Your Big Day & How to Save

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I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a year now and I’m finally doing it. I’ve been married for almost 2 years and I’ve also been to a ton of weddings! Let’s just say Mormons get married all the time and they (or should I say ‘WE’) get married pretty fast. Well most Mormons anyway. I would say that the average engagement period for an LDS couple is about 3-6 months. That’s not long to plan and prepare. But let’s be honest, these girls have been planning their weddings since they were in Primary!

We are so lucky in our church to have temples to get married in and chapel halls to have our reception in. So those are 2 venues already taken care of without having to pay. But I want to share what we did with our wedding and how we did it on a budget. I also want to share what I wish I did/didn’t do and maybe that will help you out.

Bryton and I were engaged for 3 1/2 months. That’s not long to plan. But it worked and we were really blessed with some talented people in our midst.

First off I bought a wedding planner to help me remember what we needed and to keep me on track. We budgeted for about $7000 and were planning on having 180 people. We split the costs between our parents and both Bryton and I.

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Venues: We were sealed in the Hamilton Temple so the ceremony venue and marriage celebrant were both taken care of and free. We decided to have our reception at one of our LDS chapels in Hamilton because that is also free. However, we did look into having our reception at a venue but the costs were too high and we didn’t have the money to do it. Now when I look back on it, I do kinda wish that we had waited maybe a couple of months, saved more, and gone to a venue because of the work the family has to do after the reception is over. I am so grateful to our families for the sacrifices they made to clean and pack everything up after the wedding.

Photography: Love & Light Studio took our wedding photos. Gloria is so talented.  I would highly recommend her. I’m not sure what she charges now, but she is well worth the price. Trimage Photography took photos from our reception and Ben was the perfect guy for it. He snapped some really awesome candid shots and we were able to get photos with most of our guests because of him. He was also able to capture our sparkler send off which was perfect! I’m not sure what he charges either, but he was within our budget.

Love & Light Studio
Love & Light Studio
Trimage Photography
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Trimage Photography

Food: Ugh. Catering is so annoying because it’s so expensive. My mum knew a lady that does catering for a lot of Maori functions. My mum talked to her and she asked what our budget was and how many people we were having and then she came up with a menu for us and we just had to approve it. From what I remember we only changed 1 or 2 things. But we budgeted for 150 people with $2000. Honestly, I can’t remember the food haha. I’m sure most couples will agree with me when I say that the bride and groom don’t really get to eat on their wedding day. I think I had 2 bites of my meat and that was about it. But I have had a couple of people tell me that they really enjoyed the food!


We also bought sparkling grape juice for the toast and I think Bryton’s parents bought those while they were on special otherwise they can get quite expensive. My nana made my favourite punch. It’s her specialty. I’m not sure that everyone actually liked it, but I know my family LOVES it and I’m so grateful that she did that for us.

For dessert we didn’t really have anything apart from the wedding cake. We had it cut into small pieces and everyone could help themselves. But we had a HUGE chocolate table where people could grab a bag and fill it up with. We asked around for jars and we didn’t have to buy a single one! I think the only things we bought for this table were the utensils, bags, and chocolate. I believe we budgeted $400-500 for this table. I’m a chocoholic okay. Don’t judge.


Cake: A lady in our ward, Paula Midgley from PaulaJane Cakes made our beautiful wedding cake. She is another family friend of Bryton’s and an amazing baker. We met with her and gave her some picture ideas of what we wanted. She had some sample cakes for us to taste as well. We decided with red velvet for the bottom 2 layers and lemon and passionfruit for the top layer. Paula also made 2 chocolate cakes which would be out in the kitchen that we could use to serve as dessert as well because our wedding cake wouldn’t be enough to feed everyone. I can’t say how much we paid because to be honest I don’t remember!

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Decorations: We are so lucky! Our Aunty Pam and Uncle Kevin do a lot of weddings so they had most of everything we needed and if they didn’t have it, they bought it! So they had everything for our centerpieces, all the lights, and table skirts. They’ve done the draping of the white fabric so many times so they were able to do that for us too. They are doing this professionally now so I highly recommend them! If you need their contact details please let me know! I’m so happy to get them in touch with you. Just make sure you don’t ruin their stuff and pay them what they’re worth, OKAY! Hehe.


