'6 very specific ways I cut major costs at my 2024 wedding.'

I've always fancied the idea of having a wedding, but as I've gotten older the price tag attached has irked me. 

It's one day. Why does it cost so much damn money? 

My now husband and I got engaged on Boxing Day 2021, but then we hit pause on the whole marriage/wedding thing and decided to have a baby first. 

Watch: A snippet of my wedding day. Post continues.

Video via Gemma Bath.

By the time we started planning a wedding, we were years deep with a son and a mortgage. We were basically already doing the 'marriage' bit, but we felt like we'd missed out on the celebration bit. 

With the cost of living hanging over us, my part-time income (because of aforementioned child), and plans to save for a bigger place (also because of aforementioned child), we originally only wanted to spend about $10,000. 

That fell apart for a few reasons. 

Given we were having a 'destination wedding' for most of our guests, we always wanted to have more than one Saturday event. We wanted to host all our guests at a casual BBQ on the Friday night and also put on a picnic spread at the beach as a recovery on the Sunday.


But to get anywhere close to what we envisioned, that original figure we picked became laughable. So we doubled it, (and disclaimer we were lucky enough to have our parents chip in to help us pick up the bill).

One of the easiest ways to cut down wedding costs is to reduce the guest list, which we did. We ended up having around 40 people. 

After that, we had to get cut-throat and creative in what we prioritised, and I would estimate that the following decisions saved us anywhere from $7-10,000.

Here are six ways we cut major costs at our 2024 wedding.

1. Our ceremony and reception were at the same place.

Originally, we wanted to hire a private property or an Airbnb. But it turns out that option is no longer really available in Australia unless you know someone or can convince the homeowner to let you host an event. 

Instead, we opted for a local surf lifesaving club which ended up being the perfect vibe for us. Plus, they're much, much cheaper than your average 'wedding' venue. 

We got married at Dixon Park Surf Club in my hometown of Newcastle, NSW, and loved that it gave us the option to get married and have our reception all at the one venue. 

It helped us cut the costs of having to hire ceremony chairs (we just used the stools from our reception), different sound situations (our DJ didn't have to organise two different setups), and any extra travel costs for our vendors. 

Inside our surf club venue. Image: K3photography.


Our wet-weather option was also built in (which we ended up needing). Our surf club was big enough to host everyone indoors, which meant we weren't spending extra money on contingency plans like marquees. 

2. Canapes instead of a sit-down meal.

To be honest, cost-aside, we loved the idea of our guests being able to mingle and be in a more relaxed environment rather than sitting with the same four people all night in an assigned seating format. But it also helped us majorly reduce our costs. 

We opted for a grazing board and 11 canapes per person, which was more than enough food. By doing this, we also cut down on the need for plates/cutlery/table settings/napkins/pretty water glasses, etc. 


Our canape menu was a huge hit. Image: K3photography.

Instead, we had about 10 cocktail tables which we dressed with a tablecloth, candle and a vase of flowers. Our guests just used the wine/water/beer glasses available at the bar. 

3. Reduce your photography package.

When we sat down and actually thought about what we wanted from our photos on the day, we realised that we didn't actually need thousands of images. Likely, we'd probably pick a few to print and appreciate a few dozen to look back on over the years. 


For us, 'getting ready pictures' were an easy thing to cut. We were happy with the idea of our bridesmaids/groomsmen and parents snapping a few casual pictures of that process so that our professional photographer could start a bit later. 

We paid for a four-hour photography package, which meant our photographer arrived 15 minutes before our ceremony. Within that time she was able to capture establishing shots, ceremony, our guests mingling, family photos, bridal party and bride and groom photos, a few speeches, the cake cut and a bit of the dancing before she left at 8:45pm. 

Our photographer managed to fit in everything from our ceremony to our cake cut in our slimmed down package. Image: K3photography.


We did all of our staged family/bridal photos at once, 50 metres from our venue. Image: K3photography.


One of the reasons we were able to do this was because we had our 5pm ceremony run straight into our cocktail reception. We also did all of our family/bridal shots at the same time around sunset just on the beach below our venue instead of disappearing for an extended period. 

