Ah, autumn. I love this season. The just-right weather reminds me of grand celebrations, like tying the knot! But what if a wedding on a budget is your cue to say I do?

After all, the most expensive dress or a luxurious reception is not the centre of this all-important occasion.

In that case, get ready to take down notes. Read my tips and learn a thing or two for planning your big day the budget-friendly way.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Married in Australia?

But first, let’s highlight a few points. Records say that Australian weddings cost $36,000 on average.

Most couples would pay for their wedding through savings or loans. But a few would use their credit cards, too.

Like most countries, an Australian wedding is a single-day affair with a ceremony and a reception. Also, major cost contributors for this big event include the venue, food, clothing, rings, ceremony hire, décor and gifts.

Things to Adjust for Your Wedding on a Budget

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, significantly disrupted many wedding plans and businesses. Experts even observed noticeable changes in how couples plan and spend.

For instance, digital invitations and more refined event styling are now becoming a norm. Protocols like physical distancing also led to significant entourage and guest list trimming.

Being a frugal bride or groom is nothing unusual nowadays. Couples need all the help they can get to push through with a low-cost yet beautiful wedding.

Here are some wedding-on-a-budget ideas you can apply.

1. Food and Alcohol

Time your reception wisely

The reception venue, food, decorations and waitstaff can instantly take a large chunk out of anyone’s wedding budget. So, it’s not unusual to skip this part of the event altogether.

However, if you still want to have a simple get-together, I suggest timing your reception sometime in the afternoon. That way, your guests won’t be expecting lunch or dinner.

A snack bar of tea sandwiches and cakes will be just as elegant as any formal dining set-up.

Host the reception outdoors or at home

A meaningful outdoor reception spot would be more memorable than any expensive indoor space. More importantly, it won’t require an elaborate setup.

A home garden space or backyard is perfect for your wedding on a budget, too. Make sure you have backup plans ready, though, when you decide to take the outdoor event route.

Have tents or a covered area at home ready in case it rains. Also, set up a few industrial fans to keep your wedding guests comfortable on a hot day.

Simply Mumma_Outdoor Wedding on a Budget

Cut out the alcohol

There are plenty of drink alternatives for weddings. So, instead of costly liquor, go for a fruit punch or tea with pretty garnishes.

After all, your family and friends are there to celebrate with you, not to be tipsy!

Go for inexpensive wedding menu items

Here are a few examples:

  • Choose buffet-style service. This option is usually more affordable, and you won’t need as many dining staff as sit-down service.
  • Use low-cost ingredients. Instead of salmon or steak, serve chicken or pork for your mains. Also, add more vegetable options to the menu.
  • Consider a dummy wedding cake. You can ask a pastry chef to make a small cake and use it as a dummy cake topper. Then serve your guests a cupcake or cake slice version of it.
  • Serve affordable desserts. Alternatively, you can skip the traditional wedding cake, then go for pies, doughnuts, waffles or ice cream!

2. Venue

Explore affordable wedding locations

Similar to your reception, an outdoor ceremony fits right into your wedding on a budget plan. You’ll even save more if you hold both ceremony and reception in the same outdoor space.

A town hall wedding is another option, but it will also mean a short guest list. Still, it’s ideal if you want to keep the occasion intimate.

Afterwards, you can have a simple reception at a nearby restaurant.

Skip the venue upgrades

Choose the most budget-friendly package and stick to its inclusions if you prefer an indoor venue. There’s no need for more elegant chairs, prettier centrepieces and luxurious linen.

These will only add up to cost but will not necessarily add value to your big day. This early, make it a habit to reserve your extra money on things that matter to your future.

Avoid a Saturday wedding

Most couples will choose Saturdays to tie the knot. It’s the best day for you and your guests, but it also encourages wedding vendors to charge higher.

So, schedule your wedding day on a Friday or Sunday instead. Better yet, consider a mid-week wedding.

Simply Mumma_How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget

3. Clothing and Accessories

Visit thrift or online stores for wedding dress shopping

I know it’s your special day, but it’s also impractical to go all out on a dress you’ll likely wear once. Rather than buy a new or branded gown, check out thrift stores in your area and go vintage!

Minor mending and refinement will still be cheaper than a brand-new dress. Wedding dress rental is another excellent option.

Online shops also often offer wedding gowns at reasonable prices. Ideally, choose a dress design and colour you can reuse for another occasion.

Pick out durable but inexpensive rings

No wedding ceremony is complete without the symbolic wedding bands. However, these rings are also among the most expensive items you need for the event.

That’s why these are crucial for your wedding on a budget plan. Skipping wedding rings worth thousands of dollars can significantly lessen your wedding cost.

So, go for simple ring options that feel and look good. Sterling silver and titanium rings are also more affordable than multi-karat ones.

4. Décor and Gifts

Spend less on wedding flowers

Choose local or in-season fresh flowers for your big day rather than import expensive blooms. Dried flowers are also excellent if you want to preserve your wedding bouquet.

You can even host a flower-making party to bond with your bridesmaids. Ask them to help you make flowers out of paper. After the ceremony, wedding guests can even bring some home as a souvenir.

You may also replace flowers with inexpensive greenery if you like.

Drop by garage sales for décor shopping

Garage sales are a haven for affordable candles, vases, fabric and other materials that you can use for decorating. If you’re having your ceremony outdoors, shop for fairy lights or paper lanterns as well.

You might find some lovely chinaware, table runners and charger plates here, too.

Simply Mumma_Gifts and Wedding on a Budget

5. Gifts and Wedding Favours

Ask friends for help instead of gifts

Do you have a friend who is a photographer, musician or florist? How about a chef or restaurateur who can lend a small space for your reception at a discounted price?

Let your talented relatives or mates in on your dream wedding on a budget! Ask them to use their skills on your big day in place of a wedding gift.

If you want, you can also barter your skills in exchange for your friends’ wedding assistance.

Be creative with wedding favours

Giving out gifts to wedding guests is traditional. But you can also skip this if you want to cut costs. On the other hand, you can also trim down your guest count then thank your guests with affordable wedding favours.

Homemade food gifts are good examples. After all, everyone appreciates anything delicious! Candles, small potted plants and pottery items are other great ideas.

Final Thoughts

Planning a wedding on a budget is not all about finding inexpensive products or services. Choosing this path also requires resourcefulness and creativity.

Put all these together with an organised planning process, and you’re good to go. Remember, a wedding is a starting point on how couples plan to live together in the years to come.

So, start things right. Then continue living within your means and saving money as a newly married couple!