You don’t want to look back on the day with regret saying ‘I wish I spent more money on that’, or ‘I wish I hadn’t spent so much on this’.
Here are my top suggestions for how to work though this:
Look at the Priorities
As I have written in previous blogs each party involved in the wedding will have ideas around what ‘their’ important areas of the wedding are. Whether it be the bride and groom; the people contributing financially to the wedding or your very traditional grandmother, it is important to find these ideas out earlier rather than later.
For my clients I have a tool I use called a priority matrix to tease out these priorities. If you are having a go at doing this yourself then you could use the following:
This sounds a bit excessive right? Well it may be, but it can save you a lot of hassle and arguments later on if you are all singing from the same song sheet upfront.
Having clear priorities provides you with an idea of where you can splurge (the higher the priority the more likely you can splurge on it) and where you can save (the lower priority the more likely you can save on it).
Flowers to me was low on my priority list and were too expensive to justify, so I decided to make paper flowers to have as decorations and bouquets. What I underestimated was the level of time it was going to take to achieve this. I ended up doing a mix of both paper and fresh flowers and while it made my decorations unique the effort that went in to them far outweighed the cost if I had just got standard bouquets and floral decorations.
Consider ‘Forever’ vs ‘For a day’
Still lost? A good rule of thumb to use if you are wanting to splurge is to do it on something that will last forever; for example the wedding bands, the photographs or the big ticket items that contribute to the overall feel of the day (as that’s what people will take away with them).
Remember the best things in life are free
One of the things I hear time and time again is that the things that people remember the most are the individual touches (that often don’t cost anything). The perfectly written vows, the adherence to family traditions, candle or sand ceremonies or personalize rituals all help make your day unique and memorable.
To summarise, knowing the priorities can help you determine what it is best to splurge on and what items it is best to save on. If you are saving on an item make sure you have thoroughly considered any implications that may arise from your choice, and if all else fails look to invest in the items that will make your day last forever. This is your day and you can have the best of both worlds!
By pure fluke I spotted one on Trade me that took my fancy. Being on the taller side I needed to make sure that the length was long enough (which this one was) and that it laced up the back to make the fit was a bit more flexible. The dress was $500 (right in my price range) and had an original RRP of $2500. I thought I could easily sell it again after my wedding as well and get some of the investment back.
The dress was out of town so my mum went and saw it, she phoned me to let me know its condition and bought it on the spot. It needed a dry-clean but other than that was perfect. A few weeks later I tried it on and it fit like a glove so I got it dry cleaned (for $100) and it was ready for the big day.
In my mind it was relatively simple, the shards meant the icing underneath didn’t need to be perfect and a standard mud cake would do.
Apparently I over simplified it, based on my requirements some of the quotes I received exceeded $700, and one cake place did not even offer Mud cake as an option!
So I went to plan B, I bought my own ribbons and used my flowers for the cake topper and went for a simple 2 tiered Chocolate Mud cake with Fondant which came in at about $500.
You are only as limited as your imagination. Cakes can be made of Perfetta rolls, Donuts, Oreo's, Meringues, Cheesecake, Cupcakes, Cake pops, Lamination's, Brownies, Cookies, Sweet pies, Cheese; the options are endless. A bonus for going untraditional is that the pressure of these getting these cakes ‘perfect’ is lifted as they are 'works of art' not just cake! they don’t have to conform to anything traditional.
Shop around and make sure you explore all your options. Make sure you ask lots of questions to understand what your money is buying you, that way you can weigh up the pros and cons of different types of cakes. Ask things like whats the difference in price between 1 tier and 2? or Whats the difference in the price for how the cake is decorated? This is great if you are looking to save on your cake and get the most for your money.
Incorporate your cake in to the desert
Think about using your cake as a desert. This is an option I should have gone for as by the time everyone was fed no one had room for cake! For a chocolate cake an example could be that you can just add some cream, fresh berries, a raspberry sauce and some chocolate flakes and your desert is sorted!
Cost effective does not mean cheap
There are some great bakers out there who work in our everyday stores; such as our supermarkets, bakeries and cafes. Ordering a cake or sweet that they already make can be a cost effective option and you can avoid the 'wedding' price hike.
I know our local supermarket makes superb cheesecakes that would feed 10 and they are only $17.99 each (that’s $1.80 per serve). And while that may sound naff, know that presentation goes a long way! You could buy different cakes, cupcakes, brownies (whatever takes your fancy) from the store, lay them out on a desert table on different height cake stands and decorate with your wedding theme & flowers and make that the spectacle. Make people go wow and they will never realise they are eating store bought food for a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding cake. If you are still set on having the traditional white wedding cake you could have a smaller 1 tiered option (making it cheaper) when using this desert bar approach.
