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Mel

Average costs here in the US run about $28K, apparently. David and I spent well under half that for ours, with a very big chunk of the cost being lodging for our wedding party, since it was a destination wedding. Family and friends chipped in to help - my mother and sister doing a phenomenal job of decorating the cakes I baked - and the weather, venue, and company could not have been more perfect.

Emily

When Clare and I had our 'thing' - we don't call it a wedding, and it was unrelated to our civil partnership which was some years later and so low-key we can't remember the date - we had recently been to some weddings that really irritated me (us?) They were REALLY expensive to get to - in the sense of requiring hotel stays that weren't cheap, often long taxi rides and on top of that PRESENT LISTS! These really irritate me when in the context (as these were) of newly married but longtime living together weddings of 2 doctors. I'm not up for buying people a complete set of Villeroy and Boch fancy-pants plates!

ANyway - so ours was in an outward bound centre, which usually catered for kids on school camp doing canoeing etc. We used a room in the manor house for the brief formal bit, and then the centre for the rest.

Total cost - 3000 pounds. And that included overnight stays for everyone (in bunk beds!) Which meant that all our skint frineds oculd afford to come. We declined presents, but got everyone to paint a piece of crockery that was then fired, so we have a great varied dinner service made by frinds and family!

So I am in the happy postition of feeling that our do was the best day it could be, well within our budget, and not something guests needed to resent. Result!

Donna

We were on holiday in the USA, and got married on a beach in Hawaii. Total wedding cost $US900. That included photos, cake, flowers, ceremony. Just the two of us and my daughter. And I told my daughter to do it the same way if she ever gets married.

Jonathan S

Not quite answering the question, but I'm going to tell you anyhow: when we had been together 25 years -- having been mocked by a comedian who said we'd been renting for more than 20 years and never asked to buy -- we decided we should mark teh anniversary. We sent out a slightly upmarket card saying: "Twenty-five years ago P and J decided not to get married. Please come and help us celbrate the anniversary and renew the decision." It was a terrific party, complete with hearts and roses and sentimental speeches (and less sentimntal speeches by our two sons), and if the the cost wasn't negligible, it was cetainly forgettable.

diane

A registry office and lunch at a restuarant for about 12 family and friends. A couple of hundred dollars . I made the dress . That was 27 married years ago. James Valentine on the ABC asked if that 50K included the cost of the divorce!

Susan

Married in my MIL's front yard - lake frontage. No presents by request. Not too fancy buffet lunch catered by family. Our only cost was to pay the marriage celebrant and $30 for a new frock for me. This was 15 years ago. I love the big celebrity weddings that cost over a million, and the festivities last longer than the marriage.

Kris

Ours was cheap and fun! We were flying home to the US anyway (to attend my sister's wedding, which was in many ways the opposite of ours) and we got a free sidetrip with the ticket. We decided to go to Vegas. The license and wedding cost us probably less than $500 in total (and that's counting having Elvis there, who was by far the most expensive element). Throw in another couple hundred bucks for clothes (bought back in Sydney) and two days worth of accommodation and food... call it $1000 all up. Then when we got back to Sydney, we had a big party at a pub in Darling Harbour for friends and family. We spent maybe $1500 on that, most of which was the open bar and a giant croque en bouche. :)

lyndell

We were very cheap - $20 for my dress, $5 for our daughter's (she was 2 and made a lovely flower girl, except she tried to eat the flowers) $15 for those flowers, I can't remember how much for the licence or the photographer but it was at the Registry so very basic. Food was Lebanese take-away, no honey-moon. Still married 27 years later.

Adele

I wonder if those who have a wedding costing even half of the $50k figure quoted are mostly younger people spending their parents' money? That was certainly the case for my colleague's daughter who married recently. Perhaps if they had their own domestic expenses to consider they'd be opting for the "cheap and cheerful" solutions above.

