Organising a budget-friendly wedding can be enough of a challenge on its own, but to do so in just a month requires a whole new dimension of creative thinking and planning. Joan and Ben were more than able to rise to the occasion for their wedding, however, as they blended together traditional Chinese themes with a modern, romantic feel that reflected their vision for the perfect day, with a little help from their family and friends… and some savvy online shopping.
Photography: Boris Ding from Azure Image. We had our photoshoot in the morning before the ceremony along the Yarra River at Crown Promenade. We were able to cut costs on our wedding photography by requesting that the photographer only take photos in the morning at the gardens and at our ceremony, which included video as well. We also did not want printed photos, but instead requested a CD for photos (and videos) and we printed them ourselves.
Theme: Our wedding was an intimate one, blending modern and romantic looks with a traditional Chinese theme. The modern elements included my dress, the car, the city location, and the ceremony style, and we incorporated Chinese tradition by choosing an elegant looking Chinese Restaurant with classic and classy décor for the reception. Touches of red for table decorations, flowers, and bridesmaid dresses added a romantic flare to the overall look.
Gown: I was looking for an inexpensive, beautiful and simple wedding dress; something that was floor length, but no train, so that I could easily walk around, as we had the photography session in the city of Melbourne. I found the perfect one on ebay.com.au from a shop called “venicezboutique”. Brand new, it was just over $100, including express shipping. I loved it! It was a beautiful, flowy dress… and the price was absolutely right!
Suit: Saba. We did not buy a brand new suit for my husband; instead he used the suit he had from his university graduation, since it still looked new and modern (another cost saver for us). We just bought a new white formal shirt and tie from Tarocash.
Wedding Party: We wanted our wedding to be intimate so we sent invitation to just family and close friends… 30 guests in total. The Bridesmaid dresses were from temt. Accessories were their own. Our dolly bags were from “factorydirectoz” on ebay. The groomsmen’s suits were their own.
Accessories: We got accessories from a little jewellery/accessory shop on ground floor of Highpoint Shopping Centre near the Cinemas.
Hair and make-up: My sister, Alexis Gass, was our stylist for the day. She is currently taking a make-up course and is also a genius with styling hair for formal occasions.
Flowers: I chose gorgeous and classic red roses for my bouquet, while the bridesmaids had off-white roses to complement their red dresses, and we had rose buttonholes for the guys. The table centrepieces were mixed red flowers. All our very beautiful flowers were from Broadmeadows Florist in Broadmeadows Shopping Centre, and we were able to save money by picking them up ourselves instead of having them delivered and dropping off the flowers for the table arrangements to the restaurant the evening before the wedding day.
Ceremony and Reception: We held our ceremony and lunch reception in one venue, Shanghai Dynasty Restaurant in Melbourne CBD. The ceremony was about half an hour and lunch was three hours, so all in all it was a four hour wedding. Short and sweet! Our celebrant, David Schneider, made our day very special by helping us design a short but meaningful and very personal ceremony (I did not want our guests to get bored with very long ceremony). David was a 2011 ABIA Celebrant of the Year Finalist and I can see why… he was a great addition to our day.
We chose the Shanghai Dynasty Restaurant venue as it had beautiful food, and for our wedding we had a banquet of different dishes. Our celebration was on a Sunday at lunchtime, which made it convenient for everyone to attend, and, as a bonus, the parking across the road was just a flat fee on Sundays. The restaurant also had a private room that was suitable for 30 people and I loved that it had beautiful, classy and traditional decor.
Wedding Planner/Coordinator: With the help of my mum, sister, and friends, I managed to organise an inexpensive, budget-friendly wedding in just one month (November to December).
Music: Our celebrant, David, brought a portable speaker and music player to play the music we chose for our ceremony, which was fantastic! He also had his own microphone for the ceremony. For the background music during lunch, we used an Iphone with an Ipod dock we borrowed from a friend. We did not need microphones for our speeches during lunch as the venue was intimate enough that everyone could hear us clearly.
Decorations: For the dining table decorations, I used acrylic diamond confetti from an ebay shop called “trident_direct”, fake red flower petals from the ebay shop “weddingclearancecentre,” and the candles, ceremony flowers, and vases were from a local $2 bargain shop.
Favors: I bought our wedding favour boxes from an ebay shop called “crystal_designs_by_jody”. They were shimmery red boxes with butterfly shapes on top, filled with a mixture of Ferrero Rocher and Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses.
