Personal Finance, Wedding

Creating Our Dream Wedding | Chapter 5


Hello friends, it’s been a while. Welcome to Chapter 5 of my wedding planning series, and the last before my fiancé and I get married. Yes, it’s less than 100 days out, and the next time I update this series with our final and complete wedding expenses in Chapter 6, I will be a Mrs!

My last update was in August, and it’s crazy how things have changed since then. I’d just updated you on my new job and new savings plan, but since then, as you may already know, both my fiancé and I have had another change (increase) in income.

Our income isn’t the only thing that’s changed. There’s one massive change I haven’t shared with you all; and the reason I’ve been quiet and avoided writing about my wedding for a few months.. We cancelled our wedding reception.

Phew! I wrote that with a huge sense of relief and joy.

Why did we cancel our wedding reception, and what are we doing now? Also importantly, what are we doing with all our wedding savings and the thousands of dollars we’d saved for the occasion?

Cancelling our wedding reception

It’s a long and I’m-not-sure-if-interesting story why we cancelled our wedding reception, but it goes like this:

I never wanted a wedding reception. As some of you may know, I am very introverted, and the thought of public speaking and being the centre of attention (contrary to being a Leo) is off-putting to me. I also don’t party, which makes the thought of planning, hosting and paying literally thousands for a party for others even more bizarre. All my adult life, I have preferred intimate gatherings rather than large parties.

The first time I heard about mountaintop weddings in Queenstown, I knew that was what I wanted. It sounded so magical. What could be more meaningful than getting married on a mountaintop (in fact, we’re flying to two mountaintops!) with only the person you love and are about to commit your life to, and having no pressure whatsoever? I know from several people that planning a huge wedding with friends and family present is often simply not worth the drama and the pressure for everything to make everyone happy, and that elopement is a very tempting option for many. That was my mindset from the start.

My fiancé agreed, so we booked our mountaintop wedding in Queenstown, which will be absolutely beautiful. However, later on, with him wanting a reception, mainly for his family, I agreed and we started planning it.

From August to October, we hit a rough patch – and by that, I mean both ‘we’, and him and I in our individual lives. We were both going through hard times. When one of you experiences the death of a parent while the other gets news of a family member diagnosed with a terminal illness with less than 12 months to live, that tends to happen. All the grief and emotions that come with it – sadness, anger, confusion, shock – meant we were both very ‘off’.

Y’all, it was stressful.

For a while, our communication was simply not on the same wavelength. At the same time, the more I thought about it, the more I felt that most of the wedding planning organisation was on me; additional stress that I was simply not willing to take on.

I was unhappy. As you may know, in 2017 and 2018, I worked part-time and financially supported myself with side hustles I felt passionate about, happily doing volunteer work in the community, and growing & investing in myself. I only started working full-time again and had to hold on to a full-time job when my contract finished because I had a costly wedding reception to pay for.

It was no longer worth it. At the time, I wasn’t exactly happy with my work either. I was experiencing issues with miscommunication and passive aggression from certain managers and colleagues, which made my work life feel toxic and heavy. My fiancé was not adjusting to my new sleep schedule; he was still acting as if I was working at my previous work, when I swapped shifts all the time because I am an evening person. Playing games til late and coming to bed late every night, I was always sleep deprived. I’m not a morning person as it is, so waking up early is never, ever refreshing or energising for me.

At one point, I was so tired of telling him every single night that what he does affects me. My thought was: if someone loves me, why do I even have to tell them that what they do affects me? For a while, he didn’t change his habits, but he also didn’t approve of us getting separate beds or me moving to an apartment elsewhere (I contemplated moving closer to work).

Long story short? One night, I told him I didn’t want to spend all my time and energy working for a wedding reception I didn’t want. I wouldn’t be working full-time if it weren’t for it. I wouldn’t be exhausted and stressed all the time if it weren’t for it. I was completely filled with dread at the thought of our wedding savings – almost $20,000 – disappearing in one night on a party. Because truthfully, it was going to cost that and lot more including the ceremony, reception, and honeymoon.

How is that at all being ‘mindful with money’?

A lot of people have their parents, friends and family pay for their weddings; we are not. I’ve mentioned previously that my mum has offered to help, and whatever she wants to help with, I’ll be grateful for. But of course, in no way am I going to expect a certain amount of money from her, or anyone else, to pay for my dreams.

So, the $20,000? It’s our money; our savings. It’s what we earned and diligently put away, bought with 40 hour work weeks (up to 60 in his!). When those work weeks aren’t exactly a walk in the park (emotionally), it’s time to ask yourself,

‘What am I doing? Do I really want for the last year of my life – the last year of work, time and energy to have all been for… this? The thing I don’t even want?’ 

So,  we cancelled it. We got one deposit back; about $300 from the giant LOVE letters we were going to hire. Then, seeing as family was the reason my fiancé wanted the reception in the first place, we asked our immediate families if they wanted to join us on our Queenstown mountaintop ceremony. It would cost extra for us to fly them up in helicopters, book flights and accommodation for them, and more, but nowhere near what we would’ve spent on the reception.

However, due to reasons, we’ll still be having our magical mountaintop elopement ceremony in Queenstown on our own. Everything works out!

I am excited af.

When I told a newlywed friend about this, she said, ‘Good on you. If I could go back, I would’ve done the same thing.’

As for the rough patch? As with all things, it’s fortunately passed. For one, I have a new job where I am happy, supported and treated well. My fiancé is also in a better headspace.

For a while, I pondered what love truly is: is it that spark, that chemistry, that romance that’s effortlessly there and ‘should be easy’? Or is it that hard work, that effort you have to consistently put in day by day to strengthen your relationship and ability to work as a team?

I think it’s both.

We are very much in love.

What are we doing with the $20,000?

It feels so good to have breathing space with our finances. We still have several things to pay for, and then.. Extra money left over! The possibilities are endless!

Okay, maybe not quite – we are not going to buy a cottage in the south of France – but we are overjoyed to have more flexibility.

What we’ll be paying for in the next 100 days:

  • $4445 for the balance of our Queenstown ceremony package, including the helicopters, celebrant, and photography
  • $1400 for my fiancé’s custom tailored suit from Devonché
  • $2000 (approx.) for 6 nights of accommodation in Queenstown
  • $3400 for our honeymoon flights from Queenstown to Auckland, Auckland to Tokyo, then Tokyo to Auckland
  • $1000 for the balance of our ceremony videography
  • An extra 2 nights of accommodation in Japan, as we’re arriving a day earlier + staying a day later than our Topdeck tour
  • Travel insurance
  • Hair and makeup
  • My bouquet (no doubt it’ll be pink!)
  • Our wedding rings!!

With the money left over, we are planning to dedicate it to upgrading our home, mainly starting with.. Painting the house!

I have owned this house for 2 years, and am so thrilled to finally be able to paint it. When you buy your first home, it’s not necessarily your forever home – you don’t always get your dream house and absolutely everything you want. I wanted to own in Takapuna, the beachside, foodie, yoga-loving suburb I lived in at the time, but bought a house in a surrounding suburb instead. I wanted a white or grey house, but bought one that was light green instead.

I mean, it’s not ugly. It’s just not very appealing at all. 😛

Apart from hopefully getting my house painted this summer, we’ll be looking to upgrade our deteriorating sofa. After that, who knows?

Since we have continued saving beyond that $20,000 (at 20% rather than the 40% we were at before), we may just hold on to the funds and stash it in a term deposit until we find something else sensible – mindful – to do with it all.

PS. Sometimes, I get really nice comments. Thank you, whoever you are!





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