Wedding season: How brides cut costs for their big day

Behind the pomp and glamour is a lot of money-oriented decisions that may cause a rift

Tiffany Mashimba Ngatia's wedding. She came up with a plan to reduce costs by creating her own unique wedding décor. Now she runs a company to do the same for other brides. PHOTO | COURTESY | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IN SUMMARY

1. Choose off peak seasons

Fransisca Obuba of Lokuai Events advises that it is important to choose off peak seasons when suppliers are not over booked. Interview different suppliers and make your budget range clear. If you can, have the wedding in one place or make the distance from the church to the venue very short to avoid added costs, especially on transport. Be clear on what is important for you as a couple to know where to prioritise the money.

2. Agree on realistic budget

Sheba Njagi a planner with Roarke & Bartley concurs with these views. Have a realistic budget. Many brides and grooms say they are “on a budget” but don’t have the actual figure they are budgeting for. It’s difficult to ‘save’ money when you don’t know how much it is you want to save in the first place! As a couple, agree on the maximum amount of money you plan to spend on your wedding and then work backwards from there.

3. Hire an event planner

Contrary to the belief that the planner’s fee eats into your cost, the truth is that this fee is the opportunity cost you incur to ensure that you have a quality, beautiful and almost stress free wedding on a budget. Ensure that the planner comes in at the beginning of the wedding planning phase. An experienced planner with good project management skills will ensure that you realistically achieve your wedding goals within your budget.

4. Attend wedding expos

Wedding expos in Kenya have become a favourable one-stop shop for brides and grooms to meet key wedding service providers. Most of them not only have a portfolio of their work, but also offer competitive discounts when you book early. The 'Pay Early, Pay Less' model applies well here.

5. Put aside emergency buffer

The truth is, what you think about in the initial stages may change for one reason or the other. For example, parents may decide to bring more guests or the weather patterns may change. Allocate an amount for emergency that will only be used when an emergency comes up. Work with your planner to mitigate some of these emergencies early enough. Remember it’s meant to be a fun ride! Enjoy it.

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Behind the pomp and glamour is a lot of financial planning. Terry Nzaumi has been married for seven months after a private wedding ceremony in April.

READ: Major boom in wedding industry as December peak season sets in

“I had 15 guests for the church ceremony. We invited people for dinner after the wedding, and we requested them to pay for a plate of food as a way of supporting us.

“We had 40 guests. With the payments that were made, we were able to negotiate with the hotel to do several a la carte menus at a subsidised rate.

“With the remaining cash, we paid for the cake, photography and my two dresses for the day. We bought our rings from Canada and also paid for our honeymoon. The grand total came to Sh297,000.”

Ellah* had a very different experience. Her wedding was sponsored by parents from both sides and she has now been married now for a little over a year.

“We got engaged seven months after dating. We intended to get married in September 2017 but our parents wanted us to have it sooner, so we tied the knot a year earlier.

“We told them we did not have the financial capability to pull off a wedding at the time. That is when they said that they will take care of everything and we would handle the planning.

PARENTS TOOK OVER

“We had four months to prepare and I decided to get a wedding planner .We just could not do it ourselves in such a short time. I got one after a vigorous online search. I was looking at certain things: who responded first, positively and favourably. At the end of the day, I was looking for a people person.

READ: Wedding plans need not be a nightmare

“I found someone I could count on but realised my parents also wanted a say. They would talk directly to the planner and change items we had agreed on, which was challenging but we just decided to let go of our expectations and work as a team.

“When it comes to the whole budget, I really cannot say. Our role besides giving direction on what we wanted, was to show up. We ended up investing money we had saved up for the wedding and now we get returns twice a year. A pre-wedding party also boost what we had.

DESTINATION WEDDINGS

’Destination weddings’ can be exciting but it takes a lot of work and money to to pull it off. Faith Mwendwa, who lives in Nairobi, had her wedding six months after her engagement.

READ: Want a perfect wedding? Insure it

Since her fiancé lived in Mombasa they decided to have their ceremony in Kilifi which meant a lot of shuttling back and forth between the two towns.

“Our initial budget was Sh54,000. We ended up spending Sh400,000. Raising the cash was quite a task. For me , the debate was whether I should be part of raising the money or leave it all to my spouse but we ended up pulling our resources together to make it happen.

“My main challenge was incorporating our families’ requests for the big day. In as much as we wanted to do things our own way, we decided to consider their interests too by prioritising the most important things. Friends turned out to be a great asset during the planning process. They really came through for me.”

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