How Much Does a Wedding Cost?

by Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant   © (18/09/2016)
Categories: |  Wedding Budget | Wedding Planning |
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Notepad with dollar signHow much do you need to budget for your wedding? If you're talking about the cost of the whole wedding, the figures that are bandied around in the press and bridal magazines differ wildly. They are always high ball figures and at the moment the claim is around $65,000. 

But before you go into OMG mode, there's a nasty little inaccuracy hidden in these numbers - this isn't the average of all 120,000+ weddings in Australia, it is the average of the weddings of brides that have been surveyed by bridal magazines and wedding planners. So this figure is the average of the wedding spend of readers of glossy bridal magazines, or more accurately, the average cost of the weddings that feature in "real life wedding"" features in the bridal press. Vested interest comes into play, because the bridal press has have a vested interest in convincing everyone that the "average" spend is a high one because that normalises spending a lot of money on your wedding - and increases the range of products and services that pay to advertise in the bridal press.

ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) crunched the number in 2014 and came up with $35,000 as an average wedding spend. But this is still waaay high for many, many couples as it doesn't reflect the DIY back yard wedding where no-one is hiring a venue or spending money on the thousand and one wedding products that contribute zilch to actually getting you married. Nor does it take into account the simple fact that the wedding press studiously avoids mentioning - you can get married without having a wedding!

How much a celebrant costs is another story. The wedding press doesn't pay much attention to that. Hey, as long as you spend on all the things that show, it doesn't much matter to bridal magazines what the content of your ceremony is nor, for that matter, how skilled your celebrant.

There are no industry standard fees. So each celebrant sets his/her own fee independently (ACCC comes down hard on collusion and price-fixing), so celebrants are coy about discussing their fees with other celebrants, and a good proportion of celebrants don't publish their fee structure.

Some celebrants actually do the math on how much it costs for them to provide the service and set their fee accordingly (I'm one of those). Others just focus on pricing, look at what celebrants in the area charge, and then undercut. And still others price their services on how much they think you will be willing to pay. There also appears to be gender differential between what male and female celebrants charge and it is not uncommon for celebrants to ascertain what your wedding budget is, either by asking directly or by making an assessment based on your venue and other factors, and base their quote on how cashed-up they think you are.

What a celebrant charges doesn't necessarily reflect how much work they do for you, how personal the ceremony actually is, or their skill and knowledge (and trust me, awkward situations with identity and divorce documentation are much more common than you would think, you need a celebrant who know what's what legally).  I've come across really talented and knowledgeable new celebrants who bring a wealth of transferable skills to celebrancy but quote a very low figure because they think their lack of experience doesn't warrant even a break-even fee. I've come across others who start with a very high fee because that is intended to disguise the fact that they have no experience at all. And then there are some who basically sell on their personality, focus on their delivery of the ceremony, but devote little time to the behind-the-scenes tasks of creating and preparing your ceremony.

So comparing on price alone is no comparison at all! Don't just rely on the claims made on celebrant websites (they reflect the opinion of the celebrant about themselves!). Ask lots of questions. Probing questions. Read reviews and testimonials (and down the track don't forget how much you relied on them and pay it forward by writing a testimonial or review for the celebrant you eventually choose). A thank-you also goes a long way!

And also bear in mind that the service you receive from your celebrant consists not only of
  • how much time your celebrant spends with you, both on the day and before hand, both face-to-face and via phone, email, and messaging
  • how much time your celebrant spends on preparing your ceremony and all the adminstrative and legal tasks that go with it
but also on what your celebrant brings to the table...
When you book my celebrant services you are buying a whole lot more than a couple of hours of my time. What goes into those visible hours includes:
  • The thousands of hours I’ve studied
  • The hundreds and hundreds of books I’ve read (and my extensive celebrancy library built up over many years)
  • The countless hours I’ve put into research, analysis, and development of the unique way I deliver ceremonies in order to ensure that you feel valued and your guests are entertained 
  • The years of experience I’ve had in practical application of my knowledge and skills
  • The tens of thousands of dollars I’ve invested in celebrancy qualifications, ongoing training, general education, and business infrastructure
  • The many hours I’ll be putting into meeting with you, communicating with you, developing and conducting a ceremony that you and your guests will love, and actually performing your ceremony, as well as
  • (for both weddings and civil partnerships) the legal service that changes your status.
For a (comedic but oh so real) look at wedding pricing spend the next 6 minutes watching

Thanks for reading!

Jenny xxx Let's talk
                    soon about how you can have the best ceremony ever
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