We all know wedding planning can be expensive and certainly time consuming.. We can spend hours going through wedding magazines, Pinterest and all kinds of wedding inspired media.. But at the end of the day, it’s what YOU want and what YOUR vision is..

We were lucky that we had a network of people who enabled us to have a beautiful wedding at a low cost.. For those of you who are looking to plan a wedding on a budget, get networking and see who your family and friends know to enable you to get cheaper deals or products.. After all, sometimes it’s who you know!


Our wedding was a winter wedding. We would have loved to have it outside but for the sake of all of us, inside was our only option. We were able to dress the inside of our venue beautifully to help us still feel the atmosphere we wanted.

Luckily for us, my father is an event manager and we were able to use his expertise in executing our plans. We had our reception in one of the cultural halls of our chapels which thankfully, we were able to hire very cheaply. In looking for venues, weigh your possible outcomes and try to find the best deal you can. In doing so, you save money that can be spent on decorations!!

When looking for a venue, be sure to take into account the amount of guests, the atmosphere you want to create, and also the layout of the venue. Be mindful of parking, toilets, accessibility and be aware of health and safety regulations for the venue. If you have a wedding planner I’m sure they will take into account all of this, but if you don’t, make sure the minor details are covered to ensure a smooth running day and happy guests.

As you start planning your reception, a lot of things come to light which you may not have thought about. For instance, the entry is an important part of the reception as it’s the first thing people see. Then you have the overall layout of the tables for your guests, the flow of the food tables (if you’re having a buffet) and utilising every area you can to help create the atmosphere you like. Being in the cultural hall provided us with a few things in which we needed to transform such as a stage and basketball hoops. Here’s how we transformed our venue.


For our entry way, we used wooden pallets to line the walls. Along these we had jars with candles inside and hung from the palates were our table numbers which were little wooden hearts with a table number on the back and thank you on the front. We didn’t have arranged seating as we wanted our family and friends to mix and mingle. Our guest book was laid out on the tables as everyone entered so it was in a place that everyone could access. It also added to the vibe of the entry.

When mapping out and designing your layout, take into consideration different fixtures and areas in the venue that you can either use to your advantage or hide in a creative way.

To incorporate the stage in the hall, my father used a big projector screen in which he projected images of myself and Manu throughout the night, displayed the program for the night, and it added as a nice backdrop for the buffet tables which we lined in front.

To hide the basketball hoops, we found two big wooden crates that we fitted tv screens into which had 2 videos of myself and Manu on one each blowing kisses to each other and waving to our guests on loop. This was such a creative idea that my father and Manu were able to create and bring to life.

Being in the event business for so many years, my father was able to get great deals on lighting for our venue. We were going for a rustic theme (as my husband grew up on a farm and absolutely loves the farm life) and to bring that to life, we incorporated strings of festoon lights. These were an absolute beautiful touch to our wedding as they provided low lighting that created an intimate setting. As a backdrop to our high table (and to blackout the floor to ceiling windows), we had blackout material and fairy lights hanging from ceiling to floor behind my husband and I.


A big part of the reception décor is the table settings.  We went with majority round tables with a few straight tables to incorporate the amount of guests and the area to seat them. When looking for tables, take into account the area you have to seat guests comfortably, the exit points, aisles, visibility and of course, the look; after all, the tables will take up most of the venue!

For our settings we had jars lined with lace, candles and wild flowers arranged on a wood round, set on a white tablecloth with a burlap runner. These are so easy to do and look simple yet effective. While we bought most of our flowers, we did do a night raid of some of the wild flowers around the neighbourhood.. Of course we could have done it in the day, but hey, where’s the fun in that!? Sometimes going for a drive and looking out for areas where there may be certain flowers or even in your neighbours garden (asking for permission of course!), can save you a lot of money on a big part of décor in the wedding.

