Weddings are expensive regardless of whether you go for a traditional African or church wedding. Figures for the average cost of a wedding in South Africa sit at about R70 000 – R80 000. But this can snowball into a much bigger sum, particularly if the bride and groom get swept away by the emotion of it all and don’t have the vital financial conversations that go with it.
Here’s how you can make sure that things don’t go out of control but that you still get what you want on the big day:
1. When it comes down to the finances of the wedding it’s important to discuss and plan for it sooner rather than later. Have those difficult money talks now rather than delay them when it may be too late to come up with a contingency plan. Plan and budget for what you both want and desire for the wedding and highlight items that are nice to have but not vital for the wedding. Compromise on the amount you’re willing to spend on it or scrap them altogether.
2. Digitise your wedding planning and budget. Consider using apps like My Wedding by hitched.co.za. With this app you can update your wedding planning, log your costs on to a budget planner and create a to-do list. Expenses are easily added and you can keep an accurate account of what you’re spending so you can keep your budget under control.
3. It’s important to save for your wedding. This may seem like an obvious thing but so many couples start married life in debt. If you need to pay for things like lobola, which can come to about R40 000 and sometimes much more, it’s important to use savings instead of taking out a personal loan, which fetches high interest rates and other admin costs. As the savings term will be short, consider a high interest savings or money market account which offers easy access to the funds.
4. Find ways to cut costs on the wedding venue, which can be one of your biggest expenses. To save money, consider getting married on a weekday or during the winter season where wedding venues like hotels and wine farms often have discounts or off-season specials on. The timing of your wedding can also save you money. For instance, having a wedding in the morning means you can serve your guests breakfast (which is often cheaper than lunch or dinner) and when it comes to alcohol you’d only serve champagne at most.
5. Cut costs by embracing technology as much as you can. Do away with expensive designer invitations and rather send off a digital one and get guests to RSVP online. Setting up a wedding website can help you with all of this and depending on the platform you use can be quick, simple and cheap.
6. Remember to shop around and compare prices. Don’t just hire the first wedding supplier you meet. Subscribe to potential suppliers’ newsletters and follow them on social media to see if they advertise any deals that you can take advantage of.
7. Finally, ask your suppliers to be transparent with their costs. The last thing you need is to pay for any hidden or extra costs that may have been overlooked or not talked about at the start such as gratuity fees, clean-up costs or charges that may accompany things that you bring to the venue. For instance, while you may think you’re saving by bringing your own wedding cake there are many venues that now add cake-cutting fees that are charged per guest because they may have contracts in place with certain caterers or prefer that you use their own chef to make the cake.
Weddings are a happy occasion. But that feel-good factor that comes with marrying the man or woman of your dreams could soon be wiped away once the wedding is over and reality hits when you’re struggling to pay off debt. With a little bit of planning, patience and asking the right questions you can save up enough money to cover the costs of the wedding as well as budget for any hidden extras that may come along.