How to get married in 2020: Popping the question around cost


On the 27th of June, my boyfriend got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. And like any young woman who grew up watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’, my mind was already racing with wedding ideas. 

But in between the overwhelming messages from friends and family was news reports about the COVID-19 pandemic spreading, with cases hitting record numbers. 

Although I have no plans of getting married this year, I knew I had to move fast to secure a venue, as COVID-19 restrictions were forcing couples to push their weddings until next year. And even though I didn’t like the idea of rushing, I can understand why a couple would choose to delay what’s come to be known as ‘the happiest day of your life’ - coming from a big family myself.

According to wedding planning website Easy Weddings, around 60% of couples have already cancelled or postponed their 2020 wedding due to COVID-19.

Other couples, however, are choosing to embrace this unusual time and are committed to walking down the aisle. While motivations for doing this can vary between couples, one reason could be the unexpected financial benefit. 

This report will take a deep dive into what the wedding industry looks like in 2020 and why couples are using COVID-19 as their opportunity to host a refined version of their dream day.

What the average wedding looked like in 2019

For many engaged couples, booking your venue is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning … but it can also be the most painful. 

The average cost of a wedding venue in 2019 was $15,264, while the average cost per head was $157, according to the Easy Weddings Australian Wedding Industry Report.


The wedding industry is big business, but with COVID-19 regulations redefining socialising, average wedding costs have surely decreased. 

At the time of writing, the rules put forth by the New South Wales government around wedding venues include: 

  • a venue must be registered as a COVID-Safe business
  • the maximum number of guests must not exceed 150, subject to the four square metre rule, which permits only one person per four square metres
  • up to 20 people in the wedding party are permitted on the dance floor
  • there cannot be rotation of people on the dance floor beyond the official wedding party
  • guests must provide their contact details so they can be used for contact tracing.

It’s pretty grim stuff, but the range of opportunities to save by downsizing speaks for itself. 

“The main area where couples can save money is on catering and alcohol if they opt to downsize. The venue typically makes up the largest portion of the spend, but this can be reduced when guest numbers are lower and when off-peak dates are chosen,” said Amy de Groot, head of marketing & PR for Easy Weddings. 

Aside from downsizing, Easy Weddings also recommends that couples still going ahead with their wedding consider package options. 

“We’ve also seen a tremendous uptick in demand for our all-inclusive wedding packages, whereby couples can book all of their major suppliers for one flat rate, saving up to $5,000,” says de Groot.


Eloping not an option for many couples

When I was younger, I thought eloping was something couples did impulsively or when neither families approved of the relationship. But now I’ve come to see this ‘radical’ choice none other than a declaration of love. 

So with COVID-19 prompting Aussies to get more creative with their wedding day, you’d be mistaken for thinking that eloping is a trend for savvy couples. 

“Surprisingly, the data we’ve gathered has shown that there has been a relatively minimal increase in couples searching for elopement ideas and tips. Our interpretation is that couples are more interested in having their day as originally planned, just postponed to a later date,” said de Groot. 

“Only a small amount of people are opting to downsize to an elopement style wedding.” 

de Groot also mentioned that a recent Easy Wedding survey found that only 14% of couples had made significant changes to their wedding budget because of COVID-19.

The silver lining for low key couples

Between custom made gowns to renting flashy cars, some couples spare no expense for their big day. And because of social media platforms, like Instagram, spending a fortune has almost come to be expected. 

A UK survey last year revealed that almost half (42%) of couples are feeling the pressure to make sure their wedding is ‘Insta worthy’. 

At the end of the day, how a couple chooses to celebrate their marriage should be up to them, but with social media it’s not uncommon for couples to feel the pressure to live up to crowd expectations. This worryingly has potential to send some into debt

During a recent episode of The Finance Burrito podcast, Tom Watson and Olivia Gee explored why millennials are spending beyond their means to appear wealthier on social media, from travel to weddings. 

“The desire to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ is more prevalent now because we can access so much information,” psychologist, Christine Bagley-jones told The Finance Burrito. “People as we all know love to post all the good things in their life, so it’s a very skewed view of what they have and are experiencing.”

So with COVID-19 shrinking weddings left, right and centre, it could be the perfect chance to save on not only guests, but the flashy stuff too.

How couples can still have their big day in 2020

For many couples, giving your guests a night they’ll remember hits the top of the priority list. But with dancing out of the question and social interactions kept at a minimum, that job has become a whole lot trickier. 

However, de Groot believes this hurdle could actually be the secret to a one of a kind celebration. 

“This is a great opportunity to reinvent the wheel of a traditional wedding. You have the chance to come up with fun ideas and new ways to entertain your guests, which will most certainly make it a personalised day and something they will remember for years to come,” says de Groot. 

One way to keep your guests entertained is to book circus performers or a professional dancer, so guests can remain engaged throughout the night without having to leave their seat. Another trendy option is to hire a live event painter, these are artists who paint a live scene from your wedding (FYI, I’m looking into doing this because the results look phenomenal).


Have fun, but exercise caution

Even though I won’t be walking down the aisle for a while, there’s no telling when COVID-19 will become a thing of the past. So between now and my wedding day, I’ll be making it my business to become an expert in understanding contracts. 

And for the couples bracing the pandemic and getting married this, de Groot suggests you do the same: 

“Our best advice to couples going ahead with their wedding in 2020 would be proceed as planned, however with caution. Make sure to ask all of your vendors and your venue what their ‘Covid’ terms and conditions are in the event you need to cancel, postpone or downsizing your event.” 

Whether you’re currently planning your big day or have just said yes, you’re going to need a top notch savings account for your wedding fund. You can compare more than 200 savings accounts from over 60 banks by using our savings account comparison tool.

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