How to slash the astronomical cost of weddings

Posted November 22, 2017 06:17:28

If you are thinking of getting married, there is a lot to organise and pay for, starting with a ring, the proposal and maybe even an engagement party.

All too often, it comes at a hefty cost. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Earlier this year I attended the wedding of my dear friend Kavindi who married her partner Kian. We go back many years to our uni days in Melbourne. And, as a way of adding meaning to their big day, they asked many of their friends and family to contribute in some way.

I put on my amateur photographer’s hat. Another friend made the beautiful wedding cake decorated with fresh Proteas. For the arrival, Kavindi’s sister offered her blue Mitsubishi Lancer. A family friend DJed free.

The wedding rings were an amalgam of her mother’s old gold jewellery, melted down in Sri Lanka and brought back for the occasion.

We stood in the beating sun under colourful umbrellas. It was a very Australian wedding.

In the end, the cost was modest by industry standards.

“If we had more bridesmaids and groomsmen and had to pay for their outfits, we would be broke,” she said.

How much does the average wedding cost?

Here is the latest average cost of weddings, based on an annual survey of 3,300 brides and grooms around Australia, asking them how much they spent.

Total average cost = $31,368

Back In 2014, Choice put the average price at up to $54,000.

Certified financial planner Tracey Sofra says you might want to consider that the financial decisions you make today will have a huge effect on your life in the future.

“A wedding is just one day. Think of the long-term effects of putting down that $30,000, that is a lot of money.”

She says she has seen couples choose a simple wedding and put their money towards a honeymoon or a deposit for a house.

“You want to know who you are as a couple without trying to please mum and dad. It could be a backyard barbie, who cares?” she says.

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a beautiful wedding because a wedding at the end of the day is really about the love between two people.”

What is the bare minimum cost to get married in Australia?

All marriages need to be lodged with the registry of births, deaths and marriages in your state or territory.

In legal terms, you’ll need an authorised celebrant, a ceremony and the paperwork, such as the notice of intention and the marriage certificate.

A registry wedding ticks these boxes, but the costs vary from state to state. In some parts, they don’t offer them.

Registry weddings are intimate and cover only a small number of guests. They don’t include the reception but, under Australian law, you will be married.

I asked registries around Australia for a national breakdown of starting prices from highest to lowest.

National registry costs:

  • NSW – $422
  • WA – $371
  • Qld – $332
  • Vic – $320
  • SA – $291
  • NT – $250
  • ACT – no registry weddings, a standard marriage certificate is $55
  • Tas – no registry weddings, a standard marriage certificate is $48.05

How much will it cost to have my own celebrant?

If you don’t want a registry wedding, you’ll have to find your own celebrant. There are no set fees for celebrants but the annual survey says it’s about $711.

The president of Australian Marriage Celebrants, Ann Dally, put the price between $600 and $1,500.

“This is for quality celebrants. Some are even higher,” she says.

Why is the cake so expensive?

Prices will vary depending on complexity of the design, the number of tiers and again the number of guests you need to feed.

One baker was selling multi-tiered wedding cakes for up to $648. I did the maths and found it was cheaper to buy a couple of single-tier cakes from the same baker, saving $128.

The more tiers, the higher the overall price.

Another cake maker was selling a tiered wedding cake for up to $910 plus a $250 assembly charge.

Perhaps it’s sobering to remember some guests don’t even end up eating the cake.

What will I wear?

It seems the groom will be better off when it comes to the cost of dressing up for a wedding.

Consider these figures from the annual survey:

Average cost of clothes

For same-sex couples, it’s possible two suits bought off the rack could end up costing much less than two bridal dresses.

However, there are pre-owned options online. Or a hand-me-down dress costs nothing and has priceless sentimental value.

What if I want a photographer?

The quality of wedding photographers ranges from digital disruptor AirTasker to the prestigious Australian Wedding Photographer of the Year.

Some photographers will provide the photos on a USB stick, allowing you to produce your own high-quality prints and albums.

Master photographer and board member at the Australian Institute of Professional Photography Nick Ghionis points out that his professional members are guided by a code of ethics.

He puts a rough figure of least $2,000 for a six-hour shoot and up to $8,000 for more complex jobs. Video with aerial drones could add up to $5,000.

Could I crowd-fund a wedding?

We can’t vouch for particular sites, but there are a number of crowdfunding websites such as Crowded Wedding, allowing you to set a target and let your loved ones donate instead of giving gifts.

