Wedding woe: The price you pay

Today's wedding woe can be an awkward one at times.

Whenever anyone mentions weddings, many tend to toss in a couple of words at the same time, something along the lines of "expensive", "all just for one day", blah blah. Yeah, yeah, we all know you *could* get married for a couple of hundred bucks, but shush. It's not about that.

So for those who are spending a penny or two, maybe you can help out this reader. 

Hi Greer, 

Firstly I'd just like to say I'm an avid reader of your blog, and love the variety of topics you have covered. 
I look forward to the new posts each week.

Having read all your posts, and all the comments, I was thinking to my newly engaged self: right, I'm ready for this, I at least know the basics.
Turns out I've already had my first little 'I don't have a clue what I'm doing!' panic. A lot sooner than I had anticipated!
I've read so many websites, and they all say: first announce engagement, then draw up a budget with estimated and actual costs, then guest list, venue search etc. 
Right-o budget. Estimated c... what?!? 

Now I know I've read in a few places the average spend in NZ for a wedding is $30,000. There are also those who spend more, and those who spend less- the nature of an average. So I know there isn't going to be a hard and fast rule because each wedding's cost will vary somewhat dependent on overall spend, and what is important to the couple.

But this still doesn't help with the estimated costs section of the budget. Is it relatively the same in each city? (We are looking at Auckland or Wellington- long story.) 
Do you figure out the overall costs and divide it by a percentage? This seems reasonable to me - but I would have no idea what the average costs are - for example I had no idea a band could be around the $4000 range, and my percentage distribution would be useless if the divided amount was unrealistic. 

Or, do you find average costs and then construct the budget from this, working out what you can afford, say, if a band is in your budget allowance at all given the priorities of the couple. If so, where can you find what the average for each bit is - short of ringing, say, three suppliers for everything and taking an average?
I would feel hugely uncomfortable asking recently married friends about how much they spent, let alone for a copy of their rough budget so any assistance with this would be greatly appreciated! 

Thank you,
little miss frazzled 


First: ask your friends. I'm being serious. Those who have travelled down the path before will have invaluable advice for you that could end up saving you lots of moolah. And you're right - the average cost of a wedding in NZ is about $30,000.

Talking about money can be a bit awkward but have a couple of wines, sit down and just get a bit honest with your girlfriends. You are, after all, friends. 

Also, what I found helpful was to work out the priorities of our day.

For example, I was willing to invest money in certain things that I really wanted, and bargained or went with other options for other things. For example, I wouldn't have gone with the cheapest photographer I could find. Instead I went with the one I wanted.

But there are other things I don't really care so much about so we're not putting money into those areas.

A huge tip I have, though, is about numbers. There are some brides who want it all - the best of everything and every person they've ever met to be a witness to it - however, here's the thing:

Numbers of guests isn't just about catering costs, it multiplies a whole lot of other things also (so remember this when people say "Can I invite so-and-so, I'll pay for them...). It can sometimes rule out smaller venues, it means more hireage of everything (think more decorations, more tables, more nibbles, more napkins... more, more more) and paying more for things like invites and favours. It really does add up. Working out the average cost for things is hard though - and everyone's average is different. Each item does have to get priced up based on what you want with how much that costs. (In the US, the average wedding guest costs the couple US$194). Also, more people in your bridal party? More monies.

For example, wedding dresses are stupidly expensive. In my head, I set a figure of $2k as the *absolute* maximum so that if I walked into a shop and tried something on, I'd only allow myself that maximum. Thankfully my dress didn't cost that much but it was the easiest way for me to make my own "boundaries".

Be honest - how much did your wedding cost? What have you heard of weddings costing? How did you cut costs and where did you splurge? How did you come up with an average cost for things?

Got any tips for Little Miss Frazzled?

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