How to Plan a Wedding On a Budget In 2022

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Francis Taylor

Last Updated: 19th October 2022

When we hear the word ‘wedding’ we might immediately think of an extravagant, expensive event with never-ending food, booze and shenanigans, but the truth is that your dream wedding doesn’t necessarily need to be some huge, bank-breaking blowout.

How much does a wedding cost?

According to a 2022 Wedding Industry Report by Easy Weddings1, the average Australian couple spends $32,228 on their wedding. A hefty price tag indeed – and no doubt one that’s already raising a few eyebrows!

Where does that can of money actually go, though? Well, according to the report, the average costs include:

  • $13,901 for the wedding venue
  • $5,368 for food and catering
  • $2,316 for the wedding dress
  • $1,444 for the formal wear
  • $1,118 for wedding cars and transport
  • $905 for photo booth hire
  • $770 for the marriage celebrant
  • $760 for invitations
  • $725 for hair and make-up
  • $698 for bridesmaid dresses
  • $558 for wedding cakes
  • $547 on guest favours (‘bonbonniere’ such as edible gifts and personalised items)

If those dollars and statistics make you squirm, then perhaps it’s worth considering what a wedding actually means to you and your partner. To some people, a wedding is something they’ve been dreaming about since they were old enough to scrapbook ‘dream wedding journals’. To others, a wedding is simply an official piece of paper to certify lifelong partnership and reduce taxes and overheads. Sexy.

But whether you’re looking to spend a little or a lot on your wedding, it’s worth planning ahead to make sure the expenses don’t run out of control. This is where a wedding budget can come in handy.

How do you budget for a wedding?

Most wedding budgets are pretty straightforward. You just draw up a list of your different expenses – the flowers, the venue fees, and of course, the wedding rings – then create two columns for each. The estimated cost and the actual cost.

We’ll go through how to tackle this shortly; but for now, it’s worth getting everything set up.

Grabbing a pen and paper will work just fine for this. However, if you’re tech-savvy, then you might want to set up your budget in a program such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. It could be easier to adjust your expenses using these programs. You might also be able to find templates for wedding budgets online (like this one from the folks at Microsoft) that can make the whole process even easier

Step 1: Find out how much you can spend

Ideally, you don’t want to be spending money you don’t have. So before you decide on a lavish wedding, you’ll want to work out what you can afford and adjust your expectations accordingly. I know, I know – sorry to be a bummer.

The best way to begin here is with a brief assessment of your finances. This includes looking at things like:

You and your partner’s savings

It’s important to sit down with your partner and work out how much is saved up in your bank accounts and how much you can spare. At the very least, you’ll want enough money left over after the wedding to cover the costs of an emergency (e.g. sudden medical expenses, car repairs, etc.)

Your living expenses

Review the costs of your day-to-day essentials, such as food, rent and utilities, and make sure that the additional wedding costs don’t make money so tight that you’re unable to pay for them. Creating a regular budget can be particularly helpful here.

Your other financial goals

If you want a trip around the world, or a nice house in the suburbs, as well as a huge wedding, then you might need to make some trade-offs. If buying a family home is your number one priority, then putting less money towards your wedding could free up some funds there.

When it comes to your wedding, it might also be better to make a conservative estimate in case some unexpected costs arise. For instance, if you settle on a spending limit of $20,000, it could be a good idea to budget for a $17,000 wedding. That way, you’ll have $3000 left over to cover any extras that come up.

Step 2: Think about what works for you

Let’s turn to what you and your partner have in mind for your wedding. Are you looking to exchange your vows inside a beautiful, stately church? A sprawling, outdoor wedding, perhaps? Or is something smaller and simpler more your style?

If you haven’t given this much thought, it’s important to establish a general vision. This will help you estimate your expenses later on and compare them against your budget.

Among other things, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Where do you want to get married?
  • Who will be your celebrant?
  • How will you get there?
  • How many people will you invite?
  • What kind of flowers and decorations do you want?
  • What will you wear on the day?
  • What will your bridesmaids and groomsmen wear?
  • Do you want a professional to take photos or videos of your wedding?
  • How many wedding cars or alternative transport options will you need?

Additional necessities and services that can affect the cost of your wedding also include:

Wedding planners

A good wedding planner can take a lot of stress off your shoulders, helping to organise everything from the menu to the floor plans. However, they generally cost upwards of $1,000. So if you think you’re up to the challenge, you can try to organise the wedding yourself.


You’ll have a few options here. You can create the invitations yourself or get a professional designer to make them. Alternatively, you can send out e-invites if you don’t feel like buying reams of stationery.

Wedding rehearsals

This can give everyone a chance to do a practice run before the big day. That way, you can smooth out any hiccups where logistics or speeches are concerned the first time round. You don’t always have to do this on-site either – a brief meeting or dinner with the bridal party may be enough to get everyone on the same page.

Chair and furniture hire

Depending on who you choose, your wedding venue may provide all the essentials when it comes to furniture. However, if this isn’t the case, then you’ll need to bring your own tables and chairs or cover the costs of hiring them.

Generally speaking, a wedding with a smaller guestlist and less extras will cost less than a more extravagant wedding. Of course, a modest celebration isn’t for everyone. Some couples have that irresistible vision of a beach wedding in their heads, or have large, extended families whose presence will make the day extra special.

