weddings

7 women on how much they actually spent on their wedding - and whether they regret it.

Anyone who is planning a wedding – or is close to someone who is engaged – can understand the, erm, stress that comes with planning such a huge event.

In addition to the headache that comes with organising a wedding, comes the often overwhelming cost of said day. The median cost of an Australian wedding in 2019, according to Wedded Wonderland, is a whopping $53,168. Just let that sink in.

From three-course sit-down meals to expensive photography, it’s fair to say that weddings aren’t exactly cheap – which is why we all go about planning our special days in such different ways.

Many people choose to splurge in some areas (for example, their dream wedding dress), and make cuts in others to compensate for what they consider a high priority. There’s no ‘right’ way to have a wedding. It’s completely subjective. Which is why we’re all so nosy to see how much others have spent on their big days (just us?)

We spoke to seven women to see just how much they spent on their wedding – from the cake to their wedding dress – and asked: was it all worth it and is there anything they’d do differently in hindsight?

Video by Mamamia

We asked 7 women exactly how much they spent on their wedding.

Sadie:

Explain the vision you and your partner had for your wedding?

When my husband and I decided to get married, we knew it was going to be tricky as his family lives in the UK and mine live here. We knew we wanted our families to be present for our big day, but we also knew that logistically it was going to be painful. I am not a frilly girly type of woman and his tastes are not flamboyant, so there were no plans for a big white wedding, but the conundrum was how to find some middle ground for us both.

Initially, my husband and I both decided that we wanted a wedding down the Great Ocean Road, but even though we tried to keep it low key, the costs started to mount up very quickly with accommodation, a reception venue, the cake, flowers, the dress and all of the other costs that mount up with a wedding. As soon as you mention the word “wedding” businesses think “ka-ching” and add a twenty per cent margin to gouge the happy couple! In the end, we were both so unhappy with what our wedding was shaping up to be, my husband suggested that we “run away and get married”.

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How much did you and your partner budget for your wedding?

We ended up flying to Fiji and getting married on the beach. So, what started off as a wedding that was going to cost us close to $20,000-$30,000 ended up costing us substantially less! Please bear in mind that this all took place sixteen years ago, so inflation has had an effect on pricing! My husband and I got married on the beach at the Shangri-La Fijian Resort. We opted for the basic wedding package which cost us approximately $2000 (AUD).

How much did you actually spend on your wedding?

The combined total of the wedding and honeymoon itself cost us around $7000 (AUD) at the time. This included our flights, twelve-night holiday package (including accommodation, food and transfers). This also included the cost of our wedding rings (approximately $1000), my dress and shoes ($500) and my husband’s suit and shoes ($300).

How much did you spend on each part of the wedding?

The $2000 wedding package included:

– A chauffeur-driven car to transport me to the beach
– A floral bouquet and seasonal blooms for my husband and I
– A bottle of sparkling wine
– Wedding dinner on the Takali Cabana (we paid extra per head for the three additional people)
– Services of a dedicated wedding coordinator at the resort
– Wedding ceremony set-up and decor
– An official marriage license from local authorities (including license fees and documentation)
– A Civil Marriage Celebrant to officiate the wedding according to Fiji laws
– A souvenir wedding gift
– Wedding photographer (this part included photos and a DVD compilation of the pics from the wedding)

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in hindsight?

We both agree that we were happy with how we decided to have our wedding. In the end, my mum, older sister and her partner came with us. If we could have had at least my husband’s mum and dad there, it would have been perfect, but we were happy with the result. Neither of us wanted a big wedding and I have a strong suspicion that tempers would have ended up being frayed and we would not have enjoyed ourselves.

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The only real advice I would give to my younger self is this; be firm with what you want. At the time, I made some decisions that made other people happy but not myself and so I compromised on things that I didn’t actually want. In the end, your wedding should be about you and your partner and about what you both want, not about what other people want. It is hard to keep everyone happy, especially if they are contributing towards the cost of the wedding. Everyone is going to have an opinion, and that’s to be expected, but in the end, it is about both of you. Weddings are joyous occasions, so we shouldn’t overcomplicate it.

wedding-disappointment
Sometimes (read: most of the time) it's easier to elope. Image: Getty.

