Why people are falling in love with budget weddings

A bride and groom sitting at a table smiling and laughing. There are strings of fairy lights in the background

Nicola Dowse

Posted April 29, 2022

Getting married can be expensive occasion, and for many it's worth it. But more and more couples are choosing low-cost over lavish. 

The average wedding in Australia costs $36,000 – not an insignificant sum for many couples.

With house prices and the cost of living at record highs, many couples planning to say “I do” are opting for a low-budget wedding. 

But tightening the bridal budget doesn’t mean going without. Smaller and cheaper weddings that are less Instagram-worthy but more intimate are rising in popularity.

Many couples are also finding plenty of creative ways to save money and still have the wedding of their dreams. 

Behind the budget wedding boom

Sharon Munro has more than 14 years of experience as an events planner, wedding organiser and celebrant. She says that the trend for budget weddings started gaining traction in 2020. 

“When the pandemic hit, it was an instant shift,” she says. “They [couples] embraced the opportunity to only have a limited number of guests without the huge expense or family pressure to invite everyone.”

The reasons behind the trend are complex. “For some couples, they simply choose to save on the wedding budget and redirect those finances into their first home... for others, it’s more of a necessity.” 

Couples before planning their big day are stripping back to the requirements for a wedding: the couple, two witnesses and a celebrant or authorised religious minister. That’s it. Everything else is bells and whistles.

The one thing you do want to have no matter if you go big or small, according to Munro, is ambience.  

“Creating an exciting wedding vibe is everything.”

Less weddings overall 

It’s not just the cost of weddings that has dropped, so too has the number of couples getting married.  

The most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that in 2020 there were 78,989 marriages registered in Australia. That’s a 30.6% decrease on 2019 figures (when 113,815 marriages were recorded) and the largest drop in marriages ever recorded by the ABS. 

The advent of COVID-19 no doubt played a significant role in that decrease. Victoria, the state hardest hit by lockdowns in 2020, recorded the largest decrease with only 16,627 marriages registered (a 41.9 per cent decrease). 

While there was a slight uptick in marriages in Victoria in 2021 (with 18,742 registrations according to Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria), ABS data shows the overall marriage rate has been declining in Australia, with a 23.7% decrease between 2000 and 2019.   

“The knock-on effect of the pandemic makes small intimate weddings far more acceptable amongst family and friends. In fact, ‘pintimate’ (petit/intimate) weddings are booming – the couple can afford all of the bells and whistles for their amazing day [that] they couldn’t before.” 


A bunch of wedding cakes on a table

You don't need to shell out for an expensive wedding cake if it's not a necessity for you and you partner.

Tips for planning a cheap wedding 

Within the industry, a low-budget wedding is generally classified as costing $15,000 or less.  

That might still seem like a lot of money, but once you account for venue hire, transportation, invitations, catering, photographer, wedding attire for the couple, bridal party and groomsmen, then suddenly that $15,000 doesn’t go very far.  

For many modern couples, having a strict wedding budget doesn’t mean having a day will be any less special. “I was hired to plan and coordinate a wedding earlier in the year with a budget of $5,000,”  

“It was a huge success. The couple, their family and friends had the best experience and didn’t go without.” 

There are a few ways you can help plan for an affordable wedding: 

Shop around for a venue 

According to Munro, venue hire is one of the biggest expenses you’ll incur while planning a wedding, so it pays to be picky. 

“When it comes to choosing a wedding venue, think outside the square,” Munro says. “I encourage everyone to look around and compare venues, keeping flexibility front of mind.” 

Consider an all-inclusive venue 

RACV has wedding venues across Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania with all-inclusive wedding packages. 

If you’ve the budget, you can also add on reception packages on a per person basis (minimum numbers apply). 

Have a weekday (or winter) wedding 

Most weddings occur on the weekend, which means venues are often easier (and sometimes cheaper) to lock in for a weekday ceremony and reception.  

The downside is that your guests may have to take a day off work. 

If you’re not bothered by the cold, a winter wedding is another way to reduce the cost of your nuptials. Winter tends to be the off season for many wedding venues, so having your wedding in the colder months can be cheaper.  

Do it yourself and do without 

Get crafty and try your hand at making your own wedding decorations to save money. “Pinterest is full of fantastic ideas and stunning DIY décor,” says Munro.  

It’s also a good idea to sit down with your betrothed and discuss what is and isn’t a necessity for you both at your wedding. Maybe you don’t care for flowers, or maybe you’d prefer cupcakes to an expensive wedding cake. It’s your wedding, so you don’t have to pay for anything you don’t want. 

That goes for guests too. It can be awkward, but culling the guest list to only your nearest and dearest is one of the easiest ways to save money.  

Go virtual 

You can’t have a wedding ceremony online, but you can use the internet to save money in other ways.  

Save the date cards and wedding invites are two expenses that can be outsourced online, with websites offering free or minimal cost services. Or simply conduct invites email.  

Opt for pre-loved items 

Second hand doesn’t have to mean second-best. A lot of money can be saved by shopping online for pre-owned weddings items, which have generally only been used once previously.  

Also considering hiring your wedding attire instead of buying. Some bridal boutiques offer wedding dress rental, as well as dress hire for bridesmaid gowns. Alterations are often included in the rental price, too.