How to pay for the wedding you want

A wedding can be one of the most special days of your life – but it can also be one of the most expensive.

The high cost means it's just as important to prepare financially as it is emotionally. So, whether you’re planning a formal affair with a three-course dinner and 200 guests, or a more relaxed event, here's how to budget for, and pay off, the wedding you want.

The average cost of a wedding

A common mistake people make when they start planning their wedding is to underestimate costs. Australian couples set a wedding budget of $20,913 on average, according to a survey by Easy Weddings. Most couples, however, end up revising their estimate to $24,932 as they start researching the prices of everything on their wish list.

Typical expenses can include:

· Save-the-date cards, invitations, place cards, thank you cards.

· Wedding dress, suits, shoes and accessories.

· Hair and make-up.

· The ceremony.

· Venue hire.

· Flowers and decorations.

· Food and drinks.

· The wedding cake.

· Transport to and from venue.

· Photography/videography.

· Entertainment.

Costs can be higher than you expect, and can add up quickly. In fact, the average final cost of a wedding in Australia is $30,985 – about $10,000 more than the average original budget.

Establishing a budget and savings plan

To minimise financial stress and anxiety, work out a realistic budget for your wedding. This involves researching costs associated with the type of event you're planning.

Divide the total cost of the wedding by the number of months you have before the big day to set monthly savings targets. For example, if your budget is $32,400 and you want to set a date 18 months away, that’s $1,800 a month.