Couples share their wedding budget breakdown

Couples share their wedding budget breakdown

Last updated on 20th May, 2022 at 04:48 pm

If you swoon at the idea of a fairy-tale wedding, but shudder at the idea of going into debt for your big day, you’re not alone. We spoke to three couples who married in the last year to find out their wedding budget – how they saved, and splurged, to start their lives together.

Tamryn (32) and Dyllan (30) Geldenhuys

Saving up for a big wedding

Tamryn and Dyllan married at a wedding venue outside Joburg in September with 70 guests. Their wedding cost just over R200 000, but Tamryn, as a lifestyle blogger, was able to negotiate several trade exchanges, for her wedding dress, cake, and alcohol at the reception. “Our biggest expenses were venue hire, flowers and decor, corkage, food, rings, and the wedding party’s hair and make-up,” says Tamryn. “I found the photographer, DJ, signage, legalities and officiant to be reasonably priced.”

Tamryn says that neither she nor her husband come from wealthy families, so they knew they were going to pay for the bulk of the costs. They received R35 000 from their parents, which covered flowers and decor. The bride and groom saved the remaining R170 000 and delayed their honeymoon. Their wedding was paid off three months after the big day. “We were engaged for two-and-a-half years, thanks to COVID-19, which also gave us time to save,” she says.

Are you saving up for your wedding? Use this savings calculator to help you reach your target.

What about any hidden expenses? “COVID-19 protocols were a hidden expense. Expect to pay an additional R15 per guest for sanitiser, waiters’ masks and gloves, and so on,” she says. Tamryn borrowed her sister’s veil and wedding jewellery for the day – which was both sentimental and saved costs. They also cut out party favours for guests. “COVID-19 made us cut down our guest list from 100 people to 70 close friends and family. I think micro weddings will be a trend going forward. They’re more intimate, affordable and memorable.”

According to research conducted by The Wedding Expo, South African couples spend between R80 000 and R120 000 on their wedding. This can easily escalate for a high-end wedding with many guests. Read this for tips on cutting back on wedding costs.

Miranda Dlamini (27) and Phila Zulu (32)

Going DIY for a debt-free wedding

Miranda and Phila married in November at their local church in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, with 50 guests, for a total cost of less than R60 000. They are planning a traditional ceremony later this year.

Miranda, a personal finance enthusiast and social media influencer, was determined that their wedding would not derail their financial goals. The couple’s choice of venue was one of the biggest factors in keeping costs low. This cost R10 000, including use of the venue, set-up, officiant services and digital support. As members of the church, they qualified for a discounted rate, and they were able to have the reception on the church veranda rather than at a separate venue. Because the venue is not a commercial venue, they were able to bring in outside catering and any other services needed.

With Miranda from Greytown and Phila from Richard’s Bay, choosing to marry in Ballito meant they could keep their guest list small, as well-wishers were unlikely to drop in unexpectedly. Having received decor quotes of R15 000 and higher, Miranda asked her friends to help with a DIY solution. “We went for a Pinterest-inspired minimal look. We went to China Mall and bought stuff and hired some extra things. We spent less than R3 000 on decor,” she says. They bought flowers wholesale for R1 200, making up their own bouquets and table arrangements. In a similar vein, they hired friends to do the catering, and served supermarket platters for the starters.

Rather than spending R7 000 on a three-tier custom wedding cake, Miranda and Phila bought three cakes from popular bakery chain Chateau Gateaux – giving two to their parents and serving one to guests. They also nixed a videographer’s services, preferring to spend money on a photographer. “You watch the video once, but the pictures are more valuable, as you see them every day,” Miranda says. Jewellery presents another opportunity to save on costs. They opted out of commercial wedding jewellery in favour of a private jeweller. Miranda’s ring is stainless steel with a morganite stone while Phila’s gold ring is a more traditional choice.

Were there any sneaky costs they hadn’t planned for? “We spent a lot on transport because we were doing everything ourselves. Luckily, we had friends and family who could help. We knew we’d need petty cash to cover last-minute costs, but it ended up being more than we’d planned. Double your petty cash amount so that you’re not overwhelmed,” she says.

Did COVID-19 prompt a re-think for their wedding? “We always wanted a small, intimate wedding. COVID-19 ‘helped’ us because we didn’t have to explain why people weren’t invited,” she says. “We walked away debt-free. It wasn’t worth getting a loan. This is about how we are starting our lives. We wanted it to be beautiful, we wanted to feel loved, we wanted to be excited, and we wanted to be with people who would give us that feeling,” she says. Miranda admits that her traditional wedding will likely be larger, but they’re still planning to keep it simple and cap costs at R50 000. This ceremony will include the slaughter of a cow, a ritual exchange of gifts between the families, and a reception.

Want to create a wedding budget, but not sure where to start? Use this handy guide.

Fahad Hendrix (42) and Tiaan Visser (36)

Reflecting your values with a micro wedding

Fahad and Tiaan were engaged for four years and got married on the flight deck at Cape Town International Airport in October, shortly before emigrating to Ireland. 13 Guests attended.

“We chose the airport for our ceremony because we are both aviation geeks; we love planes and travel, and it’s our happy place. We went on dates there. And it’s a place where journeys start. And it also happened to be free,” says Fahad.

Following the ceremony, they had a small reception at a restaurant in Cape Town’s CBD. They paid R13 500 for their guests’ three-course meal, wedding cake, open bar and decor at the reception. Photography was one of their most expensive costs, at R6 500, and they paid R3 000 for new suits. The officiant cost around R6 000, which Fahad said was a market-related cost, as officiants who do LGBTQIA+ weddings cost more and are booked out months in advance.

“We had a big income discrepancy to navigate. As with everything in our relationship, we’ve had to find ways to make it work. And we contributed the proportion we could to the final cost of it all,” he says. Tiaan paid for his suit and the officiant; Fahad covered the other costs. “We planned our wedding within two weeks. We didn’t want a big wedding. We wanted people who were part of our support network there only. But we also didn’t want to spend a huge sum of money,” says Fahad. “When it crystallised that we were moving abroad and that that cost would be huge, we settled on a small wedding. We wouldn’t change a thing about the way we did it.”

Planning your wedding? Meeting with a financial planner can help you plan and budget for your big day – without overspending. Book a meeting now.






Want to learn more?

We send out regular emails packed with useful advice, ideas and tips on everything from saving and investing to budgeting and tax. If you're a Sanlam Reality member and not receiving these emails, update your contact details now.

Update Now