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  • Writer's pictureHelen Lea Wall

The Ultimate Wedding Planner Budget Guide: NZ & Beyond

Updated: Jun 16

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! We've put together this guide to help you navigate the exciting (and sometimes overwhelming) world of wedding planning. We understand that this might be your first time going through this process, and we want to make it as easy and stress-free as possible for you. So, let's dive in and make your special day truly memorable!


Envision Your Wedding Vibe:

Before diving into the nitty-gritty, take a moment to envision the vibe of your special day. What makes you you as a couple? It's gotta fit your personality!


  • Backyard Bash: Dream of a relaxed gathering under the fairy lights, surrounded by loved ones?

  • Rustic Retreat: Down to earth vibes, whether in nature or a barn. DIY magic and boho vibes galore.

  • Modern Marvel: Envision a sleek and stylish celebration that reflects your urban edge?


There are no rules! Your unique love story deserves a unique celebration. This vibe will be the foundation for all your other choices:


  • Location: A sleek venue, a forest canopy, a local country hall - the possibilities are endless!

  • Attire: Ditch the traditional expectations. Rock a pantsuit, a fabulous gown, or anything that makes you feel like the most authentic version of yourselves.

  • Your Crew: Who will stand by your side? It's your call!


Now, let's get this party started!


Super Early Booking (18-24 Months Out):

  • Venue: Think ceremony spot, reception hall, or that quirky location that speaks to your heart. Research different venues and consider if marquees or portable toilets are needed. This is a big expense, so plan wisely.

  • Photography: Booking your photography package early often comes with perks like a discount on the engagement shoot – a wonderful way to ease into working with your photographer and capture beautiful pre-wedding moments.

  • Videography: Don't forget about capturing your special day. Research videographers, their styles, and packages to find the perfect fit for you.


12-18 Months Out:

  • Wedding Planner: Consider if you want to hire a professional wedding planner to help manage the entire process.

  • Wedding Dress: Start considering your dress, accessories, and shoes. Think about alterations and explore pre-loved options or rentals.

  • Celebrant/Officiant: The person to pronounce you "married" - celebrants come in all sorts of delicious flavors, loud and hilarious, soft and gentle - and can make a big impact on your day so make sure they are down with who YOU are with celebrating your love story. Fees vary, so it's good to start comparing and deciding on the right fit for your ceremony.

  • Catering: Food is a big deal, so find someone who tickles your taste buds and really matches in with your vibe. Is the venue offering catering, or do you need to book the best burger food truck in town?


9-12 Months Out:

  • Save-the-Dates: Send them out if needed to your loved ones.

  • Bridal Party Accommodation: Reserve a cozy spot for you and your bridal party to relax and prep on the big day. If you are booking your photographer for prep photos, think about the light and layout of the accommodation.


6-9 Months Out:

  • Hair & Makeup Trial: Schedule sessions with a stylist to ensure you love your look on your wedding day. This is a good time to have your engagement shoot while your hair and makeup are professionally done and you're feeling fabulous. Most hair and makeup artists will slightly change your makeup afterwards so that your partner doesn't see the full effect on this day.


4-6 Months Out:

  • Finalize Wedding Attire: From the dress to accessories, make sure everything fits perfectly for your special day. Consider if you, as the bride and groom, will be paying for the bridal party outfits. The groom needs to look at his attire specifically at the same time, as he and the groomsmen will probably go shopping together or order at the same time.

  • Invitations & Stationery: Create personalized wedding stationery to set the tone for your celebration.


3-5 Months Out:

  • Florist: Discuss floral arrangements with your florist to bring your wedding vision to life. Flowers for bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, ceremony arch, and cake should be considered. Discuss seasonal availability and budget with your florist at least 3-4 months out, especially if you have specific flower requests or a grand floral design. Consider booking during the previous season for potentially lower costs.

