Making Cents: You don’t have to say ‘I do’ to a costly wedding

IT is Valentine’s Day on Thursday, when many Irish couples turn the love in the air into a concrete decision to get married. Factor in the Christmas and New Year engagements and a lot of wedding plans are being made around now, writes Gráinne McGuinness.

While you might not put a price on love, many lovebirds can find their hearts thumping for all the wrong reasons when they calculate the cost of their big day.

A survey last year by wedding website onefabday.com found that Irish weddings cost an average of €31,000, while, in other research, couples said they underestimated the cost of their wedding by as much as 35%.

For couples who may have done some pricing last year, there is also the impact of the recent Vat increase to consider. Vat paid by the Irish hospitality sector increased by 50% from January, jumping from 9% to 13.5%. It is most unlikely hotels will absorb that increase, so price rises are to be expected.

But saying ‘I do’ still doesn’t have to cost the Earth.

The first thing to do, as always, is identify how well your budget matches the costs of the event you are planning.

When calculating the expenses, make sure you include as much detail as possible.

Don’t just write down a budget for bridesmaids’ dresses; they will also need shoes, other accessories, and hairstyling and make-up. There are numerous wedding budget planners online. Irish site www.mrs2be.ie has a detailed Excel spreadsheet, which you can download. It should give you a clear picture of your likely spend.

If the figure you come up with is not at all what you have to spend, don’t despair.

Don’t think you have to give up on the wedding you want, either. Instead, think about what is really important to you, as a couple, and prioritise accordingly.

There are a small number of major decisions that will have the biggest impact on your final spend.

The first of these is the number of people you invite. Try not to let obligation dictate your guest list. This day should be about being surrounded by friends and family who care about you and who are delighted to be sharing your day. If you find your guestlist inflating , because you are adding people you think you ‘should’ invite, try and resist this impulse. 

I’ve often heard a joke among older Irish people that a wedding invite in the post is worse than a speeding fine or summons, as it will cost them more. Maybe bear that in mind when you are adding a “should”; do these people want to be at your wedding any more than you want to invite them?

The second big decision is when to get married. The summer months are by far and away the most popular. A huge proportion take place in July or August, but hotels are busy right through from May to September. If you have your heart set on a summer wedding, or your career constrains your choice of date, fair enough. But if not, choosing to marry at an off-peak time can help considerably with costs. Many hotels offer reduced-price packages during the winter and you will not be competing with as many other couples for bands, make-up artists, and other elements.

Plus, particularly during the peak ‘wedding years’, many guests can find themselves attending multiple weddings in a single year.

My personal record was being a guest at five weddings across seven weeks in one hectic summer. I could forget about taking a holiday that year. A winter or early spring wedding gives your guests breathing space from other expensive events, and also means that you will have an anniversary to look forward to at a quiet time of year.

Once you have decided the time of year, the number of guests, and the type of wedding, that will give you a clear idea of some of the bigger costs in your budget. But there is still a lot of wriggle room in the rest of the planning.

Next week, I speak to a wedding expert about ways to limit your costs, while still creating the big day of your dreams.

DEAL OF THE WEEK[

If you would like to spruce up your home as part of an annual spring clean, Aldi’s latest range of Specialbuys will allow you to transform your home on a budget.

On sale from Thursday, the highlight of the range is a Tripod Floor Light for €69.99. Available in grey, white or washed wood effect, with a wood and metal adjustable base and fabric shade, it should change the mood of a room.

In addition, the range includes a number of different floor coverings, including mats and runners from €7.99.

The grey, brown or cream 80 x 140cm shaggy rug, with thick pile, is particular value at €19.99.

They also have included a number of cushions and throws, always the easiest way to update a living space, from €7.99.

Finish your efforts with a designer candle for €3.99.

All items should be available in store in 137 Aldi shops nationwide from Thursday, February 14.

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