The Real Deal – What it really costs!

What to expect to spend on just 24 hours.

The most surprising thing about budgeting for a wedding is the short amount of time couples have to save for it. According to national statistics, on average the Australian wedding-couple-to-be will spend around $28,000 on their wedding. Most engagement periods vary between 18 and 12 months from proposal to wedding day. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2005/2006 the mean weekly disposable income for a couple was $1,056. This amount equals on average to how much the engaged couple earn together after tax, that’s not a lot of money left to save with.

When planning for your wedding to get it right it is absolutely vital that you first work out counting back from your wedding date to when you start planning, how much disposable income you will have to save for this day. Keeping in mind as well that you will need to pay for things as you travel along, not save it all up then pay for it at once the day before your wedding.

A good indicator of how much you can afford to save is how much are you saving currently? If your answer is nothing and you are serious about getting married then you better get serious about saving. And saving is actually putting your money aside into a separate account that you cannot access easily – it’s not getting a new credit card to pay out the old one with extra to spare.

If you take a look at our budget planner it will show you what you can expect to include in your wedding and allows for room to cost it.

For our example we will break down the wedding to 14 categories and place all the incidentals into the 15th.


In times gone by it was believed that the honeymoon was the period of time measured by the rotation of the moon around the earth in which the groom had taken the bride away from the family and if done so against their wishes, he allowed for them this period of time for their anger to subside. Other theories have it that it was the drink (honey mead) made and drunk at the wedding ceremony. Which ever the case may be the honeymoon is as vital today more so than it has ever been. So our advice to you is – TAKE THE BREAK!

Most couples opt for two weeks away to an ideal location. Tourist attractions are popular for enjoying each others company and where the sun shines most encourages couples to get out there and enjoy the days together. Gippsland holds sunshine all year round and we have the benefit of offering you the snowfields in winter and the beaches in summer. But looking to economise and save a few pennies? Why not take the secluded beaches in winter (when the surf is really ripe for surfing) or the mountains (minus the snow but not the beauty) in summer? Believe me the magic is still there and it can certainly help when it comes to economising. Where ever it will be, your honeymoon should be something the both of you will enjoy.

Be aware of the hidden costs, travelling overseas you will need to include travel insurance, passport costs, visa costs, airport transfers, spending money as well as clothing, injections, luggage and incidentals (universal electrical adapters – which can be quite expensive if you can’t live without a hairdryer) just to name a few. Holidays at home are so varied in our lucky country that you can enjoy for a month what it would cost you in just 2 weeks overseas. As long as you are both together that is the main thing. Oh and don’t forget the wedding night accommodation either in your plans either.

BUDGET: $5,000 - $7,000


 Next to the honeymoon, the reception would be the most expensive part of a wedding that you will plan for. I like to think that you would spend more on your honeymoon than your reception, after all – it’s your day and you both deserve the holiday after the whole wedding process!

The trend these days is for better quality weddings with fewer guests, that is why destination weddings are becoming so popular. Guests number start at around 40 for an intimate wedding to the average of 110. Anything over 110 is considered a large wedding, anything under 60 is considered a private wedding. With the reception you can expect to pay anywhere between $25 to $85 per head, depending on the venue. So first establish how many people do you want to invite then, how much per head do you want to pay?

Here are some examples:

110 guests - $65 per head, 3 course meal with appetizers and supper: $7,150 (Note this will not include the drinks/bar tab – that is separate)

80 guests - $50 per head, 2 course meal with super: $4,000

50 guests - $80 per head, 4 courses with entrée & cheese platter (incl supper): $4,000

100 guests - $25 per head, 2 course meal with coffee & cake: $2,500

So there are ways you can manipulate the cost yet retain the quality, it just depends on the guest list. Most reception centres offer more than one room for different volumes of guest numbers. Menus are reduced on scale for costs however quality is not. Catering can also assist in allowing for choice of location without reducing quality and allows for easy budgeting with menu styles usually preset – giving room for selection choice.

