Small & Intimate Weddings: The Rising Demand for a Downsized ‘I do’


Photo: (supplied) Urban Memories

Getting married is recognised by many as one of the most important (and expensive) events of your life. According to the 2016 Easy Weddings Annual Australian Survey which interviewed over 2300 newlyweds across Australia; the average number of wedding guests at a reception is 98. But don’t panic! For those couples wishing for a smaller, more intimate celebration without the costly price-tag, there are alternatives.

Planning is Important:

Stef Potter, wedding planner and owner of Pop-Up Weddings Bayside, located in Brisbane, Queensland; knows all too well about keeping costs down for your big day, and she says it all starts with planning.

“The first thing that brides and grooms need to consider when organising their big day is what style of wedding they are after,” she said.

When Stef and her husband  Chris married five years ago; her guests thought she had spent up to $30,000 on her big day.  However, thanks to careful planning, compromising and thrifty thinking, the couple were able to keep costs down to just $11,000.

Stef’s wedding venue included the garden ceremony, canapes for guests during bridal party photographs and a two-course meal and five-hour drinks package with her sister’s home-made cupcakes served as dessert.

“The venue organised all of the extras such as styling and ceremony accessories on the lawn.”

It was this all-inclusive price pointed philosophy which led the way for Pop-Up Weddings Bayside to offer hassle-free organisation to other brides and grooms-to-be.


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Photo: (supplied) Urban Memories

Cassie and Jim Edwards, a Brisbane couple who married in Toowoomba in August 2014 also saved a lot of money by opting to keep things sweet and simple with a lot of preparation organised themselves.

“We were planning on having the ceremony at the Japanese Gardens in Toowoomba, but Mother Nature had other plans for us, so we had the ceremony and reception with just 35 guests in the community hall in Laurel Bank Park,” Cassie said.

Cassie and Jim started planning their wedding a few weeks after they got engaged on August 16; organising everything themselves except for the hiring of a celebrant and hair stylist.

“Our engagement was less than a year, but when you know you’ve met the right person, there’s no need to wait.”


Cassandra and Jim Edwards on their Wedding Day in Toowoomba (Photo: Supplied)

Cassie’s advice to newly engaged couples starting the exciting but sometimes stressful planning process is to try not to focus too much on the small details, but direct your attention on making your big day about you instead.

“I see brides worrying about place settings not being the right shade or shape.

“Your guests won’t notice or care if you have designer porcelain or if you went to a discount outlet.”

Cassie and Jim also opted not to go on a honeymoon, instead deciding to adopt a German Shepard named Elsa, a month after tying the knot.

“I often say, as long as you get married, the rest is just detail.”

Saying Yes to your Dress

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Photo: (supplied) Urban Memories

One of the most expensive dresses a man or woman will ever buy in their life is without a doubt the attire they will walk down the aisle with. But according to Bridal Specialist Debbie Langdon from A Formal Affair Bridal in Chermside, finding the perfect dress doesn’t have to break the budget.

“Some Brides-to-be think that to have the most ‘beautiful dress’ it is going to cost a considerable amount of money, so they are quite surprised to find the dress they fall in love with ends up costing less than half of what they were expecting to pay,” she said.

Cassie also agrees that choosing a wedding dress can be stressful, but suggests to not procrastinate, after almost missing out on getting her own dream gown.

“The hardest part of planning the wedding for me was trawling through image after image of wedding dresses trying to find ‘the one’,” she recalled.

“I’d found some images of a dress in my style online, as I didn’t want a traditional white or ivory dress, and had found where to buy it, but I just kept hesitating for some reason.

“But then one day, I was scrolling through Facebook and suddenly there it was, the last one; less than $1000 and in blue!”

Fitting Specialist, Shamiran Dinka of Pearl Bridal at Mermaid Beach, warns Brides-to-be to not wait too long if they have found the dress they love.

“We have new styles coming in regularly, so unfortunately when a popular style has been on our shelves for more than six months or so, they often get discontinued to make way for new arrivals, sometimes only with a few days’ notice,” she said.

Choosing a vendor:

When it comes to choosing any type of wedding industry professional; Brisbane’s in-demand wedding celebrant Josh Withers says that the first question couples need to ask themselves is “what is this for?”

“There’s a common thread through wedding planning circles that you “must” have this, or your wedding isn’t perfect enough or good enough if it’s missing certain elements, traditions, or products,” he said.


Source: (Giphy)

“The truth is, your wedding is perfect if it celebrates who you are as a couple.”

“It doesn’t hurt to make life easier for a day, or prettier for a day or even more fun for a day, but not if those enhancements are weird, out of character, or lacking meaning for you.

“So simply ask, “What is a celebrant for?” and “What is this photographer for?” so you’re not just spending thousands of dollars without reason, but you are actually spending that valuable cash with meaning, direction, and purpose.”

Sunshine Coast wedding photographer Mike Urban from Urban Memories, who has been in the business for over 30 years; suggests that for couples who wish to hire a professional, to make an appointment to meet them in person and let them know exactly what you are after.

