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PERSONAL FINANCE

Practical budgeting tips to help prevent your wedding day from breaking the bank

Practical budgeting tips to help prevent your wedding day from breaking the bank
Start your married life with a healthy bank balance by planning a wedding that won’t break your budget. (Illustration: Freepik)

You can have your wedding cake and eat it with these budgeting tips for your special day.

Despite the common sense argument that marriage is for a lifetime and a wedding is just one day, couples continue to spend extravagantly, often finding themselves in debt as they set out on their journey together.

The good news is that with some money smarts and good planning you can keep your wedding costs down. These tips can get you started:

  • Opt for a long engagement while you save up the necessary funds. This can also help you to be very clear about what you want and you could use an appropriate investment vehicle such as a unit trust to reach your goal.
  • Figure out what your spending priorities are. Talk to your partner and agree on how much money you are both willing to spend on this one-off event. Be realistic about what you can and can’t afford. Do you want a small wedding with fewer guests and an exotic honeymoon, or a big wedding and a low-key honeymoon?
  • Make the time to do the homework. As with all things related to money, do as much research as you can. Word-of-mouth recommendations are great if you can get them, but don’t feel obliged to use a particular supplier just because someone else did. You don’t need to start your married life keeping up with the Khumalos.
  • Budget, budget, budget. Use an online budgeting tool to keep track of your money and where you are spending it. You can also create a to-do list and keep track of any important appointments ahead of the day.

More things to consider

Electronic invites: Gone are the days of expensive stationery and gold-leaf-embossed invites. You can get as fancy as you like with an electronic invitation at a fraction of the cost – and it’s environmentally friendly.

Unexpected guests: Costs rise exponentially with each extra guest. Ask a friend or family member to follow up with all the invited guests who have not sent an RSVP two weeks before the wedding.

Gown alteration and preservation: Confirm whether alterations are included in the price of the dress and, if not, get a quote from your local seamstress for last-minute adjustments. Remember to include the cost of dry-cleaning services after the wedding day.

Horror story: A bride I know was informed by the dressmaker a week before her wedding that she would be charging her the quoted purchase price, but it was now only going to be a rental and the costs would double if she wanted to buy the dress.

Overtime costs: Find out if your vendors charge an overtime cost. Factor this into your budget, particularly if you plan to have a DJ and you know your family and friends love the dance floor.

VAT: Read your invoices properly and always confirm with your service providers whether VAT is included in the final cost.

Gratuities: It is always nice to tip staff when you receive excellent service. Check whether the gratuity is included in the package or cost-per-head bill.

Legal matters: Budget for your marriage licence and the cost of drawing up prenuptial agreements.

Flowers: Choose flowers that are in season to keep costs down.

Choose your season wisely: Winters in SA include sunny days. This can usually cut costs, and venue availability is less of a problem. Also, get married on a weekday. Suppliers often have lower weekday rates, and accommodation costs for the bridal couple and guests should be lower too. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R35.

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