Wedding Planning on a Budget

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A beautiful wedding can be one of the most cherished events in a person’s life, but it can also be one of the most expensive undertakings. The good news is that it’s not impossible to have your dream wedding without breaking the bank.  

Plan your budget

The first step in preparing for your wedding is to make a detailed budget outlining your expected costs. Some of the major expenses to consider are: Food, Clothing, Wedding rings, Location rentals, Invitations, Photography & Videography, Decorations, Music, and Honeymoon expenses.  

Call around to at least three different service providers in each category to get a range of prices. Remember that the cheapest price may not necessarily be the best option, as you also need to ensure that you get quality for money. Ask friends and relatives to recommend companies that will give you the best deal.  

Cut costs creatively

Now that you have gotten estimated costs for the different expenses, let’s look at some ways to creatively cut your expenses, and still have a beautiful wedding:

Food:Dinner receptions are more expensive. Have an early wedding and serve brunch. Try a cocktail reception instead of the regular sit-down dinner. Have only one decorated cake for cutting, and serve regular fruit cake to the guests.

Clothing: Rent your wedding dress and tuxedoes. Use simple designs and fabrics for the attendants’ dresses.

Reception: Some reception sites are cheaper to rent on Fridays. Borrow a garden from a friend or family member to use as the reception site.

Decorations: Use decorative items that can be found free in the hills- like big green leaves and pine cones. Keep your bouquet simple; for example use one large, unusual flower. Take the flowers from the church to use at the reception.

Other Services: Leave disposable cameras at each table to get great candid shots. Design your own invitations on the computer and print them on quality paper. Download your music selections on to CDs and play them at the reception.   In every category, see if it’s possible to do it yourself, or to get the help of your friends and family to provide the services for free.  

Prioritize your expenses

You can still have your ‘dream’ wedding by prioritizing how you want to spend your money. Look at all the categories and decide which ones would make your wedding most memorable. Perhaps you always wanted to have a big party with guests dancing into the night. Well, spend most of the budget on a great disco and a lot of liquid refreshments. If you desire a fabulous honeymoon, keep the ceremonies small and simple, and splurge on the hotel.

Save towards your goal After getting estimated costs, deciding on your priorities, and looking at every possible way to reduce your expenses, you will arrive at a total figure that you will expect to spend on your wedding. The next step is to start saving towards this goal. Let’s say that you’re working with a budget of J$200,000. If you would like to get married in a year’s time, you would need to save over J$16,500 per month to meet your target. However, if you can only put aside J$5,000 per month, it would take over three years to reach your goal, and by that time, costs would have increased.  

To be practical, you may have to use a combination of saving and financing to pay for your wedding. If you have to borrow, try not to use credit cards or expensive payroll loans. Your credit union can offer more attractive rates, or you can ask family members to use their accounts as collateral to obtain a lower-interest cash secured loan. The monthly payback should be affordable, and should not add too much extra strain on your combined budget.  

However you decide to observe your big event, remember that the important thing is not the ceremony nor the reception nor the honeymoon. What really counts is that you’re together, and that’s something that you can’t put a price tag on!

© Cherryl Hanson Simpson

Cherryl is a financial columnist, consultant and coach. See more of her work at and Contact Cherryl.


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