“It is so important that you feel comfortable with the person who is going to capture the memories of one the most important days in your life, so don’t be afraid to ask questions; and make sure you are both clear on what coverage you want and how much it will cost,” he said.

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Photo: (supplied) Urban Memories

John Virgona, multi-award winning MC and DJ from Mooveit DJs on the Sunshine Coast also says that couples must talk directly to the operator of the service providers that will be there on the night at their wedding.

“You must feel comfortable and reassured about the team you are working with, for your wedding, and be reassured that you will be getting the night you always dreamed of having,” he said.

“Reviews are a great indication to see what other couples thought of a DJ or MC at their wedding and selecting an ABIA (Australian Bridal Industry Academy) award-winning supplier, reassures you of their professionalism, quality of service, experience/professionalism and value for money as it is all part of the ABIA criteria to be nominated.”

Best advice for thrifty brides and grooms-to-be?


Source: Tenor

Josh says that couples on a budget should feel liberated to cut out what they want to, but splurge on what makes them feel valued, beautiful and special.

“I’m answering these questions from Bali where we’ll happily spend big money on a nice villa then order cheap Nasi Goreng for lunch because we value rest and relaxation over fancy food.”

Josh says the one experience he would share with everyone from his own wedding to his wife of four years Britt is to take the opportunity to be present in your wedding.

“Let it happen to you.

“Let your friends and family love you, and celebrate you, and make time to be with your spouse.”

Logan Bride Bindi Vanarey, who wed her husband Duane in an intimate Gold Coast ceremony in a Miami Park last May; saved money on her bridal gown, by purchasing it on eBay so they could indulge on other aspects of their wedding day.

“Duane’s suit cost more than my dress,” laughed Bindi.


Bindi and Duane Vanarey on their wedding day on May 14, 2017. Photo: (Facebook/supplied)

“We only spent $90 in council fees to book the park for our ceremony for two hours, but our biggest splurge was our reception at $175 per person, plus DJ, decorations etc, so all up $7000 for that.”

Stef says to try and save on everything but to focus on the things that are the most important.

“We have four pictures on our wall which are our treasured memories and favourite images from the day,” she said

“It’s the time together with close family and friends that is so important because in the end, they won’t remember the upgraded table styling.”



Comment Piece:

By Leanne Nebe

I want a no-frills church wedding with ALL the frills





Church Weddings on a budget? Piece of cake! (or not) As a newly engaged Bride-to-be, I have started, slowly but surely, to embark on the daunting task of trawling the Internet for traditional wedding venues. Yes, I want a church ceremony, and I know, big deal Leanne, you’re not even getting married for another two years, you have plenty of time. But seriously people, shit is getting real! Our freedoms of expression are being toyed with y’all. And what freedoms would they be you may ask? Well, did you know that at some churches, you are not even permitted to throw rice, confetti or red rose petals inside or outside the church after the ceremony? Yes, yes, it will make a mess, and will require cleaning up afterwards, but seriously; if you are going to be forking out over two thousand buckaroos wouldn’t you think that there would be some discretions that would allow some sort of trivial rice-throwing fun? I guess not.

Now don’t you worry, I won’t name and shame, but according to some wedding information packs available online, (Google Brisbane Anglican Church Weddings for example and you will find some interesting stuff trust me, I kid you not) guests that are found to ‘contravene these requests’ will incur a surcharge! LORD ALMIGHTY!

But blowing bubbles, throwing WHITE rose petals and the releasing of butterflies is okay? Right-e-o then. Hold my bouquet… And as beautiful as the older Cathedrals are to hold your big day, (and they are gorgeous) it doesn’t come cheap either. Back in the day, my Grandmother Jean would have happily thrown a few $50 notes to the Minister, but holding your nuptials at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral on Ann Street in the heart of the Brisbane CBD in 2018 can set you back a cool $2200 or more, depending on the time and date of your ceremony, with added costs if you wish to have the bells rung, and a choir sing at the ceremony. Also, some churches forbid guests from taking photos from within the church itself! You have permission to use two photographers only and they must hold A.P.R.A licences. LET PEOPLE THROW THINGS.

I also looked up the Catholic Church wedding ceremony prices purely out of interest and assuming they would be cheaper, but nope, I was wrong. They hold ceremonies in the bigger cathedrals for $2000 too!

Is it any wonder that most people opt for an outdoor wedding, or choose to elope in some exotic location for half the price? I guess I’m just a stickler for tradition. I want all the fairy-tale elements, but without the hefty price-tag. Of course, you can still find a beautiful cosy church for a fraction of the price, out in the suburbs, but if you really want something, and your heart is set on it, you will do what you have to, to make that dream a reality, am I right? Every little girl dreams of having a wedding like they do in children’s fairy tales, and everyone dreams of a happily ever after, even if it does cost you a couple of grand.

For some this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and if you truly crave a huge Gothic-Revival-inspired Cathedral to say your “I do’s”, (even at a ridiculous price like I am) then so be it. In the meantime, I’ll start researching white rose petal stockists…







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