My sister, for example, hired the wardroom of the naval base where they both worked (she as an officer, he as a civilian employee), invited about a dozen people and combined it with a naming ceremony for their baby.

Emma

Mine, last year, had 30 ish guests, and cost less than 5k.

I wore a hand-knitted lace top ($100 ish in Collinette), a designer skirt ($600) and the lace shawl. (Priceless, but the yarn was approx 20 pound.)

Invitations? Hand written letters, in good handwriting, on heavy paper. Less than 100.

We didn't tell the restaurant it was a wedding, and they were delighted to have 30 people in on a slow night on the off-season. They gave us a fixed price for the wine and food, per head. It was significantly cheaper than their usual prices.

I didn't carry flowers. We had the areas most popular wedding photographer do studio shots (I wanted the mantlepiece shot of the two of us, and didn't give a rats about the rest.) One hour of studio time: $75.

Cars? Nope. Favours? Nope. About $700 on accomodation for us, bridesmaid, and the celebrant.

About $500 on makeup, but I bought the products, so I still use them. Nails and hair.

We had the best celebrant in the entire world (I'm still married, so it must have worked). Yay, Lara!

Less than 5k. We saved us the necessary before hand. We overshot, so the day after our wedding, we put a couple of grand on the mortgage. (Interestingly, about what we paid for the wedding.)

My tip: tell everyone it's a family dinner, not a wedding. It's cheaper. And, it was what we wanted.

SallyO

David and I got married 7 years ago in Yuendumu, an Aboriginal community about 300km from Alice Springs. We paid for a celebrant to come out (about $180 I think - she didn't charge us any more than if we'd married in Alice, despite the 4hr or so each way trip). We had sausages and fruit juice (no alcohol allowed). I bought a dress (which I've worn since) and David bought a new shirt (ditto). Then about 30 of us drove to a roadhouse (the only building between Yuendumu and Alice Springs), where we had snacks and drinks (it was off Aboriginal land)followed by dinner and wedding cake. We bought all the food and most of the drinks. One of the guests put on a firework display. David and I stayed the night there and the total bill was about $1100. So all up about $1800. We not only didn't have to pay for any photography, the whole thing was filmed by an Aboriginal film company and shown on their TV station! It was a really wonderful day and I think memorable for all concerned as we were only the 5th couple to ever marry there (and number 3 turned out to be a bigamous marriage!)

Lara

I think ours was about $10k - we did it all in 6 weeks, so we didn't have time to spend much more than that.

The rotunda at Observatory Hill cost less than $200, flowers from the flower markets (oh, how I love getting up at 4am!). The photographer was a mate of my grandfathers, he was a news photographer who worked for the bulletin, and refused to do weddings until George asked him.

The frock was done by a woman who specialised in mardi gras outfits, the restaurant was vegetarian yum cha, the car was borrowed from the best man's dad, and I got a really great deal on the suite at the Observatory Hotel.

We didn't have a honey moon until about three years later, so I'm not sure if that counts :)

I did have 13 bridesmaids, who all provided their own outfits - I asked them (and all the guests) to wear something that made them feel fabulous.

I can't think of anything I would have done differently - except remember to thank my parents in my speech!

JoVE

I'm not married so no stories. But I did start researching weddings before I gave up on academia.

That 50k figure looks low if anything. But as an average might be okay. Remember that the spread is pretty wide. In order to hit an average of 50k with people spending as little as you did (which some still do) someone is spending an awful lot on their wedding. I've even seen business advice books that say that the wedding industry is "recession proof". Which is scary.

and I think your guess about fighting over the resulting debt is probably right. Because divorce rates drop dramatically the longer a marriage lasts. Which means that the bulk of the divorces happen in the first few years.

While the media image of divorce is all about fighting over assets, the reality for most people is that you are dividing up debt. And given that financial stress is a major correlate of divorce....

Well, you and I can do the math but then we've dropped out of hegemonic heterosexuality a long time ago.

