Saving cash on the big day – what to do before ‘I do’

Love is always in the air… for someone you know, if not yourself. No matter how strong the bond, weddings can quickly become the bane of many flourishing romances.

If you’re planning your big day – and planning often kicks in now because of the amount of people who wed in December – you know how strongly money features in wedding prep. Don’t worry – with a few savvy tweaks, you’ll be able to smile all the way down the aisle.

Here are five things that’ll help you have a great wedding and still save cash for what truly matters – starting your new life, together, strong.

1. Have ‘the talk’ with your parents

… and your parents-in-law-to-be. It’s important to establish who is paying for what before doing anything else. It may seem scary, especially with your future parents-in-law, but it’s vital to voice expectations now and to set clear boundaries. It’s important to say things like: ‘I know it used to be tradition for the bride’s family to pay for the wedding and the groom’s to pay for the honeymoon. Can we talk about that? Who feels comfortable doing what?’

Don’t let people come to their own conclusions, that creates room for conflict.

Equally important? Telling your mom and whomever else you need to; ‘just because you’re putting money in, doesn’t mean it’s your day.’

Once the conversation has been had, set a budget, with clear definitions on who pays for what.

2. Do a ‘top ten’ exercise

Now that you have your budget, here’s something important to do with your spouse-to-be: sit down together and write out every element of a wedding you can think of. Start with generics like ‘dress’ and ‘venue’ but drill down to specifics like the chairs at the reception, the menu and what pastor or master-of-ceremonies you want. Take that exhaustive list and separately write down ten items that are most important to you about the wedding, in descending order.

Come together and look at your lists, taking common ones from both lists and coming up with a final list of just five non-negotiable priorities. Splash out on only those top five and spend as little as possible on everything else.

3. Grill your guest list

Another thing that will save you the most money is the amount of people coming. Your ‘per head’ count in terms of alcohol, venue hire and food all adds up to the biggest expense in most weddings. Discuss with your significant other and determine who is most important to you and get the list down to as small a number of people coming as possible… And don’t choose based on: ‘Who will be offended if they don’t get invited?’ Rather, think: ‘Who will I look back on in ten years’ time and feel happy they were there?’ The less people you have, the more you will get to appreciate each guest on the day.

4. Remember to be flexible

You now have more than enough to battle the wedding budget bulge, but before you go off planning, remember one last thing: it pays to be flexible at times. Whatever your budget is, make sure there is at least an extra 15 percent of the total amount extra for unforeseen expenses. You don’t want any nasty surprises on one of the best days of your life.

And, thanks to some savvy money-saving, you may now have enough money left over to plan a few more ‘best days of your life’ in years that are still to come…