One of the biggest factors couples take into consideration when planning a wedding is how much it’s all going to cost. From booking your venue to buying your perfect dress to choosing your bomboniere, every little bit adds up.
It can get especially tricky when you’re a couple juggling other financial commitments as well, whether it’s raising children, paying off a mortgage, or even saving for that once-in-a-lifetime trip.
So it’s no wonder that settling on a budget is one of the first steps a newly engaged couple makes when they begin planning their big day.
Well, fear not! We’ve got your ultimate guide to how much a wedding costs, and how much you should expect to spend on each of the services for your day.
How much does the average couple spend on a wedding?
So how much does a wedding cost? As of 2020, an Australian couple will spend an average of $32,940 on their wedding day. However, when it comes to starting their budget they actually set the bar much lower.
Most couples begin their wedding budget at around $23,917, although they do generally expect to go over that and spend closer to $28,644 once they’ve actually started planning.
Of course, your budget is always going to depend on you and your own personal circumstances. But it is a good guide to see what couples in the past have done for their weddings. 60% of couples will receive financial assistance from their parents while 39% will fund their wedding on their own. 8% of couples will also take out a wedding loan for their big day.
Where to start your budget
So how do you break down your wedding budget? The first thing to do is to work out how much you expect to pay for each vendor, and budget accordingly. Then you can move your budget around depending on what is or isn’t the most important to you.
For instance, if you’re wearing your mother’s wedding dress then you are going to be spending a lot less on alterations rather than purchasing a brand new dress. That could leave more money for other areas that are important to you, such as your venue or catering.
Here’s a list of the most popular services couples include in their day and a guide to where you could begin your budget for each.
Of course, the first item you should budget for is your venue. The average cost of a wedding venue in Australia is $15,258. This works out to a national average of $156 per head.
The wedding venue is usually the biggest cost you’ll have for your wedding, with most couples spending 45% of their entire budget on the venue alone. Starting with your wedding venue and budget won’t just let you set a date, but it will also help you set a more realistic budget for other items down the track.
The next service most couples book is their marriage celebrant. Your celebrant is the one vendor you’ll book who will actually turn your big day into a wedding, rather than just a party!
The average cost of a marriage celebrant around Australia is $794. However, there are many different types of ceremonies. A longer, more personalised and tailored service may cost upwards of $1,000, so consider what you want for your ceremony and budget accordingly.
It’s clear that having a professional photographer is an important part of any wedding. 98% of all couples will have a wedding photographer, the highest number of any service. The average cost of a photographer is $3,211.
For most brides, the wedding dress will often be one of the most expensive items of clothing they’ll buy in their lifetime. The average wedding dress budget comes in at $2,637.
However, 23% of all brides don’t care how much their dress will cost. If it’s the perfect dress, they’re going to buy it regardless of the budget!
Hiring transport for your wedding isn’t just about getting from A to B. It’s about making an entrance in the most stylish way possible. The average cost of wedding cars in Australia is $1,289.
41% of couples will hire one car, while another 33% of couples will hire two cars for their day. The number of cars you hire could alter your transport budget, so consider how many people you’re travelling with to get a more clear idea of what you should spend.
Just over half of all couples will have a video at their wedding. This has become more and more popular over the years as couples don’t want to miss out on capturing the real atmosphere and feelings of their big day.
A wedding videographer should cost you an average of $2,727. However, if you’re on the fence about hiring a videographer and worried about the cost, consider hiring a service that can offer photography and videography to combine both the package and the price.
Whether it’s a band or a DJ, having good music at your wedding can make or break your night. You want to make sure that your selection can be quiet enough earlier in the day, but also get people up dancing at the end of the night.
Hiring someone to provide your wedding music will generally cost around $1,693. This is another area that can increase or decrease depending on the number of people involved. Consider whether you want a solo artist of a six-piece band to help with your budget.
Wedding flowers are a service that can add to the theme and atmosphere of your wedding. The average cost of flowers is around $1,620 depending on what you’re after. You might be after the classic bouquet or buttonholes. Or you could add to your day with a fabulous floral arbour, cake decorations or stand-out centrepieces.
For couples who already have their own venue, or who have hired a venue but want to make even more of a statement with their food, catering is the second biggest investment in your wedding. The average food and beverage costs for catering are around $9,891.
This has increased by 2% over the past year as more couples want to create an experience with their dining. In fact, interactive food stations are one of the top 10 most popular trends coming into 2020.
If you’re looking at bringing extra pieces into your wedding, knowing how much you should be spending on that equipment is key. Most couples will spend $1,659 on hiring items for their day.
This doesn’t just have to be practical items such as marquees or ceremony chairs. 55% of couples will also hire additional furniture or styling props for their big day.
For the grooms or groomsmen, formal wear will cost around $1,446.
Who influenced your selection of wedding decorations or theme?
This can also depend on how many people you’re having as part of your wedding party and who is helping with the costs. The average couple will have eight people in their wedding party, including themselves. This works out to the traditional benchmark of three groomsmen. If you’re having more people in your wedding party you should alter your budget accordingly.
Not to be confused with wedding hire, decorations for your day come into the styling aspect of your wedding theme. How everything is going to look and what theme you’re going for will depend on your decorations.
Most couples will spend $1,565 on decorations which could be anything from an arbour for your ceremony or a personalised sign welcoming guests into your reception.
When it comes to bridesmaids dresses, again consider how many people you’re going to be having in your wedding party. The more bridesmaids you have, the more you can expect to spend on bridesmaid dresses.
Most couples will spend $854 on the total cost of their bridesmaid dresses. For a bigger breakdown, 70% of couples will spend less than $200 on each dress while another 25% will spend between $200 and $400 on each dress.
Wedding invitations will cost around $773 for your day. But this is one service that often comes with a hidden cost – the cost of stamps! Especially if you’re sending invitations overseas, you should budget at least $1 for each invitation you are sending out.
Pro-tip, if you are sending out your invitations over the Christmas period and don’t have additional cards see if you can use ‘card only’ stamps. They’ll be cheaper!
Your wedding cake may be one of the most delicious and expensive desserts you’ll ever buy, coming in at around $538. But with all those different styles on your Pinterest board, it’s difficult to resist!
If you want to get more out of your cake look at the difference between serving coffee or dessert serves on your day. Dessert portions will be smaller but will serve more guests.
Hair and Makeup
Despite being one of the most popular wedding trends for 2020, natural-style makeup still takes experience and professionalism to get right and make it last all day.
Couples usually spend $743 on hair and makeup for their wedding, with the cost of the wedding party hair and makeup usually included in this. 84% of brides will have a hair and/or makeup trial in the leadup to their day which is usually a standalone cost in itself. We recommend planning this around another event so you get to show off your done-up look after the trial.
Photo booths remain a popular feature at weddings, with 37% of all couples having some form of photo booth for their big day. You can expect to spend around $903 on photo booth hire for your wedding. Look for a company who can provide an attendant to help keep guests entertained and having fun so you don’t have to.
One of the final touches you’ll purchase in the lead up to your wedding is your bomboniere. This usually comes to a total cost of $459, with 70% of all couples spending between $1 and $5 on each favour for their wedding guests.
We hope this wedding cost guide has helped you with your planning. For more budget advice click here to access our free customisable budget calculator tool.
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