Value for Money – Linda Higgins Consumer Affairs Editor with The Evening Herald
With the average Irish Wedding now costing the price of a house deposit, here’s how to save some cash for your future together.
This month marks the start of the wedding season – thousands of Irish couples are set to pledge their vows in coming weeks.
A new survey by Confetti bridal magazine reveals that the average spend on a wedding is now €20,000, with more than 80pc if couples paying out of their own pockets.
In the survey, 70% of brides-to-be claimed that financial strain is one of the biggest stresses in the run-up to the weddings. Some 74pc of couples have a budget before they start planning their wedding, but 60pc admitted that they spent way over their initial estimates.
But what if you don’t have a huge budget in the first place? Or if you’re of a practical nature and determined not to spend cash you don’t have on a one-off occasion? Read on for some invaluable tips on how to save money and have a sensational wedding – without breaking the bank.
“Costs can easily get out of control before your wedding, because as a bride you want everything to be “picture perfect” and are willing to pay for the priviledge”, says Colette O’Loughlin, founder of the hugely successful Simply Weddings website (www.simplyweddings.com). “However, with forward planning it doesn’t have to cost the earth”.
Doing your homework beforehand is vital; “Most weddings have a lead-in time of 12 to 18 months, which gives you plenty of time to shop around and get value for you hard earned money”, says Colette.
“Do as much research as possible”, says Ciara Elliott, editor of Confetti. “Ask friends who are married what they would have done differently – their answers might offer interesting insights. Word-of-mouth recommendations for suppliers are invaluable. Chatting to other brides-to-be on websites such as www.confetti.ie is a great way to share information on prices and trends.
“The most important thing is to have an idea in your head how much you want to spend on each area of your wedding – every couple will have different priorities”, says Ciara. “Some people are into food, so the menu is very important to them, while others may prefer to splash out on outfits”.
Couples who host their receptions on a weekday will get a cheaper rate from a venue than those marrying at weekends. “You can also cut down on costs by deciding to go abroad to get married – you’re certain to have fewer guests!” says Ciara.
Don’t always accept that the price offered by a supplier is set in stone. Try to negotiate where possible.
“On the other hand, do bear in mind that the cheapest is not always the best option, especially when it comes to photographers or videographers”, warns Colette. “You won’t get a second chance to get your photographs taken, so ensure your professional is a member of the IPPA”.
Alcohol is one aspect of a typical Irish wedding that can quickly allow costs to spiral. Hotels don’t want you bringing in wine for the reception, and therefore usually charge prohibitive corkage rates.
Venues generally give a wedding rate for guests who are staying overnight, and this is where they make most of their profit.
“Leave them in no doubt that you can and will take your wedding elsewhere if they’re not willing to negotiate”, says Colette.
Many brides refuse to consider compromising on one thing: the dress.
“Do you buy the dress of your dreams or stay within budget? My advice is to buy the dress of your dreams”, says Colette. “You won’t want to look back in time to come and be disappointed that you didn’t buy The Dress.
“If you don’t place much importance on the dress, you always have the option of hiring one, or buying off the rack if you’re between a size 10 and 14 – 16. Keep an eye out for sales in bridal boutiques and you could snap up a bargain”, she says.
“Another option is to buy on-line – you’ll save money – but be sure to engage the services of an experienced dressmaker, as normally alterations are required".
Groom & Boys: As the market for the dress-hire company has finally become more competitive, they are willing to negotiate. Some of them give out discounts at Wedding Fairs, others in magazine but for the most part all you have to do is ask.
Cake: If you’re not too particular about the cake, ask your Mum, Mother-in-law, neighbour if they may be interested in baking the cake (someone nearly always offers anyway) and accept gracefully. You can always get it iced professionally if you want that “something special”. Tip: Serve your wedding cake for dessert at the reception.
Music: It depends on what your priorities are as some would advise not to have both a band and DJ - just the DJ and a play list. However, in hindsight if the dance floor wasn’t packed all night couples will feel that they should have put more time and effort into their music selection.
Invitations: Make your own! If you have time or have any “arty” friends or relations let this be their wedding gift to you! There’s a vast selection of affordable yet original wedding invitations on the Internet so get surfing.
Place Cards: I think this is a really novel idea. Instead of buying cards for name places at the tables, use luggage labels and tie them to the wine glasses. If you are having a themed wedding incorporate the colour of the tags into your own style. Fun to do and inexpensive.
Flowers: If your bouquet or flowers in the church really don’t mean that much too you, do you really need to employ a professional florist? Buy your flowers wholesale in the flower market and arrange them in the church the night before. You can buy ribbon in any florist shop but won’t be able to glue or attach any flowers to the end of the seats – ribbon only for obvious reasons. Or, leave flowers out altogether in the church and hire tall candle holders. This can have an amazing effect if done properly – mostly suited to winter weddings.
If there’s a wedding in the church either before or after yours, why not make contact with the other bridal couple and suggest sharing the cost of the flowers and both of you can save some money!
Favours : Do you really need them? Will your guests even notice if they are/ are not on the tables? If you are over-budget this is certainly one area to consider. “Just because” everyone either had them or is having them does not mean you have too – “keeping up with the Jones’s springs to mind................
With forward planning and a little work you really can save €’s.
Competitions: Enter every wedding competition you see! Someone has to win - why not you?