For whom the wedding bell tolls: Eileen and Goodwill Moyo’s wedding. While this is a dream day, be realistic about what you can and cannot afford


When Riccardo Raciti met Keri Bowyer in high school 15 years ago, he knew she was going to be a very special person in his life.

That’s why he is pulling out all the stops for their wedding later this year. But Riccardo only popped the question once he was sure his finances were in order.

Ayanda Ndlovu, a financial adviser and the KwaZulu-Natal regional head for Liberty’s emerging consumer market, says: “Some couples have long engagements while they save the money they need for a lavish wedding or to set up a home together.

Another way to do things is the way Riccardo has – to only start planning once you have saved a certain minimum amount that you set for yourself. For example, you might only set a date for your wedding once you know you have saved R100 000.”

Where to save
If you know your wedding will be in three to five years’ time, you could save money through investment vehicles such as unit trusts or endowment policies.

Bear in mind that investments such as endowment policies are limited in terms of withdrawals and you would have to wait for the term to end before accessing the funds.

You would also need to adhere to the monthly premium you signed up for. Growth unit trust investments are also medium- to long-term investments, but are more flexible in terms of withdrawals and you can stop your contributions at any time.

“A qualified financial adviser can help you with the planning in terms of how much to invest and which funds are suitable for your needs,” says Ndlovu.

Another option is to save money in flexi-fixed deposit accounts, which allow you to continue making deposits over time at a favourable interest rate. Capitec, for example, has a fixed deposit you can add to each month.

In some cases, according to Ndlovu, you could set up a “wedding stokvel” where women generate money by contributing every month. At the end of a year, the fund is split between the contributors and the lump sum you receive can go into a savings vehicle at a financial institution or to a wedding planner.

Discuss your finances upfront
Remember, you and your loved one share a common goal – a memorable wedding day that is also affordable. You don’t want to start your married life drowning in debt.

“You should start consulting a financial planner as a couple when you start planning for your wedding,” says Ndlovu.

Your financial planner needs to know your main goals as a couple. This is important to avoid conflict later on.

“Finance is one of the crucial sticking points that can cause tension between the couple as well as their families,” she warns.

Money is a difficult topic in any relationship, so starting on the right foot and having these discussions before you get married will benefit you throughout your marriage.

Do your homework
When you are planning your wedding, try to stick to your budget. While this is a dream day and you might have an ideal scenario in your head, be realistic about what you can afford. Do as much research as possible when sourcing entertainment and scouting out venues.

A wedding venue that comes recommended by someone who has had their own wedding there carries a measure of certainty in terms of what you can expect.

Check list

There are a few things you need to discuss with your partner before you start planning the wedding:

1. Do we do it ourselves, or hire a wedding planner? A wedding planner will be costly, but saves time and energy. This also helps if, for example, you both live in Gauteng, but the wedding will be in KwaZulu-Natal.

2. Who will handle the bills?

3. How much can you spend without consulting your spouse?

4. How much are you both willing to spend on the wedding and honeymoon?

5. What are your credit scores?

How to avoid breaking the bank

When Eileen and Goodwill Moyo married last year, they used online wedding-budget tool to budget for their wedding.

They share their experience with City Press:

How easy was it to stick to the budget?
The budgeting tool was easy to use, but we didn’t consider all the extra costs, like spa treatments for the bridesmaids a day prior to the wedding, as well as their hair and make-up.

What costs did you find surprisingly high?
The costs of the bride and bridesmaids’ bouquets, as well as the flower arrangements for the table settings, were expensive.

In hindsight, what was not worth spending money on?
We would rather have gone for a smaller cake arrangement, as I don’t think guests even noticed the cake. Alternatively, we should have had small cake boxes for the guests to take home.

What was worth every cent?
Spend money on a good photographer who not only takes beautiful shots, but takes his time and knows how to get the couple to relax. The money is worth every cent if you have beautiful photos forever.

We hired a singer to keep the guests entertained while the bride and bridegroom were having photos taken, and made sure there were enough drinks available.

What tips do you have for keeping costs down?
You don’t need an expensive wedding gown that you are only going to wear once, so shop around. It was definitely better to buy a wedding dress than have one made, as often the end result is not quite what you expect.

The dress suits the model in the picture, but might not suit your body type.

As a keepsake from the wedding, we gave each guest a lottery ticket. It was an inexpensive gift, but great fun. Unfortunately, none of our guests won.

Coming from different cultural backgrounds, how did you manage the cultural aspect of not having a traditional African ‘open wedding’?
We had to explain to all our guests that it was a reserved-seated wedding and that we paid per head so couldn’t have unexpected guests arriving.

At the end of the day, the wedding couple needs to remember that it is their day and that they need to do what makes them happy.

The cultural differences make for a great mix most of the time, but you shouldn’t allow outside influences to detract from it being your day.

There are always going to be people who aren’t 100% happy, but rest assured that they get over it quickly.

It also helped that we paid for our own wedding, so we could make our own decisions.