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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.