Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Wedding guests dig deep on special day

Nuptials at faraway places add to other expenses for which friends must fork out.

Destination weddings mean extra travel and accomodation costs for guests.
Destination weddings mean extra travel and accomodation costs for guests.

Spending big bucks on someone else's special day is becoming more common, with a new consumer survey showing guests fork out more than $800 for each wedding.

The mounting costs, which had increased since a survey two years ago, were indicative of a rise in destination weddings, Kiwi wedding experts said.

The latest online survey, commissioned by American Express, involved about 1,500 adults in America.

It showed wedding attendance costs were continuing to increase — a finding industry insiders agreed with.

For guests, travel, accommodation, new outfits, stag and hen nights and personal grooming costs were put at an average of US$592 ($687), with about $130 more needed for the present, the survey showed.

Lisa Hill, director of Auckland-based wedding and event planning service Beautiful Events, said most of the couples the service worked with chose a destination location for their special day.

Queenstown, the Bay of Islands and Rotorua were popular, with "island hopping" also proving a hit.

"If you think back 50 years ago ... you got married in your local church and then you had a local wedding reception. Now with the extensive options that are available, people are doing the whole destination wedding more often than not," Mrs Hill said.

"If you're having a destination wedding out of town, you've got to pay for quite often a gift, you've got your travel expenses and now you've got this crazy thing that's starting to happen where couples are asking their guests to pay for their own food."


If you think back 50 years ago ... you got married in your local church and then you had a local wedding reception. Now with the extensive options that are available, people are doing the whole destination wedding more often than not.
Lisa Hill, director of wedding and event planning service Beautiful Events

Many of the couples she worked with were also ex-pats who wanted to make the most of coming "home" for their nuptials.

This could mean guests setting aside a few days for celebrations, which could be costly.

Modern-day marriages also meant fewer options for wedding gifts, often putting guests under a bit of pressure.

"A lot of couples now live together, they've got a lot of stuff, they might already have a house, so they want cash - either to put towards the cost of the wedding or to put towards something else."

Christchurch-based wedding planner Emma Newman said she had lots of Aucklanders travelling to the South Island for their big day.

"If it's somewhere special to the couple, it's usually quite flash ... then there's the island hopping-type weddings where you've got to go to Rarotonga or Fiji."

Costs for guests could often be more than $1,000 for out-of-town weddings — and a bride and groom needed to factor this into their planning, Ms Newman said.

They have a "duty of care" to their guests, and shouldn't expect too much from them. The planners agreed new expectations around weddings contributed to higher costs for guests.

Bride and Groom magazine editor Lesley Walker said a rise in "stylised" and personalised weddings also meant guests could be paying for things like a costume or special outfit.


High costs worth it, says friend


by Rebecca Quilliam

Sarah Kilburn.
Sarah Kilburn.

Aucklander Sarah Kilburn spent thousands of dollars on weddings in the past 12 months. The 25-year-old saleswoman spent months saving for two of her friends' weddings, which were in Hawaii and Fiji.

For the June wedding in Fiji, Ms Kilburn was a bridesmaid. She paid about $4,000 for her and her 2-year-old daughter, Sienna, to attend, which included meals, drinks and accommodation. "The hens do cost extra," she said. "It does mount up quite quickly."

In February, Ms Kilburn flew to Hawaii for what she described as another special occasion. While she wasn't too fussed about counting up the exact cost, she admitted she had to make a few sacrifices to pay for her and Sienna to go.

"But it's worth it — I actually really enjoyed them."

- NZ Herald

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