How much does an average wedding cost in Australia?

ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Your wedding is one of the biggest days of your life, but it can also be one of the most expensive. Depending on how you see your big day playing out, the costs involved can include anything from venue hire to food and drinks packages to flowers. So how much does the average aussie spend?

Whatever your ideal wedding looks like – whether it’s a small backyard affair with friends and family, or a more lavish catered affair at a specialised reception venue – there are a number of costs you’re likely to face, and things you’ll need to keep in mind in preparation for the day.

How much does a wedding cost in Australia?

According to figures from ASIC’s Moneysmart website and Wedded wonderland, the average cost of a wedding in Australia can range from $36,000 to $53,000. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the wedding landscape in Australia, however, and a recent survey by Easy Weddings has found that the average cost has actually dropped to around $27,228, suggesting that couples are having smaller weddings due to restrictions, and potentially foregoing some of the expenses that may have gone into nuptials in pre-pandemic times.

What should you consider when planning a wedding?

While every wedding is different, based on the needs and tastes of the couple, there are some important things you will need to keep in mind, such as the location, the day and date, the size of the guestlist, and the theme, if you choose to have one.

Location

There are a range of possibilities when it comes to choosing the location of your wedding. You may opt for a backyard wedding, a barefoot wedding on the beach, or something more formal like a sit-down affair at a hotel or function centre. The setting you choose for your wedding may play a big part in determining the overall cost – for example, if you opt to get married in a luxury hotel setting, you will encounter costs associated with venue hire that you might not if you choose a location such as a friend’s backyard.

While destination weddings at venues interstate or even overseas were once popular, the pandemic and its associated travel restrictions have hit the sector hard, and according to a report in Traveller, it is virtually “out of business” in 2021.

Day and date

The time you choose for your wedding will also play a part in determining the cost. According to Easy Weddings, the peak times for weddings in Australia fall in the periods between March and May and again between September and November. If you choose to get married at these times, you may therefore end up paying more, and likewise, if you get married on a weekend, the price of your wedding may also be higher.

If you opt to get married outside of peak wedding season, or on a weekday, you may find you may be able to negotiate a lower price with vendors and venues, who may be less busy at these times.

Guestlist

When planning a wedding, it is important to consider how many people you wish to invite, as this will play a part in determining the cost. You may wish to have an intimate celebration with a handful of close family and friends, which may feel like a safer choice in these uncertain times, or opt for a larger guest list of a hundred or more people, as long as you are prepared to be flexible if lockdowns or restrictions hinder your plans.

Generally speaking, if you choose to get married at an external venue such as a hotel or function centre, you will typically pay a per-head price for catering. You may choose to opt for a multi-course sit-down meal, stand-up cocktails and canapes and possibly even a bar tab, and the larger the guestlist, the more expensive your big day will be.

Theme

The theme you choose for your wedding will come down to your and your partner’s tastes, and the kind of day you want to have. You may wish to have a relaxed and casual day, barefoot on the grass and surrounded by friends; you may opt for a rustic or bohemian-style wedding, or you may want a more modern and formal occasion. The theme you choose can impact the costs of the wedding, taking into account such things as the flowers, decorations, outfits, styling and even invitations you’ll need to achieve your desired aesthetic.

What are the major wedding expenses in Australia?

Once you have decided upon a location, day and date, guest list and theme for your wedding, there are some specific considerations you may want to keep in mind. While you may have all or only some of these things, in general terms, the major expenses that you can face at a wedding in Australia can include:

  • Venue hire (reception and ceremony)
  • Wedding rings
  • Wedding attire
  • Catering
  • Entertainment
  • Flowers
  • Chair and table hire (if not provided by venue)
  • Decorations
  • Photography/videography
  • Celebrant
  • Cake
  • Hair and make-up as well as pre-wedding treatments
  • Transport
  • Invitations and postage (if you are sending them by post)
  • Marriage licence
  • Hen’s/buck’s parties
  • Accommodation
  • Gifts (including wedding favours and presents for the bridal party)
  • Dry cleaning for wedding attire

You may wish to go on a honeymoon. Some couples choose to do this directly after their big day, while others may wish to hold off until a later time – for example, if you wish to travel internationally for your honeymoon, then you may well decide to put it off until such time as international borders are open again.

Either way, the costs of your honeymoon are also worth considering when figuring out the overall cost of your wedding.

How much does a small wedding cost in Australia?

Thanks to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the ongoing local and international border closures, it seems many Australians are opting for smaller weddings, with the average cost dropping to $27,228 according to Easy Weddings.

While there is no definitive answer to the question of how much a ‘small’ wedding costs, it is definitely worth keeping in mind that you can cut costs by opting for a smaller guestlist and foregoing such things as venue hire and professional catering.

