A wise woman once told me, "When poverty comes in the door, love flies out the window." With the average Irish wedding and honeymoon now costing over €26,000, it pays to heed this not-so-romantic advice.
While starry-eyed lovers vow to stay together for richer or poorer, it's no harm to kick off this new phase of life with a little bit of prudence tucked in alongside the old, new, borrowed and blue.
Here is John Lowe of MoneyDoctors.ie and his top tips to ensure you can celebrate in style, without inviting financial stress to your wedding.
Budget, budget, budget!
38 per cent of couples spend more on a wedding than they plan to, so make a budget your first port of call after sharing the good news. Set a fixed budget for your non-negotiables: the venue is a big one – having it in a far away land can have its advantages, but apart from that, you can save money everywhere.
- Look into websites like OptimalPrint.ie, VistaPrint.ie and Canva.com for beautiful, affordable wedding invitations you can design yourself.
- While a band is a must have for many, think about whether you need a DJ. SteamClock Software’s WeddingDJ app costs €2.29 on the Apple app store and allows you to create organised, easy-flowing playlists of your ideal songs for every part of your big day, from the ceremony to reception, right down to the bride’s procession, cocktail hour and first dance. Spotify or YouTube do the same thing.
- Be discerning when planning hens and stags. More and more people are staying in Ireland, and while some venues can hike their prices at the sight of a bridal party, ask around for good deals – or even look into spa packages and weekend breaks on sites like Pigsback, Groupon or LivingSocial. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could save money by planning a 'sten’ and hosting just one trip or event instead of two.
- If you have an especially talented close friend or family member, think about asking if they might bake your cake, make your wedding video or do the bridal party’s hair or makeup as a wedding gift.
- Consider a weekday rather than a weekend service – a definite way to save money on the venue. Invitees who cannot attend will always send a present!
- Be creative with the food: buffet menus can be a lot more enjoyable as well as affordable.
- Plan as far in advance as possible: this will give you more time to save, as well as to be realistic about timing. A summer ceremony sounds lovely, but with July-September being the most popular months, you could save a pretty penny getting married in February (the least popular).
- Alternatively, take a chance on CancelledWeddings.ie, an online brokerage that sells cancelled wedding packages in the UK and US at rates reduced by up to 65%.
Be a smart saver
Be astute with your saving. Set up a dedicated savings account and implement a direct debit immediately – and remember, you’ll need an account you can access on demand as wedding costs arise. Check out: Regular saver accounts – low interest but a great discipline.
Then, download an app like Hitched, Wedding Tracker or Wedding Planner to keep your budget to hand and linked to the other elements of your wedding. 62% of couples rely on savings to pay for their wedding, so make every cent count.
Of course, everyone wants the dream wedding followed by the trip of a lifetime – but they’re not worth having if they mean you start marital bliss in a pit of debt. Do yourself a favour and do the math so you can enjoy this next, great adventure.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ.