Bridal Bargains for a Luxe Wedding

Noone wants a “budget” wedding, but the reality is we’re all trying to plan the wedding of our dreams while spending comfortably within our means. There’s no recipe for unease like heading into your newlywed years with crippling wedding debt, and I’d much rather help you to plan and budget for a wedding you can afford, with money left over to splurge on your honeymoon too.

With that in mind, I’ve curated a list of bridal bargains that’ll still have you feeling a million dollars on your big day.

Location, Location, Location – Wedding Venues that Don’t Cost the Earth

Your wedding venue is not only most likely your biggest expense, but what you choose will impact so many other wedding budget variables. For instance, the hireage fee at one venue may be larger than another, but if it allows you to supply alcohol or off-site catering, you’re likely to be able to save more there. Granted, this will involve more work on your part, but if you get organised early, it’s easy enough to do.

It’s worth thinking outside the box for your venue, too. Does anyone in your family have a great backyard you can convert into a dreamy garden party, or is your favourite restaurant suitable for a large group? The most expensive options are often all-inclusive wedding venues and vineyards, but you could spend much less hiring out a large bach with beach-access for your summer wedding, for instance, or opt for an off-season date, which is usually much cheaper.

Have a look at The Wedding Map (where you can filter by private home) and Backyard Weddings, where you’ll certainly find a budget-friendly option to suit your big day, no matter how glamorous you want to go.

Champagne Tastes on a Beer Budget

Don’t be alarmed, I’m not about to suggest your guest BYO or that you serve boxed wine. Naturally, the easiest way to save on drinks is just to choose a cheaper drop, but there are other ways to save without compromising on flavour.

For wine and beer, the supermarket is often cheapest and they usually accept returns, whereas liquor stores tend to charge a restocking fee.

Champagne or bubbles will probably be your biggest splurge, but you can save money by having other options available at the same time Champagne is served. At your post-ceremony bar for instance, as well as having bubbles, offer guests a choice of beer or ready-to-drink cocktails. For our wedding, we made large dispensers of fruity punch and Pimms, as well as having RTD bottles available.

Premium Liquor’s ‘Sundown‘ offerings are beautifully presented and delicious, with local flavours like Pink Gin with Kawakawa and Horopito, or the classic G&T with Hawke’s Bay lemons. Sundown is NZ made and contains a unique blend of 9 botanicals with a kiwi twist – Juniper Berry, Angelica, Lemon, Orange, Coriander Seeds, Kawakawa, Horopito, Orris Root, Gentian Root.

Can Wedding Dress and Budget ever coexist?

There’s probably no other time in your life that you would consider spending $5-10,000 on an outfit, let alone a single garment. Unless you’re actually Beyonce, that’s just out of the question, right?

It’s not just a dress, though, right? It’s your wedding dress, and we all know that once you prefix a word with ‘wedding the price is no longer eye-wateringly expensive, but actually sounds like a reasonable investment…

I’m hardly one to talk, I completely overspent on my wedding dress, but that doesn’t mean I recommend doing so. Given my chance again, I’d almost certainly save 80% on the cost of my attire, and have a longer honeymoon!

If you don’t want to spend 4 months’ rent on your wedding dress, you have options – and some of them are seriously worthwhile. While some of the best wedding dress bargains are available on sites like ASOS or The Iconic, you can support local Kiwi designers by buying off the rack dresses, whether you go for an off the rack “wedding dress”, a white or ivory “bridesmaids’ dress”, or for something that’s not “bridal” at all.

Celine Rita’s ‘Lucia’ dress in ivory is a steal at $289, while Leave Her Wilder’s Hawke Jumpsuit in snow makes a dramatic statement for just $400. If you want a more traditional looking ‘wedding dress’, personally I’d go for one on ASOS, – the sequin kimono style is my current fave, and still totally luxe, on a budget.

Kardashian Level Florals that Don’t Cost the Earth?

In a word… no. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West spent US$2.8 million on their wedding, and estimated upward of $100,000 on the flowers alone – and it shows…

Flowers are one element of a wedding which can really blow the budget. Like a wedding cake, the expense is twofold – the raw materials (flowers themselves) and the labour for an extensive amount of time, thought and care on the part of your florist. There’s also the cost of transportation and storage, all of which are included (don’t underestimate the importance of storing flowers at the right temperature).

If you’re trying to save money on flowers but still want to achieve a luxe, professional look, I’d suggest scaling back on volume, rather than trying to DIY. Think of flowers and decor as accessories, not the main feature of your decor. Of course, you could take your bridesmaids along to a flower workshop and learn how to tie a bouquet, but you may already have a busy few days leading up to the wedding, before you think about going to flower markets and then undertaking the work yourself.

If you’re planning your wedding, I’d love to know how else you’ve trimmed a few costs, or how you’re planning to do so. Leave a comment with your planning wisdom below!

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