Chloe:

Explain the vision you and your partner had for your wedding?

We opted to elope to a little holiday town in the South West. We wanted a pretty small wedding with just the two of us, a bit of a luxury holiday and then a party a few months later with our friends at home.

How much did you and your partner budget for your wedding?

We wanted something less than $5000. I was pregnant with our 2nd child, and we were saving to buy a house. The wedding, whilst special, wasn't as important as setting up our home together. We just wanted a good celebration with friends, and a special moment just for us to remember.

How much did you actually spend on your wedding?

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We spent under $1000 for the luxury days away, celebrant and restaurants whilst eloping. Our party at home came to around $2000 (all food, drinks and venue hire at our favourite local cafe/ restaurant). So all up about $3000.

How much did you spend on each part of the wedding?

Venue - Free with food/alcohol
Food - about $1000
Drinks - about $500 (lots of pregnant friends meant lots of non-alcoholic cocktails!)
Decorations - $100
Photography - $200 (I bought a Polaroid camera online, with loads of film and our guests took their own pics, which we pegged up on a little board. People could take a photo home if they wanted)
No flowers, I bought glow sticks for the kids at the party.
Instead of a cake, we had homemade doughnuts and brownies from the cafe and they were delicious.

How much did you spend on your dress? And the groom's suit?

I spent about $200 on my dress and shoes, and my husband wore something he already owned.

How much were your bridesmaids' dress, shoes and accessories? And the groomsmen attire?

We had no bridal party, just guests.

How much did you spend on hair and makeup for yourself?

I bought products at a beauty counter and got a free makeup session. I paid $80 to have my hairstyle.

How much did you spend on the band/DJ or playlist?

We did a Spotify playlist of all our favourite songs.

Is there anything you regret spending money on or wish you had spent more on?

I don't regret anything and am happy with the fun we had with our friends on the evening.

The food was great, the drinks were good and nice quality (not cheap wine like a lot of weddings). I loved it and wouldn't change a thing.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in hindsight?

It was all perfect and worth it. I liked that we didn't spend a ridiculous amount on a single day and that we put it into our future together. We now are building our home thanks to our savings.

surname
Some brides opted for a low-key, casual wedding to save money for a home or their honeymoon. Image: Getty.
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Bridget:

Explain the vision you and your partner had for your wedding?

We aren't married yet, but we're aiming for a traditionally romantic wedding (think red roses, garden setting) but with some sentimental items. We're hoping that we can make this wedding really personal to us. We have gone with an all-inclusive package, but we want to add some of our own flair.

How much did you and your partner budget for your wedding?

We initially wanted to spend $8000, but very, very quickly realised how unrealistic this was for what we wanted. As we have families spread out over Australia and New Zealand, we didn't want the people who had to travel overseas to come to a backyard wedding. So then we bumped the budget up to about $16,000.

How much did you actually spend on your wedding?

It's creeping up to the $22,000 mark, and there are times when we feel really upset about this. We're so excited for the wedding but we don't know how the cost got so high.

How much did you spend on the venue, catering and alcohol?

We got an all-inclusive package for $15,990. This included canapes and mains for up to 80 people, $2500 worth of alcohol, six hours of photography, a three-tier cake, a celebrant, a DJ, venue hire, decorations, flowers and a wedding coordinator.

How much did you spend on the cake and the flowers? Please detail each.

My partner and I decided to remove the cake and flowers out of our package to cut costs. My fiancé's grandmother and mum are making four cakes between them, and we'll serve them as dessert.

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We had cake tastings with professional cake-makers but weren't overly impressed and thought our family could do just as good a job, plus, it's a lot more personal.

