Kirstyn and Nathan Bartholomeusz were still on a high after tying the knot at a picturesque winery when they received an expensive shock.
As they left the venue, the newlyweds were told an extra $4000 was due before day’s end, bringing their total wedding pricetag to $38,000 – about $8000 over budget.
Ms Bartholomeusz said the venue on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula took the lion’s share of their 2015 spring wedding spend, including extra costs like catering for guests’ special dietary requirements.
“That was us as 22- and 23-year-olds – for us that was our priority at the time, we weren’t even thinking about buying houses,” Ms Bartholomeusz told TND.
Now aged 29 and 30, the couple hopes to buy a house in Melbourne soon.
They loved their wedding day, but in hindsight feel they could have achieved a similar experience – and had a house deposit sooner – by marrying in a garden and having close family celebrate at a restaurant.
“In no way do we regret it, it was a beautiful wedding and everything was absolutely perfect, but I think if we were to do it over at the age that we are now, we would probably do things very differently,” Ms Bartholomeusz said.
“We were hoping within the next few years [after the wedding] to probably start a deposit, but that wasn’t something that became viable with how much we spent.”
Ms Bartholomeusz estimates they could have saved up to $25,000 had they opted for a smaller celebration.
If the couple had invested that money in Australian shares, including their wedding savings and interest, they could have been over $30,000 richer, assuming an average annual return of 6.5 per cent over the past five years.
The couple is not alone; most wedding celebrations are running 25 per cent to 50 per cent over budget, according to Matt Butterworth, chief executive of wedding vendor directory company Easy Weddings.
Mr Butterworth said couples generally spend more on most aspects of their wedding than originally planned – common blowouts include last-minute guests and extra photography.
Couples use an average of 14 industry professionals for their weddings. Mr Butterworth’s tip here is to educate yourself early about the costs of each of these services, so there’s no surprises.
Ms Bartholomeusz said her best advice for engaged couples was to keep guest numbers down and question anyone on the list who your partner has never met.
A weekday celebration is another way to trim your bill; an approach that’s becoming popular as venues book out years in advance in a bid to clear through a COVID-induced wedding backlog.
The federal government’s website Moneysmart puts the average of an Australian wedding at $36,000.
Six out of 10 couples get a loan to cover the cost of their wedding, while almost 20 per cent use credit cards and more than 80 per cent dip into savings, according to a Moneysmart survey.
Mr Butterworth said it’s wise for couples to decide at the outset what their priorities are and consider DIY-ing other elements of the day, like the wedding favours, invitations or the cake.