Your inner accountant (or perhaps your actual accountant) is probably telling you not to go crazy on your wedding spend. You’ve probably already realised that you’d be able to buy a new car or come up with a house deposit with the money that an average wedding costs these days. And I’d love to think you’d listen to me when I tell you that the last thing you want to do is start off married life broke (or worse, with lots of unsecured, high interest debt). However, we’ve seen enough newly engaged, glittery-eyed couples to know that you’re probably going to want to go big on one of the most special occasions in your life. So rather than be a Debbie-downer, we’re going to preach a more balanced message, in the simple hope that you’ll be able to limit the damage not only to your budget, but your brand-spanking new marriage!

On a more positive note, there is a lot to say for romance and I would suggest that many businesses would not survive without it being alive and well. Think of jewellers, restaurants, movie theatres, travel… these industries rely heavily on experiences that nourish the act of love. Remember this is just the beginning of your lives together and the future will see many other joyous occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays, Christmases and so on.

Memories are priceless and as you walk down the aisle your attention should be solely on your partner, not how you’re going to pay for the wedding. Remember, if you haven’t already, you’re likely to be staring down the barrel of a big mortgage, more mouths to feed, a lot less time to manage it all in, and potentially one less income. There’s no need to add more to the challenges that lay ahead!

Establish your budget

Firstly, make sure it’s not going to cost your sanity or relationships. Talk to your partner, family and friends to work out what the priorities are and then work together to make it happen within a budget. Mums and Dads are often thrilled to help out and contribute in some way to create the perfect wedding for their child.

There are many things to consider, such as: Flowers, decorations, catering, ceremony, honeymoon, hair budget from trial to the big day, wedding cake, car hire, photographer, wedding dress, suits and you can add to the list with pink flamingos if you wish.

Once you have a list of items and services required for your big day, do some research on prices. The wedding industry is worth $2 billion dollars per annum in Australia which creates a very competitive environment….so shop around.

How much is it going to cost?

It’s difficult to get accurate figures as to how much the average Australian wedding costs, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect anywhere from $20,000 – $65,000 total cost, depending on how many people you invite, with half of the expenses going to the venue, food and drink. There are always going to be lavish, over the top weddings that can reach the six figures and the opposing quaint weddings that boast simplicity. If you struggle with coming to terms with all this, then there’s always Las Vegas!

To help a little bit more, we’ve done some research as to what you can achieve with a budget of $30,000 for 100 people:

Ceremony Budget
Includes: Marriage License, certificate. Celebrant, rings etc. $1,400
Venue  
Reception venue – Full-service catering, including food, alcohol, rentals, and staff for 100 people, cake, entertainment etc. $15,500
Stationery  
Includes: Invitation & RSVP Cards, Table number place cards, Save the Date Cards, Ceremony Programs, Postage, Thank You Cards $500
Attire  
Bridal attire including: Wedding dress, veil and headpiece, accessories/jewellery/shoes, hair & makeup, manicure & pedicure, lingerie.  
Groom’s attire including suit/tuxedo, accessories/cufflinks/shoes.  
Bridesmaid dresses, ring bearer outfits, flower girl outfit, groomsmen suit hire ($100 per person) 2 groomsmen and 2 bridesmaids. $5,500
Flowers & decorations  
Bridal & Bridesmaids bouquet, Boutonnieres for groomsmen, table centrepieces, ring bearer pillow, guest book $1,800
Gifts  
Bonbonniere/ Guest gifts. Gifts for Bride’s maids and Groomsmen. Gifts for Parents. $800
Photographer  
Digital photography/Videography, wedding album. $3,000
After the ceremony  
Transport/luxury car rental, Hotel Room $1,500
Total Budget: $30,000

Any that’s not even including the honeymoon!

If that hasn’t convinced you yet to run away and elope, then just remember, control is key, and having a framework to work with, knowing what you’re getting yourself into, will at least help to soften the blow.

The brilliant marketing team at De Beers jewellers launched a marketing campaign in the 1930’s that “A Diamond is Forever” and in the 1980s, De Beers commenced the “two month’s salary” campaign to give people a range as to how much they should spend on an engagement ring. If there was an exact point in time where the wedding industry took a leap into uber-expensive territory, then this might very well be it.

On a positive note, the clever folk at De Beers at least gave us a handy rule of thumb that persists as strongly as ever today. Nothing similar is suggested for weddings, however going into debt for a wedding when you are starting a life together may not give you the greatest financial foundation for the challenges to come.

Amongst cultural expectation and social media hype it’s understandable how some people fall into the wedding trap. Some sacrifices may need to be made for you to have your perfect wedding; so be creative and find a balance so your marriage gets off on the right foot.