you can save money and where it’s worth it to spend money.

Things you should definitely spend on:


These days, with modern technology and smart phones, your friends can get some decent photos of your wedding. Unfortunately, since you aren’t paying your friends and most of them probably aren’t professional photographers, you may end up with photos of the delicious food but blurry pictures of you walking down the aisle. Then comes the tedious process of waiting for said friends to upload said photos to various social networks. In order to capture magical photos that you will keep in albums, share on Facebook and hang in frames around your home, a professional photographer is required. This would be someone (or if you’re lucky, someones) who is not simply a guest, but a person that has access to every facet of the wedding and is able to take beautiful shots of everything! Don’t ever ever ever try and save money in this area. You can’t put a price on someone who can document the most special day of your life!

The gorgeous photo above was taken by Love Made Visible.

An on-the-day wedding co-ordinator

I don’t just say this because I am an on-the-day wedding co-ordinator. I say this because no bride should ever have to run around on the day of her wedding, making sure the caterer has arrived and the church has been set up. If you really want your day to be stress-free and enjoyable, you should enlist the help of someone who can take on all the nitty gritty details on the day and during the weeks leading up to the big day. For more benefits this service has to offer, click here.

Areas in which you can save money

Enlist the help of your friends and family

I had the privilege of helping two close friends with their wedding which took place on Saturday. It was a beautiful wedding that incorporated almost all of the guests in one way or another. The bride’s brother made chopping boards for the food to be served on as well as for the guests to take home as wedding favours. Three of their friends provided free live music. The venue was a free – and beautiful – garden. The bar men and waitrons were close friends. The minister was a work colleague and friend. The set-up teams were made up of friends. These were just some of the ways in which the community came together to show their love and support for this beautiful couple.

Before I continue, I am definitely not saying that you should expect your friends to provide services for free. I know many people who make a living by being photographers, musicians, make-up artists, chefs, etc, and asking them to do this for free is asking them to be a guest at your wedding and to be working while doing that – and not getting paid. There is no harm in asking for a small discount in their service or accepting their service as a gift that is offered to you.

The venue

It is a great misconception that your wedding venue should take up the bulk of your wedding budget. Most big venues charge a minimum of R200 per person and most couples accept this as the norm. This fee can be worth it if it includes food, waiters, decor, set-up and clean-up teams and an event co-ordinator. If it doesn’t include these things, then what exactly are you paying for?

Ask around and see if your favourite restaurant will shut down for the day and allow you to pay a standard fee of R150 per person (including food and service charges). See if your aunt and uncle would be willing to let you use their big garden. Think outside the box and make the most of the connections you have.

The DJ

Let’s face it… how many weddings have you been to where you walked away saying “wow, the DJ was really amazing”? They all play the same songs – you know, the Grease medley, that song by Goo Goo Dolls and if you’re lucky, the YMCA. The point is, most good DJs will ask you for a list of your favourite songs and they will use that to compile a playlist for your reception. You will probably find that you have a couple of friends and family members who would be willing to create a playlist for you on their iPod for free. All you’d have to do is organise a sound system, which works out to be a heck of a lot cheaper than a DJ.

Decor and flowers

For the DIY enthusiasts Pinterest is your friend! If you ask any decor hiring company for their price list, it can be deceivingly cheap. Hiring tables for R25 each is a bargain, but spending R350 on a red carpet, thousands on flower arrangements and centrepieces, starts eating into your budget. If you don’t have the money to spend on all of these things, be willing to set aside some time to make simple things and add your personal touch to your wedding. It costs roughly R200 for a big piece of hessian material that can be cut into 10 table runners. Start collecting jars and fill them with simple flowers. Use candles for evening weddings, or even fairy lights (a 10m string of 100 lights costs R60).

A wedding cake

A few weeks ago, I was told that a non-wedding cake that is on special, would cost around R500. A wedding cake that is not on special could be at least four times the price. Sure, it’ll be beautiful sitting in the corner of your reception venue and it’ll taste great when it’s been cut into smaller pieces, but is that really worth it? What seems to be a trend these days is a dessert buffet. Not only will it be cheaper than buying one large wedding cake, but it offers variety and appeals to different people’s preferences. Another option is to get mini wedding cakes in the form of cupcakes. These options could all be free if you ask the right people. In the case of the wedding I was involved in on Saturday, a group of guests were happy to bake delicious treats for the post-ceremony celebration and for the post-lunch dessert table.

The wedding dress

This is a debatable topic and a decision that should be made by the bride. Wedding dresses are incredibly expensive, and rightfully so. This is the dress that you will spend hours trying to find, and you will spend years looking back on photos of yourself wearing it. But, if we’re all honest, you will probably only wear it on your wedding day (in public, at least). A lot of brides opt for hiring a dress or buying one that is second hand, which has probably only been worn once or twice. And your guests would be none the wiser.

Be creative and think outside the box!

Wherever you decide to spend money or save it, make sure your wedding day is one that reflects the tastes and personalities of yourself and your husband to be. If you have your heart set on a big beautiful wedding cake, then go for it! Be willing to make this day something that you are proud of!



Filed under Wedding

2 responses to “Everything you need to know about budget weddings

  1. ouchouchOUCH

    Don’t leave your party in the hands of an Amateur DJ or iPod. The same logic you recommend for a photographer applies for DJs as well. It takes a lot of talent and experience to make sure everyone enjoys themselves. A quality DJ, one with lots of positive reviews and who is willing to meet in person, is worth 15-20% of your budget.

    Just my two cents! Cheers!

    • Hi Morgan 🙂 Thanks for your feedback! I think that if the priority for the couple is music (specifically for an evening wedding), then by all means, 15-20% of the budget is acceptable. From my experience, though, if there is a choice between photography and a DJ, it makes more sense to opt for capturing life long memories than music that would be enjoyed on the day/night only. In an ideal world, all couples would be able to afford all of the above, and where possible I will certainly recommend that they try to make provisions to do so! Thanks again 🙂 Your “two cents” worth is always valued!

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