We're taking a bit of a gamble on our flowers. We removed flowers from our wedding package and have decided to get them from Safeway the day of... they're just SO much cheaper and all I really want are a bouquet of red roses. In thirty years' time, I doubt we'll remember the amazing flowers on our wedding day. We'll remember the fun, laughter and romance.

How much did you spend on your dress? And the groom's suit?

My dress was $1200 and I'm very happy with it. The dress I've chosen is within my $1500 limit I set for myself and really suits the venue.

How much did you spend on hair and makeup for yourself? 

My hair and makeup is costing about $240, and I'll be having a trial, so double it.

How much did you spend on your bridesmaids' hair and makeup?

Too much! With four bridesmaids and two junior bridesmaids (between flower girl age and bridesmaid age), it's costing an insane amount and that's how the cost has crept up. It's about $100 for makeup for each bridesmaid, then $120 each for hair. I won't be paying for the junior bridesmaids' makeup as they're still young, but I am paying for their hair. So.... drumroll, it works out to be about $1120. It makes me cringe when I see that number. This is something I didn't think about before asking people to be bridesmaids, I was too busy thinking of asking them to be a part of the special day.

Is there anything you regret spending money on or wish you had spent less ore more on?

I'm still shocked about the price, but I can't see anywhere I can cut down costs. In hindsight, I would've only had one bridesmaid to keep costs down. But honestly, the venue is stunning and the wedding coordinator is fab. I love my dress. Our photographer is nice and relaxed. The DJ seems very professional. The caterers have won awards... Everything seems amazing, and I think unfortunately it is just going to cost what it costs. It will be a fantastic day, I'm very excited for it.

bridesmaid horror stories
Having extra bridesmaids can cost more - especially if you are footing the bill for their hair and makeup. Image: Getty.
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Jasmine:

Explain the vision you and your partner had for your wedding?

A small wedding (60 people) at home with a country feel. Wanted a laidback atmosphere with good food, music and fun. More of a casual affair. We had a marquee in the paddock with catering and sit-down meals and a self-serve bar (which was a bathtub). Guests camped in the paddock that night.

How much did you and your partner budget for your wedding?

$20,000. I did a bit of research and a budget initially and this was a figure we felt we could afford and save for.

How much did you actually spend on your wedding?

Roughly $18,000. We had leftover money from our “wedding fund” that we put towards the honeymoon. Some things went over budget and some under so it evened out.

How much did you spend on the venue, catering and alcohol?

The venue was on our farm (so free). Marquee was about $4000. Catering was à la carte meals (entre and main), which was roughly $50 a head. My mother made cob loaves and other snacks that were served between ceremony and reception. Alcohol cost roughly $40 a head. We spent roughly $1000 on other decorations (antique chairs and couches etc).

How much did you spend on the cake and the flowers?

The cake was free as my sister-in-law made it - we had a main drip cake and then two other smaller cakes. All were served as dessert. We spent $1500 on flowers - and the flowers were used on the wedding arch, bouquets, table decorations and hanging feature in the marquee.

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How much did you spend on your dress? And the groom's suit? 

I spent $1500 on my wedding dress, and my mother did alterations. Groom's and groomsmen’s two suits were hired and cost $300-$400 all up. The bridesmaids' dresses were about $80. My shoes were $120. Jewellery was my own or borrowed from Mum.

How much did you spend on hair and makeup for yourself and your bridesmaids?

Roughly $150 each for hair and makeup for myself and my bridesmaids. Done at a local hairdresser.

How much did you spend on the band/DJ or playlist?

Hired sound system and lights which was more than $200 and played our own playlist.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in hindsight? 

I just would have organised more help on the day and before the day as it was stressful making sure everything was set up how I wanted it to look. Loved my wedding day, however. Was so much fun and everyone had a great time. Definitely worth it, two year anniversary in December.

bridal flowers
Flowers can be a huge expense at weddings. Image: Getty.

Carrie:

Explain the vision you and your partner had for your wedding?

