A – Z Wedding Tips: Part One

Love and Engagement

 Photo from Tommie Photography via Flickr

There are a lot that go into planning weddings and sometimes it can all be a bit too much — too much money spent, too much time put into agonising over the little details, and too much time in to focusing on bigger picture. To help you, I’ve rustled up some fun tips that can you help you plan your dream wedding as cheap as possible down to the last letter.

I have split my alphabet soup up into three parts, to pack all the budget tips and wedding ideas you need into these articles, so stay tuned for parts two and three of my alphabet tips coming soon!

A is for Alcohol!

Alcohol has become a crucial element in modern day celebrations, and many guests like to hit a few glasses to loosen up and feel like they can hit that dance floor without feeling foolish. It’s a sad truth, but those wedding photos won’t be complete unless there is at least one daggy dancing shot of Uncle Tim as he lets loose on the dance floor! Most weddings (and celebrations) have a basic drink package of serving sparkling wine or champagne (it is a celebration after all!) red and white wine, boutique and light beers, as well as non-alcoholic beverages. Most venues will have a strict policy that they will need to provide all alcohol for the night, but if you are really looking to cut down, you should see if your venue can let you BYO and choose accordingly.

In a BYO situation, you can buy bottles of your own alcohol and provide it for guests at your event, but if you want to really cut down on paying the big bucks for the big booze ask your guests to bring a bottle of wine each and place them on the seating tables or on  a designated table. You will find most guests won’t mind bringing their own because it means they can choose what they want and how much they want.

If you are worried about letting that same Uncle Tim loose on free booze, you can also pay a service fee and hire the wait staff to pour the drinks for you at the bar. I’ve been to a wedding where this happened, and it worked well! It’s definitely worth looking into, especially if your venue may not have a fully catered bar, but it does have the staff.

B is for Budget!

The first thing you need to do when planning your wedding is deciding on the budget – how much do you plan to spend on your wedding and how much do you and your partner make, or have saved up for the big day? Next, decide what is most important to you and where you want your money to go (like do you want a lavish ceremony over an over-the-top reception? Do you want to get there in style as opposed to decorate the event spectacularly).

Once you have decided on the Big 5 elements of your wedding, set aside a reserve cost for how much you want to spend on those items and an estimate of how much they might cost. Try and leave 10% above the budget to cushion it in case of any mishaps. Remember, you can always update your budget as you go!

Bridal Car

Photo by Nora Devai Photography

C is for Cars!

Renting cars can be a huge expense for a wedding, especially if you have some stunners such as a Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, and even a limo in mind. Even if you want to hire an awesome VW retro van for your beach wedding, it’s still going to be an expense that you might want to reconsider, unless it’s one of the most important requirements of the groom’s.

Weddings cars are generally used for getting the bride to the wedding, and then transferring the new groom and bride from the ceremony to the reception. A good way to keep the cost down in this instance is to have the reception and ceremony in the same place, meaning that you only need to transport the bride to the wedding and that you only have to hire a car for that first arrival. Another option is to ask around your friends and families and see if they have any connections within the automotive industry and if they can possibly “borrow” the car you have your eye on. In the case of my wedding, cars were deemed as not a priority to us, so the bridal party was transferred in my mother’s car, the groomsmen arrived in our own car (both nice SUV’s) and I arrived in Byron’s grandparents special occasion car, so all the bases were covered.

To be honest, unless it is an outside wedding that takes place right where the car pulls up, no one is going to notice the car. They will notice the bride walking down the aisles


Photo by Chris on Flickr

D is for D.I.Y!

Do It Yourself can be one of the most thrifty (and fun!) ways to decorate a party or a wedding, and with the millions of online tutorials, videos and photos out there, there is nothing you can’t do! A lot of weddings nowadays have a “homespun” feel to them, and a lot have the DIY factor included into the overall theme of the event. It shows a lot of care, love and passion for your wedding to invest so much time in creating the decorations and to be honest it will save you a lot of money, and still looks just as great as if a professional had put it together.

If you are looking for a way to save on your wedding expenditures, DIY decorations can be the best option. Use your mood board and see if there are any effects you can put together on your own, gather your bridesmaids around, and just go for it!

E is for Emergencies!

Like it or not, something will go wrong. This is something that all brides and all weddings have to go through because the reality of life is that not everything is perfect. Some brides take this way more intensely than others and to be honest, the only way you can find the calm in the middle of the storm is to prepare for it. That way, it won’t be so bad because you have a backup shoe, a marquee on hold for the rain or a box full of necessary items to take the pain away.

