How to save money when planning your wedding by thinking outside the box

Wedding Planning Tips and Tricks

It’s funny how things change with time and new ideas gather momentum. What so many once HAD to do tends to become what so many don’t WANT to do! And planning weddings is no different.

This is even far more noticeable when we acknowledge that our society is so far from the typical 1950s “mould” – the majority of our couples we marry are living together before marriage; have kids and a mortgage before marriage; are a same-sex couple; are an older couple; are embarking on their second marriage… the list is endless and do you know what, I think it is AWESOME!

So it’s not surprising that couples are more keen to do something different with their wedding day or “think outside the box” to plan something that is more reflective of them as a couple, their style, their budget.

Which can actually assist them in keeping some of their hard earned money in their pockets – WIN!

The most important step when planning your wedding is ……..

Work out your budget and use it to guide your decision making.


We know – you have all heard this a thousand times before but we can’t emphasise how important it is. Your wedding day, as significant as it is, is only one day in your lifetime so don’t put yourself in a terrible financial position that you will have to deal with for years down the track.

Once you have worked out what money you will have to spend on your wedding, you can now begin to put together a vision of what you want to do on your day. This is the time to start thinking outside of the box to create something amazing that still works with your budget.

Guest list

A good starting point is this tricky one – traditionally, with financially contributing parents, it was a safe bet to allocate 50 % of the guest list to you, 25% to one set of parents and 25% to the other set of parents. But as things have changed this is not necessarily so straight forward now.

Our favourite tip is this – write down 3 lists:-

List A
If you had unlimited space and an unlimited budget who would you like to invite to your wedding? (if you are going to need to invite friends / family of your parents, don’t forget to include them)

List B
If you were completely restricted by budget and venue size, who could you not have your wedding without? (and be ruthless!)

List C
Now see if you can rank all those on List A that are not on List B in order of preference. It is in this order that you will be able to add extra guests should you want and should your budget and venue be able to accommodate them.

So, your starting point is the guest numbers on List B. Take some time to get comfortable with the people and number on this list. If there is someone who you haven’t invited that keeps playing on your mind, decide why this this is the case and where they actually belong.

Reception style

The sit down dinner has been the long held traditional reception style but it is not for everyone. Nowadays there are so many more options that can reflect your style, your budget and guest numbers.

Consider – long table lunches; high tea; a relaxed cocktail reception; food truck; picnic reception; backyard gathering.


Your reception style may dictate your venue options, however, one big cost on your wedding day can be your venue hire. Have a think about what type of wedding you want and whether there is an alternate location that still gives you the same feel at a cheaper price.

Same spot – finding a venue that can host your ceremony and reception can save some dollars and keeps things simple for you and your guests.

BYO venues – there are venues out there that allow you to bring in everything. This means you can look for cheaper alternatives for food and bring in your own alcohol. Beware – do your research as sometimes the “BYO” concept can have so many extra costs you hadn’t considered that it works out more expensive and more of a hassle!


We’re sure you’ve heard it before but peak time weddings come with peak time prices. Some venues and vendors reduce their prices for a weekday, Friday or Sunday wedding and / or a winter wedding. Or consider an early morning ceremony with a brunch / lunch reception as at some venues this may have a reduced rate.

Bridal party

It is lovely to have a bunch of your closest around you on your wedding day, but let’s be honest, they are going to be there anyway regardless of their status!

Why not consider having NO BRIDAL PARTY??……

Budget-wise, it saves money on outfits, hair, makeup, bouquets, extra seats for transport and gifts. If there are special people you would like involved in your day then give them a special job. This could be:-

Food ideas

If you are looking at keeping some costs down, thinking outside the box on how you are going to feed your guests can make a big difference. Not all venues permit this, but definitely price it out before locking in the first venue you see.

Why not consider:-


Wedding cakes have now become complete works of art but if you are not going to do the cutting of the cake ritual, do you even need to invest the money in this? So what are your other options?

a) A dessert table with smaller bite-sized pieces
b) Doughnuts – display them how you want!
c) Just a delicious cake that is served to your guests and not put on display
d) Amazing cheese boards

– Double up
Look at having your cake (or whatever you choose) as your dessert option rather than having a set dessert as part of your menu and then cake.

OR, pack some small cake boxes and you can send this home with your guests as their bonbonniere.


Wedding cars are stunning – don’t get me wrong, but if you are trying to keep dollars in your pocket, there are definitely alternate options. Do you have a favourite relative who can drive you in their nice car (or drive your parents’ nice car!)? What about a flash Uber? Or a small charter vehicle? Lots of options and given that your guests are unlikely to see you arriving, consider whether this is important to you.

So often we see couples planning their wedding based on what they know or what they have seen done repetitiously in the past. But we don’t all have the same budget, style, dreams and personalities. With a little bit of thinking and researching, it is possible to create a wedding true to who you are without it causing you a lifetime of financial pain.

If this all seems too hard, our Iconic Planning Companion service can set you on the right track to save you time and money when planning your wedding. Get in touch if you feel that you just need that little bit of help or guidance. (Email –


All images from Iconic Weddings event days captured beautifully by THE DAY Weddings.