My fiancé and I wanted a casual wedding where we could celebrate with friends and have a great time. We have 85 guests coming to it, so it's on the medium side for a wedding I guess! We're getting married in a church and are having the reception at a sports fishing club across the road from the beach.

How much did you and your partner budget for your wedding?

We budgeted around $10,000, we chose this amount as the wedding is going to be very DIY. My mum has made the dress, I'm making the cake, we're getting flowers from our own garden, etc but we wanted to make sure guests were fed well and had enough to drink, plus we wanted to make sure we hired a great photographer for the day!

How much did you actually spend on your wedding?

As we haven't actually got married yet we haven't got a final amount but I can say that we will go over, as we have had unexpected costs pop up! So it's looking closer to $15,000.

How much did you spend on the venue, catering and alcohol and extra decorations?

The venue will cost us around $1600 for two days hire, this amount includes a refundable bond of $500 and payment for staff. Catering is going to cost around $4675 for a buffet dinner and canapes for the guests with alcohol at $2000 for the day. The decor is going to be cheap for us as we are using items from Kmart and what we already have at home or things I have made, and for our table centrepieces we are using stones, driftwood and greenery/flowers collected from around the beach so that's free! With the items we have bought it's probably around $100.

How much did you spend on the cake and the flowers?

Our flowers are going to be free as we have a substantial garden at home! The main flower we are using is lavender, along with some greenery that we have collected prior to the day. I am making the cake so I'm looking at $50 for all the ingredients and decorations for that.

How much did you spend on your dress? And the groom's suit?

My mum has made my dress so nothing apart from the material which only cost around $250. The groom's suit is from Hallensteins and that cost $320.

How much were your bridesmaids' dress, shoes and accessories? And the groomsmen attire?

My bridesmaids are wearing skirts made by mum and on-sale shoes! A total of $106 for them on shoes, shirts, and accessories. The groomsmen's attire is from Hallensteins and costs around $210.

How much did you spend on hair and makeup for yourself? How much did you spend on your bridesmaids' hair and makeup?

I am doing our make up on the day and I have a family member helping with hair. I have however been to a hairdresser to have my hair cut with some colour, which was around $200.

 How much did you spend on the band/DJ or playlist?

My brother's band is playing for us at the wedding so that is free, before and after that we have an iPod playing music.

Is there anything you regret spending money on or wish you had spent more or less on?

Nothing that I regret at this stage! I'll have to find out after the big day!

wedding dress
Some brides set themselves a wedding dress budget, but when they find 'the one' it can be blown out of the water. Image: Getty.

Amrita:

Explain the vision you and your partner had for your wedding?

We're currently planning our wedding. We were hoping for a small, casual wedding, but at the moment, our guest list is sitting at approximately 70 guests. Due to the size of our guest list, we've gone with an all-inclusive venue. We originally planned to hire a venue or space and bring in our own caterers and alcohol to have a more casual feel, but with the guest numbers we're at now, it seemed more cost-effective (and... less stressful) to go with an all-inclusive venue. It'll definitely have more of a classy feel than we originally expected.

How much did you and your partner budget for your wedding?

We budgeted $20,000 for our wedding. We both are really good savers, so we knew we could definitely afford to splurge a little more. Although we weren't expecting it, we're also lucky to have a few family members chipping in on certain items e.g. one set of grandparents have offered to purchase our wedding cake. Both sets of parents are also chipping in.

How much did you actually spend on your wedding?

At the moment, it looks like the actual spend on our wedding will be approximately $22,000. I went over budget on my wedding dress by $800 (I originally budgeted $1000) - I fell in love and just couldn't say no. I plan to sell it after the wedding, so hopefully I can make some of that back. We've also booked a styling company to decorate our ceremony and reception. Although we could have decorated the venue ourselves, I didn't want to deal with the stress of sourcing and buying hundreds of individual items and setting them up at 6am on the morning of the wedding. We're cutting costs on bridal accessories, wedding rings, entertainment and invitations, so I think it balances out okay!