Because Bryton’s brother and sister-in-law got married a few weeks before us, Bryton’s mum thought it would be cheaper to buy things rather than hire them twice. So she bought all the crockery, cutlery, and glassware. We hired 22 round tables for $5 each from a lady in Hamilton but her white table cloths were dirty from a wedding the day before ours. So Bryton’s mum bought all the white table cloths. She also bought all the seat covers too as it would be cheaper to buy rather than to hire.

Sparklers: We didn’t have to buy these either! I think we must have put a post up for them or talked to some friends because they also had a sparkler send off and had heaps left over which they gave us for free! They said they bought all their sparklers around Guy Fawkes Day because they got married not long after. We got married in April and I believe it’s illegal to sell fireworks unless it’s around November 5th.

Invitations: Our friend Laurelee Mitchell did our wedding invitations, table seating cards, and thank you cards. She is SO talented. Get in touch with me if you want to use her. Out of the kindness of her heart she only charged us for the printing which came to a couple of hundred I think.

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Wedding invitation
Place holders
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Thank You cards

Flowers: I’m not big on flowers so I bought a few fake flower bunches from Trademe and arranged them into ugly bouquets myself. Honestly the biggest thing I regret! Ugh. I look at the photos and I’m so embarrassed because of my ugly flowers. I should’ve just paid for real flowers and had someone arrange them for me.

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Music: We came up with our own playlist and played it from a laptop. We hired the sound system from a guy for only $40. He came to set it up and pack it away at the end.

Cars: We found that the cheapest way to do wedding cars (unless you want a limo or specific wedding cars) is to hire them from a car rental company. We hired all 3 cars for around $400 all up I think – haha okay I kinda have no idea because Bryton took care of that. But it wasn’t too expensive.

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Suits: The groomsmen paid for their own suits and ties. They were from Hallensteins and came to about $250 for everything I think.

Bridesmaids: We got the bridesmaid’s dresses from Boohoo for $50 each I think. Their shoes were only $25 from Rubi. I got the same shoes but in white. I really wanted to pay to get their make up done but the lady I wanted couldn’t come down and then it ended up being expensive. So, regretfully, they had to do their own hair and make up. I wish I had paid someone to do it for them so it could be stress-free for them too! So that’s one thing I regret doing.

My sister made snacks for the bridal party for in between the ceremony and reception. Taking photos can take a long time and a lot of energy so we budgeted a few dollars to buy some snacks for everyone.

Make up and Hair: I had my make up done by Devereux & Villiger. It was very last minute (like I booked them the day before) and she made a special trip to my house because they don’t actually do that any more. I didn’t have a trial or anything, just showed her a picture and she took care of it. It came to $85 and I’ve never looked better haha.

Rebecca Lion did my hair. I think she also charged $80 and I met her the day of as well. She was great!!

Jewellery: I bought my earrings from a stall inside a shopping mall. I can’t quite remember but I think they were about $50. I bought the girls bridesmaids gifts (pearl drop earrings) for the same price each from Michael Hill. Both mine and Bryton’s rings are from Michael Hill as well.

Dress: My wedding dress was made by the brilliant Doreen. The only way to contact her is by phone and if you would like her details please contact me. I basically showed her a picture of a dress I found online that I didn’t want to pay over $3000NZD for and she made it straight from the picture – no pattern, just my measurements and a picture of the dress. She charged me $150 for her labour and I had to buy the material which came to a total of $150 including EVERYTHING. So all up my wedding dress was $300 and I still have a ton of material left over. This was almost 2 years ago and I’m not sure if her prices have changed since then. I’m so in love with my dress.

My best friend and maid of honour organized my veil for me. I decided 2 days before the wedding that I wanted one and I didn’t know where or how to get one. So she had her dress maker make one for me at the very last minute and my best friend paid for it all! I’m so lucky.

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Overall I believe our wedding came to around $7000. There might have been some extra costs and I’ve split up the cost of the crockery etc. that Bryton’s mum bought between our wedding and the other wedding. I’m sure I’ve covered everything – if you have any questions about anything please leave a comment below or contact me in the contact tab. Weddings can be very expensive but they don’t have to be! Ask around for people who might have things you can use. Utilize the people in your wards or work places. If you know someone who is good at something, ask for their help! There are so many people out there who are willing to help you out especially on your big day! Just remember, a wedding on a budget doesn’t have to be a budget wedding.



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