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I do, take two: The real cost of postponing your wedding

Published 23 September 2020

Long engagements are all the rage now, so get your budget ready for your vows.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something that costs less than your life’s savings. That sounds like a dream wedding, right?

Budgeting for your big day under any normal circumstances can be a taxing task. In fact, it’s often the first true test of your marriage - before the show’s even started. On average Australians are left with a bill of $36,0001 before the night is over.

Now with COVID-19 restrictions putting a pin in most people’s wedding plans this year, that task is proving even more tricky. We thought we’d take this opportunity to go back to basics and share some tips on how to budget your big day… and re-budget if a global health crisis or personal roadblock forces you to postpone.

Embrace a long engagement

Luckily, long engagements are all the rage. Extending your engagement period allows you to take advantage of extra planning time and build a rock-solid budget that has room to change and grow.

Planning years in advance also gives you more time to accumulate savings, find early-bird discounts, and add a few more birthdays and tax return balances to your available funds. You also get the freedom of waiting for sales before spending anything, and time to change your mind if you’re unsure (not about your partner, just about your colour theme – hopefully!).

Remember: last-minute decisions are often the most expensive.

Stay local

Destination weddings have increased in popularity in recent years, but with global travel off the cards for the near future, you may need to reinvent your dream on home turf. The positives? You’ll save oodles without international travel and accommodation costs.

Shopping local and choosing suppliers from your home community also has its benefits. It’s good for the local economy, and comes at a discount compared with mass suppliers who’ll never know you by name.

Shop second-hand, get crafty

If you’ve got time on your hands, use it to shop around for rare deals. Stock up on disposable film cameras instead of a professional photographer and get your mates to do the capturing. Learn to make your own floral bouquets. You never know what pre-loved items are lurking in a vintage store or your best friends’ closet.

Buying second-hand jewellery or borrowing what you can when it comes to the decorations makes a difference in the end. Plus, it adds a layer of sentimentality and character to the event.

The three Fs: Friends, Fridays and flexible bookings

In today’s climate, the fear of needing to postpone your wedding isn’t irrational. Make sure you read the fine print of your travel or venue bookings to understand what a cancellation or postponement might cost you. It might be worth the extra few dollars to pay for a flexi booking that can move with you.

Some other ways to prepare for the unexpected include opting to go DIY with friends and family instead of hiring big suppliers - your mates will be more compassionate if you have to move the date. Also, pick discounted days like Fridays or Sundays or even a casual Wednesday for the event. Off-peak days are cheaper to begin with, and less in-demand if you need to find a new date that everyone’s available for.

Make a 5% emergency allowance

Whatever your final budget, ensure you’ve got 5% extra to cover unforeseen expenses. You’ll feel safer knowing that you’ve planned for the ‘just-in-cases’, and the joy of spending those extra savings will be tenfold if nothing goes wrong.

Remember: Vows, not Venture Capital

You’re saying I do, not launching a start-up. In the end, especially after a year like this one, it’s the people and love that we’ll remember - not the colour of the top-shelf serviettes. Human connection is increasingly valuable and may even overshadow the material things that may have seemed important before.

Ensure you’re only splurging on things that really matter, to help take weight off your shoulders. For example, making all your own food for a hundred people? Stressful. Prioritise the cost of a caterer. Hot tip? If you can’t really afford it, you probably don’t need it.

Your budget-to-be

Start from scratch or make some amends with our free budget planner and further advice on the ANZ Financial Wellbeing Program.

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The information set out above is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on the information, you should consider whether the information is appropriate for you having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. By providing this information ANZ does not intend to provide any financial advice or other advice or recommendations.  You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances.

1. MoneySmart.gov.au