How much did you spend on the venue, catering and alcohol? And extra decorations?

Our venue offers an all-inclusive wedding package. We're having the ceremony, reception and accommodation all at the same location. The package includes venue hire, set up/pack down, all catering, alcohol and accommodation for the bride and groom. We were also given a discount on this, as our wedding is in winter. The venue package is approximately $10,000. For decorations, we have hired an event styling company. The charge for decorating the entire ceremony and reception as well as delivery comes to $2500. It's a big expense, but in my mind, it's completely worth it. I have no clue how to decorate so I'm leaving it up to the experts!

How much did you spend on the cake and the flowers?

Our wedding cake is $315, plus doughnuts for $100. We're doing wedding cake and doughnuts in lieu of dessert, which takes a big chunk off our venue fee. Our flowers are $700. To cut costs, we're using silk flowers for all decorations. This cut $2000 off our floristry bill.

How much did you spend on your dress? And the groom's suit?

My dress was $1800. The groom's suit hasn't been bought yet.

How much were your bridesmaids' dress, shoes and accessories? And the groomsmen attire?

The bridesmaids are purchasing their own dresses - they are $60 each and they will wear their own shoes. Groomsmen suits haven't been purchased yet.

How much did you spend on hair and makeup for yourself? How much did you spend on your bridesmaids' hair, makeup?

My makeup is $100 and my hair is $100. I'm paying for the hair and makeup for my two bridesmaids - they are $85 each for makeup and $90 each for hair.

How much did you spend on the band/DJ or playlist?

$0! Instead of hiring a band or DJ, we're creating playlists. The venue has a sound system that we can use for this.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in hindsight?

Now that we're deep into wedding planning, I often wonder whether we should have just eloped... it's a lot of money for one day and I'd rather spend it on a big honeymoon!

bridesmaid cost
Despite the cost, often you'll hear the bride and groom say it was the best day of their lives. Image: Getty.

Claire:

Explain the vision you and your partner had for your wedding?

My vision was romantic, relaxed and for it to feel like there was just so much love.

How much did you and your partner budget for your wedding?

We didn't plan a budget, just knew what we were and weren't willing to pay for things. We were lucky that our parents helped.

How much did you actually spend on your wedding?

We actually only spent about $5000. My parents paid for the reception and my in-laws contributed $5000. We were incredibly lucky, we 'splurged' on our photographer, that was what we really wanted to invest in.

How much did you spend on the venue, catering and alcohol and extra decorations?

The venue was just under $10,000 and that included food and alcohol for 70 people. I spent $800 on flowers which were table decorations and bouquets which I used as decorations after the ceremony, too. Probably spent $500 on candles, frames, and other decorations all up.

How much did you spend on the cake and the flowers?

Six bouquets, seven buttonholes and seven table centres cost me approx $800 (I think it might have been a little over) and I actually struggled to find a cake under $500. A local lady who had a business from home did ours for $450.

How much did you spend on your dress? And the groom's suit?

My dress was $1600 and I didn't want to pay any more so was really happy to fall in love with this one for that price. My husband's suit was a standard $350.

How much were your bridesmaids' dress, shoes and accessories? And the groomsmen attire?
The groomsmen paid for their own. The bridesmaids' dresses were on sale for $90 each and the girls paid for them as well as their shoes. We gave our bridal party gifts to the value of about $150 each.
How much did you spend on hair and makeup for yourself? How much did you spend on your bridesmaids' hair, makeup?

Mine was $150 and the bridesmaids were $100 which they also paid for.

How much did you spend on the band/DJ or playlist?

Approx $1000.

Is there anything you regret spending more money on or wish you had spent less on?

No.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in hindsight?

In hindsight, I should have listened to my gut about who I had in my bridal party. I have regrets about that only. Our wedding day was everything we hoped for it I feel it was worth the money as something to look back on and cherish forever.

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How much did your wedding cost? Was there anything you'd do differently in hindsight? Tell us in a comment below.

Feature Image: Unsplash.

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