A while back I wrote on wedding committees and how they are ruining friendships. In the course on many discussions after that post, I realized that many people have unrealistic goals for their wedding. We are driven by the need to have a wedding just like (or even better than) so and so. And that is why I wrote a piece called cheap wedding tips; the principles. Today I want to go a little further and show you simple cost cutting tips for your wedding. The principles from the earlier are completely relevant to today’s post. Here they are:
- Expensive does not mean beautiful and cheap does not equal horrible
- No one remembers the things, people remember the mood
- Fitting in is overrated – throw peer pressure out of the window
- Perfection is unattainable
- Debt is not your friend
- You will need this money later
- You can do some things later
- The marriage is more important than the wedding
These are things you need to constantly remind yourself during the wedding planning process. With these as our guiding principles, let us look at actual ways to cut costs for the big day. Many people have been asking how come we spent Ksh 350,000 (3500 USD) on our wedding and so I will share with you what we did for our big day.
Great planning: If you don’t want to be strained financially, plan well. Give yourself enough time to the day. This way, you will have time to check out various service providers and even bargain on certain things. For example, if you are rushed for time you will not be able to have you gown tailor made (which can be cheaper) and instead you have to settle for store bought. Good planning makes you more efficient. We would put several things in one day like meet the decor guy, check out the venue and in the evening go for a premarital class. This saves you all the costs you’d have to incur if you did these in separate days.
Take a breather between dowry negotiations and the big day: This is part of great planning. Dowry negotiations are a huge part of getting married in Africa and they affect your budget greatly. As much as your friends and his parents chip in, your man needs to have something substantial to give and this affects your joint budget. Give yourselves a couple of months between the last negotiation day and the wedding day. It will give time to put some more money together and even rest emotionally – those negotiations are involving!
Steer clear of holiday season unless you absolutely have to: I know great weather is a serious factor but you need to also know that peak seasons mean more expensive services. In December, you will be competing with companies’ end year parties for venue. You will also not enjoy that beach honeymoon because everybody is on vacation. If you choose peak season, you have to book way ahead on lots of things and there are no guarantees the prices will not change.
Do it yourself: My husband is a great designer so he designed our invitation cards, program, and those tags used by your team such as ushers, security etc. He knew all these cheap places to print them and when they were ready we cut them together. What are you good at? Can you do some pieces for your décor? Can you DJ? Is there someone in your bridal team that is gifted at making flowers? Whatever you can do, do it. It will not only save you money, it will make your day fun.
Don’t be too proud to take help: I think this is what helped us the most. People may not have given us lots of cash but they saved us a lot of money. People showed us love in so many ways. Let me break it down for you.
- Photography – my husband’s amazing friend did photography for us as his wedding gift. He is a professional and the photos were superb. He gave us the photos raw and we printed them out later.
- Honeymoon – my old time friend has a beautiful home in Nanyuki. She was helping me check for honeymoon places that side. One day she called and said “all these places are so expensive, can I give you my house? Would you mind staying there?” Are you kidding, of course we wouldn’t mind. She stocked her fridge with fresh food so we would not have to cook too much. How awesome is that?
- Jewelry – a friend gave me all the jewelry I wore. Seriously.
- Music equipment – JKUAT Christian Union gave us equipment and all we had to do was pick and drop them after we were done.
- Photo shoot venue – a friend offered us her home right next to our wedding venue. It saved us money and time. It also made for a unique and beautiful photo shoot.
I can list many more things we were given but I think I have made my point. If you are not choosy, people can help you. If we had insisted we want a hotel for our honeymoon or well-printed and put-in-an-album photos, we would have missed on all these amazing things people did for us. If someone offers you their wedding gown, take it – and bring it back dry cleaned 🙂
Use friends as service providers – this, if done with wisdom, works great. Remain professional; see their portfolio and sign contracts to ensure great service delivery. If you do this right, you will promote your friend’s business and get a good deal.
Here are some more ways you can cut costs:
Venue – choose a public place like a church or campus/school. Book one location for both your ceremony and reception. This not only saves time, it cuts transport budget considerably. We used PAC University – chapel for the ceremony and outdoor grounds for reception.
Gown and suit – Compare tailor-made vs store bought and see which works better. Some friends of mine have imported their own gowns and it saved them money. Do lots of research though to ensure you get a good outfit.
Rings – Silver is much cheaper than gold. If you don’t really like your ring, you can always get better ones on one of your anniversaries.
Décor: For starters, choose a venue that doesn’t need much décor. Then, go for a simple setting – restaurant style takes up more tables, more décor material and more tent space and so is more expensive.
Food – this makes up a big part of your budget. We agreed we’d rather have people lack sitting space but not miss food so we invested greatly on food. We got a great caterer (a friend’s mum) and she made great food at an affordable price. If you tell her to cook for 300 people, she cooks for 350. She was there on time and didn’t need any follow-up.
I hope this post has shown you that a wedding doesn’t mean breaking your bank. It can be affordable and still beautiful. Those who have already done a wedding, share with us ways you cut costs for your big day
Author: Wanjiru Kihusa
I am Wanjiru Kihusa and I’m a writer and founder of Still A Mum – an organization that seeks to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Africa. I am especially passionate about women and children.
I blog to share my thoughts and experiences hoping that in the process someone will learn from my life.