  • Hair & Makeup for Wedding Day: Book professionals who understand your style and preferences. Include hair and makeup for the bride, bridesmaids, and possibly the mothers of the bride and groom. Research stylists with wedding experience and discuss trial sessions. Schedule this big chunk of time into your day, especially if you have a bigger bridal party. Get in touch with your hair and makeup artists earlier than 3-5 months to confirm how long it will take, and buffer in time for touch-ups and changes. It's better to have time on your side than to stress.

  • Entertainment: DJ, band, acoustic trio with a kazoo? Is someone singing you into the "I do's" or is the party starting after dinner? Finalize entertainment options to keep your guests engaged. Consider live bands or DJs for both the ceremony and reception, and ceremony musicians if desired.

  • Cake: Choose a baker and design a delicious cake for all to enjoy on your special day. Make sure you book a cake tasting.

  • Wedding Rings: Purchase and engrave wedding rings.

  • Legal Requirements: Complete any additional legal requirements or paperwork needed.


Final Touches (1 Month Out):

  • Transport: Horse-drawn carriage, V8, dad dropping you in the family bus, bikes with streamers - get creative! Arrange transportation for you and your bridal party. Consider transportation for guests if the ceremony and reception venues are far apart.

  • Wedding Favors: Choose or create tokens of appreciation for your guests.

  • Wedding Signs: Get creative with personalized signs and decorations to add a special touch to your celebration.

  • Marriage License: Obtain your marriage license from your local registry office.

  • Final Payments: Ensure all vendors are paid and confirm all arrangements.

  • Emergency Kit: Prepare an emergency kit for the wedding day (sewing kit, safety pins, pain relievers, etc.).


Additional Costs and Considerations:

  • Wedding Planner: Hiring a wedding planner to help manage the entire process.

  • Groom's Accessories: Cufflinks, ties, shoes, and any other accessories.

  • Undergarments and Lingerie: Special pieces for the wedding day.

  • Reception Decor: Centerpieces, table settings, linens, chair covers, and additional decor.

  • Lighting: Uplighting, string lights, candles, or any special lighting effects.

  • Rentals: Furniture, dance floor, tents, or other rental items needed for the venue.

  • Childcare: Providing childcare services for guests with children.

  • Insurance: Wedding insurance to cover any unexpected events or cancellations.

  • Engagement Party: Costs for hosting an engagement party.

  • Bridal Shower and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties: Costs associated with these pre-wedding celebrations.

  • Post-Wedding Brunch: Hosting a brunch the day after the wedding for close family and friends.

  • Honeymoon: Budgeting for the honeymoon trip. Do you want guests to contribute to a honeymoon instead of gifts? Add this into your invites and set up a space for envelopes on the day.

  • Gifts: Gifts for the bridal party, parents, and each other.

  • Beauty Treatments: Pre-wedding beauty treatments like facials, manicures, pedicures, and spa days.

  • Marriage Counseling: Pre-marriage counseling or courses.

  • Guest Accommodations: Block booking hotel rooms for out-of-town guests and any costs associated with this.

  • Thank You Cards: Cards for sending thank you notes post-wedding.

  • Programs and Menus: Printed programs for the ceremony and menus for the reception.


Photo Prep Perfection:

  • Location, Location, Location: Find a place with good lighting and a backdrop that reflects your vibe.

  • Accommodation: Book a place with enough space for you and your loved ones to get ready comfortably (and maybe take some epic getting-ready photos). If you want photos of both the bridal party and the groom, think about the distance or whether you want to book a second shooter for prep and the ceremony.


Most Importantly: This is YOUR Day!

Throw out the rulebook, do what makes you happy, and don't forget to laugh, love, and celebrate your epic love story! And hey, if you're looking for someone to capture the real, raw, and totally you moments of your wedding day, well, you know where to find us. ;-)

I hope this guide makes the wedding planning process smoother for you. Feel free to ask if you need further guidance or have any more details to add!

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