BUDGET: $3,000 - $6,000


After the reception your next area of cost will be the wedding dress. This is an individual taste so need not be preset in your mind that you have to spend up big. Take lead from Nicole Kidman, for her wedding to Tom Cruise her dress cost her only $20 from a flea market in Amsterdam. Starting at the top shelf a Couture (made to measure) gown is going to cost you more. This is because the pattern will be drafted to fit your exact measurements and your gown will be a one of a kind, original design that no one else will, most couture gowns begin at around $3,000.

Next you have the choice of many labels to purchase off the rack. Beautiful dresses are available from many retailers and the trick is to shop around. The dress you fall in love with will be the one for you so ensure that you look for that when buying a gown off the rack, with average prices starting from $800. Dressmakers are also available for brides who know exactly what they want but need it made. Dressmakers work off commercial patterns (like the ones you buy in the sewing shop) and alter them to fit you better. So depending on your individual taste, expect to spend between $800 - $5,000 on you wedding dress – but you can vary that if you want.

BUDGET: $800 - $5,000


The grooms fashion traditionally has been accommodated for through the hire of suits. The modern trend today with the cost of suits being more affordable is for the groom’s party to all purchase the same suits and match the ties with each other. For the more formal wedding look, suit hire is still available but for the casual approach of morning or lounge suits then it is actually more economical in the long run to purchase a suit. Expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $400 per suit.

BUDGET: $200 - $400


The photography will be one of the most important investments you make for your wedding. It will be what you remember your wedding by the most as your memories fade. When meeting with your photographer try and establish a connection with them. You need for your personality to shine through those images and so it is vital that you can relate to them on a personal level. Many skilled and talented photographers exist so the field is unlimited. A photographer’s work sells easily in the images they use to promote their work so interest will no doubt be determined by which images you are attracted to first. Prices vary greatly on how much you order but you can expect to pay between $500 up to $3,000

BUDGET: $500 - $3,000


The flowers in a wedding ceremony really help to put the finishing touch to your look. Look through magazines at where the bridal couple have chosen not to use flowers and you will see how vacant the look is – something is missing and that something is the flowers. So don’t risk it. Florists today will spend the time with you discussing all your tastes and requirements in order to formulate a quote and when it comes to budgeting most allow for special packages created to assist you in this area.

Like all other areas, the more you spend the more you get, so it just comes down to how much you want – a good florist will not cut corners on quality. Most packages cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000 based on the national average.

BUDGET: $500 - $3,000


The change in social trends has swerved so greatly to the bride of 20 years ago, today only 40% of weddings are conducted in a church, that means 60% of those looking to get married reading this article are looking for a special venue. Gippsland hides many beautiful gems along its river beds and our web site highlights the best places to get married so do look for the different venues in each region. Some wedding venues allow for receptions so this can be included in the price, assisting in easing your wedding budget stress however the average is around $400

BUDGET: $400


With over 60% of weddings conducted today in Australia being conducted outside the church it is more than likely if you are reading this and you are getting married then you are looking for somebody to marry you. This is actually quite a specialist and legalistic area that is a lot more serious than having somebody to oversee you take your vows and sign a licence. Like with a photographer, establishing a rapport with a marriage celebrant is vital to helping you choose who will marry you. Depending on depth of service and how far they need to travel prices are usually around the $400 mark.

BUDGET: $400 - $600


Arrive in style – that certainly is the trend. If you have never experienced a chauffer driven drive you must experience it for this day. The transport you choose should reflect your wedding theme so keep that in mind when looking for a car.

BUDGET: $600 - $1,000


Enjoying the reception and making it a real party to celebrate requires creating the perfect atmosphere. Having music playing between each course of the wedding feast allows for the guests to relax and mingle and get up and have a dance.

Be it a band or a DJ or maybe just your ipod with pre-programmed music, don’t go without it and double check to make sure you have a Master of Ceremony (MC) to progress guests through the evening, otherwise you will have people leaving before the last course, or worst yet, before you (faux pa!).

A DJ can come equipped with lights and speakers and you can even get fog machines and mirror balls as well. A DJ will play music of your choice covering for all tastes at your reception and can even double as an MC.

