In short, a shitload of money. But that is not what you want to hear. So, I will discuss what we paid for our wedding, and what you can realistically get away with if you wanted to keep the cost to have a wedding as low as possible. We got married in May after being engaged for 9 months. This meant that we had a lot of time to plan (and shop for specials). I will start with the biggest expenses first.
Venue and food
This will probably be the biggest expense for most weddings. We wanted to get married as centrally as possible, since we were in the fortunate position that almost all our friends and family lived within an hour’s drive from Pretoria. We knew we were going to pay extra to have it in Pretoria. For us and 75 guests, the total cost was R46 400. This included the food, venue and a lot of extras. Most venues require you to use their catering services as well. Venues are typically about R15 ooo for the day, with food adding another R200 – R300 per person at least. So, I’d say that if you want to seriously cut costs, it would have to be at a venue that you can use for free and get in your own caterers. That could reduce your costs to about R25 000.
This is where I spent the most time, making sure the wedding pictures were done perfectly. You can always opt to get a videographer as well, but to be honest, you’ll probably look at the video about 10 times. Photos on the other hand will end up on your wall, ensuring that you treasure the moments forever. After doing my research we had interviews with our top 3 photographers and chose our favourite. We wanted 2 photographers to ensure they do not miss anything, which they offered. Note that photographers struggle immensely to get payment from clients. Offer them the option of full upfront payment for a reduced total cost. 9/10 times this will save you at least 10%. We ended up spending R15 300 on a photographer. Realistically, I’d say budget for R12 000 and best-case scenario, you’ll spend R8 000.
This is every girl’s biggest fantasy. So good luck trying to reduce this expense. If you manage to find out how, let me know, because you have probably cracked the code to a happy marriage. We managed to get a dress of R19 500 for R15 000 simply because we refused to budge on our budget. Make sure the boutique knows what your budget is beforehand to ensure they do not tempt you with dresses outside of your budget. Lastly, dresses take 4-6 months to order. After the venue, this should be the first order of business. Just so this isn’t a surprise, boutiques charge you to try on their dresses. Yes you read that right.
Realistically you can budget at least R10 000 for the dress. Add to this the hair, make-up, accessories and bridesmaid dresses, which is another R6 500. Most of this you can do yourself if you need to, or ask the bridesmaids to pitch in. You will probably still spend about R1 000 on shoes that go with the dress though.
Another big expense will be the flowers. We ordered silver dollar eucalyptus leaves with proteas. The total cost including bouquets and boutonnieres came to R9 600. If for instance you wanted tulips delivered from Holland, you might need a much bigger budget. You will probably be able to get away with R5 000 somewhere if you want something unsophisticated. If you simply want eucalyptus leaves it can be even cheaper. Note that most suppliers get their flowers from a central supplier. They usually deal with individuals as well. That is the supplier you are looking for.
Here we saved a lot since we borrowed most of the decor. One of the only items we spent money on was the tables that we hired for R2 800, since the venue’s tables was horrible. Total cost R3 300. If you need to hire vases, under-plates, seating board etc. make yourself ready for another R4 000 at least.
We wanted to make sure that the DJ was going to be brilliant, as this can make or break a wedding. I’ve literally been to a wedding where someone had to go and make a playlist for the DJ, to play for the rest of the evening. You simply could not dance to anything he was playing. We also wanted a fog machine, up-lights and an additional bass speaker which we paid extra for. The total cost came to R5 600. If you only wanted a DJ with a playlist and speakers, you can realistically get away with about R3 000.
Not everyone is doing wedding cakes anymore since you are having dessert anyway. Ours came to about R3 000. If you want to save costs, this is something you can skip. I’ve even seen a pinata cake. Don’t be afraid to be different.
Groom and groomsmen
I bought a new suit and matching outfits for my groomsmen. Almost everything came from Woolies. The cost included leather bow-ties and the works for a total cost of R5 200. If you wear a suit you already have and the groomsmen each bought their own matching trousers, you can probably get this cost to zero as well. Maybe a few hundred bucks for a new shirt and shoes.
The actual cost for getting married is only about R1 000. This is to get a marriage officer at the wedding that will register the wedding at home affairs. We had a friend officiate our wedding, so I can’t comment on what a pastor would charge for doing the ceremony and registering the wedding. If you don’t want to be married in community of property, you will need to draft and register the wedding contract as well. This added about R1 500 more to the cost.
The total cost for the wedding came to about R115 000, which I’d say is more or less going rate for weddings. If you spent the absolute bare minimum as mentioned, you would probably be able to reduce the total cost to something along the lines of R60 000. Either way it is going to cost you a lot of money. In my opinion, you can either choose to accept this and have this memorable day or get married in front of the magistrate. Make as much as possible yourself and ask the groomsmen and bridesmaids to help. After all, that’s what they are there for. The total cost of what you have to spend (having the wedding registered and drafting a pre-nuptial agreement) is about R2 500. The rest is up to you.
Be safe out there,