We could have paid off our house. Instead, we spent $200,000 on our wedding

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun4,2024
The institution of marriage is changing, but the wedding business is booming. Why are we still so wedded to the tradition? Watch Insight episode Weddings on SBS on Tuesday 7 May at 8.30pm or on .
Joe Mittiga and Andy Wild come from traditional Italian and Greek families, and theirs was the first gay wedding most of their guests had attended.
The Sydney grooms say between the wedding venue, their 20-person wedding party, car hire and elaborate reception where they partied with over 300 guests, they spent close to $200,000 for their wedding but felt every cent was worth it.
“We could have paid off most of our house or could have done a lot more things, but I’d never get that opportunity to experience the best day of my life with the love of my life,” Joe told Insight.
After being together for seven years, as much as Joe was excited to marry the love of his life, there was one part of the ceremony he felt a bit anxious about — the kiss.
“I haven’t grown up in a world where it was always so accepted and having my uncles, my aunties, my cousins, just family and friends see me kiss Andy for the first time, I was really anxious,” Joe said.
“But our celebrant slapped that out of me pretty quickly. She said for two reasons, ‘One, you’re going to do it, and two, you have to do it long because you need it for the photos.'”
Though fewer couples are getting married, Australians are now paying more for their weddings than ever.
According to data released by the Australian Bridal Industry Academy — a wedding directory website, the average amount Australians spent jumped from $33,488 in 2019 to $35,558 in 2022.

However, post-pandemic, Australians are inviting fewer guests, with the average guest list decreasing from 105 people to 86 people in 2022 compared to 2019 — a drop of 18 per cent.

a couple kissing on their wedding day

Samantha-Jayne and Luciano experienced tension in their relationship as they planned their dream wedding. Source: SBS

Our wedding plans caused friction in our relationship

It’s not just the wedding day that can go awry, pressure points often arise during the planning stage.
For a moment, Samantha-Jayne and Luciano Sergiacomi weren’t sure they’d make it down the aisle.
The tension between the two got so bad they needed to spend some time apart as the wedding got closer.

“I ended up moving out into a motel for a little while because the wedding was something that I always wanted, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop that,” Samantha-Jayne told Insight.

Luciano was named ‘The Wedding Grinch’ by friends and family leading up to the wedding.
“I’m more of a conservative when it comes to money and all that. I had no idea of the grand scale of the wedding and thought ‘this girl is out of control’,” Luciano told Insight.
“But when it came to the wedding day, seeing it all — that’s when I realised Samantha’s vision. I got it. You only live once and this is what she always wanted.”
For Samantha-Jayne, the stress, the fights, and all the hours spent planning the wedding for eight months had paid off.

“It was the first time I ever felt genuine love, everybody showed up for us. Our wedding day really healed a part of me that just didn’t feel complete,” she said.

A woman with short blonde hair wearing a navy jacket

Professor Raylene Wilding from LaTrobe University Source: SBS / John Jiang: La Trobe University

Conscious decision vs. obligation

While weddings traditionally used to signify the start of a couple’s journey, experts say people tend to get married older now and as a result have already done many things together such as living together, buying property, or opening a joint bank account.
Professor Raelene Wilding is the head of the sociology department at La Trobe University. She says that despite changing social norms, weddings are possibly more meaningful for people today.
“People have done all of those sorts of legal things that cement the relationship, so the wedding and marriage then becomes that moment where they say that this is going to be a longer-term commitment,” she said.

“If we think about the fact there’s no social obligation for marriage, they make a conscious decision rather than being forced into it by social pressures.”

‘We wanted a micro wedding’

While big and bold might be the way to go for some couples’ big day, introverts Chani Hughes and Blake McHugh decided a micro wedding was more their speed.
“We had a really tiny wedding,” Chani told Insight.
“We could not afford a $15,000 to $30,000 wedding and kind of went ‘Well, if we have enough time to save, we can afford a micro wedding’.”

“Pretty much every element that we could we did it ourselves.”

Chani said she made her bridal dress, paper flowers, and a corsage for her mum to wear, while her mum took care of the food, and Blake created artwork to include on the day to represent his Aboriginal heritage.
Their priority on the day was making it all about themselves becoming husband and wife with their closest eight people.
“We were careful with costs because it was just about who we are as people.”
And for more stories head to , hosted by Kumi Taguchi. From sex and relationships to health, wealth, and grief Insightful offers deeper dives into the lives and first person stories of former guests from the acclaimed TV show, Insight.
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Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “We could have paid off our house. Instead, we spent $200,000 on our wedding”
  1. Why are we still so wedded to the tradition of spending exorbitant amounts on weddings instead of investing in more practical things like paying off a house?

  2. Why is there still such a strong attachment to traditional weddings despite the changing landscape of marriage and the high costs involved?

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