Make Sure Your “Big Day” Doesn’t Leave A Big Dent In Your Personal Finances! | Stangen

The day you get married must be right up there with some of the most memorable days in your life. Perhaps the birth of your children could pip your wedding day at the post (but only just, and certainly not on the fun factor metre).

It’s a truly joyous occasion, but somehow there’s always the added pressure of making sure everything on the day is perfect. You only get one shot at it, right? As they say, “the devil is in the detail”, but what nobody ever mentions is that all the extra wedding day details end up costing a lot of money you didn’t necessarily bargain for. If you aren’t careful (and by that we mean sticking to your budget) your big day can quickly start gathering some serious momentum, and like a run-away car veering from one side of the road to the next, you could be lining yourself up for a major cash flow crash. 

How much should a wedding cost in the first place?

If you jump online and search out “How much does a wedding cost?”, we’re led to believe that R70 000 seems to be the average amount a South African couple are looking to spend to get to say their “I do’s”.

That’s 100 guests at R700 a head. It’s a ballpark figure, and if you’re planning on pushing the invite list over 100 guests and you have your eye on a finer dining experience, then that number could easily balloon out to R100 000.

But what about all the other costs?

Drop in another R15 000 in for a wedding dress, another R5 000 for the bridesmaids’ outfits, the groom’s suit purchase or rental, a priest, rings, décor, a DJ and you probably aren’t going to get much change for R150 000. 

According to a leading wedding planning company, your wedding day costs are typically broken down into:

  • 50% of your budget goes to the venue (including hire costs, food, and alcohol)
  • 10% of your budget goes to the wedding gown and accessories 
  • 15% of the budget goes to photography, music, flowers and décor 
  • 10% of your budget goes towards invitations and table gifts 
  • 15% of your budget is for unforeseen costs 

That means, if we assume a wedding is going to cost R150 000, your breakdown might look like this:

  • R75 000 for venue hire, food and alcohol 
  • R15 000 for a wedding dress 
  • R22 500 for photography, music, flowers and décor 
  • R15 000 for invitations and table gifts 
  • R22 500 for unforeseen costs 

And if it’s a traditional African marriage, let’s not forget about lobola that precedes the wedding costs.

Over the years lobola negotiations have changed. Grooms are no longer required to pay the cash equivalent of cows in cash.

The general consensus is that:

  • If you come from a royal- or prestigious family, you could be in for R50 000 – R150 000 
  • The average South African groom will be in for R10 000 – R25000

Do you have that level of money available? 

Getting married is an expensive exercise that can leave couples on the back foot financially before they’ve even started their journey together. 

What’s the true cost of a R175 000 wedding (factoring in lobola)?

That’s the real question, isn’t it? A wedding, just like any expense can be funded in one of two ways:

  • You either have the money to pay for it in cash or 
  • You need to borrow the money to pay for it 

Very few South Africans have R175 000 lying around. Even if the groom’s parents could find the R25 000 for the lobola, that still leaves the wedding couple with a big number to come up with on their own.

To save up R175 000 in a short period of time, you would need to invest R2500 per month. In fact, at the time of writing this post (June 2019), if you wanted to save up R175 000  for your wedding (in today’s value), you would need to commit to a R2500 per month contribution into an investment product increasing at 9% per annum and make sure you achieved an 8% return on your money each year.

Then you would have enough money by July 2024.

You really need to be saving for your wedding years in advance. 

The alternative is borrowing the money. 

Let’s have a quick look at how that scenario plays out.

If you took out a R175 000 personal loan from a bank over 60-months (5 years) at an 18% annual interest rate, your repayments would be R5 448 per month. The total interest, on top of the loan amount, you’d end up paying back to the bank would be R147 770 which means the loan would cost a total of R322 770.

Would you want to sink yourself into half a million Rands’ debt before your life together has even kicked off?

The sensible thing to do when planning a wedding is to work out how much this is all going to cost you. Then you need to work out if you have the money to pay for it.

If you don’t have all the money available, use a simple online savings tool to work out how long it’s going to take you to save up for your big day. We’ve mentioned that borrowing the money, at exorbitant interest rates, may be the most expensive option.  

Once you have the money saved up and you have inked a day into your calendar, you need to start the second phase of your planning. 

That’s setting up a budget you can stick to. It’s very easy to get swept up in the hype and all the emotion of the day and before you know it, your budget is blown and you’re borrowing the additional money you promised yourself you wouldn’t do. 

Here are 5 tips to make sure you stay on top of your wedding budget:

  • If you have a guest list, be ruthless 

Consider for a second that approximately 50% of your entire wedding budget is going to the venue and food on the day. Every guest you are inviting is adding at least another R1000 to your overhead and the quickest way to have your budget balloon is to keep adding people to your guestlist. Sit down with your partner, decide who you really want to be there on the day and stick to your decision.

  • It’s just clothes

Every bride wants to look stunning on her big day. But at what cost? If you’ve budgeted an amount for your wedding dress, hopefully, you ‘ve made that decision on the back of a few fittings and some research. The last thing you want to do is budget R5000 for your dress and then blow the budget wide open when you swipe your card for R15 000. The same applies to suits for gentlemen; and apply double if there are two wedding dresses!

  • Put a cap on the booze bill 

If you think about all the variable expenses associated with a wedding, the one that can get big quickly is the bar bill. You need to put a cap on the booze spend. Limit the beverages to wine and beer and at a certain point in the evening when you’ve maxed your allocated budget, have the DJ announce that it’s last rounds and guests are welcome to continue enjoying the evening, but at their own expense.

  • You don’t need a Master Chef-style menu 

Most of your guests would prefer a hearty well-cooked meal rather than tiny portions of designer food. You might want to impress your guests with your menu, but to be honest, most people don’t really care. You need to really weigh up the cost of your menu. 

  • The bits and pieces 

Earlier in the post we spoke about 15% of your wedding budget going to “unforeseen expenses”. That’s quite a bit of your budget isn’t it? If you can manage to foresee more of these seemingly unforeseen expenses, then you can shop around and budget for them. The more planning you do upfront, the less money you’ll have to find closer to your wedding day.

Planning your wedding should be a fun time in your life. If you ask anyone who’s married, they will tell you that the day itself goes by in the blink of an eye. When you look back at the day years down the line, you will remember two things 

Friends and family who celebrated with you. 


It was a wonderful day, but you didn’t sink yourself financially. 

Can we help with anything? Our business is life, disability and critical illness cover.

If you have any wedding budget tips, please leave a comment below – we would love to hear from you.

Until next time.

The Wise About Life Team 



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