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As Billy Idol would say: It’s a nice day for a…

11 November 2013

 Georgia & Ross

Based on data on and ABS figures for 2010, the Australian wedding industry is generating at least $2.4 billion annually. The estimated cost for an average wedding is in excess of $20,000.

If you’re having a reception - and it’s not in a pub - then the price per person for a reasonable venue, meal and drinks is about $180 a head. A wedding of 120 people means that for the reception alone, and that’s probably at least 50% off your total cost, you’ll be shelling out $21,600 already.

According to ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) figures for 2010, the actual number of weddings taking place has increased over the years even though the relative marriage rate is declining. There were 121,000 registered marriages in 2010. However, the crude marriage rate fell from 6.9 registered marriages per 1000 estimated resident population in 1990 to 5.4 marriages in 2010. Of those registered marriages 31% were religious, down from 58% in 1990. On the other hand, civil celebrant marriages went up from 42% in 1990 to 69% in 2010.

The numbers of people marrying and what their spending in Australia might appear staggering, but it’s just a drop in the ocean if you look at the wedding markets of countries such as India (photograph below by Paul Prescott) and America. (America has the largest wedding market in the world.) The Indian market, according to figures quoted in a Business of Fashion article, is worth $38 billion. The American market is estimated to be worth $50 billion annually.

So what are some of the trends surrounding what many believe to be the most important day of their lives? (Certainly, it is one of the most costly, although, according to ‘63 interesting facts about’ an average wedding costs the same as an average divorce: $20,00

Westpac Women’s Markets and Ruby member Georgia MacFie (now Stryker) became a wedding statistic this Spring (pictured above). Her particular experience is both typical and atypical of the trends around marriage charted by the ABS.

“I’ve been planning since February, every Saturday all day,” she says, adding, “That’s upward of 300 hours.

“I used to think when I heard what a wedding had cost someone, ‘what idiots spending that much money’. But it happens so quickly. You just have to mention the word wedding and dollar signs go up in people’s eyes. It’s impossible to disguise what it’s for. I mean, you can’t say I’d like a cake for a 100 people with this sort of icing and decoration and try and say it is for a birthday when it is clearly a wedding cake…”

Getting hitched for the very first time

According to ABS figures, men and women are doing it later. Men are 29.6 years and women 27.9.

(At around 26 years old, Georgia is younger than the median age.)

Many Australians, especially those in the younger age groups, live together, and many of those couples expect they will marry – just over 2/5ths – their current partner.

Georgia, who has been with her partner since Eve was a girl, says they decided to get married because it was now achievable financially.

According to Georgia, no one expects their parents to pay for the whole wedding.

She and her partner are paying for the majority on their own: “That has meant saving and planning. We were busy before doing other things – establishing careers, getting a mortgage, travelling. The idea of having children has also become more interesting, but we want to experience being married before we have them.”

Australia’s fertility rate is 1.89 babies per woman. The median age of first-time mothers is 28.9 years.

The de facto relationship stats include same-sex couples of which there are 46,300 at the last ABS count. (Marriage equality could well boost wedding industry takings in this country if those de facto couples feel the same way as their heterosexual counterparts ie they see themselves marrying the partner they are with.)

Spring and Autumn are the most popular seasons for weddings and most people get married on a Saturday. October is the most popular month.

“We chose October,” says Georgia, “because we wanted a Spring wedding in Daylight Savings but not competing with Spring Racing Carnival. Planning a wedding is hard work and it’s taken some of the edge off. The most pleasure I’ve got so far is the excitement of knowing everyone’s coming together to celebrate something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time and that we want to do.”

Remarriages are another profitable area of the market and there is a significant trend toward more intimate weddings. Even in the burgeoning Indian market, says the Business Of Fashion, trend setters are opting for smaller, more intimate gatherings: “Instead of 5000 guest they’re having 15 of their nearest and dearest”.

As for gift registers - Georgia believes they are a thing of the past.

“The trend now is to have a Wishing Well,” says Georgia. “When you’ve already set up home, you don’t need all the sorts of things people used to give on a register. A Wishing Well provides funds for a project: a renovation or mortgage or honeymoon.”

Two free apps for wedding planning for i-Phone, i-Pad and Android can be found at

For more ABS figures, see

On the Indian wedding industry:

weddings indian