weddings

How to stick to your wedding budget. Yes, it can be done.

Wedding budgets tend to seem pretty rigid at the start. But before you know it the extra little expenses, the forgotten items, the back-up plans start to wreck havoc with all your good intentions.

In fact, according to ASIC’s Money Smart, more than one third of Australian couples spend beyond their wedding budget.

Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you’re not among them:

Get time on your side.

The sooner you start thinking about your wedding budget, the better. Start the conversation with your partner and your parents (if they are contributing) early on and determine what’s achievable.

That way you can begin saving straight away and, if necessary, researching loan options.

Prioritise. Organise.

Decide what’s important to you, and work backwards from there.

If you’re determined to splurge on the wine or the dress, remember it’s just as crucial decide what you’re willing to save on if you want to balance your wedding budget.

wedding budget
Start the budget conversation with your partner early. Like yesterday. Image: iStock.

Be ruthless.

This starts with your guest list. Keeping guest numbers down means keeping budget numbers down. So ask yourself, does this person play an active role in my life?

For some that might be 30 people, others 130. Just make sure you consider this number early on so you can budget accordingly.

Don't be afraid to negotiate.

It goes without saying that you need to do your research to keep your wedding budget-friendly. But take what you learned from that legwork one step further and haggle.

Remember, companies want your business, so use that to your advantage - make it clear you're shopping around, and see if they'll beat a competitor's price. The savings can then be shifted to another part of your budget or put towards a small contingency fund.

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Cut down. Cut back.

Ask yourself, is there a more efficient way to do this? And ask it constantly.

Are gifts for your guests really necessary, or would some homemade treats do? Could those place cards be hand-written instead of printed? Do all the vases need to be matching or could you borrow them from friends?

This is also where it's important to...

Let go of tradition.

Blindly sticking to wedding traditions could end up costing you money unnecessarily. Be prepared to think outside the box - particularly on the big-ticket items.

Take food, for example. A decent portion of your wedding budget will end up in people's stomachs, so it's also an obvious area to find decent savings. A buffet or roaming dishes, for example, will prove a lot cheaper than a three-course, sit-down meal (just make sure the serves are substantial). Otherwise gourmet food trucks are proving popular for more casual receptions.

Same goes for entertainment. A three-piece band would be lovely. But, with most Aussie couples spending $2,986 on entertainment according to ASIC, a carefully selected playlist and a decent set of hired speakers can be a good alternative.

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Be organised. Be accountable.

Consult your budget constantly (online spreadsheets are handy for this) and treat it as gospel. If you've overspent on an item or you've forgotten to invite your Aunt Janine, find that money elsewhere (see Cut Down, Cut Back) rather than simply pushing the budget out.

Consult your partner and parents constantly as well; talking decisions through with someone else can help you gain perspective and make sure you stay on track.

Recoup costs later.

Chances are you will have purchased things you didn't use or will just never use again - vases, candles, cupcake stands, cake toppers, and dare we say, the dress.

Try listing them on sites like eBay and Gumtree, or on Facebook buy/swap/sell pages. There's no shortage of budget-conscious couples out there looking for a bargain.

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