Christmas or New Year’s is a wonderful time to get engaged – your family and friends are often close by, and there’s a general feeling of goodwill in the air.
There’s no harm in taking a few weeks to allow the event to sink in, to get used to the idea and to perhaps generate a few ideas about how you’d like to celebrate. Or you might have already dived into the wedding planning process headfirst, surrounded by Pinterest boards and bridal magazines.
Regardless of your approach, we’ve got some tips on how you can start on the right foot and avoid forking out where you don’t have to.
Weddings are expensive (although they don’t have to be). According to Weddings Online, the average Irish couple spends around €24,000 on their big day. For reference, that’s more than the price of a brand-new Volkswagen Golf.
Set your budget early and try to stick to it as much as possible. If your wedding is perhaps two years down the line, there’s plenty of time to save the funds required – if you can both save €350 per month for 24 months you’ll wind up with a pot of €16,800. More than enough for a fantastic day without the bits you’re not going to remember. If you’re stuck, use the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s handy wedding budget planner.
If saving for your wedding isn’t simply possible, and you need to get a loan, shop around – compare the various loans available using the Bonkers.ie Loan Calculator tool. Avoid the temptation to go overboard. Starting married life with a heavy debt hanging over your heads isn’t the most pleasant of experiences.
It can be best to leave certain aspects to the professionals (like your wedding dress or the rings), but there are plenty of areas on which you can put your own stamp and save money.
If you’ve got a creative flair and access to a computer and some simple software programmes, you can easily create your own wedding stationery, such as invitations and dinner menus. A host of online templates are available, or you can use your own imagination. Perhaps couple your own design with some quality cardstock paper or pre-made surrounds for a more official effect. Check out DH Gate or Ali Express for ideas. And ditch the RSVP cards and expensive stamps for a phone number and email address – you could save over €100 depending on the size of your guest list.
Trim the fat
These days there are untold options for bride and grooms to be. You can get married in a castle, hire photo booths and candy carts, buy designer clothing or honeymoon on the opposite side of the world.
Our advice? Be ruthless. A chocolate fountain might look nice but people will usually only remember the food and the band, while good quality photographs are nice to look back on. Avoid the fancy wedding car and ask your friends and family to lend their wheels – all you need is some elbow grease and wedding car ribbon (€2.99 in Mr Price).
For your wedding cake, opt for one or two real layers for your guests, and use decorated styrofoam for the remainder. And keep the time of year in mind when you’re choosing your venue – the difference between the peak and off-peak season could be four figures.
The same goes for the guest list. It’s your big day, and the people attending should be those you want to share the experience with. Third cousins you’ve never seen before or the neighbours you don’t get on with don’t need to receive an invitation out of courtesy.
It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of planning a wedding, and tips from loved ones or wedding professionals can easily result in needless spending. But, with a little careful planning now and throughout the process, you can ensure a wonderful day filled with family and friends and bearing your own stamp, that won’t cost the earth. Enjoy!