I remember when we first announced our engagement to our family after a couple of weeks of being unable to keep it secret any longer. We were met with hugs and congratulations, lots of questions about the proposal, the ring, the reaction etc.
After the excitement bubbled down, the next question everyone seemed to ask was ‘So, have you set a date?’ ‘When’s the big day?’ ‘Are you getting married soon?’
How about a random Thursday?
I was really surprised we got pestered about the wedding date literally days after getting engaged – especially when most of our friends were engaged for a year or more before getting married. After getting asked a few too many times, we decided the best way to give everyone an answer was to just get on with it and set a date! We started looking for a venue that weekend.
Setting the date depends a lot on where you want to get married and the availability of your venue. We also considered work schedules of family and friends and potential time needed to travel from interstate or overseas.
Take the time to talk about what is important to you for your wedding – for us it was good food, good drinks and a live band. I’d suggest making a list of everything you want then selecting two or three things to really focus your energy and budget on, especially if your time is limited! For example:
1. Live band
2. Food and drinks
3. Over 50 guests
4. Venue setting
5. Venue timing (Saturday night vs weekday)
8. Wedding gown, hair and make up
9. Ceremony and celebrant
10. Bridal party size
11. Transport and accommodation
12. Table decorations/ bonbonierres/ photo booth
13. Wedding cake
Think about what you value as a couple and what your friends and family will remember and enjoy. Consider what you would willingly sacrifice in order to be able to focus on your priorities for the wedding.
Once you have a good idea of what type of wedding you want, talk to your partner about a budget before you spend anything. Keep in mind that you will likely go over your budget and plan to have an extra 10-20% of your total budget available to use as well.
We spent about $17 000 on our wedding with just over 90 guests. This total included our wedding rings, my wedding dress, my husband’s suit, bridal party dresses and suits, hair and make up, transport, accommodation, photographers and ceremony and reception expenses. Our reception (venue hire, catering, glassware, lighting, extra seating, alcohol and band) cost around $10 000 – about 60% of our total budget. Our original budget was $14 000 so we went over budget by about 20%. Expenses I didn’t include were our cake (which was home made as a wedding present), champagne and wine (which my parents purchased), hen’s and buck’s nights (which our friends mostly contributed toward), invitations (which we printed at home) and thank you cards (about $150 to purchase and post).
If you can afford to do it – without offending your family – I would recommend paying for your own wedding. This will give you the flexibility to spend your money how you wish without feeling indebted to your parents. This is a tricky topic as parents often want to help out and it can be difficult to negotiate money and responsibility whilst making them still feel loved and appreciated. I suggest asking your family what they would like to help with on the day and who they would like to invite. Keep them updated with the planning process so they don’t feel left out, but keep any disagreements and details about finances between you and your partner.
With a date in mind, a few priorities and budget set, you should now be ready to find yourselves a venue!