Remember, it is the marriage that will last forever, not the wedding.

..But we also believe that there are some things that really are worth spending some of your hard earned cash on. If you’re not bothered about big weddings, maybe you’d prefer to save your money for a house, a lavish honeymoon, or even education fees!  If you’re someone who has always dreamed of a wedding that you’ll remember for years though, then it might well be one of those things worth spending on. The most important thing is to remember to spend within your means, however. No matter how big the wedding of your dreams is, it isn’t worth putting yourself into debt over.

So how do you save up and reduce costs to ensure that you can have the wedding you always wanted? Here are our top five tips.

Take your time

Once you get engaged, you’re so excited that you can’t wait to get married right away! The sooner the better, right?

Take a step back and think about spending some time saving as well as doing research into where, when and how to have your wedding so that you get the best value for money. Putting aside an extra R1000 a month into a high-interest account for two years will get you a lot more than it would just saving for six months, especially if you factor in tax returns, interest on your deposits and bonuses if you’re lucky. If your family is big into birthdays and Christmas, you can even politely request that they cover something or contribute to the wedding instead of buying gifts for those occasions.

Over two years you could have saved R30 000 and agreed for your parents or siblings to cover the cost of say, a photographer, transport to the venue, the cake or any of the other “little” expenses which can easily add up – and you won’t even have noticed!

Be flexible on when you get married

Sure, Saturday is an ideal day for a wedding. People can stay out later, most people will be free to attend, and you even have the freedom to go away for the wedding because guests can travel back on Sunday. Obviously though, everyone wants to get married on a Saturday for the exact same reasons as you! This means that Saturday weddings come at a premium. Why not think about a Sunday or even Friday instead as a small compromise, or a mid-week wedding as a larger one? If you give guests plenty of notice they can take the day off, and you’ll know that everyone who is there must really care about you to take the day off and make the effort to attend your big day!

You can also plan in advance by having a Friday, Sunday or midweek wedding as part of a long weekend – you’ll still get the discount but many people will have time off work and so will be available to come to watch you say “I do.”

Remember that weddings tend to come in seasons – April and September are very popular months, so why not aim for shoulder season, just before peak season starts or just after it ends? You’ll get good prices and the weather shouldn’t be too different if you aim for a week or two before peak season.

Or, how about getting married in the evening instead of in the morning? There are loads of ways you can make your money go further but still have a beautiful wedding, as long as you’re willing to be flexible.

Think outside of the box for venues

You’ve had your heart set on the most prestigious wedding venue in the province for years, but it’s out of your budget. Think about places which you always think are beautiful but maybe you hadn’t considered a wedding there. For some couples, it’s a University campus or a nature reserve. For others, it might be a beach, restaurant, brewery or hotel.

If you have connections who work at any of these places, speak to them and see if you can get discounts. If you’re getting married at a lodge or hotel, they may give you a good price on food and drinks in return for selling out some rooms for the wedding guests.

You could also rent out a large house in a beautiful area. The Drakensberg, a secluded beach, the magaliesberg, midlands meander, the karoo…the list is endless, and there are some stunning properties available in South Africa at a cheaper price than a hotel or similar might cost. This way, your guests can stay the night after the reception and it can even double up as a luxurious and secluded honeymoon for the following week if you’d like. Your guests may even be willing to chip in if it will save them money compared to a room at a hotel, taxis home and all the other costs of attending a wedding.

At the end of the day, weddings are momentous occasions for the couple in question. However, what it boils down to is that it is the marriage that will last forever, not the wedding. By all means plan and save for an amazing day, but don’t make decisions that will have a lasting negative impact on your finances just for the “perfect” wedding day.