A wishing well — a box in which guests deposit a donation — works in a similar way. In some cultures, it’s totally acceptable for guests to hand over an envelope of cash. The larger the amount, the more prestigious.

Tell us how you made your big day special on a budget.

What were some of the novel or creative ways you found to save money on your wedding?

Did you ask friends and family to help you out? How did cultural traditions impose or save costs? Did you defy convention to have a wedding on a budget?

Did you get remarried and regret spending so much on your first wedding, and what did you do differently for your subsequent wedding?

Tell us in a short statement, and we will select highlights to share.

Provide as much detail as you can, including your name, age, location and contact details. Tell us how you met and how you managed your budget. You can also include one photo of your big day.

Email your tips and stories to:

Disclaimer: This article contains general information only. All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the information is accurate but its accuracy is not guaranteed. It should not be relied on as advice in relation to your particular circumstances and issues, for which you should obtain specific, independent professional advice.

Topics: marriage, community-and-society, events, australia

Sydney’s most exclusive buildings to open to the public for one day only

Posted October 21, 2017 09:02:16

From heritage-listed buildings to modern skyscrapers, Sydney has an eclectic mix of architecture that in our busy day-to-day lives, we rarely get a chance to appreciate.

For one day only, around 50 of Sydney’s buildings that are normally off-limits to the public will open their doors to tours for the curious public.

The rare access is for Sydney Open, a ticketed event on November 5 that invites people to take a behind-the-scenes look at some of the city’s most historic and interesting architecture.

Mark Goggin from Sydney Living Museums said it will be a great chance for Sydneysiders to take a closer look at buildings they often rush past.

“This is a way for you to see the city in a way you’ve never seen it before,” Mr Goggin said.

“It’s an opportunity to get into those cultural, commercial and heritage spaces that you haven’t been in and see Sydney in a new light.”

Taking the witness stand

One of the major drawcards for the 2017 event is the King Street Supreme Court Complex, which was built in stages throughout the 1800s.

While members of the public can sit in on most court proceedings any day of the week, for Sydney Open there will be unprecedented access to explore the historic complex.

Ticketholders will be able to stand at the bar table, sit in the jury box, step into the witness box, and even sit in the dock where some of the state’s worst criminals have sat during their trials.

Nick Sanderson-Gough, the operations manager of the complex, said you can feel the history as you walk through the building.

“From an architectural point of view there are lots of things that will probably catch people’s surprise and attention, but I think it’s that combined with the weight of what’s gone on in here that makes it interesting,” he said.

“Also, having that unrestricted access for Sydney Open means people can just walk around and there’ll be people here to talk to them about some of the history and some of the stories, so I think that be a really interesting experience for them.”

Chance to revisit railroad’s heyday

For the first time the old paint workshop at Eveleigh rail yard will also open its doors.

The paint shop was built in 1877 and is still used by volunteers to restore old electric trains.

“In its heyday it was very, very busy here, there were hundreds of people in this place,” Ed Sutton from the Historic Electric Traction Group said.

“It’s nostalgic here — the brickwork is unbelievable, the poles you see are unbelievable, the roof too, just the work that people put in to this place is unbelievable.”

On the day of Sydney Open, groups of 10 people at a time will be able to wander around the paint shop.

They will also be invited to walk through the first double-decker train and locomotive train that were both built in NSW and lovingly restored by local volunteers.

“Visitors can come and see what people built in Australia, they can go and look at the carriages and maybe say, ‘My dad or my grandfather built those’,” Mr Sutton said.

Some of the other historic spaces that Sydneysiders can buy a ticket to enter include Hong Kong house, The Great Synagogue, Legion House and the old Redfern Post Office which is now an architecture studio.

Several modern structures will also be open, including the Abercrombie building at the University of Sydney, the rooftop of the AMP building which was Sydney’s first skyscraper, the EY building and the Grimshaw building.

Topics: events, event, architecture, history, sydney-2000

Street art festival transforms West End, gives back to homeless

Posted October 18, 2017 09:00:00

Abstract murals, supersized portraits and vibrant panoramas are popping up around Brisbane amid preparations for a festival celebrating the city’s street art talent.

The West End Street Art Festival has seen several buildings transformed with huge murals by local artists, from those just starting out to international names like Sofles.

Organisers Ihab Imam and Jenna Williams said the festival was a celebration of the melting pot of culture that typifies the suburb.