Ultimately for me the thing I learnt is that its not the money that goes in to the cake that's important, its the people you share it with!
For more Wedding cake alternatives check out my Cake Board on Pinterest
For our wedding price played a big part in selecting our wedding food. Ultimately we wanted great food, a great selection and for everyone to go away full and contented.
The caterer we ended up choosing offered all of this. We investigated the different meal styles (sit down, cocktail food, buffet etc) and weighed up the pros and cons of each. The perfect solution for us ended up being a BBQ buffet with gourmet sides. You may think that sounds naff but with bacon wrapped scallops, salmon and steak as some of the tasty offerings it was anything but!
In my family the good ol’ kiwi BBQ is the pivotal piece for all our gatherings and celebrations; Full cooked birthday breakfast… done on the BBQ; Sunday Roasts… done on the BBQ; Fresh fish off the back of the boat…done on the BBQ. So when this option was presented to us for our wedding it just clicked.
The upside of going with this option was that a buffet worked out cheaper than a sit down meal, it offered the selection to please everyone (including those with dietary requirements) and people could eat as much or as little as they wanted.
Like our wedding there are lots of creative ways to reduce the per person cost of the food and create a great meal.
Here are some of my favourites:
Less can be more!
Cut down on the courses – I mean how much food do people really need? Reducing the number of courses will reduce your overall per person cost.
Catering for the little ones
Ask your vendor for kids pricing. Kids (often) do not eat as much as adults. Taking this into consideration with your catering could save you a lot on money as the per person cost for children should be less.
Pot luck dinner
This is a great option; it drastically reduces your cost of catering as everyone who attends will bring a plate. You can coordinate it to ensure you have the correct amount of mains vs. deserts, or if some of your guests have a specialty dish that they do you can specifically request they bring that.
To reduce the burden on your guests you might want to forgo wedding gifts and have the dish they bring as their ‘gift’ to you (also this way they are likely to spend more time and effort on it).
This does however become difficult with hot meals as you will need a place to store and heat the meals. If you are unable to heat the meals a great alternate option could be a cold buffet or desert bar. You could even make it in to a bit of a competition and have a judging on the day for the yummiest and the best plated meal. That way people will bring their best dishes and their best presentation skills.
Think outside the box
Have a restaurant cater the food or order takeaways. You could tie it in with your wedding theme. For example you could have a Mexicana themed wedding and order Mexican food from your local restaurant.
Kitchens that come to you
Food Trucks are becoming more popular, you could have a food truck come to your site to feed your guests (my only caution with this one would be establishing their food throughput rate as you don’t want your guests waiting for hours to be fed.)
Become the caterer
Another good option is self-catering. It is a big commitment so needs full consideration before you decide to go this way. A compromise could be to self-cater part of the meal for example the entrée, sides or desert and have someone cater the rest. This is a great way to reduce the overall cost while not being overwhelmed with effort.
What time is it?
You could have a brunch or lunch wedding as the meals tend to be lighter thus cheaper. This can also help reduce the cost of the bar as well!
At the end of the day whatever you choose will be perfect for you and your wedding. Remember to think outside that box, get creative and know that the food does not need to be the biggest expense to be superb!
**Plug for the Food Gurus (our wedding caterers) they were amazing, great food, flexible and nothing was too big or small for them to handle.
As kiwis we are notoriously bad when it comes to talking about money. We avoid the subject; quickly change the topic or fluff over any details. This may be an underlying contributor to why when it comes to weddings we suffer unnecessary anxiety over who will pay for what; and how much we will spend.
My advice is to treat it as you would a band aid... and rip it off quickly! Get it over and done with so you can move forward. If anyone is going to contribute financially to your wedding then talk with them upfront and set the right expectations
Traditionally the bride’s parents pay for the wedding, however now days it can be a mix of the bride and bridegroom’s parents and/or the bridal couple themselves. No matter the funding make up, just know that as soon as someone is contributing financially to your wedding there is a good chance they will want to be involved in the plans and decisions (even if they say they don’t)
While having people help out financially may sound like a compromise that will be easy to make, when you get in to the details it may be anything but!
To avoid issues here are my key call outs:
1) Have a conversation upfront; agree on who will contribute to what and what the budget will be
2) Set expectations between and your significant other on what is really important to you
3) Set a budget and stick to it. While this seems utterly boring it can save your wedding both financially and mentally!
Get the wedding you really want without the money headaches and remember have fun!