Garth, IT sales (Software Licensing) & Carolyn, Pharmacist
Planned budget: $15 000 AUD
Actual budget: $14 870 AUD
Number of Guests: Somewhere between 90 and 100
Where we allocated the most funds
CATERING: We had nearly a hundred guests, so food and drink was always going to eat up a large part of our budget.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Photographers get paid peanuts, considering how much editing goes into the finished product. When we realised this, we didn’t feel so bad splurging out on our vendor of choice. Darin’s style is fairly photojournalistic—most of his shots are candids and he’s fairly unobtrusive. To save money, we opted for the no-frills digital-proofs-only package.
Where we allocated the least funds
TRANSPORTATION: We chose a venue within walking distance of home, so we ended up ditching car hire. When it came to the wedding day, Dad forgot to pick me up so I ended up having to catch a lift with the wedding photographer, which was probably a good thing, since his GPS was leading him astray.
DECORATIONS: A lot of our decorations came from our home, thrift shops, Freecycle, or hard rubbish scavenging. For instance, we used our collection of ugly teapots as vases, and the letters that spell out Garth’s surname, Honey, mostly came from a hard rubbish find.
What was worth it
OPTING FOR A SHORTER DAY: Most Vietnamese-Australian weddings go from 10AM to midnight: there’s the two tea ceremonies, the Western ceremony, couple photos, family photos, photos with individual guests, and an evening reception. We wanted something short and sweet so we merged the tea ceremony with the Western exchange of vows. Having our ceremony and reception at the same venue meant that there was no gap between the two. Hence we were able to stay fresh for most of the evening. It also made it easier for guests with younger kids.
CHOOSING A GOOD CATERER: The Little French Deli caters for the French Consulate in Melbourne, so we knew that they had the credentials. They were super excited about being involved since we were their first wedding and we had given them a carte blanche. For the main, they insisted on making something warm for us, despite the limited kitchen facilities that the venue had; it was this mouth-watering slow-roasted pork belly with Peking duck marinade. Our guests are still raving about the pork belly four months on. It proves that you can pretty much get away with anything (including a thrift shop wedding dress and a low-key venue) so long as your guests have a full belly and a glass of wine in hand.
DIY HAIR AND MAKEUP: I wanted to learn how to do my own hair and makeup for the wedding, so I did. Now I can do victory rolls, Gibson rolls, and 1940s makeup whenever I want.
What was not worth it
We really wanted to stick to budget, so we did. I’m proud of our achievement.
However, being strict with the budget added too much extra stress. For instance, I remember worrying over how we could borrow or cheaply purchase tablecloths. The venue gave us a couple of migraines too—they were cheap because they weren’t a traditional wedding venue but they were also unfamiliar with basic wedding prep. We had several tardy bowlers who lingered at the club up to an hour before guests were due to arrive, so setting up the hall and the grounds was a rushed job.
A few things that helped me along the way
Not so much things as people. People can be really generous when they find out that you’re getting married. Friends and family donated their time and effort: my nephew put together a band and practiced every weekend, a family friend gifted her wedding floristry services, whilst Garth’s mother acted as celebrant on the day.
We also had an events management student help out with the wedding planning. Tara was very hard-working and had a great eye for detail. She also appreciated our sense of whimsy. We were really lucky to find her and I’m glad that we did end up having her on the day because it allowed us to enjoy the night.
My best practical advice to my planning self
Trust your partner’s judgment, and stop drooling over photos from other people’s weddings on Pinterest. Spend some time alone together after just getting married. We sat on a park bench and reminisced whilst the sun slipped under the horizon.
Favorite thing about the wedding
We didn’t intend to do anything clever by merging the tea ceremony with the exchange of vows but our guests really liked it because it reflected both of our cultures, in the same way our outfits did.