6 Couples Confess How Exxy Their Wedding Was – And If It Was Worth It
It’s a sad truth that the happiest day of your life is probably going to be the most expensive. After all, it’s not just a day for you and your partner to express a loving commitment, but for your family and friends to take part in too.
So with the expectation to buy everyone you know an expensive dinner, how much does a typical Australian wedding end up costing? Hold on to your hats, folks, because the figure is $36,200. A big expense for one day of celebrations. But then again, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
This all begs the question: are people happy with this tradition of excess and expense? Who is abiding by the status quo, and who is breaking all the rules? Does anyone ever truly regret how much money they spent on their wedding?
A big affair
Traditional weddings are still overwhelmingly popular, and give young couples a chance to provide a day that their family and friends can enjoy.
As such, when family, culture and religion are involved, tradition can go further than just social expectation. Julia’s wedding came to a total of $100,000, but both sets of parents covered most of the cost. “When I look at how much we ended up spending, I can’t believe the figure is that big,” she says. “But it also wasn’t completely our choice. We started off with a guest list of 200 and ended up with a guest list of 400 due to the family from my husband’s side that his father wanted to invite. That pretty much doubled the cost right off the bat.”
While it was “the day of her dreams” and she feels so thankful for all the help she got, Julia admits that a lot of guilt arises when she thinks about the cost. “I would have felt better if we had paid for it all ourselves. I constantly felt guilty about everything we got.”
However, when you’re paying for things yourself, watching where the money goes has a whole new meaning. Sarah and her partner also had a traditional wedding with lots of family and friends, but paid the $45,000 cost out of their own pockets. When we asked if she thought this cost was worth it, she answered, “No way.”
“Our wedding was beautiful, but also excessive,” she says. “We sold an apartment to afford to get married and go on a honeymoon. This was to have the wedding I thought everyone wanted to go to.” But in the end, the lack of enthusiasm from these friends did not reflect the work that she put in, “We spent $160 per head on people, and some of them I haven’t even spoken to then or since. Three didn’t even show up!”
In a case of having their wedding cake and eating it too, Sophie and her partner initially tried to dodge the cost of a big wedding by eloping. When they returned and realised that they family weren’t too happy, they had to change their plans. “We had a $30,000 fake wedding!” she says.
Though they tried to cut corners at their “fake wedding” by hand making decorations, it still ended up costing quite a bit. However, at the end of the day, it was totally worth it. “The next morning, my partner said he could die happy, that it was the best thing we’ll ever spend $30,000 on. Which is pretty great.”
A modest gathering
While traditional weddings are still popular, there’s also young people who opt for modest weddings to keep their money saved for the future. Tim and his partner only spent $7,000 on their wedding, a very low-key affair out of state. “We had only eight guests, but went to a gorgeous chalet with amazing food and scenery, private drinks, cake and chats well into the evening,” he says. “We spent money on exactly what we wanted to. We didn’t cheap out on clothes, venue, food or photographer, but by having fewer guests, staying at the venue, and making it very low key, we saved a huge amount.”
He said that while some people were annoyed they weren’t invited, most understood, and he’s had quite a few people tell him that they wished they had followed the same path with their wedding day.
Similarly, Duncan had a wedding in a rural pub with 70 people and only set him and his partner back by $12,000. He says that choosing a location that wasn’t a “traditional wedding venue” meant “they weren’t set up to charge you a s**tload.”
He told us, “We asked the landlord of the Inn we were using if he had any venue fees and he said they didn’t. When we asked about cakeage, he had to ask what it was. After we explained the idea to him, he responded, “I would be so ashamed if I charged you cakeage!””
And, of course, some things just end up how you least expect them to. Kara initially had a wedding budget of $30,000 and the idea of a traditional wedding with lots of guests. But after a lot of stress and planning, and realising that even $30k wasn’t enough to meet the bare minimum, she reached a dead end. “In the end, I threw a massive hissy fit and called the whole thing off,” she says. “We ended up getting married at a park overlooking the ocean, with a million dollar view and only 20 of our nearest and dearest. We were able to spoil our guests with a dinner at an incredible restaurant afterwards.” The whole affair cost $6,000 and the money they saved allowed them to put a deposit on a house.
24 hours and it’s gone
The people we spoke to overwhelmingly had the same takeaway from their wedding day. All the glamour, or lack thereof, was white noise compared to the truly important bit: saying I do.
“What was important was looking into the eyes of my fiancé and telling him I chose him forever. It doesn’t need bells and whistles,” says Sarah. “It doesn’t need to be ensuring everyone has a wonderful time, or that everyone gets drunk.” Kara agrees, “Do what you want. I think it’s ridiculous to feel pressure on what is essentially a very personal and private ceremony of your chosen love.”
The other tip is not to stress yourself out. Julia advises that “you need to remember that planning is part of the journey.” “You need to enjoy it,” she says. “It will be over before you know it!”
You have 24 hours for the most expensive day of your life. Spend it wisely.
*Names have been changed.