How much should you spend on your wedding?

Amy Hamilton-Chadwick
How much should you spend on your wedding?

You can’t put a price on love. However, you can spend a lot of money celebrating it.

Each year, around 20,000 Kiwi couples get married (plus around 500 civil unions), and there’s a massive wedding industry devoted to helping every couple have a uniquely fantastic experience.

It’s easy to be swept along in the romance of it all and lose sight of the costs – after all, you don’t want an over-the-top wedding to derail your finances completely.

The smallest amount you can spend getting married? Wed at a registry office for just $240.

Simone Groves

Simone Groves

You’ll need to be prepared to have just one line for the wedding vows and it’s not the most romantic line you’ve ever heard: “I vow that I do not know of any legal objections to this marriage between myself, and [partner].”

At the other end of the spectrum, some Kiwi weddings have budgets exceeding $100,000, says Simone Groves, editor of Bride and Groom magazine.

“The average Kiwi couple spends $35,000 on their wedding day,” says Groves.

“The main cost is the reception, which is usually about 50% of the budget. The food is about $100 per guest, plus drinks. Then there’s $3,000 or $4,000 on a photographer, which is another 15% of your budget.

“It’s important though because once the day is over you’ll only have the photos and the memories.”

If you would prefer to spend less, recently pop-up weddings have been proving popular. Groves says packages start at around $2,500, with a limited number of guests, “and you might just have two hours”.

Some international destinations have wedding packages starting around $6,000 that cover the essentials for, say, 30 guests.

Guests are one of the biggest costs and cutting their numbers is the simplest way to trim your budget, says Groves, although she adds that you don’t want to worry too much about the tiny details.

“At my own wedding I spent loads of time choosing favours (a little gift for each guest), which was all part of the fun, but half the people left the favours on the tables.

“I thought, ‘Hey, they cost $5 each!’” she laughs.

“The men weren’t interested in taking home candles. Possibly you don’t want to get carried away on favours and decorations.”

Groves doesn’t regret any of the money she spent on her wedding or honeymoon.

“Even though when you added it up, it was a small house deposit; we had an amazing time.

“I’ve never spoken to anybody who regrets what they spent on their wedding, which is nice. You can always make more money, but the memories are priceless.”

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