Why weddings are costing more and how you can save

"The best day of our lives," Gwyneth Paltrow wrote of her September wedding to producer and writer Brad Falchuk.

"The best day of our lives," Gwyneth Paltrow wrote of her September wedding to producer and writer Brad Falchuk. Photo: Instagram

As the nation tightens its collective purse strings, there is one statistic that may bring a smile to the faces of retailers, bakers and dressmakers around the nation – and tears to many others.

The average wedding in Australia costs $53,168.

At least, that’s the figures according to online wedding publication, Wedded Wonderland, which surveyed more than 500 brides who married over the past 18 months.

That’s up 3.75 per cent on 2018 – a modest jump compared with the 6 per cent rise from 2017 (but possibly not surprising in these straitened times).

It’s also well shy of the $65,482 estimated by Bride to Be magazine in 2017, but well above the $36,200 calculated by ASIC’s Moneysmart website (albeit using data from 2012 and 2013).

Wedded Wonderland founder Wendy El-Khoury said neither cake, nor desserts, make-up nor hairstyling has gone up in the past three years.

So what is making weddings more expensive?

Priyanka Chopra and Gwyneth Paltrow. Crazy Rich Asians and The Hangover. In short, the celebrity factor.

Ms El-Khoury said many couples now see their weddings as a “personal branding exercise”, a statement of who they are and what they’re about.

And they increasingly feel the pressure to meet the same levels of perfection as Instagram influencers and celebrities, so they’ll spend big on visuals – flowers, ambience. location and styling.

“People are spending more, often due to the social media pressure they feel, and wanting to have the ‘Insta-worthy’ wedding,” Ms El-Khoury said. “These days, a celebrity wedding takes place and we find out about it five minutes later.”

There’s also a tendency towards the destination wedding, because a couple might want to continue their honeymoon from that location, or because people simply want to do something different.

The ‘cookie-cutter’ wedding just isn’t cutting it any more.
Wendy El-Khoury
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A post shared by Priyanka Chopra Jonas (@priyankachopra) on

Couples are also spending much more money on the lead-up to the wedding.

“A hen’s night is no longer just a hen’s night, and a bridal shower is no longer a bridal shower – no longer something you just hold in the back yard,” Ms El Khoury explained.

“Girls are now booking venues, restaurants, spending money on outfits, flowers and catering. It’s becoming a lavish exercise. There are hen’s and buck’s nights that are flying off to Las Vegas, or Bali or Hong Kong, or the boys might go on a fishing trip, for example.”

the cost of weddings

Crazy Rich Asians took hen’s party excess to new heights. Photo: IMDB

Ms El-Khoury said the price pressures differed according to each couple’s priorities for their wedding, and with so much planning going into a wedding over a long period of time, there were rarely price shocks.

Financial comparison website Canstar, though, suggests a few ways to get that wedding under $53,168.

10 ways to save money on your wedding

  1. Go easy on the partying before the wedding Apart from the engagement party, you may be pressured into having a hen’s party, buck’s do, bachelor or bachelorette party, pre-wedding brunch, etc. Be careful or you could be drained emotionally and financially.
  2. Think outside the wedding venue box Think about alternatives to expensive wedding venues, such as at your home or a friend’s home, a favourite pub or restaurant. An added advantage is you can probably invite more friends than you could afford to cater for at a wedding venue.
  3. Full bar, full bill hangover Maybe skip the full bar that features every kind of spirit, wine and beer imaginable. Instead, pick one red, one white, a couple of beers, and maybe a signature cocktail or toasting champagne.
  4. Watch the clock and avoid going over time Most venues have a contracted, specific amount of time. So don’t get slugged with additional charges.
  5. Use the skills of family and friends Call on your network, that friend in the alcohol industry, florist, chef or cake maker, graphic designer or beautician.
  6. Go online for your wedding dress Most brides wear their wedding dress once. Buying your dress online can cost a fraction of what it does to have it custom-made.
  7. Calm down with the shoes thing Wearing cobalt blue Manolos, a la Sex and the City isn’t necessary. You’ll feel just as special, tall and glamorous in a pair of shoes that didn’t cost you $1000.
  8. Forget the hipster photography sessions The more offbeat your wedding is, the more you’ll have to fork out for photography or videography. Think about the cheaper digital tech available, such as single-use cameras on each table.
  9. Digital stationery Printed invites, save-the-date cards or menus cards can be costly. With so many websites that help you with design, go digital and consider online invitations, etc.
  10. Limo rental A hired limousine feels just like a normal car ride after about 30 seconds, so ask a friend or relative with a nice car to drive you – it will cost you hundreds less.
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