Budgeting for your big day

Budgeting for your big day

Last updated on 13th December, 2017 at 10:08 am

Your wedding is the first day of the rest of your life. The last thing you need is to spend the next five or 10 years paying off your nuptial debt.

Flick through a reality show, a movie or a series and you’re bound to stumble across grooms tearing their hair out because the love of their life has turned into Bridezilla and there’s a family feud over who’s paying for the limo. Let’s face it, most of us can’t afford to splurge on a celebrity-type affair with no expense spared, so sit down with your dearly beloved and come up with a realistic financial plan for your wedding. It’ll save untold heartache.

Setting a budget

With the average wedding costing about R70 000 and couples generally footing the bill these days, the first step is to work out how much you can each afford to put in the pot. Your folks may want to contribute, so add that amount to your budget as well. Next use a simple Excel spreadsheet to track your spending. Here’s our suggested approach: Column 1: List all the services you need to pay for Columns 2-4: Three quotes for that service Column 5: The average cost for that service Column 6: Deposits or amounts you’ve already paid Column 7: What’s still outstanding Column 8: The totals Then set up a separate wedding account with low interest rates and EFT facilities to make payments. Or, if you have time to save up for the big day, open an interest bearing account (such as a money market account) which still gives you easy access to your funds. Don’t be tempted to dip into your investments to pay for your wedding; it will take you years to recover that money. Build a little bit of fat into your budget to cover any unforeseen costs or something that you have your heart absolutely set on.

Break down the budget

Eat, drink and be merry (45-50% of your total budget)

Your reception (venue hire, food, drinks, décor and music) will be your biggest cost. So drawing up a guest list will help determine what kind of reception you can afford. If you’re planning on 500 guests, then a silver-service, five-course meal may be beyond your reach, unless you’ve got a fairy godmother lurking in the background. Bear in mind that venues offer different packages when it comes to menus, décor and bar costs.


Memories are made of this (10-12%)

For most brides and grooms, their wedding day passes in a happy (and anxious) blur, so photos and video will fill in the gaps you missed. Paying your cousin, who has just completed a two-week photographic course, is going to end in disaster if half the pictures are blurred and your guests have lost their heads in the other half. Rather invest in a photographer whose portfolio matches your style.


Dressing for the occasion (8-10%)

Every girl wants her dream dress, but it’s also worth remembering that it’s not just the happy couple who need to look good on the day. As the wedding party usually pays for their own outfits, your best friend might baulk at being your maid of honour if she’s got to fork out a small fortune for a designer frock in a colour she hates and will only wear once. Therefore hiring suits and dresses for your entourage is worth looking into, especially if they are on a limited budget as well.


Say it with flowers (8-10%)

Flowers certainly add to the magic of your celebration, but when you add up the ceremony and table decorations, bouquets and buttonholes, they are costly. Here’s where you can tap into your network. You’ve probably got a friend or family member who is a brilliant florist and is willing to do some of the flowers as a wedding gift.


Bits and bobs

Other services you will need to consider:

  • Ceremony (2-3%)
  • Stationery (2-3%)
  • Wedding rings (2-3%)
  • Transport (2-3%)
  • Gifts/favours (2-3%)
  • Miscellaneous (4-8%)

Under miscellaneous you can add legal costs. Marriage is a legally binding contract, so you’ll need to budget for lawyer’s fees if you’re getting married antenuptially. Also include the costs of new documents from Home Affairs if you’re planning to take your spouse’s name. Remember, your family and friends are there to celebrate your special day with you. They probably won’t even know that you’ve spent an absolute fortune on getting just the right shade of lilac for your table linen, so relax and don’t sweat the small stuff too much. By Nicci Botha

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