A band will suit a larger crowd and provide a fantastic event for those looking for a real party atmosphere. Bands can also provide for soft music between sets with pre-programmed tracks which will give a lovely backdrop whilst meals are being served.

Depending on your choice you can expect to pay between $400 - $,1000.

BUDGET: $700


The tradition of a wedding cake has carried over from ancient time to modern times where today it is a symbol of unity for the bride and groom to hold hands together in slicing the cake in celebration of their new union.

Wedding cakes incorporate colours and themes from the wedding and the trend today has seen a preference for clean lines with bold colours emerge over lace work and elaborate features once popular. The amazing thing about the wedding cake is despite its appearance it is totally eatable. Once popular the trusted fruit cake has taken a back seat to the ever increasing request for the chocolate mud cake. Coming up closely behind the mud cake is requests for white mud cakes. Whatever your choice, cutting the wedding cake serves as not only a great photo-opportunity but an economical way to serve desert!

A wedding cake is not something you leave to Aunty Nancy just because she can make a mean sponge. It takes artistic flair and years of skill to perfect. Depending on how many tiers you have and how elaborate the decorating you can expect to pay anywhere between $400 - $1,000 .

BUDGET: $700


Most girls would naturally think to just trust their regular hairdresser to this task but if you are marrying away from home or need special attention don’t hesitate in looking around for the special look. Many hair dressers these days take a very serious approach to their work considering it an art form and apply them selves diligently and attentively to the task at hand taking great pride in their creations. Many go out of their way attending hair shows and competitions to perfect their skill so don’t be afraid to look around.

New techniques are constantly being established to better treat the hair without damage when trying to achieve a specific look. Test a new hairdresser out with a trial run first before you let the scissors touch your locks. Depending on how elaborate you are wanting your hair to look will depend on how much it will cost.

If you regularly treat your hair with colours and processing then include at least three to six deep conditioning treatments in your budget to bring your hair up to good condition. For an occasion such as a wedding expect to pay between $80 - $160

BUDGET: $120


The announcement of your wedding, inviting your guests is a written statement that should visualise the feeling of your day exactly how you want it captured. Be it traditional, modern, contemporary or maybe even retro your personal style can be represented today with more than just paper and ink. Personalised stamping with ribbons and embellishments provide for beautiful stationery that makes for a lovely memento for your guests to treasure.

DIY kits are available for the brave and crafty and they allow for a great bonding activity with the bridesmaids. Customised stationery is available also and the task of personalised wedding stationary has become an art form today where creativity knows no bounds for some providers. Keep in mind when budgeting for your invitations the cost of postage. Like other services, price will be reflective of guest numbers and depth of detail.

BUDGET: $200 - $500


Looking gorgeous on the big day comes more from being relaxed and happy than just putting the makeup on correctly. Starting the day off being pampered and made to look beautiful is the perfect way to achieve that mood and with the right products and trained professional you won’t have any regrets. A trial or two is the usual way to test the look you are desiring and a reduced cost for this is usually offered or put into a package for you to choose from. Depending on how much you want and the depth of treatment you can expect to spend anywhere from $60 - $200.

BUDGET: $130


Giving a thankyou gift as a memento is a trend that is increasing evermore in popularity. It is a kind and polite way of saying thank you to your guest for their attendance at your special and it should not be overlooked. Whether it be sugared almonds, crystal paper weights or engraved champagne flutes the choice is practically endless but when you budget it per head for each guest it is a wedding cost that can be quite expensive if it is not counted for early on in the wedding plans.

Many places that cater to the wedding couple to be also provide small items suitable for bonbonniere and speciality shops exist especially for this product and carry a wide variety of items to choose from allowing you to personalise your bonbonniere to reflect your wedding theme. Budgeting for this area will reflect on the guest list and if you want to give a gift per couple to share, or one each per guest. Expect to spend anywhere between $1.95 to $8.95 per gift.

BUDGET: $400 - $700


Wedding Video, Jewellery, Lingerie, Shoes, Wedding Programmes, Thank you cards, Postage, Attendants’ Gifts, Honeymoon Spending Money, Wedding Magazines, and extra to spare. Expect to spend between $6,000 - $10,000.

BUDGET: $8,000