Before you begin, let me just say, welcome, and I have been where you are now – wondering how much it’s really going to cost to create your dream day, taking sensible steps to save where possible, but not having to scrimp too much on the things which are really important to you for your wedding. To be honest, I do feel like I went overboard with our wedding expenses. I didn’t have a great wedding budget spreadsheet and I had never actually seen another person’s wedding budget breakdown.
So, I thought it would be really useful for those of you organising your wedding budget to have a look at mine. I hope this will help you to see how different an actual wedding budget often looks from what is considered an ‘average’ wedding budget. It may also be helpful to know that while the “average” cost of a real wedding in New Zealand and Australia is commonly cited as $35,000, this figure can be misleading. How each couple will spend their total budget is also a very personal choice – for example you’ll see from ours where we prioritised. You can also see more actual wedding budgets here (scroll to the bottom for the budgets).
To help you stay on track and organise your wedding (and keep on track of your budget of course, don’t go away without seeing the little white book wedding planner.
This is my personal wedding budget breakdown, so it will be entirely different to anybody else’s, and will be different to yours too, but it may provide an interesting starting point for your own wedding budget.
An Overview of Our Wedding
On 20 February 2016 we were married in Coromandel, New Zealand at a private home which we hired for the weekend, with a guest list of 75. Renting the property for the weekend was very expensive but it included wedding day accommodation for many of our closest family and friends who had travelled a long way to be with us.
Because the wedding venue was a private home, we had to hire absolutely everything necessary to create our dream day – which really added to the cost (i.e. what you save on BYO beverages, you more than make up for in hiring wine glasses). We chose not to hire a marquee, as we loved the venue in its natural state, and managed to tightly squeeze the 75 guests into the main dining room instead.
I spent a lot on my wedding dress, around $10,000 NZD, but it was worth it in the end, and by adjusting our spending elsewhere, we were able to save money to afford it. We had a single musician, followed by a DJ rather than a live band, had fairly cheap wedding invitations, and put a few things on our credit card for airpoints to use on our honeymoon.
The Wedding Budget Breakdown
You can click to zoom in, have a look around, and see where my wedding budget got totally blown out. This is more than the cost of a wedding for a lot of people, but you can see how easy it is to go over your wedding budget with just a few splurges.
N.B. This mostly covers wedding suppliers. I have excluded the costs of gifts to each other, and our honeymoon, from the totals.
We began our wedding budget with an estimate of $48,000 NZD, and we ended up spending just shy of $53,000 NZD excluding engagement rings, gifts to each other and our honeymoon.
Wedding Budget: Splurge or Save?
As you’ll see, hireage of the wedding venue itself was $10,000 in New Zealand Dollars (around $9,400 Australia, $7,000 USD), which made up a huge portion of our total wedding budget. We didn’t hire a marquee, so we saved a few thousand there, but a lot of money went to the hire of all the other little things we needed to build our venue from scratch.
We set a few priorities in our budget, as I suggest you do, and spent a lot on the dress, the photographers, and having lots of food and drink catering (canapes in the afternoon, a large shared-style feasting dinner, dessert tables, wedding cake and pizzas late in the night). However, there were also areas we chose to forego entirely, and saved a lot on those things, such as a videographer and transport. We were able to do full BYO beverages at our venue, and because I decided to use a special ring I already had as my wedding ring, only had to purchase Blair’s, so there were many areas where we didn’t spend anything.
We don’t regret our Wedding Budget, but you don’t need to spend that much
Some people will say that is a horrendous amount of money to spend on one day, but it was actually five days, including accommodation for our family who travelled around the world to be with us. We have zero regrets, but I also don’t think it’s necessary for you to spend $50,000 on your wedding, I’m just sharing this so that you can see how a lot of very small things can add up to one very large sum.
For some, the wedding of their dreams will also be at a huge cost, mine was 20% of our wedding budget, but there are also so many ways of planning a wedding to meet whatever budget you are working with, and I hope you won’t feel any pressure to spend a certain amount.
The photos of our wedding budget featured are from the little white book wedding planner, or you may wish to use a wedding budget calculator like the one I sell both on its own ($17), or as part of the ultimate wedding planning bundle.