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For richer, for poorer

The cost of a wedding

With Perth's fabulous autumn wedding season in full swing and the much-anticipated Royal nuptials having recently captured the world's attention, wedding bells are well and truly ringing loudly.

Millions of people worldwide tuned in to watch the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle on May 19. Their extravagant big day has been estimated to have topped AUD$45million, with a significant proportion of this going towards security.

So how much does the average Australian wedding cost?

While it’s safe to assume your wedding won’t cost millions, your special day will presumably be the most expensive party you'll ever host. It’s important to work out a budget before you start making plans so that you'll remember your special day for all the right reasons.

According to ASIC’s Moneysmart website, the average Australian wedding costs $36,200 and includes:

  • $18,683 -   Food, alcohol & venue
  • $4,271 -     Wedding clothes and accessories
  • $3,983 -     Photography
  • $2,896 -     Entertainment
  • $2,896 -     Flowers and decorations
  • $941 -        Ceremony
  • $2,534 -     Other (cars, hair, makeup, accommodation, stationery)

So it's easy to see that costs can run away without a disciplined approach. 

Look out for hidden costs

Couples should keep an eye on the ‘other’ costs when putting together their wedding budgets - these hidden expenses are generally not included in the costs outlined above, and have the potential to blow out your overall budget by thousands of dollars.

  1. Pre-wedding costs – this includes engagement parties, hen’s and buck’s nights, rehearsal dinners, not to mention pre and post wedding brunches, lunches and dinners.
  2. Overtime costs – It’s important to keep an eye on the time on the day, as once you go over the allocated time, venues and other hired staff (such as the photographer/videographer) will likely charge additional fees.
  3. Pre-wedding beauty treatments – manicures, pedicures, haircuts and spray tans for the bridal party can literally add hundreds to an already stretched budget.
  4. Gifts for your bridal party, parents and other important people - nice to have, but important to factor into your budget. Even a reasonably priced bottle of wine as a present can add up by the time you buy a few bottles.

Ways to reduce your wedding costs

  1. Decide on your budget together and hold each other (and your family!) to account.
  2. Focus on your number one priority and work back from there - a destination wedding, the more the merrier, the photography, the dress, the styling?
  3. Determine your guest list first - where will you draw the line to create the day that you both want?
  4. Shop around – get lots of quotes and find out what you're really getting for your money. "Wedding tax" can be a real thing; you might be surprised how much value you're really getting for your dollars.
  5. Consider having your wedding on a different day of the week or steer clear of peak wedding dates.
  6. Get creative with the location - gone are the days where weddings are celebrated in traditional locations.
  7. Engage your tribe - get friends and family to assist with the transport, cake and photography.
  8. Don’t waste money on expensive extras - do you really need menu cards, programs, a photo booth, a candy bar AND wedding favours?
  9. Choose one location for the ceremony and reception to cut down on transport/venue hire costs.
  10. Buy wedding outfits, especially suits and bridesmaid dresses, online. You may find wedding dresses online at rock bottom prices, but keep in mind that intricately beaded or delicate dresses can cost a fortune in alteration costs, and end up just as much as off the rack.

The honeymoon

Your honeymoon is another added cost which you may not have factored into your big day. If costs are an issue, consider a short, close by break right after the wedding, and enjoy a bigger holiday a couple of months later. Not only will it give you more time to save money, but you can probably accrue more annual leave as well to plan a longer trip.

A great first step to plan how much you can set aside for the wedding is to use P&N’s budget planner calculator.

Once you’ve got your budget you can maximise your savings by utilising a dedicated savings account such as P&N’s Hi Saver to squeeze that little bit more into your big day.

But most of all, with a sensible approach to planning, you'll not only start married life with a perfect wedding day but you'll be creating special memories for a lifetime.

Source: IBISWorld, 'IBISWorld Industry Report X002 Weddings in Australia', April 2012

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