When it came to our wedding budget we had one goal: To not go into debt! Which, for us (both college students), meant sticking to a wedding budget of $10,000 NZD ($8134 USD, according to the current exchange rate). Given that the average New Zealand costs around $30,000, we knew we would have our work cut out for us.
Staying within budget definitely involved a bit of compromise in some areas, but we were also not afraid to splurge in other areas that were important to us. Below I have broken down the costs into major categories. In some cases where I thought it might be helpful, I have broken down the costs further within each category. I have written the $$s in New Zealand dollars, with the US equivalent in brackets beside each amount.
Here’s how it all worked out in the end, down to the last cent (thanks to my obsessive Excel tracking!):
Photography: $2100 ($1705 USD)
- The largest chunk of our budget was spent on photography, and we dont have a single regret about that. Included in this portion of the budget also was an album and our photographer’s travel costs.
Bride’s Bits ’n’ Bobs: $1082 ($880 USD)
- Buying my dress from David’s Bridal with Mr E (before we were engaged—I know!) was probably the best financial wedding decision we made. There is no way we would have been able to afford a dress I liked as much for the same price in New Zealand.
- I was lucky enough to have a friend hem and take in my dress for me at no cost just three days before the wedding.
- My veil was handmade by Christchurch company, Grace and Lace—much more affordable than any of the big bridal chains down here.
- My necklace, bracelets, garter, and earrings were all either bought by my parents in Bali and gifted to me, or borrowed.
- I ended up falling in love with very affordable vintage upcycled shoes from Etsy seller whichgoose
- My bolero was another Etsy purchase, this time from seller maryandangelika.
Groom’s Bits ’n’ Bobs: $268.49 ($218.40 USD)
- We decided to hire, rather than buy Mr E’s suit. We found the perfect one at a little local menswear shop, Made for Men.
- The rest of the budget in this area was spent on Mr E’s cufflinks, pocket square, socks, Chuck Taylors, and a tie with a custom label from rabbitstop.
Venue: $624.50 ($508 USD)
- Luckily for us, because I’m the granddaughter of the founder of our venue, Gardens of the World, we didn’t have to pay a fee to use it. The costs accrued in this part of the budget covered chair, table, and mini canopy hireage, as well as use of the garden’s outdoor power supply.
Catering for 100 people: $1400 ($1138.80 USD)
- We were able to negotiate a price of $12.50 per head with our caterer, Las Brisas. This covered the main meal, and then we decided to add horchata for after the ceremony as well, which added an extra $150 total to the price. Going the mobile food cart route was a great option for us!
Other Food and Drink: $594.88 ($483.88 USD)
- We only hired our caterer for the main part of the meal. To save on costs, we provided punch, old-fashioned sodas, and tea and coffee ourselves.
- Included in this area of the budget were Hershey’s kisses and truffles made by a friend of my mother for the Tea & Cupcake Hour
- The homemade cupcakes were a feat of endurance for me, my mother, grandmother, and sisters, but we finished them! And saved a bunch of moolah in the process.
- The most expensive items in this section were seven delectable cheesecakes from Chocolate Velvet. Their total cost came to $300 NZD. A cake to feed the same amount of people would have cost us about 25% more, so we still think this was a good financial decision. Plus the bakers tossed in a free date scone I was eyeing up when I went to pick them up the day before the wedding Win-win.
- You may remember that I decided to bake our wedding cake myself, as we only needed a small one for cutting, and you may also remember how my trial run didn’t go so well. Fortunately, the second time round was the charm. My mother and I baked the wedding cake a week and a half before the wedding (using ingredients we already had in the pantry), froze it, and a lady from church kindly offered to frost it for free.
- The cake stand was also free, as I got it for a 21st birthday present from my grandmother
Paper Bits: $212.32 ($172.70 USD)
- We DIYed all our paper products, which was another money saving decision. The 100 invitations came to a total of $100.99
- The rest of the cost was made up with supplies for the place tags and reserved signs for the VIPs, little signs for the dessert table, the programmes, the kids’ colouring books, and a guestbook of our engagement photos done through Blurb.
Flowers: $245 ($199.30 USD)
- Flowers weren’t that much of a priority for us at our wedding. To fit them into our budget, we part DIYed, and part BIYed in the end. My bouquet, Mr E’s buttonhole, the teacup flower arrangement for the cake, and a bag of rose petals were purchased from Bluebell Florist.
- For the rest of the floral arrangements, we bought 100 roses, and four large bunches of filler from a local wholesaler for only $126. With these, along with lavender from our garden, we put together all the arrangements for the reception, and I also used some of the dried lavender to make buttonholes for the groomsmen, fathers and grandfathers.
Bridesmaids and Flower Girl: $581.10 ($472.70 USD)
- We bought the bridesmaids dresses on sale, and also their necklaces and earrings. They bought their own shoes.
- Their wrist corsages were made by the lovely Mrs. Espresso, aka Silver Pencils, and I liked them so much that I ended up getting her to make a headband for our flower girl as well.
- The flower girl’s dress was bought on eBay by her mother, as well as her shoes.
- The most expensive thing we bought for the bridesmaids (and me!) were the lace parasols ($55 each). As it turns out, I’m so glad we splurged on them because of the fierce sun on the wedding day!
Groomsmen: $97 ($78.90 USD)
- The groomsmen insisted on hiring their own suit pants and vests. They wore shoes and shirts they already owned, and we gifted them with ties and All Blacks socks.
Hair and Makeup: $600 ($488 USD)
- Nicki Collett did my hair and makeup, as well as my mother’s. At first I was hesitant to spend so much on my hair and face, but it was Mr E who insisted I book Nicki. And after I had my trial with her (included in the cost above), I was so, so glad he did. Not one regret.
- A good friend took the reins of the bridesmaids’s hair and makeup and she did a brilliant job as well.
Decorations: $458.11 ($372.60 USD)
- My uncle married us, and waived the fee.
Transport: $275 ($223.70 USD)
- We had two vehicles for transportation. Betsey the London black cab cost $250 for two hours and took my bridesmaids, parents, and me to the venue.
Boring (but essential) Reception Stuff: $598.01 ($486.40 USD)
- The downside (and also potential upside) of having a venue like ours was that it was basically a blank slate, and many things had to be brought in from the outside. Our mismatched tea cups, dessert plates, disposable utensils, a glass drink dispenser, cupcake and cake stands, picnic rugs and cushion inserts all were a part of this cost. If a very kind vintage shop owner hadn’t lent us 30 tea cup and saucer sets then this amount would have been even higher.
Favors: $71.28 ($58)
- Could we have done cheaper, simpler favors? Probably. But I just couldn’t resist the cuteness of our pudding favors.
(photo by Mr E)
Rings: $840 ($683.25 USD)
- We discovered that it was actually cheaper to get our rings custom designed through a local designer than to purchase ready made ones from a major chain. The breakdown was $600 for Mr E’s ring, and $240 for mine.
Marriage License: $120 ($97.60 USD)
Grand Total: $10, 197.69 ($8, 294.80 USD)
So, there you have it. While we went a bit over budget, we were still within a respectable distance of original amount, and we were still able to have the honeymoon we wanted
Any other college couples negotiating a strict budget out there? How did you keep your costs down?
*All photos courtesy of Jane Sanders, unless otherwise noted