If you opt to get married in your backyard, for example, and ask your friends and family to supply food for the big day, then your costs might be limited to chair and table hire, a celebrant, beverages (if you supply it), outfits and decorations such as streamers or fairy lights.

How can you cut costs for a wedding?

If you wish to cut costs for a wedding, there are a number of areas in which you could potentially make savings. These include opting for a non-traditional venue, supplying your own alcohol and food, using your wedding cake as dessert and considering the kind of outfits you and your partner want to wear. Another option some couples take is to ask  friends and relatives to contribute cash to a wishing well in place of more traditional gifts.

Choose a non-traditional venue

If you choose to get married in a venue such as a backyard or a favourite pub, gallery or café, you may well find that there are more affordable catering and venue hire options, relative to a traditional wedding venue such as a functions centre or hotel, where the costs of venue hire and catering packages could be more expensive.

Self-catered your food and alcohol

Whether you opt for a sit-down meal at a formal wedding venue, for stand-up cocktails and canapes, or even for professional catering at home, the cost of food and drinks can be a major wedding expense. If your venue allows for it, providing your own alcohol and even opting for a ‘potluck’ style wedding, in which guests bring a dish, could cut costs.

Use your wedding cake as dessert

If you choose a food and drinks package, then foregoing the dessert course and instead using your own wedding cake can be a way to cut costs. You may save even more if a friend or family member with a talent for baking is willing to supply you with a cake for free as a wedding present, or at a reduced cost.

Consider the dress code

According to Easy Weddings, the average cost of a wedding dress in Australia ranges from $2,024 to $2,918, factoring in dresses bought off the rack as well as those that are custom made. The average cost of men’s formalwear, meanwhile, ranges from $997 to $1,621. If you wish to cut down on your expenditures, one option could be to forego formal dress code in favour of a more rustic-inspired theme. Perhaps you could opt for vintage outfits for the wedding party, or some other dress code that has meaning to you and your partner.

Have a wishing well

It may be the case that you and your partner do not want traditional gifts, or that you have been living together for a while already and have already accumulated everything you need for your home. Whatever the case may be, you could ask your guests to forgo gifts and instead contribute a cash amount of their choosing to a wishing well. This gives you the freedom to use the money for whatever you wish, be it a holiday after the wedding, helping to recoup the costs of the wedding itself, or some other purpose entirely.

How can you safeguard your wedding against COVID restrictions?

Given the uncertain nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the various state border closures and lockdowns that are still occurring, you may be concerned about setting a date for your wedding, for fear it will be disrupted. After all, it would be far from ideal to pay for a wedding only to find that a sudden lockdown makes it impossible to go ahead, or for a border closure to prevent interstate friends and family from attending.

There is no guaranteed way to safeguard your wedding from potential future COVID-19 restrictions, and it is unlikely that insurance will cover you, but there are some strategies and tips that may help:

  • Talk to your vendors upfront to make sure you are clear on their cancellation and postponement policies, and if they are flexible enough for your needs.
  • Consider a smaller celebration, perhaps limited to an intimate group of local family and friends, in a setting like a backyard.
  • You may consider postponing your wedding and reception entirely until such time as lockdowns and restrictions begin to ease, and when more interstate and international friends and family may be able to attend.
  • Similarly, you may choose to have an intimate wedding ceremony sooner rather than later, and then plan a larger reception or party for later down the line, when restrictions may have eased.

How do you pay for a wedding in Australia?

There are a number of options to pay for a wedding in Australia. You may wish to take out a wedding loan, in the form of a personal loan, line of credit or credit card, however, all these options will involve going into debt for your big day. Rather than take out a loan, you may choose to save up for your wedding, and there are a number of advantages to this approach.

Using savings to fund your wedding can mean avoiding debt and accumulating interest. It can also allow you to set a realistic budget and avoid the temptation to spend money you don’t have. If you and your partner are planning a wedding a few years down the line, you might even wish to put money away in a savings account where it will accumulate interest until the time comes to pay for your big day,

Canstar has a guide to the best savings account interest rates on our database, and if you’re thinking about other ways to save, our site also has a list of 5 simple budgeting hacks to improve your financial health and some tips on how to help you save money from some of our financial experts.

 

Cover image source: IVASHstudio/Shutterstock.com


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This content was reviewed by Sub Editor Jacqueline Belesky and Finance and Lifestyle Editor Shay Waraker as part of our fact-checking process.


Alasdair has more than 15 years of experience as a journalist, and he specialises in property and lifestyle topics for Canstar. He has a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Queensland and has lectured at QUT. His work has appeared in outlets including Pedestrian.TV, the ABC and Junkee.

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