General Wedding Planning, Wedding Advice

How to Budget for Your Wedding; the Complete Guide to Planning Your Finances

Whether you’re a lavish spender or you want a Kiwi-as cheap beach and BBQ wedding, you’ll still have a budget to keep to.

4.5 minutes to read

The average wedding cost in NZ is around $30,000. For the typical Kiwi, that’s a lot. It’s half a house deposit. It’s a trip through Europe and Asia. But, it also might be your dream wedding. If you’re planning your finances for your big day, you might not know where to start. Luckily, this guide takes you step by step through the process, so you can make some decisions and start your planning.

Talk with your partner about expectations

This is probably the hardest step. Money conversations can be really tricky, but they are so important to set guidelines before either of you get too invested in something you can’t afford.

Start by setting your budget. There are three possible sources of income.

  • Your savings
  • How much you can save between now and the wedding date
  • Contributions from others

You need to look at your bank account/s so you know how much you’ve already got. Once you’ve figured that you, how much you can save from now until the wedding? Do a budget and see how much cash you can stash between now and your wedding day.

Also chat to your whanau, and find out if either side wish to contribute to the wedding. In NZ, it’s no longer expected that parents pay for the wedding, but they may want to.

A word to the wise: Do not go into debt for your wedding. If you get a personal loan, that interest rates is going to be at least 10%. If you throw everything on your credit card, that’s closer to 20% interest. While it might give you a good party, it’ll leave you paying off the loan for years to come, plus all that interest. It’s not a good way to start off your married life together.

Set your expectations

Does one of you want a simple beach micro-wedding, and the other a huge chapel event with 200 of your nearest and dearest? Find a happy medium; this is the start of a lifetime of compromise.

Both of you need to list your five must-haves, five nice-to-haves, and five don’t-care items. Everyone will be different, but this just makes sure you’re both on the same page in regards to your priorities. If you both want a helicopter ride to the venue and don’t care about the cake, that makes things really simple.

The wedding checklist

The following list is a wedding checklist for common wedding purchases.

  • Wedding rings
  • Wedding dress
  • Groom’s suit
  • Bridesmaid outfits (who pays?)
  • Groomsman outfits
  • Bridal underwear, shoes, veil, accessories
  • Groom accessories
  • Wedding dress cleaning and preservation
  • Pre-wedding haircuts and colouring
  • Waxing, facial, manicure/ pedicure/ spray tan/ lash extension
  • Hair trial
  • Makeup trial
  • Hair and makeup on the day
  • Bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages other floral arrangements
  • Wedding cake
  • Celebrant fee
  • Marriage licence is $150 if you use a celebrant
  • Donation/ fee to church/ marriage venue
  • Ceremony accessories such as unity candle, flower girl baskets, ring pillow
  • Reception venue hire
  • Food cost per person (in NZ, can be between $50 to $150 pp)
  • Alcohol/ drinks per person (use this calculator)
  • Wedding favours
  • Rental of decorations/ table centrepieces/ tables/ chairs/ chair covers
  • Wedding invitations
  • DJ/ band/ music for wedding and ceremony
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Transportation
  • Wedding planner
  • Honeymoon
  • Slush fund – prepare for surprises

Set up the wedding budget

Set up an Excel or Google spreadsheet. Copy and paste the above list into the spreadsheet and start by adding in the extras you know you’ll have, and remove the expenses that don’t apply to you. For instance, if your wedding invitations are digital (check out for a free design option) then you don’t need invitation, postage, or printing costs.

It’s possible you will have some ideas of costs already, or that you’ve already booked the major expenses. Enter the figures that you can. Also, you may have individual items where you’ve set limits; the wedding dress cost, the photographer or DJ.

Allow for some extra expenses

There are always things that crop up at the last moment; realising on the day that you need safety pins, or blotters for facial oil, or that exact shade of lipstick, or plasters for blisters, or petrol for the wedding car, or the Uber ride home at the end of the night.

Weddings can make money ooze out from every possible source, and it’s difficult to stop. Allow for some unexpected extras, and cut some stress out of your life.

Stick to your budget

If you previously agreed the venue will cost $5000, and then you realise it will cost $6000 because you want the fancy chairs, that’s fine—if you remove $1000 from somewhere else. You have a finite amount of money (unless you’re a Kardashian or Jeff Bezos) and once it’s spent, it’s gone.

Can you ask guests to contribute to wedding costs?

Increasingly, the expectations of three clocks and five toasters are being replaced with far more realistic, Kiwi attitudes. While the gift registry still exists, it’s also common to have a honeymoon registry or a wishing well at the wedding. This allows people to give you money which you can use as you want. While it’s not recommended you send people a bill for their meal, the use of a wishing well at a wedding means people don’t have to buy a gift (bonus) and can give what they feel they can afford.

There’s a whole another blog on ways to save money; but this is how to start your wedding budget and set you up for nuptial success and a debt-free start to your lives together.

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