When preparing your budget, as I mentioned, you need to ensure that you have arranged back up and included them in your projected prices. My husband and I purchased marquees for our wedding that we didn’t even use, but we had the peace of mind of knowing that the wedding wasn’t ruined and that everyone wouldn’t get wet if it rained on us because they were there. A lot of wedding hire companies will even give you a portion of the money back if these emergency items aren’t used. Event planners suggest always making sure you have a 10% cushion either way on anything (money, 10% more food then required, time etc) so that you will never be caught in the lurch.

Something I learnt as well is that you need an emergency kit on hand to prepare for a make up smudge, a crying bridesmaid or a groom with a headache. It sounds dreary, but if you make a plan for the worst, you can make sure it’s the best day of your life.

Lime and Coconut Flowers

Photo by Nora Devai Photography

F is for Flowers!

A wedding day is never complete without flowers, and don’t the florist know it! Just like every other supplier in the wedding industry, prices will skyrocket when you mention that you are getting married. However, there are a few things you can do to keep the costs down.

The first idea is to minimise the flowers needed for the day. You don’t have to have bouquets everywhere to have a lovely lush setting – you can bring in the notion of using other plants as well. Buying plants from your local plant store can be cheaper depending on the plants you get, and you can cultivate plants and flowers from your family, friends and neighbour’s gardens to pot and place in vessels for the big day. You can also look into the notion of a plant hire company (they are out there!) or your local garden group to see if you can borrow some plants as well. It seems like a strange notion, but it could save you big bucks!

The other idea is to hit up your local flower market a day or two before the wedding. Getting to the market and choosing your own flowers is way cheaper than getting it from a direct storefront, and you can put your home-grown floristry skills to test by doing it yourself. Unstructured bouquets are in, so you don’t need to be frightened. I did it myself at a wedding, and I am a terrible florist — so if I can do it, you can too!

G is for Gifts!

The idea of giving favours at your wedding is fairly new, but giving your guests something to remember the day by is a wonderful way of saying thank you for attending and for being apart of your lives and your special day. While you can definitely go overboard on the gifts, nothing says sweeter like a series of handmade or homemade favours sitting on each table, and as luck would have it, these kind of gifts can be inexpensive, extremely popular and on pointe when it comes to what you and your spouse to be is all about!

My husband and I gave everyone lime and coconut scented candles as a save the date, which was a wonderful way to set the tone of the wedding and highlight some of our favourite things. Our friend makes candles as a side project, so she not only made ours but featured them at her own wedding as table decorations, place card holder and favours all in one – how good is that! Our other friends provided jams and chutneys at their berry themed wedding, while others made soap to give away. It can be super cheap, you can make a one off huge batch, and it’s much nicer than getting a store bought gift because love, time and care went into it, so be choosy when it comes to your favours!

Palm Trees in Hawaii

H is for Honeymoon!

Ah, one of the best holidays of your life – the time where it is completely acceptable to be piled with free stuff, sleep all day and make love anywhere you want. A lot of focus is put on the honeymoon, and to be honest, who doesn’t want another reason for a holiday? But while you are dreaming about soaking up the rays in Bora Bora, or sunning yourself on a yacht in the middle of the Greek islands, you have to face the facts: Can you afford to?

Everyone wants a perfect honeymoon, and you definitely deserve to have one after all those pre-wedding stresses, but you need to honeymoon within your means. If that means you can only afford to go down to your local beach house, check out your nearest city or just stay in a hotel for a couple of nights, that is fine. I will guarantee that you will be so wrapped up in your newfound marital bliss that where you are won’t be an issue as long as your with your dream spouse.

However, if you are like me and your local beach getaway won’t cut it for your honeymoon than scour the internet for deals! I have been on numerous holidays to Thailand, Bali and Cambodia thanks to online deal companies like Living Social and Groupon and you can be surprised at the amazing and exotic places you can stay for $400, including tours and accommodation. Check out Air B’N’B for some great prices on accommodation if you don’t mind staying in someone else’s house (it’s like renting, so there is no big deal), which is what my husband and I did on our honeymoon, and book your flights well in advance. The further away the flight is, the cheaper it will be.

With these options, there really isn’t an excuse not to go somewhere exotic on the cheap!

Now that you’ve had a start on really getting into inner workings of your weddings and are starting to save some money, check out part two of A-Z Wedding Tips coming soon! If you have any tips of your own that you want to share, don’t be afraid to comment below!

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