01 July 2021
12 Tips to Keep Your Wedding Affordable

For most brides and grooms, planning their dream wedding often means draining their bank accounts of any need for a prenuptial agreement. We can all agree that getting everything you want—without having to start a gofundme account—is a real art.  

At New Zealand Wedding Films, we really believe one of the most important investments anyone can make in their big day is wedding videography. There’s nothing like capturing your day with high quality, intimate, and breath-taking film you can enjoy for years to come. Wedding videography is becoming an increasingly sought after must-have, but we know it’s yet another big ticket item to add to your ever-growing Excel spreadsheet. That’s why, to help you out, we’ve lined up a few of our favourite ideas for how to cut costs and corners when putting together your special day.


If you have an expensive vision of something, try sourcing an item that is cheap-with-potential and renovate it into your very own masterpiece. You can also sell it on again, earning you a little post-wedding profit.  

Believe it or not, this sleek and stylish bar (free through Facebook Marketplace) was once a bright blue shop counter. But the structure was exactly what this savvy bride was looking for. She painted it black, added signage, and styled the interior with op-shopped decanters, dried hydrangeas, and seed lighting for after dark. We love it. The lights hanging down from above (a Trade Me purchase) complement the vintage aesthetic perfectly. 

There are so many ways to be sustainable, and recycling is right up there. So why not hunt around and use your imagination? You might already own something that could enjoy a second life and save you a penny. 

This wedding used many old windows of different shapes and sizes, all with white frames, for their signage around the venue. The text was then written in white chalk paint. We are also absolutely loving the use of an old trough as a drinks cooler. Bloody brilliant. 

Who would ever think of using toothbrush holders for wedding table vases? Sometimes it pays to think outside the boxliterally.

This ‘vase’ was a modest $6 from Kmart, which is a fraction of what you’ll find out there on the vase market. However, the bride needed 40 vases, and that was actually trickier than one would think; she ended up having to source them from four different Kmart stores across the North Island, so that is something to be aware of. 

What we love about the petite size is how your eye is most drawn to the artsy floral display: copper beech leaves spray-painted gold, dockweed flower, and some roadside wheat-like weeds. 

It also helps when your guests can see the person opposite them, instead of fighting to peer over a colossal flower arrangement and then deciding to move it out of the way… (guilty).

Another repurposed item from the same wedding was the platter board seen here to feature the butters for the bread starter. It’s actually not a platter or plate at all—it’s a tile, cut to size with a tile cutter (if you can’t get a hold of one, you can pay a small fee per tile for a tile shop to do it for you). 

The bride and groom had a whole stack of these tiles spare (pictured above), and that was what helped them come up with the unusual idea of using them as platter boards. The earthy, neutral colour tone was on theme, and the slender shape meant they fit neatly on the table.


Everyone knows someone who’s been married before. Why not get in touch with a few friends and see if they’ve kept anything you could loan? Most people are more than happy to share and are glad to see their things being used a second time. Seeing what’s out there could also make a great starting point for your styling direction. 

One bride we talked to created multiple lounge suites in her garden for guests to enjoy during the afternoon intermission. She sourced many of the rugs from family and friends to pull the stylish, homely look together.

Put up your hand if you like free stuff! There’s plenty of ways to score things for free: from friends and family, from buy/sell/free sites online, and even from off the side of the road.

This stunning white cane set, from the same wedding pictured above, was free on Facebook Marketplace but in need of a lot of love. The cane had been painted lime green and was chipping off. It took a bit of work to sand them down and paint them with a few coats of white, as well as fit the upholstery (made from discounted, discontinued fabric)—but how good’s this end result?


Speaking of free, nature is more than happy to help you with your wedding decor. You can find her anywhere, so why not gather up your bridesmaids and go for a plant hunt? 

Whatever you’re on the lookout for, the key is to talk to people who might point you in the right direction, and then scope out the areas well ahead of time so that you know where your prime spots are!

Several bags full of silver dollar eucalyptus foliage were sourced and collected locally from roadsides in the Banks Peninsula the day before this Pigeon Bay wedding. They embellished all the tables beautifully.

We also had to ask about those amazing goblets, which—on theme—were found in a cupboard at the wedding reception hall. When you see a great ‘found’ item, you’ve just got to improvise and make use of it. 

These striking potted arrangements are made up dried palm fronds, toitoi, and macadamia as well as fresh orchids, dahlias, and white hydrangeas.

If you happen to know of a dreamy location, or—like these weddings below—have the perfect wedding venue in your own backyard, why not give it a crack? One warning is that this can sometimes cost more by the time you hire everything you need and it is certainly a lot more work, but take a look at the end result.

This Tauranga wedding rested right on a cliff’s edge on the bride and groom’s property, with ample room for the ceremony and marquee reception.
This charming Christchurch wedding was set in an old greenhouse out the back of the groom’s rented house. How’s that for a found space? 
As you can see above, however, they really had to roll up their sleeves, as she was a wild, unmanicured jungle before the vision was cast. Weeding, levelling, grass sewing, and pruning were all big jobs.
Labour of love, ready for the big day.

