Planning a wedding in Australia: Cost, Checklists and Step by Step Guides

Planning a wedding in Australia? You’ve come to the right place. She Said Yes has helped over one hundred thousand Australian brides and grooms with wedding planning to create a special day in a uniquely personal, no-pressure and stress-free way.

I’ll help you navigate every part of the planning process from the engagement party right through to the post-wedding tasks. I won’t pressure you to overspend on your wedding budget, I won’t spam you with advertising, and if you subscribe to my regular planning emails, I’ll send you only the most useful advice.

Before you Start Planning Your Australian Wedding

Before you begin planning your wedding, I suggest you take a look at the first steps to start wedding planning checklist or watch this video introduction, so that we can get to know each other better and get off to the best start.

As the article summarises, I suggest your first wedding planning steps are to:

Build Your Wedding Planning Toolkit

So you’ve got a list of Pinterest Boards as long as your arm, and probably quite a bundle of wedding magazines too, but to actually order all of your ideas into a cohesive, well-organised and easy to follow plan for your special day, you’re probably going to need a few wedding planning tools.

Most brides-to-be choose to create or buy a wedding binder or wedding planner book. During my engagement, I couldn’t find one that was perfect for everything I wanted, so I created the ‘little white book’ wedding planner. It’s since been featured on CNN and voted the best wedding planner book in Australia, so I’m fairly confident you’ll love it too, but of course if you’d prefer to DIY, you can create a wedding planner book or binder from scratch too. If you strictly electronic, head to the wedding planning pack.

For those who prefer everything electronic, there’s the little white planning pack – an electronic resource comprising worksheets and questionnaires to guide you through everything you need to think about and ask, as well as checklists, worksheets, and the budget and guest list templates.

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Work Out your Budget, Guest List and Wedding Date

Discuss with your fiance what ideas they have about the big day so that together you can estimate your wedding budget. You may wish to talk to each of your parents about whether they wish to contribute to your wedding budget.

Once you’ve worked out the basics with your fiance in terms of what’s really most important to you both for your special day and how much to allocate towards your wedding budget, you may have to sit down for some tricky conversations and decisions around your guest list. You could also choose your bridal party now – they may even help with some of your wedding planning tasks.

You may find it helpful to consider a few articles on what a wedding in Aus costs – be aware that the “average” cost of a wedding can be misleading, and instead have a look at sample wedding budgets. I’ve also got a couple of videos on these two tricky topics. Start with this one on your wedding budget or go to my YouTube channel to view all videos.

Next, work out when you want to get married – do you want a winter wedding, or will you be competing with many other couples for some of the most popular days? If so, and especially if there’s a particular date you must have, you will probably need to book a venue very soon (some venues book up to 2 years in advance). 75% of brides still cite Saturday as their first choice, so even  if you are flexible with dates, begin finding a wedding venue as soon as you can.

Choose the best Australian Wedding Vendors and Venues

I truly believe that those wedding planning in Australia are amongst the luckiest in the world, with such incredible, and quite affordable, access to every picturesque type of venue imaginable, from beach, to lakeside, to mountain-top, and everywhere in between. I suggest you get onto booking your wedding venue at least 12 months out.

Begin by drafting a list of what your ideal wedding venue will have in terms of appearance, services, on-site caterers, wedding-planner inclusion, or a good, all-inclusive package deal. Once you have a good idea of how many guests you plan to invite, this will help you to determine costs of going forward with a particular venue. It’s very important that you visit a few venues to get a feel for each, and you can compare packages, costs, and how much work would be involved for you to turn the space into your dream wedding venue.

See How to Actually Find Wedding Venues. Exclusively for my subscribers, I also provide a venue selection guide, so make sure to subscribe.

Book your Wedding Photographer

The next most important wedding vendors to secure are your wedding photographer and videographer. Many of the best Australian photographers and videographers are in high demand will book out at the same time as wedding venues are booked, so make this a priority booking. To find a wedding photographer you may wish to browse instagram – look up hashtags relevant to your area i.e. Australian wedding photographer, Melbourne wedding photographer etc.

Make a shortlist of a few wedding photographers whose style you like and who are available on your wedding day and arrange to meet with them. You will be spending much of your special day with them, so it’s really important that you feel comfortable – personalities will make a huge difference.

Wedding videography is also gaining popularity, especially for couples who can’t have all their loved ones attend the wedding as videography is a great way to share the feeling of the day.

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Once you’ve Booked your Wedding Venue and Wedding Photographer

Booking your wedding venue and photographer will be a great feeling, they’re probably the hardest decisions to make. The good news now, is that you can probably take it easy for a while, especially if your wedding reception venue is a full service one. If it’s a DIY/Dry hire venue, you may soon wish to get onto wedding hireage and styling, but otherwise, the remainder of your wedding planning tasks can be picked up with around 9-11 months to go.

One of the best ways to start searching for your wedding vendors in Australia is to look at a couple of the leading Australian Wedding Vendor directories:

Keep your wedding budget in mind as you continue, you may like to read How to Allocate Your Wedding Budget.

Your next steps are outlined in the 12 month wedding planning checklist which you may want to bookmark for later. If your wedding venue has an events manager or you have hired a wedding planner, some of these will be taken care of, but otherwise, it’ll soon be time to organise the rest of your wedding vendors. At any point you can start talking to other wedding vendors and professionals such as wedding florist, stationery designer etc, but you don’t need to be in a rush to book all immediately. See the wedding planning pack for questions to ask.

Wedding Planning Legalities in Australia

A wedding in Australia can be officiated by a Religious celebrant, a civil celebrant, staff in some local courts, or a marriage officer working in the BDM (Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages). Unlike the New Zealand legal marriage process, there is no such thing as a marriage license in Australia, so that means that you do not need to apply for or receive or lodge a marriage license in Australia prior to the wedding. Celebrants must lodge the paperwork within 14 days. Your marriage celebrant will give you a Commonwealth Marriage Ceremony certificate on your wedding day, after which you will need to apply for a standard marriage certificate.

Now, you can have a look at some of the following articles to keep you on track, and don’t forget to keep planning in your little white book.

These are just a selection of what you’ll find in the wedding planning index, so make sure to head to that too, and if you want to stay updated with regular, useful planning advice, make sure to subscribe.

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