Runaway, bride: The cost of a wedding is pushing me to elopement

Approx Reading Time-11Being recently engaged, me being a bride is the next thing to look forward to. That day will come when I somehow find $65,000. Right. Onto Plan B.



Congratulate me, I’m engaged! Aw, shucks, everybody! So when’s the big day? Thanks for asking; either sometime in the next ten years, or when I have $65,000 saved up, whichever comes first.

Sorry, I don’t think the people in the back heard me, I said SIXTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS! Which, according to Bride to Be magazine’s “Cost of Love” survey, is the average budget for an Australian wedding, or what I like to call a “livable wage”.

If you’re like me and this is the first time you’ve thought about wedding budgets, right now you’re low-key hyperventilating, muttering to yourself “but I could buy a house with that!” I mean, not in Sydney, but yes, you could buy a house with that; the small distinction being, you could live in that house for the rest of your life, while a wedding is just one day out of said life spent in theoretical abject poverty.

Yes, it’s the day, but I also know most brides report being too busy and emotional to actually remember the occasion, and most marital tensions are caused by money. But still.

So if we’re thinking about kicking that hornet’s nest and coughing up 65 large, what kind of bang can we expect for our buck? Well, there’s the big things, like the venue, which attracts an extra-special price tag just for your big day. To put it in perspective, bars are asking a cool $25,000 to host engagement parties, now imagine the exponential leap to a reception venue. Then, of course, you have to feed people. A friend discovered caterers at the “conservative” end can cost $110 a head. Well, that doesn’t equal $65K, but don’t forget the little things, like Bomboniere.

“Bomb-what?!” you say, just like my fiancé. Bomboniere, otherwise known as wedding favours, are the presents you give your guests to thank them for coming, and they can be anything from Jordan almonds to jewellery. Didn’t know that was a thing, did you? Well, it is. It’s like your year one sports carnival all over again – everyone gets a ribbon. Lols. Kill me now.

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Of course, we can’t forget the pièce de résistance – the dress. According to Sydney Wedding magazine, 10% of your budget should be spent on the bride’s outfit. From a $65,000 budget, that’s $6,500. When I shared this information with my fiancé, he promptly choked on his water and yelled, “But you’re only going to wear it once! That’s like buying $6,000 toilet paper!

He’s not wrong. Still, in one’s old age, one wants to look back at their wedding photos and say “God, I was hot!”

Heck, in a dress worth thousands of dollars, I’m assuming an Aphrodite level of phwoar.

Are you overwhelmed yet? Because I’m overwhelmed. So overwhelmed, in fact, I’m considering giving the whole thing the boot – and between you and me, I think you should, too. We have better things to spend our money on, right? And better things to do with our time than miss out on cake because we’re making the rounds at a reception hall, thanking second cousin what’s-her-name-who-we-only-see-at-funerals for coming.

So what’s the alternative?

The classic (and undeniably sexy) solution to this conundrum is an elopement. There’s something magical in the wild abandon of running off to get married in secret that breeds exciting stories for the grandkids. For one shining moment, you’re that spontaneous couple, sneaking off to whatever location rings your bells and best of all, it’s just you two. It’s marriage, distilled. People in love, making a dedication to each other, no theatrics.

Aristotle would approve.

According to Sydney Wedding magazine, 10% of your budget should be spent on the bride’s outfit. From a $65,000 budget, that’s $6,500. When I shared this information with my fiancé, he promptly choked on his water and yelled, “But you’re only going to wear it once! That’s like buying $6,000 toilet paper!”. He’s not wrong.

The bonus wonderful thing about elopements is that you can pick your budget. If you want to Airbnb a castle in Scotland, go for it. Or, you can be like my personal hero: a young woman a friend met in a department store in Florence. She and her man found a celebrant and hired witnesses to sign their marriage certificate. She was in the department store buying her dress from women’s wear and getting her hair and makeup done at the beauty counter. The whole thing would have cost a few hundred Euros.

However, if the crushed look on your mother’s face when you tell her you eloped is too much to bear, the other option is a micro wedding.

As the name would suggest, it’s a wedding – only smaller. Maybe your guest list is no bigger than your besties, maybe it’s just your parents. You can still have the suit, the dress, the flowers, the cake – all those good things! Just without the seating, feeding and gifting and all its associated costs.

I have no doubt that all our big days are going to be beautiful, but wouldn’t it be nice to get there stress-free and with some cash left over for the honeymoon? And then we get to say it:

“Congratulate me, I’m married!”


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