Stationery: For our invitations, I bought a pack of 30 sheets of A4 sized printing paper in an ivory gold shimmer. The paper was an inexpensive, no-name brand, bought from a local news agency, and I bought matching DL sized envelopes from Kmart (they have a wedding stationery section there with plenty of bargain items to choose from). Then it was just a matter of firing up Microsoft Word to design the invitations before printing them at home. They turned out very simple and classy.
Cake: We chose a simple, two tier cake with a touch of red, from Michel’s Pattisserie.
Transport: We borrowed a friend’s Mercedes car for the day.
Budget Tip: Think practical and inexpensive. Choose and buy things wisely. In the short period of time that I had to organise my wedding, shopping online saved me time and so much money. Make sure you choose items that can be shipped Express, though, if your timelines are as tight as mine were!
There are so many wedding dresses online, and you can even order them to be custom made if you have time. In my case, my schedule was too tight for custom designs, so I ordered a dress in the size I normally wear and it fitted perfectly.
Keep the number of guests low. Adding even one extra person to your guest list can change the budget significantly.
Flowers can be very expensive. I bought all fresh flowers for my bouquet and for the bridesmaids, as well as for the centrepieces, since we only had three big tables to decorate. However, I just discovered there are so many places out there that sell fake wedding bouquets that look absolutely real and for a fraction of a price. These types of shops are getting more popular now. As a suggestion, you can choose to buy a fresh flower bouquet for yourself, and check out one of those shops for your bridesmaid’s bouquets and for decorations.
If you are creative, you can decorate the venue by yourself with a little help from a friend. The main things we decorated were the reception tables and the ceremony space. My advice is to keep it simple. Many simple and beautiful table decorations are available online from sites like ebay. The same goes for the favours. There is no need for expensive items that have your photo or name engraved on it. No one really keeps them anyway. You can make them yourself, mix and match some sweets, and put them together in favour boxes. Local bargain shops also have many things to offer when it comes to decor.
If you have something that you can borrow from a friend or relative, it’ll save you money. I borrowed my headpiece, for example. It is also ridiculously expensive to hire wedding cars. Before our friend offered to lend us his car, we hired one from Thrifty Car Rental. We chose a nice modern car that cost around $70, which my husband was going to drive himself. However, we cancelled it without a cost after our friend offered us his Mercedes.
Hair, make-up, and nails can be expensive. If you know someone who can do it for you, it will cut so much cost. Otherwise, if you’re good at doing make-up, hair, and nails, you can do it yourself. All you need are good quality cosmetics. Bridal make-up ideas are also available on Youtube.com.au. You can practice before the wedding day.
Accommodation: My parents offered our hotel accommodation as a gift. We chose the Radisson Hotel on Flagstaff Gardens, which was fantastic value, and a beautiful hotel with a delicious buffet breakfast and fantastic customer service.
Eco-friendly Tip: My mum took the decorations back home so that they wouldn’t get thrown out after the wedding, including the acrylic diamond confetti and fake flower petals (she used them again to decorate areas at home). By having our wedding at lunchtime we did not need as much lighting at the venue, since the private room where we held our wedding ceremony and reception was designed to allow in natural light. Holding both the ceremony and reception in one place saved our guests from having to drive to multiple locations.
Handmade Tip: Our favour boxes, invitations, and table and ceremony space decorations were all handmade. We decorated the venue the evening before our wedding, which did not take us long at all! That’s where keeping things simple came in so handy.
I wish: I wish I had bought the fake roses bouquets from my local wedding decor shop for my bridesmaids. They were absolutely beautiful, they looked so real, and were a fraction of the price. They also had so many inexpensive, classy looking beautiful wedding table decorations.
Something Special: Our celebrant, David Scheider, made our wedding a truly memorable one. My advice when you are planning your wedding – focus on making the ceremony a personal and special one. After all, it is the main and most important part of your special day.
Wedding Tip: Do not stress so much about little things. By keeping things simple, you will have a less complicated day with fewer things to worry about. We actually forgot to bring the buttonholes for the groom and groomsmen to the photoshoot in the morning, but I did not let it stress me out. My mum brought them before the ceremony started, so it worked out just fine in the end. Just focus on being happy and enjoying the day!
Images: Azure Image