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October 11, 2022

How to Reduce Your Wedding Budget and Maximise your Big Day

Woman getting ready for a wedding

Anyone who says love is free clearly doesn’t know how much weddings cost! These days the average NZ wedding costs $35,000, including around $3,000+ for a dress, another $3,000+ for a photographer and up to $4,000 for catering.

With that said, for many Kiwis their wedding is one of the most memorable and important days of their lives and the expense is well worth it. If that’s you (or will be) then there are still a few things you can do to create a special day while reducing its impact on your savings.

How do you plan a wedding on a budget?

Claire Donaldson, Director of One Lovely Day, a premium wedding stylist and planner, says it’s possible to reduce your wedding costs and plan a wedding on a budget without it negatively affecting your big day:

“My biggest tip is to try and limit the number of vendors, especially if you’re having your wedding somewhere far away like Waiheke.”

“Every vendor will charge a delivery fee so if one vendor can supply furniture, marquee, crockery etc. you could save thousands.”

Claire adds that calling on mates that do flowers or photography is a good idea if you’re not too picky - after all wedding flower arrangement costs a bomb. She also reckons that planning a wedding on a budget is a bit like building a house:

“You should aim for your dream house with all the beautiful features. But once you’ve got quotes together you can see where you’re going and prioritise everything.”

“Think about spending money where it’ll have the highest impact. For example, focus on flowers at the bar because everyone always spends a lot of time at the bar during weddings! Don’t dress areas where no one’s going to notice and do a few key hero areas really well.”

“Make sure your caterers come with bar staff. They’ll work in harmony together that way and consolidating them should reduce their staff costs like travel and accommodation.”

While you’re saving for your wedding you can consider what type of event you want to have, how much you want to spend and where your money priorities lie.

Next, consider where you can get help. Could your parents chip in or even help with an interest-free loan, for example?

How do people afford weddings?

Forget planning and writing guest lists - saving for your wedding has got to be the most important part. But how will you save? And when everything costs so much how do people even afford weddings?

Some people may invest their way there through index funds, but generally these are too risky for short-term goals, unless your wedding plans are 5 to 7+ years in the future. Some use term deposits, but these can be inflexible and withdrawals fees are often high.

A high-interest savings account, on the other hand, may work perfectly for you. The Kernel Notice Saver is a great option - it currently has a 3.50% interest rate, no minimums, fees or limits and no paperwork is required to open an account (if you already have a Kernel account). You just need to provide a bit of notice before you withdraw the funds. Simple right?

There’s also a nifty feature where you can name savings accounts, to link them to a specific goal. You could, for example, have a ‘wedding account’, a ‘travel account’ or a ‘paying mum back for that one time account’.

If your dream day is a couple of years away, you might also want to check out Kernel’s new Cash Plus Fund, suitable for those working towards short-term goals but wanting a return better than a savings account. Like a bank account, but a bit better!

The secret wedding savings account

Armin Svoboda, Kernel Head of Product set his wedding savings goals and nailed them. First, he saved up for an engagement ring without his partner finding out:

“I had this side hustle building websites for family and friends and managed to put a bit of money away for a ring over a couple of years.”

“The tricky thing was, I wanted it to be a surprise and we’d combined our finances. I was always scared she’d see the extra cash in my business account and click. She never figured it out and eventually, I got enough money and proposed.”

“My partner had been thinking I was really cagey about my finances. She said it all made sense after I proposed!”

After getting away with that feat of sneaky saving it was time to save for the wedding:

“We just decided what we wanted in a wedding, worked out the cost and worked backwards from there. We regularly put money into a savings account and after three years we had enough with some help from parents.”

Despite the massive cost, Armin reckons that looking back his wedding was 100% worth the trouble:

“I’m a frugal person and I never thought a wedding would be worth the expense. But on the day I realised how special it is to get both sides of your family in a room together and celebrate. Honestly, I could have spent double and still been satisfied.”

What are your saving priorities?

From holidays and houses to retirement - there are so many things to save for. But if a beautiful wedding is a priority for you then the best way to make it happen is to estimate the cost, set a savings goal and get started.

It’s also a good idea to look for help wherever you can - call on favours from friends who have skills like photography or flower arrangement, and check if you’re able to make a withdrawal (or borrow) from the bank of mum and dad.

With that said, while a wedding is a priority for many - for some other priorities come first. The numbers speak for themselves, as the average age of marriage is now over 30 in NZ with even more couples deciding not to tie the knot. At the end of the day what’s right for you will depend entirely on your priorities, your finances, your individual circumstances and your partner’s of course!

Ben Tutty

Ben Tutty

Contributing Writer | Tutty Copy



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Indices provided by: S&P Dow Jones Indices