The average cost of a Wedding is NOT $35,000.

In New Zealand and Australia, there is no data or official survey on what couples are spending on their weddings, and yet the number often referred to is still around $30-35,000. So where does this information come from?

Is there any authority for the “Average Cost”?

In the past, I too may have referred this figure in reliance on authorities including New Zealand Weddings mag (cited by Westpac), but when you dig a little deeper you realise this is not actually the truth. As I’ve written before, even if a NZ wedding magazine are basing this on the figures of the brides submitting their weddings, this ‘average’ figure is still very misleading. To summarise that article I quote an American article questioning the accuracy of the Nation’s “average wedding cost”:

Brides magazine’s “American Wedding Study” draws solely from that glossy Condé Nast publication’s subscribers and website visitors. So before they do a single calculation, the big wedding studies have excluded the poorest and the most low-key couples from their samples. This isn’t intentional, but it skews the results nonetheless.”

What is true is that the weddings which are planned by professional wedding planners are on average around $30,000 and upwards. As planner Emma Newman says “any event with more than 100 people and you don’t get much change out of $30,000.”

However, the average wedding isn’t planned by a wedding planner, in fact only 5-10% of NZ couples hire a wedding planner to organise their big day, and those 5-10% are the couples more likely to be spending more than average. In other news, this year, The Knot revealed the “Average” Cost of a Wedding in the US has actually decreased to $28,000.

A survey sent to 15,000 brides this week revealed a different story.

In the last few days, between She Said Yes subscribers and Something Blue customers, I sent out a survey to 15,000 brides, and while the figures are still coming in, the “averages” are way off what has long been cited as the ‘norm’. N.B. The questions weren’t asked for this purpose, but as a way to better suit our content and boxes to our audience, but they are useful nonetheless (IMHO).

Like the American Wedding Study, this survey isn’t perfect, but I suggest is at least a lot more applicable to a New Zealand audience. In terms of skewing the audience towards rich or poor, all Something Blue customers have spent between $27-97 on a one-off or recurring bridal box, so aren’t likely to be the nation’s poorest brides, but She Said Yes subscribers have just downloaded some free wedding planning tools, and many haven’t spent anything, so should include a good cross-section of society.

  • The average number of guests invited: 89
  • The average wedding budget: $22, 524
  • The percentage of couples who’ve hired a professional wedding planner: 4.3%

Why this information is important

Why do we care what the “average” cost of a wedding is?

Whether we mean to or not, when we hear what the “average” wedding costs, we use it as a benchmark for our own. It becomes an unwritten (or perhaps, written) point of reference against which to judge our own wedding budget. It’s easy to convince yourselves you’re saving money on your wedding, if you’re only spending $29,000 and the “average” tally is 20% more than that.

While this might benefit the wedding industry to convince you to spend more money, and justify it with citing the “average” cost, it’s not very helpful for you.

Once you realise that the typical cost of a wedding is actually much lower, hopefully you’ll feel less pressure to spend quite so much, or not be so quick embrace all the expenses that are open to you. If you need further help with your wedding budget, do head to our guide, or answer these few questions and I’ll send you wedding advice personalised to exactly where you are in the planning process, and also based on how much you want to spend.

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