The Cost of a Real Wedding: Budget Breakdown & Template

If you’ve just got engaged and you’re thinking about what your wedding will cost, it can really help to read a real wedding budget breakdown. I’ve previously written a complete guide to your wedding budget, so this is purely a breakdown of my real wedding budget. You can also see more typical wedding budget breakdowns in that post.

The “average” cost of a wedding in New Zealand and Australia is around $35,000, but do be aware that calling this the average cost of a wedding can be misleading.

An average is still only the ‘central’ value in a set of data – which I suggest is of little help. Instead, I thought would actually be helpful is to actually tell you exactly what our wedding cost, where I spent the money, where I prioritised (and/or blew) the budget.

This is my very personal blow-by-blow wedding budget breakdown. If you’ve been following She Said Yes a while, you’ll know our wedding well.  If not, you could have a look at our wedding photos, and I’ll briefly summarise.

Perspective: 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.  The hireage was very expensive (see below) but it included 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.  I.e. what you save on wine, 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.

I spent a lot on my dress, around NZD $10,000 -not exactly on purpose (read on), but it was worth it, and by adjusting spending elsewhere I was able to afford it.

The Wedding Budget

Zoom in, have a look around, and see where my wedding budget got totally blown out.

how to start your wedding budget

We began with an estimate of $39,000 (excluding wedding gifts to each other, and our honeymoon which is this month), and we ended up spending just shy of $55,000.

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. Thankfully, we didn’t need to organise a marquee, so we saved a few thousand there, but a lot of money went to the hire of all the other little bits.

We set a few priorities in our budget, as I suggest you do, and spent a lot on the dress, the photographers, and the music – not being able to choose between a DJ or live musician, we had both. 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 actually many areas where we didn’t spend anything.

To compare, my friend Amanda has also shared her real life wedding budget of $17,000 – so take a look at the amounts spent on a wedding at the other end of the budget scale here.

what a wedding costs

We don’t regret it, but you don’t need to spend that

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 would never suggest that you 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, 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.

Hopefully the full wedding budgeting guide will help you, and you may wish to use an excel spreadsheet like the one I sell both on its own ($17), or as part of the little white wedding planning pack ($45) or the bundle with the little white book ($100 total). Photos in this article feature the little white book budget pages.

If you don’t need any further help with your wedding budget, please head to the wedding planning index.