How to calculate the cost of a wedding

I’ve photographed weddings that have cost less than $1,500 and weddings that have cost north of $150,000. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a ‘cheap’ or ‘expensive’ wedding, All that really matters is whether you get value for money and for different people this will mean very different things.

One of the first things you should do as a couple is to agree to a budget. This will save you from further headaches down the track. And to give you a better idea of where your money disappears, we’ve put together a definitive list of wedding expenditure items.

The cost of a wedding can usually be attributed to the following ten broad service categories:

  1. Venue, catering and rentals
  2. Planner and officiant
  3. Flowers and decorations
  4. Beauty
  5. Attire and accessories
  6. Photography and video
  7. Jewellery
  8. Invitations and stationery
  9. Entertainment
  10. Gifts and favours

Recommended: Check out this FREE online wedding budget calculator

For many of you reading this, your priorities will differ from each other and as such, so too the amount that you are willing to spend for each category. Just as I get told that our wedding photography is too expensive by some couples, a similar ratio of couples believe that their wedding day memories are worth the investment.

And that’s okay.

With a reported average cost of a wedding in Australia to be $65,000 (with a more conservative estimate to be around $40,000), there’s plenty of space to be on either side of the average.

Some of you will want to put your money towards your first property (PPOR or investment). Some of you will want to spend it on a month-long European honeymoon. Some of you will be in a position to have a lavish wedding, buy property, and go on annual international holidays.

I’m not going to tell you how you should spend your money although I’d like to take the opportunity to shamelessly plug the value of investing in a professional wedding photographer.

The reason why I wrote this blog post was to help you put together your wedding budget. And in order to estimate the cost of a wedding, you will first need to know all the expenditure items you may (or may not) indulge in. So here is how the total cost of a wedding is broken down:

1. Venue, catering and rentals: the bulk of your wedding cost will probably come from this category. This includes:

  • Ceremony venue hire
  • Reception venue space hire
  • Transportation
  • Food and beverage (in-house or via external caterer)
  • Wedding cake
  • Dessert bar/tables
  • Additional bar staff (if applicable)
  • Mobile bar
  • Accommodation

2. Planner, stylist, officiant:

  • Wedding planner (or day-of coordinator)
  • Wedding stylist
  • Marriage officiant (civil marriage celebrant or an authorised member of the clergy)
  • Reception master of ceremonies

3. Flowers and decorations:

  • Bouquets including delivery fee
  • Corsages and boutonnieres
  • Wedding venue decorations
  • Reception venue flowers and arrangements
  • Reception venue table centrepieces

4. Beauty:

  • On-the-day hair styling
  • On-the-day makeup service

5. Attire and accessories:

  • Wedding dress and accessories, including alterations
  • Bridesmaid dresses
  • Suit
  • Suit rental for groomsmen

6. Photography and video:

  • Wedding photographer
  • Wedding videographer
  • Photo booth
  • Location permit fee (if applicable)

7. Jewellery:

  • Earrings
  • Necklace
  • Wedding rings

8. Invitations and stationery:

  • Ceremony programme
  • Save-the-date cards
  • Invitations and RSVP cards
  • Reception menus
  • Table signs

9. Entertainment:

  • DJ
  • Live band
  • Musician(s)
  • Garden games

10. Gift and favours

  • Gifts for each other
  • Gifts for bridesmaids
  • Gifts for groomsmen
  • Gifts for parents
  • Gifts for guests

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