We know money's not the first thing you want to think about when you become engaged. So we'll give you a few moments to bask in the limelight and savour the romance.

Right, now that's done, it's time to mention money, and it's important to do it right from the start - before you fall in love with that couture wedding gown or helicopter honeymoon transfer. Before you charter a private yacht for several hundred of your nearest and dearest, and before you tell all and sundry they're invited to your big day.

If it's just the two of you footing the bill for the big event then it's relatively simple to sit down and determine what funds you'll have available to pay for your ceremony, outfits, cars, flowers, music, cake, reception, bomboniere, honeymoon - gosh it already looks expensive.

Do you have sufficient savings? Will you have a longer engagement to allow you more time to stash the cash? Are you willing to take out a loan - and will it be approved?

It's important to talk, and to listen

If you're lucky enough to have either or both sets of parents contributing to the cost, the round table discussion could be a little more complicated.

Sure it may mean there is more cash to splash, but there are now also more interested parties who - rightly or wrongly - feel entitled to have a say in where their money is spent. You may envisage designer shoes and a destination wedding, they may be thinking they can invite their bridge club and all the neighbours' children.

Research suggests the average Australian wedding costs between $30,000 and $40,000 but of course many go way beyond that, and many amazing weddings have been arranged for significantly less. After all, when you strip away the fanfare and all the trimmings your wedding is simply a celebration of your love and commitment, witnessed by family and friends the only legal requirement are the vows at the ceremony, the rest is up to you.

Early on in your wedding planning, it's essential to pick the few elements which neither of you want to compromise on so that you can identify other areas where you're willing to save money.

Very few couples can afford to have their first choice of everything, so be prepared to prioritise, compromise and to budget accordingly. Your reception and your honeymoon are perhaps the two expenses with the greatest potential to grow so choose them carefully.

To help with your research, the number crunchers at i-do.com.au have put together a basic cost breakdown according to an overall wedding budget, but remember, the variation is enormous! Not all wedding dresses are created equal.

You can often eliminate the cost of certain elements altogether and save money by shopping around.  Who knows, the best mans wife may be a creative DIY genius or your cousin may be a talented make up artist and they'd be thrilled to offer their services as a wedding gift. 

Below is a very rough guide of the allowances for various inclusions based on a range of budgets.   We've included all of the major items that go in to a traditional wedding, and you'll notice in some areas that the budget is quite low considering what needs to be purchased. In these cases, you can only increase that budget, by taking away from somewhere else., otherwise the budget gets blown.

Total Budgets  $45,000  $30,000
Attendants Gifts  $208.35  $205.56
Bomboniere  $616.69  $411.13
Bridal Gown  $3,488.93  $2,325.96
Bridesmaids Gowns  $1,233.38  $822.26
Civil Celebrant or Chaplain  $716.69 $511.13
Ceremony Venue  $770.86  $513.91
Entertainment  $1,125.46  $750.31
Wedding Night Accommodation  $300.64  $200.42
Flowergirls and Pageboys  $277.51  $185.01
Flowers  $1,233.38 $822.26
Reception  $14,091.20 $9,327.46
Hair and Make-Up  $608.98 $405.99
Honeymoon  $9,250.38 $6,166.92
Invitations and other Stationery  $847.95 $565.30
Shoes & Accessories $786.49 $491.00
Men's Attire $925.04 $616.69
Photography / Video $4,625.19 $3,083.46
Pre-Wedding Beauty Treatments etc $385.43 $256.95
Wedding Bands  $1,541.73 $1,027.82
Wedding Cake $925.04 $616.69
Wedding Transport $1,040.67 $693.78
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