9 Feb 2021
Money Lifestyle

Cindy and Ryan married in a public park that was free of charge and cleared by the Council

A marriage licence in New Zealand costs $150 and a registry ceremony costs $240, but couples planning a wedding could spend tens of thousands of dollars on the event. 

So, what if you want to keep your wedding budget under $10,000, or better yet, under $5,000? 

REDnews spoke to three couples who kept their costs down while creating their special day. 


Couple one: Brian and Yang 

Guest list: 50  

Total cost: Less than $4,000 

  •      Ceremony location:  Married at Kairakau Beach in Hawkes Bay. Their extended family own a bach there which they rented for $50 for the day. 
  •      Reception:  The reception BBQ was at the same location on the beach. 
  •      Food:  They bought $400 of meat from a local butchery for the BBQ. 
  •      Wedding cake: The family made a sponge cake as a gift. 
  •      Drinks: They spent $200 on beer, wine and soft drinks from Liquor King and put the drinks in a chili bin on ice.  It was self-service (no barman). 
  •      Tables and chairs: Hired from local churches for $100. 
  •      Transport: They spent $300 on rental cars for friends in Auckland to drive down and other people used their own transport. 
  •      Bridal dress: She bought a dress from Dressmart for $200, which wasn’t a traditional wedding dress. 
  •      Groom’s suit: He wore a suit he already owned. 
  •      Music:  They connected a Spotify playlist to speakers. 
  •      Photographer: A friend took the photos free of charge. 
  •      Flowers: The family’s great aunt did the flower arrangement as a gift. 
  •      Wedding marquee:  Hired for $1,500, which included installation and removal. 
  •      Table settings, invitations and all decorative elements:  Free of cost by making their own. 
  •      Marriage licence: $150. 
  •      Hair and make-up:  A friend did the bride’s hair and she did her own makeup. 
  •      Rings:  They bought plain gold rings from Michael Hill for $400 each. 
  •      Cleaning: The family cleaned up afterwards. 


Brian and Yang’s top tips 

“A wedding doesn’t have to be expensive.  It’s a special event between you and your significant other and it doesn’t make it any less special by paying less.  

“We didn’t have a honeymoon either and three months after the wedding we bought our first house with the money we had saved. 

"The house deposit was more meaningful than a week in Fiji would have been,” he said. 


Couple two: Adam and Jane  

Guest list: 50 people 

Total cost: $7,000 

  •      Ceremony location:  Married at a Catholic Church in Auckland, donating $200 to the priest. 
  •      Reception:  The bride’s parents offered their home in Dairy Flat because they had a lifestyle block which was perfect for a family gathering - free of charge. 
  •      Food: Designed their own menu and spent $1,000 on ingredients the day before to prepare the food.  Three or four family members helped creating this menu and they arranged a chef and a helper to cook and serve on the day.  The chef was $20 per hour, plus tip.  The main course was roast pork and salmon. 
  •      Wedding cake: This was made by family as a gift. 
  •      Drinks: Spent $1,000 on wine, which was bought through a friend who’s a wholesaler. 
  •      Tables and chairs: The groom’s sister is a primary school teacher, so they borrowed these from the local school.  Tablecloths and decorations were made by family and everyone took a tablecloth home afterwards. 
  •      Bridal dress: The bride bought a dress that wasn’t a traditional wedding dress, so she continues to wear it in summer.  She spent $300. 
  •      Groom’s suit: The groom wore black jeans, a white shirt and blazer that he continues to wear also. He spent $300. 
  •      Music:  They already had a laptop and speakers, so someone in the family made a playlist for them free of charge. 
  •      Photographer:  One of their nieces is a hobby photographer and took the photos.  However, a family friend also hired a wedding photographer as a surprise gift.  
  •      Flowers: One bouquet was bought for $100. 
  •      Wedding gazebo:  Hired for $1,000.   
  •      Table settings, invitations and all decorative elements:  Free of cost by making their own. 
  •      Marriage licence: $150. 
  •      Hair and make-up: The bride did her own.  She did go to the hairdresser the day before but that was her usual monthly appointment. 
  •      Rings:  Bought from a goldsmith at half price, it cost $2,000 for the pair. 
  •      Unexpected miscellaneous costs:  These came to another $1,000. 


Adam and Jane’s top tips: 

“We weren’t preoccupied with the ceremonial hurrah which can cost a lot of money but becomes meaningless. 

“The experience with the whole family is what was meaningful and the sentimental part. 

“Our real cost-saver came down to designing our own meals and buying the ingredients ourselves, but then hiring a chef,” they said. 



Couple three:  Cindy and Ryan 

Guest list: 40 people 

Total cost: Less than $9,000 

From foraging their own flower arrangements, to using a public venue for the ceremony, these were this couple’s key costs and savings: 

  •      Ceremony location: A public park on Auckland’s North Shore.  They asked the Council for permission, which was granted at no cost. 
  •      Reception: The groom’s mother offered her house and front lawn at no cost. 
  •      Food: $2,000 was spent on the main course through a caterer, other dishes where prepared by the couple, family and friends – each person was assigned a dish.  The caterer charged $50 per hour. 
  •      Drinks: $1,000 was spent on alcohol from the supermarket. 
  •      Bridal dress: The bride took photos of dresses she liked from local wedding dress stores and sent them to China to be made by a dress maker.  This cost $300. 
  •      Groom’s suit: This was also made in China, by the bride’s brother who is a tailor.  The suit and shoes cost $300 in total. 
  •      Music:  Reception music was a playlist through their phone, plugged into a sound system, and the ceremony music was a friend on the guitar.
  •      Photographer:  Hired a photographer who does wedding photography as a hobby, which cost $500. 
  •      Flowers: They spent $500 buying flowers from a flower auction and with these, they made their own bouquets.  Other flowers were foraged and picked from wild hydrangea fields.
  •      Wedding arch/arbor:  The couple made this from wild bamboo and decorated it with wild home-grown flowers. 
  •      Table settings, invitations and all decorative elements:  They made their own for little to no cost. 
  •      Celebrant: $450. 
  •      Marriage licence: $150 
  •      Hairdresser and make-up: $300 
  •      Manicure and pedicure for the bride: $35. 
  •      Eyelash extensions for the bride: $35. 
  •      Facial for the bride: $40. 
  •      Rings:  The bride’s ring was $800, and the groom's ring was $300. 
  •      Unexpected miscellaneous costs:  These came to another $1,000. 


Cindy and Ryan’s top tips: 

“Do it yourself.  If you don’t know how to do something, find out how on YouTube.  We didn’t know how to make a bouquet but learnt online and this ended up being a fun couple’s project. 

“Outsource jobs to willing friends and family and rather than gifts, ask for cash contributions. 

“We recovered about half the wedding cost through cash contributions and didn’t end up with a bunch of silverware we’d never use,” they said. 

Money Lifestyle