We didn't get a videographer, we couldn't justify that expense. But what we did do was pick one camera-savvy guest to film our vows and a few bits and pieces for memory's sake. I am so glad we decided to do this. Our chosen amateur videographer actually ended up filming heaps, and it's been so lovely having those memories to look back on. 

I haven't felt like I needed a professional video, the home-video-esque nature feels nostalgic and fitting for our casual, beachside wedding (you can see a snippet of it at the top of the article, which I edited together myself). 

4. All our bridal party flowers were dried. 

I spent hours scouring the internet for cheaper flower options, struggling to justify the cost of fresh blooms. 

To get a florist to supply bouquets, ceremony and reception flowers, the starting costs are in the thousands. 

I love flowers, but I didn't want to spend that. I saw plenty of examples of couples using fake flowers, but that also didn't feel right. Instead, I opted for completely dried bouquets and boutonniere for the bridal party from a beautiful Australian startup called FBloomCo which was significantly cheaper than using fresh florist-supplied flowers. 

On the left is the inspo I sent over. On the right is the incredible result. Image: Pinterest/FBloomCo.


The extra plus was, I had them all delivered the week before the wedding and got to set-and-forget about that detail until the day. 

As for decorative flowers for the ceremony and reception space, I bought $400 worth of fresh flowers from Coles and Harris Farm the day before the wedding, and used some dried flowers my sister grew and prepared herself.

The fresh flowers at my wedding. Image: K3photography.


Thankfully, my very creative sister also helped put together some incredible plinth pots for our ceremony and welcome board arrangements which helped bring my purchases to life. 

5. Ditch the bridesmaid bouquets. 

Still on flowers, and this one garnered a few raised eyebrows when I explained it to people in the planning process.

I don't see the point of bridesmaid bouquets (cost-wise).

Even for two bridesmaids I was looking at a few hundred dollars, for flowers that were going to be used briefly in the ceremony and briefly for photos. 


For me, the bride's bouquet gives you that wow impact for those two occasions and I became obsessed with the idea of bridesmaid corsages for a few reasons. 

I ditched bridesmaid bouquets for corsages. Image: K3photography. 

Yes, they were less than half the cost. 

But I loved that my bridesmaids got to wear something all night like the groomsmen and their boutonnieres. Their corsage was an all-night-long symbol of their place and purpose in the wedding. 

6. Just buy a white dress.

I wore a beautiful white dress from an Australian designer on my wedding day. It cost me $550. 

It of course helped that the style I was after was very simple and classic. I didn't want a train or a veil so I didn't even bother setting foot in a proper wedding dress shop. 


Originally I thought I was going to find my dress online amongst the bridal collections at places like Shona Joy, Showpo and ASOS Bridal. But I couldn't find a dress that felt quite right. 

I also felt too overwhelmed to go down the pre-owned dress route, although I am a huge fan of that concept.

I didn't even set foot in a 'wedding dress' shop. Image: K3photography.

So instead I hit up the boutique shops in Paddington, Sydney, where I live and found my dress in Manning Cartell. 

An extra plus — because it's not technically a wedding dress my dry cleaning bill was only $35. Score! 


While we're on clothes, my shoes cost $60 from Spendless and I think they look pretty damn good?! A reminder to focus on what you like, not where something comes from.

So, do I regret anything?

Absolutely not. 

Not only do I not regret the cost-cutting decisions we made, I actually think they made our day even better. 

We wanted a more casual party atmosphere where our guests got to mingle.

I adored all our flowers and honestly think bridesmaid corsages should be more popular than they are.

Our food was bloody delicious. Our guests practically rolled out of our venue they were so full, whereas at some sit-down weddings I feel like I leave hungry. 

My dress was exactly what I envisaged. 

It's very easy to get caught up in the hype of wedding planning. It's incredibly easy to spend money, and budgets can quickly go out the window. 

I found it very helpful to sit down and think about all the traditions and trends and pull them apart. Ask yourself; 'Do we actually need that?' 'Do we actually want that?' 'What could we do instead?'

My wedding day was a beautiful day that I will remember forever, but it was only one day. 

I am so glad we didn't spend more than we did.

RELATED: 'I'm a fashion editor. Here's exactly how I styled my wedding on a budget.'

Feature Image: K3photography.

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