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Tips for Planning a Budget-Friendly Wedding in South Africa

Tips for Planning a Budget-Friendly Wedding in South Africa

We get it: planning a wedding in South Africa can feel like juggling flaming swords while riding a unicycle on a tightrope over a pit of hungry alligators. It’s a whirlwind of decisions, reservations, stress, and yep, the infamous money talk. 

But we’re here to tell you that you can have that dream wedding without unleashing your inner Scrooge McDuck! Here are tips to make sure your celebration is memorable without having to spend too much.

1. Do your research.

The first thing you need to decide on is the kind of wedding you want. Even without the specifics yet, you and your partner need to agree on whether you’re going for a traditional wedding, a garden wedding, who to include and not to invite, etc.

Be ready to do a lot of research, which is one of the most important aspects of planning a low-cost wedding. This generally entails looking into various wedding vendors, such as venues, caterers, photographers, and florists.

Pro tip:
If you’re still looking around for the best venue for you, you can check out some of our top picks for wedding venues in Joburg. 
You can also visit WeddingWire or EasyWeddings to compare vendors and offerings, prices, and service quality to find the best deals for your budget.

2. Be firm about your budget.

Be firm about your budget.

According to recent estimates, the average cost of a wedding in South Africa ranges from R70,000 to R150,000 for a simple wedding with a small guest list. 

Sometime along the way, it might be tempting to go for something more luxurious as a little treat, but the key to making sure you don’t go over budget is being strict about your spending plan.

Pro tip:
To make sure that you spend within your budget, create a budget spreadsheet and list all of the expenses that you incur. WeddingForward offers a list of templates and some tips you might find useful.

3. Consider keeping it intimate.

Consider keeping it intimate.

One of the most common things that go out of hand during weddings is the guest list. But weddings are personal and this day is no one’s but yours, so carefully decide on whose presence is vital and whose is not.

By keeping your wedding intimate, you and your spouse would be able to connect easily with your loved ones and deal with less stress and expenses for planning for a smaller celebration. Also, smaller crowds are better in photos too!

Pro tip:
A smaller number of guests will allow you to make your day extra memorable. Try giving out personalised gifts to your friends and family like engraved wine glasses and embroidered towels.

4. Choose a venue that’s just right for you.

Choose a venue that’s just right for you.

About 50% of your wedding’s budget will go towards the venue and the catering, which is something that’s usually tied up, but we’ll get to that later. The point is that it’s important to go for a venue that’s just right for you.

When selecting the perfect venue, opt for a location that strikes a balance between spaciousness and intimacy. After all, what will truly stay with you is the feeling the place evokes, rather than the size of the venue.

Pro tip:
Don’t worry! There are plenty of small wedding venue choices in popular wedding destinations in South Africa like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Pretoria. 

5. Go paperless.

Go paperless.

Couples can go paperless when planning their wedding by communicating with vendors and guests via digital tools. This not only saves money spent on paper invitations and RSVPs, but it’s also more environmentally friendly.

Luckily, there are plenty of online tools you can use to easily create e-invitations, programme cards, or even an online page for your event.

Pro tip:
Learn how to make your own invitations! It’s always cheaper than hiring someone else. Head to Canva and explore hundreds of free templates you can use.

6. Don’t splurge on attire.

Don’t splurge on attire.

It’s not a crime to want to look astonishing for your big day, but we guarantee you that you don’t have to splurge on a majestic but incredibly expensive wedding dress (which you will probably only wear once) to look great.

You can score great deals by shopping off-season or at sample sales, but our tip is to rent or borrow from friends and family as much as you can. 

Pro tip:
If you’re flexible with your style, shopping off the rack is a great way to save money. You can also check out Sell My Wedding Dress to shop for discounted, pre-loved, and sample wedding and evening dresses.

7. Connect with other newlyweds.

Connect with other newlyweds.

Connecting with other newlyweds while planning for a wedding can be a great way to save money. Couples can share ideas and tips with one another, as well as trade or borrow items for their wedding, like wedding decorations and even wedding gowns.

Online communities and social media groups, as well as attending local wedding expos or fairs, can be excellent resources for connecting with other couples.

Pro tip:
You can even plan a double wedding with another couple, so you have someone to share the expenses with.

8. Optimise your vendor relationships.

Optimise your vendor relationships.

Another tip to save money while planning for a wedding is to optimise vendor relationships. Couples can negotiate better deals and score discounts on services like catering, flowers, or photography by developing strong relationships with vendors. 

We suggest that you choose vendors who provide wedding packages that cover a variety of aspects. For example, some wedding venues offer catering services too and they’re often cheaper as a package than having to transact with two different entities. 

Pro tip:
Top Wedding Suppliers has directories of wedding suppliers and vendors that you can explore.

9. Support smaller and local businesses.

Support smaller and local businesses.

We also advise you to go for smaller and local businesses when choosing your vendors. Smaller vendors often offer personalised services at a lower cost compared to larger vendors.

Moreover, smaller vendors may be more willing to negotiate prices or offer discounts in order to win business, allowing couples to save even more money on their wedding expenses.

Pro tip:
Write thank-you notes to your vendors or have personalised giveaways for them after the wedding. This is a nice way to show your appreciation for their hard work and to let them know that you were happy with their services.

10. Consider the season.

Consider the season.

It’s also important to consider the season in South Africa when planning a wedding on a budget. Due to high demand, certain times of the year are more expensive, so planning your wedding during the off-season can help you save money. 

Consider holding your wedding during the winter months or on weekdays, as this is when vendors are more likely to provide discounts.

Pro tip:
Consider what seasonal flowers are blooming and what produce is in season. Aside from them being more accessible, local, in-season options can be cheaper than imported or out-of-season alternatives.

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