Updated: Jan 3, 2022
How much does it cost for a wedding in Australia? It might come as as bit of a shock to you, but recent studies show that in 2019, average couples in Australia spent between $32,000 and $53,000 on their weddings!
Depending on your budget, it can be very stressful to try to plan your dream day without breaking the bank. You can employ a wedding planner to help you but this also costs extra for them to do the work. Caution : they will usually have a preferred network of vendors they use and this can be hit and miss as to the quality you will get on the day, especially if the costs appear very low compared to you own general research.
Here are some suggestions that may help you still have a day to remember, but keep costs down and not send you spiralling into debt and regret.
1. Start with a realistic Set Budget
It may seem like it’s pretty obvious, but so often this is not something couples talk about until they start to see the numbers quickly adding up as quotes come in and they may feel it’s all getting out of control. You might say it’s a “chicken and egg” situation, how can you budget when you don’t know what things will cost, but by the time you get things booked in you’ve blown the budget!
Whilst it was previously traditional for the Bride’s parents to pay for many aspects of the wedding (the reception and wedding dress) and the Groom’s to pay for others (usually the rings, ceremony and honeymoon) this has mostly been replaced by couples covering their wedding costs between themselves, sometimes parents helping out by offering some money or to cover specific individual costs. Depending on your own situation you will at the very least have an idea of how much you earn, have saved (or can save by six weeks before the wedding when usually all costs need to be paid in full) and can afford or be willing to spend as disposable cash. Knowing the average figures above might help you to narrow down a realistic total to budget for.
Another good start is by listing the common, and essential, estimated costs for a wedding and research those in your local area, against venues and services you’d like to have and fit your unique style, taste and vision. To get you started here are a few basics…..
Who will marry you? - Celebrant or Officiant
Where will you get married? - Wedding Ceremony Venue - is there a cost?
What will you wear? - Brides Gown (borrow, hire, make, buy) and accessories including flowers, Grooms Suit (borrow, hire, make, buy) and accessories - including flowers. Will you need hair and make-up done?
Wedding Rings - what kind and from where?
Witnesses - Numbers in your wedding party (you need at least two witnesses for it to be legal in Australia). Will you or they be paying for their wedding attire? Cost in the flowers and any gifts you wish to give them as thanks
Will there be a Reception? - What type (cocktail, buffet, sit down) and at which Reception Venue? Do you need to employ outside caterers? Will there be a cake?
Guest List - Save the Date, Wedding invitations, Thank You’s and Catering numbers (can the venues accommodate the numbers you need?)
Will transport be needed to and from the various venues and locations? If so what kind would you like and who for?
Will there be music - when (ceremony and/or reception) and what kind?
Wedding night - Where will you stay after the reception finishes? Sometimes the reception venue will give you and your guests special rate to stay the night or give a complimentary wedding suite.
Photography - how much of your wedding day story you want coverage of? After it’s all over what things should you be seeing in your wedding album? Only having a professional photographer for the important parts of the day you want captured in your wedding album (ceremony and formal portraits) rather than full coverage can save some money, but remember long after the sparkle of your day is over, all you will have left to capture those memories are you photographs and/or video film! At West Coast Weddings we offer combined packages with photography and videography which can not only save you money but also ensure it all goes smoothly as we know how to work with each other and not get in each others way on the day.
Videography - will you be wanting a video record of the day - how much of the story of your wedding day do you want coverage of?
This local research will help to start to craft your own wedding budget within what your finances will allow. ALWAYS overestimate and include a contingency amount for any unexpected costs or increases (as prices can increase between your planning time and the actual wedding date). If you can try to use vendors who will guarantee no price increases for you - you might have to pay a larger deposit or all up front to ensure this, but it will mean you won’t have any nasty surprises down the track.
If the total from your research is less than you expected, then great - you can NOW add on those extra special touches that you want for your dream day and cost those out as well.
If it’s more than you expected you have a choice - either increase your budget by perhaps asking parents or other family for help or start to look for ways to cut costs down. Please don’t be tempted to GO INTO DEBT such as using a credit card with ridiculously high fees or getting a personal loan - it will likely end up souring the memory of your wedding day as you pay in off for years afterwards. Yes, it’s your big day, but it is only one day in the rest of your life.
It’s often hard to save by just doing one thing or cutting one big thing out - this can also be false economy as you might regret that decision later wishing you had included that thing, eg wedding cars, the gown you really loved and felt special in, or that photographer who was more expensive but who’s images you absolutely loved. Borrowing or hiring some things instead of buying can also be ways to save on your wedding budget.
You can however, cut back a little across a range of areas that in combination can help you reach you target budget.
2. There’s Always Room for Negotiation
On your list of estimated wedding expenses the prices shown on the internet or quotes you receive from different vendors can sometimes have a little wriggle room in their pricing. If you don’t ask you don’t get - so try and negotiate (within reason you don’t want to insult people) with each vendor and see if they can shave a little bit off - especially if you can pay cash - this little bit over each bill can add up to big savings. Don’t be offended if they say no, they may already be offering you their best deal.
3. Give Yourself Enough Time
Many couples realises their budget is spiralling out of control too late. The earlier you start to plan your wedding; the easier it is to get bargains and lock those prices in. With more time on your hands, you can do more research and get vendors that are the least expensive without sacrificing quality or who will give you the best deal on their services. Many vendors will often have special offers at Wedding Expos - so be sure to check those out!
4. Catering - Buffet or Cocktail Style
Catering is almost always one of the biggest ticket items on the average wedding expenses breakdown. Reducing the food and alcohol bill, even by a little can take off a significant amount of your total wedding budget. One way to do this is to serve your meal buffet or cocktail style. This ensures that you will not need a big complement of staff to wait on tables and there’s less waste than a sit-down meal. Some wedding venues let you supply your own alcohol which can make things much cheaper, or you might ask guests to pay for their own drinks at the reception in leu of wedding gifts.
5. Consider Non-Traditional Flowers.
Fresh wedding flowers can cost a lot - especially if you have lots of attendants or want to have arrangements/arbours at the church/ceremony venue or as table centre pieces at the reception. Instead of using traditional flowers such as roses and tulips, you could opt for more non-traditional flowers such as lilies, carnation or natives. Silk or dried arrangements are also a cheaper option to consider. For centrepieces simple chrysanthemums, in recycled jam-jars or bottles with lots of greenery on the tables can give a more rustic feel to the reception and save lots of money. Some brides are also opting for a brooch, button or ornament bouquet (see Etsy) instead of flowers.
6. Be Creative
Having your ceremony and reception in one place will reduce transport costs and can often get you a better deal on things. If you have someone crafty in your network, ask them if they could make your wedding invitations, place cards, seating plans and thank you cards even if you offer to cover material costs. Asking your attendants to pay for their dresses or suit hire can save you heaps. Choosing a wedding venue that doesn’t need a lot of decorations will also save lots. Some couples use "dummy cakes" just for the photographs and have a commercial slab cake cut up in the kitchen and served, or have a “Sweet Option” table with glass jars of all sorts of little lollies and goodies instead. You can try making your own photo booth at the reception where people take their own selfies on their phones or get a friend to DJ. Just be careful what you decide to cut back on so you don't regret things later.