Lindy Cooke Celebrant


When determining the kind of wedding you’d like to have, financial considerations will often be high on the list. Each couple’s budget will vary due to a number of factors. These include who will be paying for which element, the size of the guest list, your vendors, personal preferences and how much work you’re prepared to do yourself. When I think about weddings on a budget, my focus for this blog is to look at cost saving measures which may help the bottom line.



Don’t forget that DIY is a great way to save money in the lead up to a wedding. You could, for example:

  • Print your own Save the Dates, invitations, place cards and thank you cards.
  • Use a friend’s muscle car or hotrod for the wedding party to arrive in.
  • Ask someone you know to take photographs (risky but it can work).
  • Dispense with bonbonniere.
  • Combine your wedding/reception in your backyard and ask everyone to bring a plate of food rather than a gift.
  • Buy quality, second-hand wedding decorations and re-use them before on-selling yourself.
  • Take up the offer of any of your talented friends to do your hair, makeup or bake your wedding cake etc.
  • Ask guests to each bring a flower (their choice or in a particular colour) and have someone combine them all to make your wedding bouquet or go with a single stem bloom.
  • Check out wedding sites to see if you can find a pre-loved wedding dress that you also love.
  • Nominate a particular colour and ask your bridesmaids if they would be happy to choose and pay for their own dress. As they will be selecting the style, it makes sense that it will be something they love so they will want to wear it again.
  • Have a set bar tab for beer, wine and soft drink only (no spirits.)
  • Make your own arbour. I’ve seen some spectacular ones using driftwood or branches from gum trees.
  • Use a large tree or the ocean as your ceremony backdrop.
  • If you’re having your reception at home rather than at a venue, purchase your alcohol when it’s on sale.
  • Look out for end of financial year or post-Christmas sales and purchase or lay-by your rings then.
  • Check out travel options for your honeymoon ahead of time and take advantage of special deals on offer.
  • Consider using a cost-effective venue such as a private home or local hall for your wedding/reception space.


Sharing the load

Each engaged couple will, ideally, have a serious conversation as to who will be paying for what in the lead up to their wedding. It may be that the bride’s parents will offer to pay for the lion’s share. Perhaps the groom’s parents will pay for certain elements e.g. the bar tab. Or, it may be that the couple pay for everything. Each family dynamic is different so there is no right or wrong way to go about this these days.

My suggestion is to draw up a spreadsheet with all your wants and wishes in one column. From there, ask for quotes for each of these items and add these in another column. After choosing one quote for each particular item, add this to a third column. Then, add all the amounts in the third column together. Subtract this number from your budget. This will allow you to determine if there is any wiggle room with your finances or if certain items may need to be substituted or culled.

Unless something is a deal-breaker, it makes sense to stick to your budget so that it doesn’t blow out and leave you short in the early months or even years of your marriage.

To put things in perspective, remember that a wedding takes place on one (hopefully spectacular!) day in your life. You will, naturally, be hoping your wedding day is memorable. It should not, however, be about competing with your friends or putting on an extravagant event if it’s really something you can’t afford.


Guest list

How you work out your guest list will, for the most part, be reflected in who is paying for what. If the bride and groom’s parents are paying for the bulk of the expenses, they may feel they have a right to include some of their friends on the guest list. If the couple is paying, they may be happy to include some very close family and friends of their parents but allocate most of their personal friends to the remainder of the guest list.

Again, a serious discussion after the engagement is announced should make it clear as to how the guest list will evolve.

Keep in mind, in order to be legally married in Australia, only five people are required … the couple themselves, their two witnesses over the age of 18 and the celebrant. Anyone else is a bonus!


Choosing your vendors

Naturally, each wedding vendor will have their own expenses to take into account when determining their fees. If you’ve heard or read excellent Reviews about someone and you can afford their fee, you may well decide to engage their services. Many of my couples book me sight unseen based on my Reviews, so trust is an important component of our relationship. If you’re interested in getting an overview of what a number of suppliers charge for a particular service, then by all means ask for quotes and get a feel for the style of each particular supplier before making a decision.

The important thing to remember is whether you’re comparing apples with apples. You could choose someone from the lower end of the price scale and end up with a sub-par service on the day. You may not. For me, Reviews tell you a great deal about a business as this is genuine feedback from those who have worked with a particular supplier. Here’s a link to just some of the Reviews I’ve received over the years:


Personal preference

Of course, your choice of venue (whether it be a 5-star resort of country hall, on the beach or backyard), the food and beverages you offer, your decorations, your clothing (designer, off the rack, vintage or home-made) and every other aspect of your preparations all come down to personal preference. This is where word of mouth, reading Reviews and requesting quotes can all narrow down your desired choices.


Surprise wedding

You could choose to invite your guests to a birthday, engagement or house-warming party and surprise them by getting married! This is an ideal way to reduce your costs by asking guests to BYO drinks or a plate of food. It also means you don’t have to outlay for a fancy wedding venue, extravagant menu or hiring a wedding car or DJ. It does mean, though, that all the important people in your life will be there on your special day and will be blown away by the surprise!


After your big day

If you’d like to read up on what you can do with your wedding items after your big day, head over to a previous blog I wrote here.


~      ~      ~      ~      ~


As can be seen from the above suggestions, weddings on a budget are definitely achievable. Your decision-making will ultimately depend on how big or small your budget is and how flexible you are with the arrangements.




104 – ©Lindy Cooke Celebrant

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