“West End is a real hub of subcultural activities musically, artistically, poetically, politically,” Mr Imam said.

He said the plethora of spaces to paint in West End was a way to bring the work of Brisbane’s street artists, both emerging and established, together.

“So many of these guys do stuff but it’s in small, isolated areas — if you bring it all together, it’s just got such gravity,” he said.

Artists ‘overrepresented’ in homeless population

Ms Williams said the festival was also a chance to provide paid opportunities for emerging artists and highlight the link between street art and homelessness.

She and Mr Imam are aiming to raise $10,000 for Orange Sky Laundry, a charity providing assistance to homeless people across the country.

“The community doesn’t always see a great deal of value in the arts so some people really struggle to make a crust from doing things they’re really passionate about and are good at,” Ms Williams said.

The issue came into focus in Melbourne last year, when alcoves used by homeless people for shelter in the famous Hosier Lane were boarded up by a local developer.

“A lot of the guys that were sleeping rough there at the time had actually done the artwork there,” Ms Williams said.

“Artists are an overrepresented profession in the homeless population … we wanted to do something that was contributing to that issue in some way, which is why we picked Orange Sky Laundry.”

Mr Imam said the festival was also a rare opportunity for the artists who worked commercially to express themselves however they chose to.

“When you get a commission you do what the commission asks — you don’t get as much creative freedom as you’d like,” he said.

“In this circumstance we’ve just said, ‘You can do whatever you like’, [and] what’s come out of this has been really cool and fascinating.”

Laneway to ‘change here and there’ over time

One laneway off Boundary Street was opened up as a “free-for-all” for artists and has come to life with colourful murals by artists including Sofles, RND creative, Reuben Stocks and SQUIDTANK, the alias of Shaun Campbell.

“I wanted to get my little Squiddy character out there — he’s a fun guy to have around,” Campbell said.

Mr Imam said the laneway would fill up and change over time.

“It’s going to be an awesome tourist attraction and a lot of fun to see — it’ll change here and there as things get added,” he said.

The festival, which will also include an arts and design market and live music, will take place on October 22, with members of the public invited to watch the artists at work on the day.

Topics: street-art, arts-and-entertainment, events, human-interest, homelessness, community-and-society, west-end-4101, brisbane-4000

Ticket scalping software to be banned in NSW

By Lily Mayers

Posted October 08, 2017 10:38:47

Software that automatically bulk buys online tickets as soon as they go on sale will be illegal when legislation from the New South Wales Government is introduced.

A reform to the state’s Fair Trading Act will outlaw the software that circumvents ticketing website protections, the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Matt Kean said.

“What we’re seeing is ticket bot technology being used to sweep up tickets and deprive genuine fans of getting access to the concerts and sporting events that they want to see,” he said.

The live entertainment tickets that are bought by the software are then resold at marked-up rates.

The Minister said the Australian-first legislation would stop this from happening.

“It’s time that genuine fans got a fair go and were able to access tickets at a reasonable price,” Minister Kean said

“I’m sick and tired of consumers being ripped off by shonky operators trying to make a quick buck at the expense of genuine fans.”

The Minister would not confirm if a mark-up cap would be applied to resold tickets.

Some Australian states have already introduced legislation to limit the amount that tickets can be resold for.

The legislation will be introduced this week.

Topics: software, events, sport, consumer-protection, sydney-2000

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Carols by Candlelight splinter ignites community backlash in Hobart

Posted August 22, 2017 06:21:09

A move to break up Hobart’s traditional Carols by Candlelight into smaller community-based events has angered residents.

The popular St David’s Park event was altered in 2015 and again in 2016.

But after a ticketing fiasco last year, the Hobart City Council abandoned its joint production with local company ExitLeft Productions.

The council voted on Monday night to instead plough $46,500 into a series of smaller community events.

The move has prompted a backlash on social media, with a stream of people venting on ABC Radio Hobart’s Facebook page.

Jolanda Narrding posted: “Disappointing. Christmas in Hobart will never be the same again.”

“Absolute rubbish idea. Literally, is this a joke?” Carinda Rue added.

Dianne Summers said: “These people have been around for five minutes, carols has been around for decades. Who do they think they are?”

Another post joked that the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) should take on the event and call it Dark Carols.

Instead of an outdoor event at the Royal Botanical Gardens, ExitLeft has opted to scale down and run a series of more intimate concerts in St David’s Cathedral, which holds 650 people.

