Australia's Cheapest Weddings Recap Ep 1

Welcome, ladies and gents to the newest sensation of reality TV: Australia’s Cheapest Weddings!

If you’re expecting some horribly trashy bogans making punch in the bathtub and wearing Supre, then let me tell you now you’re going to be disappointed. I certainly was.
But as much as I love some trash TV, I’m also a sucker for saving money (hey, it’s kinda my thing) and this show, proved that you can have the wedding of your dreams on a tight budget – or at least you can if you’re willing to put in some elbow grease, get down to some online shopping and call in favours from everyone you know.

The first episode dealt with three weddings – the elegant, the cute, and the near-disaster. If you didn’t watch it, or just want to relive all the frugal drama, here’s what happened:

Couple #1: Crystal and Dan.

The budget: Just $4,000. Sounds ambitious, but it’s clear from the get-go that Crystal is a pretty gifted online deals shopper.

The dress: First things first, Crystal tries on her dress, which has come all the way from China to be here today. She paid just $168 for it, and it’s a very nice dress.

I’ve got this uncanny feeling that things can only go downhill from here.

The venue: The reception is taking place at the Jindalee Bowls Club. And why not – at $400, (including crockery, the manager is quick to point out) it’s a steal. They have to pay for their own booze, though, and if I know anything about weddings, that $4,000 budget isn’t going to last long.

They’re also paying exactly $302.95 to have the ceremony in the botanic gardens, although they’re a bit cheesed off that they have to pay for a public park, and on top of that, there are all these rules to follow – no confetti, no carpet, no decorations, generally no messing with the splendor of nature. Dan reckons if he’s paying for it he’ll do what he wants and resolves to break the carpet rule immediately.

I can see a fine in his future.

The food: Here’s the thing: everyone bails on Crystal and Dan’s wedding including Dan’s best man, the DJ, Crystal’s mother and for a long time, it seems, the caterer (the Jindalee Bowlo manager is scandalised, but also takes the time to remind us what a fab venue they’ve chosen).

But just as Crystal is getting so hangry she starts picking fights with her bridesmaids, the caterer shows up and the day is saved. Phew.

Glad they fed Bridezilla before a bridesmaid lost her head.

The photographer:Is an amateur trying to build up her portfolio – which is a super great way to save on what can be an incredibly expensive part of a wedding. In fact, she did the same thing at her wedding, the photographer tells us. Of course, she then wound up suing the guy for undisclosed reasons, but nevermind that. This time it’s sure to turn out fine.

The verdict: Budget-wise, Crystal and Dan pulled it off. Eventually. The wedding was pretty darn elegant, and they didn’t have to miss out on much that they wanted. Plus, as the bowlo manager reminds us one last time before the camera pans quickly away, Jindalee is literally the best venue they could have chosen. Good work guys.

Although I have to wonder if Crystal might have been a little less stressed and therefore a little less snappy had they spent a little more on a DJ and caterer who would actually show up.

Couple #2: Zach and Emily

The budget: $0. They’re planning to have this wedding entirely for free, which seems equal parts naive and inspirational. I kind of really hope they pull it off, but I don’t have high hopes.

The dress: I don’t think we’re told what this dress costs, which probably means it was expensive. Or, considering that everything in this wedding has been more or less donated by the local Norfolk Island community, maybe it’s a hand-me-down. I’m not sure – maybe I was getting a snack when this was said.

The venue: Is their backyard, which is nice and big and grassy. Except – it’s raining. Zach is refusing to believe that water is pouring from the sky and does some electrical work.

Rain, what rain? Let me fiddle with this live electricity real quick.

When a tropical storm blows in Zach finally admits that the gale force winds which are literally knocking over trees may interfere with his reception. “She’s pretty windy,” he comments astutely.
They shift camp into the town hall, which costs them $90.

The food: Zach goes fishing and catches the wedding dinner. There are sharks, like, right there, and between that and playing with electricity in the rain, I’m half convinced he’s not going to actually live to see the wedding.

Later on, everyone chips in with a dish, like it’s a Christmas barbeque in your Nan’s backyard and everyone has to bring a plate.

The verdict: This is a really nice wedding. The community spirit thing is kind of nice. If there’s a classy, sentimental way to get a free wedding, this is it.

Bad weather bumps their outgoing costs up to a whopping $90, so it’s not quite the free wedding they envisioned, but if we’re keeping score on the cheapest day so far, these guys are killing it.

Couple #3: “Exotic bikinimodel” (yes, this was aired on television, Channel 7, c’mon) Julie and her teacher beau Russell.

The budget: Their wedding budget is tinier than Julie’s swimmers, because all their savings are going towards her $7,000 residency visa. They don’t actually give us a number, but Russell says it’s less than the visa will cost. A lot less.

I’m not going to comment on any of that vaguely sketchy sounding setup. This show is about love, after all.

The dress: Julie is wearing a white crochet number that her cousin back in Argentina handmade. So apart from postage and her cousin’s time and effort, it’s gloriously free.

The venue: Julie has dreams of a beach side reception. Instead, she’s getting a backyard bbq, which none of her family can come to because flights are hellishly expensive. Welcome to ’straya, Julie.

These colours would have looked great on a seaside background. Sigh.

They’ve got fairy lights in the backyard and it actually looks super cute, not to mention they’ve pimped out the garage fit for a real shindig. There’s black plastic up on all the walls, which I’m not in love with, but there’s also karaoke, which I absolutely am.

The food: Julie has cooked the food herself so it’s all authentic Argentinian fare, and probably costs about as much as your Mum’s Sunday lunch. It is appallingly apparent that none of her family are there, as the guests comment that it’s “muy bien, mate”.

The verdict: This is a cute wedding and everyone seems to genuinely enjoy themselves. I can only assume they didn’t go over budget, since Julie didn’t spout exact figures like Crystal or geek out over free stuff a la Emily.

Plus, they get extra points because Julie’s English is a little fuzzy, and she promises to take Russell as an “awful” wedded husband. Classic.

Next week:

Some truly… unique singing and EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE. This is the trash TV I was waiting for. Tune in here for your recap.

I for one, can. Not. Wait.

Check out my recap of Australia’s Cheapest Weddings Episode 2: Disney Princesses Go Wild.