We got married in 2019 across two days. One of the key components of all our wedding planning was not to spend the average $25k. Ouch. We bought our home in 2018 and got engaged the day we moved in. We also travelled to Italy which we’d planned for almost a whole year. If you exclude our trip to Italy – which was planned before we even got engaged – then we managed to spend around $4,000!
(NZD = to $2,600 USD at time of writing).
We have plans for our financial resources and as a slightly older than average couple in our mid 30s, we don’t have the time to save money toward those goals and to also splash out on our wedding. We had already put our earlier savings into our house – buying it and improving it.
We went over options of how to have a nice wedding without spending a portion of our recent savings. We thought we might do it at my Husband’s parent’s house but decided that could put too much pressure on people. We were looking at catering options and discovered the venue that we ended up having our family celebration and ceremony at – a nature reserve. It had a big lake, a building in case of poor weather and from where to serve food and find shade, and another cottage for my mother and I to use to dress in.
THE KEY FACTOR IN KEEPING WEDDING COSTS DOWN
If you can keep your guest list small, you will save a lot of money. It was quite easy to achieve this as my extended families are quite spread out around the country and are therefore not very close. For my Husband, there was some pressure to invite Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. We partially soothed this by the fact that we had our legal ceremony in a Registry Office where you can only have a few guests and we also had our own ceremonial day with our immediate families. We may have some miffed family members now but no one has spoken up yet!
HOW THIS SAVES YOU MONEY
- Even if you had a celebrant or married in a church, the more people you invite, the more catering you need to supply.
- Hiring a venue or even a backyard wedding may cost you money in tables, chairs, glasses and the more guests, the more likely you will want to use a catering company. Feeding lots of people is hard work that you will want to avoid on your special day.
- You could keep costs down further if you are comfortable by only marrying in a Registry setting and not doing anything further. Many people do and have done for a long time. Be aware that a Registry ceremony can feel very much like a formality as it takes about 5-10 minutes depending on whether you exchange rings.
WHY DID WE HAVE A REGISTRY CEREMONY FIRST?
We looked for an independent celebrant but because of the close family nature of our ceremonial day, we decided to that no celebrant (stranger) was ever going to feel quite right either. Through my work I was aware of the Registry process and realised that it was the right decision for us.
OUR CEREMONY AT THE NATURE RESERVE
So, how did we run our own ceremony with no help from anyone outside the family?
- Aside from our wedding cake – which we had at my Husband’s parents house later in the day – we self catered. The food choices were very important to meet dietary requirements and we didn’t want to be working hard on the actual day. My Mother and I menu planned and tested recipes for about 3 weeks leading up to the big day. We ditched some things and made sure that we had lots of finger food, platters, and that the hot food were all things we could make a couple of days in advance and heat up on the day. We also did a barbeque and catered successfully for 23 people.
- We did DIY decorations but we kept this subtle because when you are in a beautiful, natural environment, not too much more is needed. We had daisies, rosemary, lavender, an orchid centrepiece on the food table and we bought in potted plants to create a sacred space for our ceremony.
We wrote our own ceremony in which we each had parts to say. We included:
- Thank you’s for coming and to those who travelled
- Acknowledgement of Ancestry – living and passed.
- The story of how we met.
- Stories of what we’ve done together.
- Time for others to speak.
- Exchanging rings.
This felt much more authentic than had we had someone random involved. It was perfect.
OTHER KEY SAVINGS
- We took a risk and did NOT pay a photographer. All we wanted were a few nice photos on the day and our family members have been talented and kind enough to do that for us. The memories of the day will always last.
- Wedding attire – Wedding dresses do NOT have to cost thousands. I bought my dress online and accessorised it with a Rosemary and Lavender Flower Crown and some flowers at my wrist. My mother was amazing with helping with making these pieces. My Husband wore nice new but re-useable clothing that he can blend into his work wardrobe – so that was quite practical. My Mother also made him a small floral piece that tied into mine that was pinned to his shirt.
- Flowers – all our flowers we gathered with the help of my mother (this was her wedding gift to us – lots of plants!) She did an amazing job. I did not want a bouquet type thing to hold as I honestly thought it would drive me nuts!
Our wedding was perfect, for us. We knew shortly after we got together that we’d likely get married. At that stage we had no idea what that would look like. We had a short engagement because we wanted to get married when overseas family would already be in the country but equally because we feel like we are catching up on life a lot of the time. Our relationship catalysed a lot of change for both of us that moved us from being messy people into being more aligned with humanity’s time honoured traditions. Our Wedding was an important symbol of this.
We did additional saving leading in and paid for things across a 6 month period. If you have a longer engagement, this could be even easier! You can have a beautiful wedding without spending too much, it just requires real thought about what you really need and what you can skip. Be very careful about having things because someone else thinks you should. This is your biggest, special day with your spouse and it has to be meaningful to you.
All the best! – J. xx