Budgeting for a wedding

Step 3: Estimate the costs

Right. So now that you’ve got a sense of what your wedding will look like, it’s time to get an estimate on the costs. This will be all the expenses you’ve written down on your budget, plus any others you didn’t think of before. To begin:

Get an actual price

Don’t just guess how much everything will cost. For each expense – be it a wedding planner or a live band – you’ll want a rough estimate. It’ll be more work, but it’ll also save you a lot of hassle down the track.

Check their websites

Google what you’re looking for. Most churches, venues and services have their prices written on their websites. If not, they should at least have a contact number or message function which you can use to fetch a quote.

Compare services

Different businesses, suppliers and venues charge different rates, and comparing them might be able to help you find a competitive price. There are even online comparison services for weddings that can make the process easier.

Once you’ve done your research, you can get started on your budget and fill in the estimated costs. Then, you’ll want to add everything up to get the total cost of your wedding.

Step 4: Save where you can

If your estimated costs match the spending limit you’ve set for the wedding, then you can relax for a bit. However, if the wedding you’ve envisioned has outgrown your budget, then you’ll want to look at where you can start reducing the costs.

The good news is that you might not need to give up on your dream of that special day. In most cases, it just means you have to make some slight adjustments. For instance:

Cut the non-essentials

Prioritise what’s most important to begin. If you need to make cuts to your wedding, start with what’s least essential; a beautiful wedding dress is probably non-negotiable, but do you absolutely need to hire a photo booth? It all comes down to what you and your partner value most.

Let the bridesmaids pick for themselves

Instead of forking out for six expensive dresses, you could settle on a general colour scheme and let your bridesmaids wear something that’s already in their wardrobe. Or forget matching colours – how about similar styles?

Go for a playlist instead of live music

If a live band isn’t one of your need-to-haves, then you could always create your own wedding playlist. That way, you can save money on a DJ without emptying the dance floor.

Get a pre-loved wedding dress

As part of their industry report, Easy Weddings found that 1 in 20 of the brides surveyed planned to buy a second-hand dress1. It’s not hard to see why either – especially when most pre-loved dresses come at a considerable discount.

Ask your friends for help

Your friends and family might be able to assist with other costs as well. If you know someone who’s a baking whiz, they might be able to prepare your wedding cake for you. Or maybe you’re mates with a photographer who’s willing to do some pro-bono work.

Aim for the off-peak season

Some months are more popular – and pricier – than others when it comes to weddings. According to the 2022 industry report from Easy Weddings1, the most popular periods for weddings were February-April and September-November. Alternatively, the off-peak seasons in July-August or December-January are typically more affordable.

Consider a micro-wedding

ABC News reports this as an increasingly popular option in Australia2. While your typical weddings have 80 or 100 guests, a micro-wedding has much less. As such, they tend to be more intimate and affordable, even when you factor in the costs of a venue, catering and live music.

…or maybe a backyard celebration

Another ABC News report3 makes mention of a backyard wedding that only cost the couple $1500. If you and your partner aren’t looking for anything too fancy, a celebrant, some home cooking and red wine might be all you need.

By making these kinds of adjustments, you might be able to get the cost of your wedding well within your budget. Just update the estimated costs as you update these expenses and ensure the new total is something you can afford.

Step 5: Track your spending

Now that you’ve got a working budget, it’s time to start organising the wedding. First, use your new estimated costs as a loose spending limit; then, as you put down deposits for things like catering, dresses and venue hire, you’ll want to record the cost in the ‘actual cost’ column.

By doing so, you can easily compare these expenses with the ‘estimated costs’. If you find that the actual costs are exceeding these predictions by a fair amount, it’s probably because you aren’t actually sticking to the budget.

Remember, you don’t want to spend too much more than your estimated costs. This will either force you to spend more than you originally planned or to make further cuts to your wedding later on. So it doesn’t hurt to regularly review how much you’re spending and scale back on certain expenses if you’ve overspent on others.

Don’t forget the honeymoon!

Moving on from your wedding budget to something more exciting, let’s talk about your honeymoon. After all, you and your partner deserve some bonding time after the busy lead-up to your big day!

The 2022 industry report from Easy Weddings pegs the average honeymoon at a $5,752 cost1. Depending on the location you choose and how long you holiday for, your honeymoon could cost more or less than this average, but the important thing is to budget for this expense as you would your wedding.

In this case, you’ll want to estimate the specific costs of your honeymoon. This might include:

  • Any plane tickets or transport expenses
  • Accommodation (e.g. hotels)
  • Food and drinks
  • Tours and recreation (e.g. scuba diving, massage services)

Again, you’ll want to add up these estimated costs and set aside enough funds to cover them. As with your wedding, you’ll also want to incorporate these costs into your regular budget, just to make sure your finances can handle whatever you have planned. That way, you can leave your worries far behind while you get cosy with your spouse.

Whether you’re considering a big blowout or a tiny registration day…

Think about the right safeguards to consolidate your future together regardless of your wedding situation. For those of us who are more practical and prefer to show our love with acts of service rather than with gestures and gifts, choosing suitable health, life, and home insurance for you and your partner might seem boring, but this kind of life admin is often on many newlyweds to-do list. So perhaps show your partner some, ehhh… PLC (practical love and care) and take care of it before the big day. Save the TLC for the bedroom.




Francis Taylor

Content Writer

Francis Taylor is an experienced content writer, passionate about providing accurate and helpful insurance information.
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