Ultimate 12-month wedding cost countdown


Woohoo, you’re engaged! You’ve got a sparkling rock on your finger, and you’re buzzing with excitement – so what’s next? Planning, of course.

With everything from the wedding venue to the flowers to consider, we’ve compiled the ultimate 12-month cost down to help take the stress out of organising your big day:

12 months: Celebrate

Couple drinking champagne in Paris, France
  • Celebrate! Pop the champagne, make your social media announcement post, head out with your girlfriends for a night on the town and enjoy the moment. Being engaged is a great time that will pass before you know it - so enjoy it!

11 months: Finances & logistics

  • Work out the finances: Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty stuff – finances. While traditionally, the Father of the Bride pays for the reception and the Groom’s parents shout the grog, times are a-changin’. So, find out if either of your parents will contribute or if you and your fiance will fit the bill.
  • Decide where, when & how: Will you be a Bula bride and jet set to Fiji or hold your nuptials locally? Are you a bohemian chic babe who wants to get married in the great outdoors or a sleek inner city dweller planning a ritzy do? The answers to these questions will determine your wedding budget.

10 months: Organise the engagement party

  • Organise the engagement party: This is a great way for your families to meet and greet before the Big Day. Also, use it as an opportunity to invite people that won’t be on the wedding guest list, like your mum’s friends and distant relos. There’s no need to fork out big bucks. It could be as simple as a backyard BBQ, which should only cost a couple of hundred dollars.

9 months: Book the reception & ceremony

  • Book the reception: If you’re getting married in Spring or Summer, make sure you book early because wedding venue dates fill up quickly. Most wedding venues only require you to put down a 10% deposit to secure the day, which will come off the total end amount. 
  • Book the ceremony: Our research showed that, generally, ceremony venues require you to pay the full cost upfront, which is usually anywhere from $500-$1,000, plus additional costs for the celebrant and wedding certificate. Remember, you can’t control the weather, so always have a wet weather backup plan.

8 months: Plan the honeymoon

  • Search for Honeymoon deals: You might be surprised to find booking the Honeymoon this early on the cost-down list, but the earlier you book everything from the flights to the accommodation, the better, as you can take advantage of early bird deals.

7 months: Say 'yes' to the dress!

  • Order your dress: Bridal gowns usually take around 4-6 months to arrive Down Under, so play it safe by ordering your dress 7 months in advance. Remember, you’ll likely have to fork out a 50% deposit and pay the remainder around a month before the wedding (after your last fitting). Also, choose your veil/headpiece, jewellery, shoes and any other accessories to go with the style of your gown.

6 months: Book the photographer, DJ & wedding cars

Wedding pic couple eating pizza
  • Book the photographers: The best way to find a good photographer/videographer is through word of mouth, so start quizzing your married girlfriends ASAP! A quick search of the net will show photographers in Australia can cost anywhere from $2,000-$6,000.
  • Book the DJ: Budget around $500 for a disc jockey, and write up a list of songs you want for things like your epic entry and slow dance.
  • Book the cars: Decide on the type of car you would like for your wedding day. Keep in mind that classic cars like the Jaguar Mark V and Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine are usually the priciest, whereas VW Kombis are at the cheaper end of the market.

5 months: Find bridesmaid dresses

  • Find the bridesmaid dresses: One of the best times of year for bridesmaid dress shopping is during the post-Christmas or June stocktake sales. Alternatively, head online for affordable dresses that are made to order from overseas.

4 months: Pick flowers & order the cake

wedding table setting flowers
  • Choose the flowers: A good rule of thumb is always to purchase flowers that are in season to bring down the cost of your bouquet (throw Bouquet), the bridesmaid’s flowers, boutonnieres and flower decorations for the ceremony and reception venues. 
  • Order the wedding cake: Figure out the right size of cake for the number of guests at the wedding because there’s no point spending big bucks on a five-tier cake if you’re only feeding 80 people.

3 months: Gift registry & invitations

  • Decide if you want gifts or cash: If you go down the cash path, consider using a free digital wishing well like the Community First Credit Union Matrimoney account, which comes with a card to insert in your wedding invitations and earns you a 4% ongoing interest rate.
  • Send out the wedding invitations: While theknot.com recommends sending out invitations 6-8 weeks before the wedding, we think 3 months is the perfect amount of time, especially if you’ve got guests coming from overseas. If you use online websites like eBay, you can order wedding invites for less than $1 per card.

2 months: Wedding bands, hens/bucks parties & beauty appointments

  • Purchase the wedding bands: Don’t leave the rings as an afterthought! Give your jeweller at least a month's notice, just in case your rings need to be resized. By now, your finances may be a bit tight, but thankfully, some retailers offer take-home layby, which means you can pay the rings off over an interest-free period.
  • Hold the Hen’s night/bridal shower: We’ve heard plenty of wedding horror hangover stories, so make sure you have the bridal party well in advance. A thrifty idea is to ask your girlfriends for gifts that you actually need for the Big Day, like the garter, hosiery, candles, photo album and guest book.
  • Book your hair, makeup, fake tan, etc. While you can get the beautician to come to your house, it’s generally cheaper to go to a nearby salon and makeup boutique to get beautified. We highly recommend a trial hair and makeup appointment to ensure you're happy with the look on the day.

1 month: Delegate tasks & finalise reception venue

  • Delegate tasks to others: Ensure your inner Bridezilla doesn’t come out to play at the last minute by passing the leftover duties like organising the rehearsal dinner and wedding programs to your bridesmaid, mum, mother-in-law (and any other helpful people).
  • Finalise the reception venue: The only major task left in the lead-up to your Big Day is finalising the numbers and paying down the remainder of the reception.

And that’s your 12-month wedding cost-down! For more useful wedding-saving tips, read Mozo’s 5 ways to trim $5,000 off your wedding venue guide