As well, there will now be council-backed events in various locations around the city.

Lord Mayor Sue Hickey said the event needed to change and the community-based carols were a better idea which would cost considerably less than the $100,000 for St David’s Park.

“We do understand that some people will be disappointed because generations of people will have traditionally gone to St David’s Park,” she said.

“I’m personally sorry that it’s not going to be held there but I do think these community carols will go a long way towards fostering great community spirit.”

More events, more variety: Lord Mayor

She hoped the move would appease those lamenting the loss of the St David’s Park event.

“I hope so because the other one is a private operator doing their own thing,” she said.

“These ones are ones that we’ll be sponsoring and yes, they’ll be organising them as individual groups but there’s a variety.”

While some will be traditional carol nights with a religious theme, others will be community oriented, with singers from the SES, Rotary and the Hobart City Farm.

“Another good one will be a multicultural event held by the Korean Full Gospel Church in Hobart and that one’s going to have a Korean cuisine supper afterwards,” she said.

“So there’s a good variety, there’ll be some out at Lenah Valley on Turnbull Park, and Lansdowne Crescent and New Town will be coming together, a whole group of residents are organising that one.

“So I think overall there’ll be something for everyone in this group of carols.”

Topics: carnivals-and-festivals, christmas, events, christianity, local-government, hobart-7000

Hobart’s Carols By Candlelight concert goes indoors with battery-powered candles

Updated August 21, 2017 15:57:06

This year’s Hobart Carols By Candlelight event will be a paid-ticket, scaled-down, indoor affair with electric candles, organisers have announced.

ExitLeft Productions said the revamped Christmas carols event would be held at St David’s Cathedral, where audience capacity would be about 650.

ExitLeft managing director Ian Williams said the company decided to hold a more “intimate” event after feedback following last year’s event.

“We either had to go incredibly big or really bring it down to an intimate level and after looking around everywhere the cathedral turned out to be the perfect space,” he said.

This year’s carols will be several 70-minute performances, rolling across the weekend of December 9 and 10.

“This will give all of our audience members a chance to come along and celebrate Christmas with us at a time that’s going to be convenient to them,” Mr Williams said.

He said prices were still being worked out, but promised it would be affordable for families.

“All of the major carols events around the country have now had to become user pays and they have some very, very hefty ticket prices,” Mr Williams said.

“We’re going to be able to keep this to a reasonable ticket price.

“But of course remembering we’re so lucky in southern Tasmania that there are so many free carols events that people can attend, there really will be something for everyone.”

Mr Williams said charging an entrance fee would also help with demand.

“Being a paid event should hopefully slow down the speed that everybody purchases their tickets and sets it up so that everybody who wants to come along to this particular event … we can make room and fit everybody in,” he said.

This year’s concerts will feature “some of Tasmania’s leading performers plus national guest artists”, ExitLeft said.

The company said ticket holders would “receive electric candles on arrival to create a magical candlelight experience”.

In 2015, two free, council-backed carols concerts were held at St David’s Park in Hobart, attracting about 5,000 people each night.

A week later, ExitLeft ran their one-night event at the Botanical Gardens, with admission prices ranging from $15 to $25, with children 12 and under free.

Council and ExitLeft joined forces in 2016, allowing the removal of the admission fee, but the event was marred by a ticketing fiasco which saw many people missing out on attending after 10,000 tickets were snapped up within minutes.

In March this year, Hobart City Council announced they were redirecting funds from ExitLeft’s carols to smaller events, in part due to the public backlash following the 2016 ticket dramas.

‘Very sad to have to pay to go to church’, Mayor says

Hobart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey said it was “sad” the free carols event in St David’s Park were no longer.

“Generations of families have taken their blankets and sat in beautiful St David’s Park and enjoyed the carols there,” she said.

In March, Alderman Hickey voted against the council decision to pull financial backing for a large-scale event.

“Things do change and the aldermen decided that it was time for change and they wanted a more community focus,” she said.

“I think it’s very sad to have to pay to go to church, but I do understand that ExitLeft are a professional organisation and need to cover their costs.”

Council will tonight consider approving more than $46,000 in funding for seven community-based carols events in Hobart.

Topics: carnivals-and-festivals, christianity, events, religion-and-beliefs, local-government, arts-and-entertainment, community-and-multicultural-festivals, hobart-7000

First posted August 21, 2017 15:04:31