Most weddings have a favours table to send guests home with a little something. For our table we had jars of lollies placed around that guests could come and take. As part of the Tongan culture, we were given lolly leis from our family and friends at our wedding dance. Because there were so many, (we couldn’t eat them all), we decided to give them back to everyone as part of the wedding. It was good for us (as we started getting a bit sick from eating so much) and everyone loved the little sweets they could take home.


Luckily for me, my nanny offered to pay for my wedding dress. As this is usually one of the most expensive parts of a wedding, I was very grateful. In doing a lot of research and spending a day trying on dresses with my family, I found my ideal dress online. I had always known I wanted a lace dress so I was extremely happy to find one that was lace, would keep me relatively warm (remembering it was winter) and one that I was genuinely excited to wear! Being Mormon, we have modesty standards that we like to keep in respect of our faith and our bodies. Because of this, my dress needed to be altered. My aunty was able to do this for me so no extra cost came of this. If you’re on a budget, find a family member or see if someone you may know can alter your dress (they may even be able to make your dress!) and this can help with a lot of the costs involved with this area. It was also special for me too having my aunty be a part of making my wedding dress as I always wanted her to be a part of that process.

BRIDESMAIDS: Whether you’re paying for your girls dresses or whether they’re paying for their own, either way it can be expensive (or cheap) depending on the style/brand etc. Again I was blessed enough to have my aunty make my girls dresses. We found the material on sale (any prospective bride’s favourite phrase) and we were on our way! Again, if you’re able, have someone make your dresses as this can be a more cost effective way and also can be personalized to each girl. Plus it’s always fun going to fittings and seeing the dresses come to life!

Now I’m sure as you’re reading this, you’re seeing a recurring effect.. We have a lot of family who because of their skills, enable us to use these to our advantage and save a bit of extra money. When planning, utilize your family and friends and take advantage of their skills.. Not only does this help you and your budget, but it also gives them a way to be more involved.


So this one was an easy pick for us. My two sisters are very talented bakers, so of course we wanted them to make our wedding cake. We also wanted a cake that was nice to eat (we so aren’t fruitcake and fondant kind of people). They did such a beautiful job. If you’re in New Zealand (around Hamilton), and you’re looking for a wedding cake maker, maybe I can help! Again this helped us so much with our budget. Looking for your wedding cake can get pretty pricey.. Do your research and see if there are any home-based bakers or avid cake makers in your community. Not only can they be a lot cheaper than bakeries and large scale companies, but you can also be benefiting and helping someone’s small business and passion!

To match our cake, we had red velvet cupcakes made (by another aunty and cousins) for each of our guests. Again, rally the help of your family!


Photographers are a big part of your day.. They capture those moments you are able to look at for years to come. When looking for photographers, really do your research. Compare prices, previous photos and speak to people who have used them to get an idea on what and who you would like. If we could go back, we would definitely do this more. We kind of overlooked the photographer in the midst of things and went with someone who had photographed a family members wedding. While they were lovely, the quality of photos in which we received back, limits the things we can do with them in the future. While some taken are good, some are blurry and when blown up, become blurry or pixelated. It pays to do your research! If you’re in New Zealand, there are a few photographers who we know and they are awesome! To get in contact with them (both shown and not), send me a request and I’ll pass you on. Here are some photos taken of a couple as preview!


In terms of a videographer, it seems to be a growing trend. We didn’t have this planned but a friend of ours has recently become more involved with his videography. He filmed our wedding on a GoPro (to our surprise!) and we love it! Since then he has done a couple more projects and with each one he gets better and better. To see his work, click the links below and if you want to get in contact with him, let me know! Again, do your research.. Not only will it pay off with cost, but also in the finished product and years to come!



At the end of the day, it’s YOUR day.. Make it your own. In saying that, it is just ONE day.. It’s not the most important.. The REST of YOUR LIVES is what matters most..

For any more information in any of the avenues we hired equipment from, photographers/videographers contacts and any general questions, leave a comment, reply, whatever!

Mrs Yolo xoxo


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