Now, you might not be as lucky as these brides and grooms in terms of what you or your friends and family have at your fingertips, but there are plenty of public spaces in New Zealand with picturesque landscape backdrops; and trust us, they’ll make epic settings for your wedding videography too. It’s also pretty special knowing that spot was just yours and only yours.

The boutiquey, eclectic look has been in for a while now, and op-shops can be a great place to source items with a bit of flair, variance, and a vintage feel. 

This stunning grazing table had many elements bringing the wow-factor, but one of them was the use of levels, achieved through wooden platters set at different heights. These wooden boards, as well as the bowls and cheese knives, were all sourced from local op-shops.

The cushions styling the white cane lounge suite up above were also found in op-shops, as were the decanters in the upcycled bar.

Making the right selections is the most difficult part of op-shopping, so we advise on creating a mood board of looks you like to keep you on track when buying. It’s a real art bringing colours, textures, and styles together, but boy does it look good when done well.

As mentioned earlier, there are many great sites online where you can buy anything and everything for your wedding, or better yet, score something for free. It goes without saying that these are also great places to onsell your own bought items afterwards. Some to check out include: “Wedding - Buy, sell, swap, and free New Zealand”, “NZ Wedding Marketplace - Buy/Sell”, “Wedding items - Swap, Buy & Sell NZ”, and “Recycled Wedding NZ”. 

This drinks menu clipboard was sourced from Facebook Marketplace as part of a set; the rest were used for meal menus, laid flat on the tables. 

One bride we spoke to commented on how having a wedding video helped her to make the decision to onsell her beloved dress.

          “It was hard to part with the dress, especially after only wearing it once, but the video is the real record of the dress and captures it in all its glory.    
          I only show much it sparkled at night in the video and I can actually see it from a 360 degree viewpoint. So that made me feel okay about selling it.
          I was never going to wear it again, after all.”

When you intend to onsell, you can justify spending a little more on your high priority quality items like your wedding dress, for example. It’s your day to be queen, so don’t settle for less than the best. But then, in years to come let your video spark your nostalgia, not a dormant garment on a hanger.

If you are looking into hiring culinary items, or anything for that matter, you may notice that sometimes the price of buying the items (in a sale) is not that much more. One way to save money in the long run is to choose the best priced items to buy up in bulk and then onsell them afterwards. Kmart, The Warehouse, Briscoes, and even dollar stores often have very good deals, but note that it can be a challenge to source big numbers from one store at once. 

We spoke to one bride who had a great experience with The Warehouse. A lady on the phone located, counted, packed, and posted her order of 400 assorted glasses the same day she rang up. 

One litre brown glass water bottles, like the one pictured, can also be found at Kmart for a mere $1.50. And why bother with table numbers when you can use the water canisters as table labels and (rather than number them) name them after your pets? (Stuart is a cat, by the way).

Two-for-one purpose and a personal touch—we’re into it.
These white linen napkins were also a good find from Kmart, but like the toothbrush holder ‘vases’, they had to be sourced from four different Kmart stores. And as another example of borrowing, the bread baskets were all loaned from a friend.

Speaking of friends, whether your friends and family are super talented at something or just willing to lend a hand, consider asking them to gift their help to you as a wedding present (we only recommend this if it’s a side passion, not their day job, as that undercuts their income).

You might have a musician friend or someone quietly talented with flowers, cooking, cake-making, grazing table arrangements, decor, and so on. One bride and groom were even given three lambs to take care of the meat for their wedding, and another couple had all their salads made by friends who followed the set recipes.

Pictured above, beside the napkin, is a sweet idea for guest favours. These were little silver boxes, handmade by the bride’s grandad, with yummy macadamia nuts inside, collected from trees on the bride and groom’s property. We love how they also double as place setting name tags with a white painted stripe and gold pen handwriting. A simple and elegant touch.

Not everyone has friends and family this talented, but one bride hit the jackpot with her incredibly generous and gifted loved ones who made these floral arrangements and cakes. We think they could both quit their day jobs? 
The bride was even able to onsell her dried flowers, just giving the buyer the note to add a few fresh florals to the arrangement on the day for pops of softness and colour like she did. 

You can also save quite a bit of money by having your wedding in the off-seasons of Autumn, Winter, and Spring, or by having it on a week day, such as a Friday. Many venues and vendors offer discounts, and they are less likely to be booked out. This option isn't for everyone, but it’s certainly one to keep in mind. A perk with Friday weddings is that you then have ‘more weekend’ to spend catching up with family and friends who have travelled from out of town.

If you love these ideas and want New Zealand Wedding Films to capture your day in all its glory, we have one final idea for you. Payments for your film can be made in smaller instalments across weeks or months to spread the cost. We offer this for our clients because we believe getting film is the best way to remember your wedding for life, and we don’t want anyone to miss out.

Your big day will go by surreally fast, and it can be a lot of pressure to soak up all the goodness of every moment when you’re in the middle of it. With film, every detail you painstakingly put together is put on display forever, and every laugh, dance, and tear is captured in motion to take you right back there.

We know people who looked back on their wedding day and wish they spent less on the silly stuff, but we’ve never shot for a couple who didn’t think their film was one of the best investments they made. 

Photography credits: J.Photo&co.
Astrid Ayrey, Marcel McCarthy, Lilly-Joy Amos

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