Saving for Your Dream Wedding
Afford the wedding you've always dreamed of
Cameron Diaz thought she had her work cut out for her fending off Julia Roberts on her way to the altar in My Best Friend's Wedding.

These days many Australian brides are faced with an even greater challenge: to meet their prince charming at the altar, without breaking the bank. With continual news of grocery prices, petrol and interest rate changes, many brides are left wondering how they can afford the wedding they've always dreamed of.

Natalie Nicholson recently discovered how quickly the costs can add up in the process of arranging her dream wedding. After she'd been given a big sparkler and said 'yes' to the big question last year, Natalie and her fiance Sam did a little research into the cost of a wedding and soon realised if they wanted their perfect wedding, they would need a detailed plan in order to afford it!

Currently making repayments to their home loan, Natalie decided it was vital to create a budget to make sure she didn't over spend. True Bride's wedding budget planner was very helpful and was one of the first things Natalie did. She also opened up a wedding savings account to put aside funds for their dream wedding. Each week her and her fiance contributed part of their wage toward the wedding fund.

Utilising True Bride's wedding budget planner Natalie was able to break down all the major costs and set aside an estimate for each. This meant when Natalie went shopping she knew how much she had to spend, allowing her to stick to her budget and still have everything she wanted to make her day special.

Shopping around has proven to be a major money saver for the couple. "Sam and I have saved up to $6,000 just from shopping around! It is really important not to just say 'yes' to everything. One example is a boat cruise we wanted our guests to take whilst we have our photos taken. We ended up saving $250 just by doing some research," Natalie said.

The planning didn't stop there. Natalie listed all the most important aspects of their wedding and allocated the funds accordingly. "Sam and I thought there was no point in spending all this money on our wedding and not having nice photos to remember it, so we cut back in some areas and spent more on a photographer. I had always dreamt of a garden feel to my wedding so spending more on a florist to get the flowers right was important to me," Natalie said.

As Natalie has proven, cutting back in areas doesn't mean going with out. She shopped around and found the best prices on materials, then designed and made her own wedding invitations and room decorations.

Having now mastered the fine art of affording her dream wedding, Natalie is all set to enjoy her big day in September without blowing the budget!

"I just want the day to be about families coming together and having a great time. You can still have all the trimmings to make it a special day - you just need to be savvy about spending your money. Prioritise what is most important to you and work from there," Natalie said.

Busy brides don't need the added stress of the everyday cost of living to complicate the wedding planning process. Following are some simple steps to help you save and spend wisely to ensure you can afford all the trimmings that make up your dream wedding.

Wedding Rings Tied with Pink Ribbon on a Starfish

Wedding Flowers, Pink Rose Bouquets

Red Wedding Shoes, Jimmy Choo

Wedding Reception Chairs with Yellow Ribbons

Top tips to secure your dream wedding!
1. Get organised early and plan - agree on a budget upfront and expectations of the big day. This will help to manage both partners' expectations and help to avoid any budget blow-outs during the planning stage. Also, the more time you have to organise your wedding, the more you will be able to 'DIY' to reduce costs further.
2. Manage your money - set up a high interest savings account.
3. Prioritise - stretch your money by making a wish-list ranking items in order of importance. Ask yourself what is really important to you and what could be considered a frivolous expense - most importantly, what will fit within your budget. You can then revise your list accordingly and stick to it.
4. Schedule your wedding 'off-season' - April to September is considered the 'off-season', so prices tend to drop during this period.
5. Decorate strategically - keep decorations simple. Limit your expenditure by placing them only where people will see them.
6. DIY flowers - buy the flowers you want and arrange them yourself. Prices can increase when florists hear the magic word 'wedding'.
7. Harness the talents of family and friends - ask friends or family to get involved by helping with decorations, photography or invitations.
8. Shop around - don't settle for your first choice. Look around, compare prices and make sure you get the best deal.
9. Be inspired - do your own research: flick through magazines, take in the details of friends' weddings and put your own spin on the elements you like.
10. Go to expos - they offer great deals to help you keep within your budget and can give you some good cost cutting tips.
11. Establish a honeymoon or special gift registry to help pay for your dream honeymoon or dream gift.