Kate

About 6 years ago I used my NRMA shares to pay for a frock from St Vinnies, new shoes and hand bag, a last minute pretty bouquet of flowers from a local florist (when's the marriage? In two hours) registry fees and a banquet for 10 at the local Vietnamese restaurant. All up, about $2000. Priceless

Jocelyn

Well, we spent a lot less than that! My cousin, a seamstress, made my dress as her present to us, so that just cost us for the fabric. The reception was held at a hall in our local regional park, so, not pennies, but not outrageous, either. We both knew every person there -- no surprise strangers invited by parents or anything like that. I think our biggest expense was the band, and that was well worth it. We're still together 15 years later (and we dated for five years before getting married), with two daughters and a menagerie of pets, so I guess it was worth it!

JulieK(neeB)

Depends what's counted in the $50K. If you include the (kickarse) honeymoon, then we were over that. If it's just the day, not including honeymoon or jewellery, then we spent about $6K overall with some of that spent by my kind and generous mother who bought the dress. Jewellery cost about that much again (and it lasts longer than the day so I have no problem spending a lot on it!). Given that we're coming up to 8 years together I can't see it all ending in tears just because we got married :)

Laura

It looks like we're going to spend about four thousand dollars for our wedding in six weeks. After seventeen years together we're ok - mostly - with spending about that for a decent party with everyone who matters to us.

Two and a bit of that $4k is catering for nearly a hundred people (oops) which is being done by the asylum seekers' resource centre so I'm happy to spend it.

Even though we're making the cakes ourselves, the ingredients still cost a few hundred dollars, and I allowed a few hundred dollars for 20kg good fruit.

The celebrant's fees are $500, plain gold rings we've had made for $200 each, and we've allowed ourselves $250 each to spend on clothes and haircuts and so forth.

If you're adding this up as you go you'll see we're not putting on an awful lot of booze...

If we'd invited fewer people it might have been better. I don't suppose I'll even get to talk to everyone at this rate. But there was a misunderstanding when we did the guest list based on the fact that one of us thought lots of the invitees wouldn't accept, and of course, they have.

issy

I'm about to start planning a wedding - so this figure makes me feel very apprehensive.

I don't want a large wedding and neither does my other half... but we'll see what ends up happening as I know that my parents will want to have their say in the planning.

missfee

As you well know I did the deed last August. My dress I knitted, from wool donated from ACS, and the shoes cost more than the rest of the outfit. The grooms suit and shoes were more than the wine budget!!!!
We had the short service, the celebrant was our friend's brother, and the party at the same friend's house in Balmain with 58 people, including 6 children my entourage. I found all of the entourgage's outfits at various outlet shops for about $200 in total.
We spent the majority of our money on the food and wine - a total of about $6k - and we had to hire chairs a dance floor to cover the pool, tables and all the bits. The caterer was amazing, spaninsh and we had such a great time. My friend from Italy too the photos in exchange for a website.
We really just wanted a small party as the original idea was to elope, which we had booked and costed at about $800 including airfares to Byron. The celebrant in Byron was twice the price of the one here in Sydney.
As a collegue at work said we were smart to have it at a friends house as all of the family had to be on their best behaviour - and as it was the first time my and his met it was a stroke of genius.

ellen

My sweetheart and I married at her mother's house at Thanksgiving. I think that including the honeymoon and our clothes (which we bought in time to wear to another wedding earlier in the month) the whole thing cost less than $2,000.00. It was so sweet and loving - just what we wanted. I think the wedding should line up more with what you expect your marriage to be, not fantasy day. We had a lot of home made touches. It was memorable but not expensive.

Chris Morris

Reading about your wedding Mary-Helen reminds me that Syd Eyre watered down the lemonade at the after party! (Quasi nephews do have long memories!) When Emma got married at the end of last year at Larnach's Castle in Dunedin, it cost $8,000. I think that style is more something that comes with the attitude behind the wedding rather than the dollars.

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