Friday, March 1, 2024

It’s Wedding Season! The Surprising Trend that’s Made a Big Return in 2024 + Where Couples Are Cutting Costs!

Resene Post Page Top

We’re well in the swing of 2024 weddings season – so, what’s happening out there? How much are couples spending? Where are they cutting costs? What are they splurging on? What trends are taking off? We get all the info from the experts.

Have you been invited to a wedding this year? Maybe you’ve got your own coming up? Or, maybe you just got engaged over the Christmas/New Year period (aka, the most popular time of year for engagements!) and are starting to daydream about your big day. If so, we’re pulling together all the deets to make it all that much easier.

And, ok, I have to come clean here – we have a vested interest in the topic here at Capsule because both Kelly and I are in the midst of wedding planning (and although we have been work wives for many years, no, we’re marrying other people!). Our weddings are already perfect representations of our personalities – while Kelly is getting married in 2025 she is nearly finished planning it all, while mine is three months away and we have only the bare bones together. So, while I try to get sorted, I’m hoping you can come along with me on the journey and we can all learn a thing or two about wedding planning in the process.

To kick us off, I spoke to the lovely Megan Hutchison from Forget Me Not Journals. While Megan now has a huge range of journals in her range, the one that kicked things off is The Little White Book – a wedding planner that is sold all over the world and has featured in everything from Cosmo mag to CNN. It means Megan is very much involved in the wedding scene in NZ and is a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

What trends are you seeing for weddings in 2024?

Over the past year we’ve seen a real movement towards a ‘non-wedding’ wedding, with couples planning celebrations which are less traditional, less formal and stuffy, and instead which feel more personal, more casual, more ‘real’.

We’re seeing a lot more bright, non-traditional wedding colour themes, informal dining options such as food trucks, taco stations and dessert buffets. We are seeing more documentary style videography, content creators taking ‘real’ behind the scenes footage, and the return of old-fashioned film photography. On the less-casual side, Champagne towers are also making a huge comeback!

What about in terms of wedding dresses – what have you been seeing a lot of lately?

There is a huge demand for non-traditional wedding dresses, with platforms like Pinterest reporting that brides are searching for ‘anti-bride’ options, forsaking formality for bold choices, diverse colours and unconventional designs.

We’re also seeing multiple outfit changes, and even when brides choose traditional wedding dresses, they often have ways to alter them to make them less formal for after the reception dinner, such as removable sleeves, swappable skirts.

What are some of the non-traditional touches or elements that you’ve seen couples do recently?

Non-formal menus, incorporating family recipes or cuisines that the couple love but which aren’t traditionally served at weddings. We’ve seen a lot of couples forego bridal parties, or have much more casual, non-traditional and gender inclusive wedding parties – sans matching outfits and bouquets.

What are couples spending up on most at the moment, and where are they cutting back?

It very much depends on the couple, but generally we’re saving money on things like the matching outfits, wedding favours, and ornate, traditional décor, but seeing couples spending a lot on photography and entertainment, often including a content creator to capture more ‘natural’ footage of the day, often as well as a photographer and videographer.

Couples are really focussing on guest experiences, keeping their wedding guests both well-fed and well-entertained with great music, lots of different food options, and often interactive things such as instant cameras and film on tables, as well as guest books.

Are there a few things that you think it’s always wise to splurge on, and save on?

I always believe it’s wise to spend more on guest experience than flowers, décor and favours – those things don’t last, but your guest’s memories do. When planning our wedding and being so focussed on what we are spending on the Big Day, it’s easy to forget how much it can cost your guests to attend – there’s often travel, accommodation, childcare, outfits and gifts – so I believe it’s important to focus on their enjoyment of the Big Day, as well as your own. I always advise to save money by cutting down your wedding guest list, but spend more per person.

The latest data suggests that the average wedding in NZ costs $32,000. Is that in keeping with what you see out there?

The data we see on these figures are often really skewed, because often that information comes from professional wedding planners, or only from the couples using them – rather than those having very small, casual weddings, or even elopements.

I’ve been in the wedding business selling a wedding planner book, guest book and even bridal subscription boxes for almost nine years, and we sent a survey to 15,000 NZ couples to ask what they spent. The results we got were vastly different from the ‘average wedding cost’ figures we often see:

  • The average number of guests invited: 89
  • The average wedding budget: $22, 524
  • The percentage of couples who’ve hired a professional wedding planner: 4.3%

I don’t know a single couple who have ended up having a wedding for the price that they originally set – is this common?

It’s so common, and it is extremely hard to stick to a wedding budget because it’s such an emotionally-charged ‘once in a lifetime’ experience – it’s so easy to get carried away. We began with a budget of around $30,000 but decided to hire a private home for 3 days which included lots of accommodation for family and friends, so we really blew out the budget (not to mention I splurged on my wedding dress, a decision I now question!)

What is the one thing every wedding needs to be a success?

Ultimately, just joy. Whatever brings you happiness. I do think the guest list is probably the most important thing, in terms of what brings you happiness on the day, because beyond all the physical elements that make up a wedding, it’s about celebrating with people. Some people love to entertain, and joy will mean a huge guest list of all the people they love, for others there’s more joy in a really intimate, quiet event with just the people they feel most comfortable with.

What is the one thing you recommend every couple does before walking down the aisle?

Delegate somebody else to be in charge of answering any possible question that comes up, and dealing with anything that doesn’t go as expected. Give that person’s phone number to every vendor, and put your own phones far away.

How far in advance do you recommend planning a wedding?

That totally depends on the couple, but also the season you want to marry in. If you’re 4-5 months from summer and you’re set on having a summer wedding, you can absolutely do it, but some venue options will be fully-booked, and your first choice of vendors like photographers or musicians may not be available. Most couples get engaged between December and March, the majority of our sales in that time are wedding planner books as engagement gifts, and then most weddings are in those months too – so I think the majority of couples plan a year in advance.

Is there one common element across wedding planning that seems to stress people out the most? 

For most couples, it’s money. It’s finding the balance between all the ‘nice-to-have’s’ and the cost of ticking every proverbial box when it comes to wedding planning. The number of guests makes up the vast majority of the wedding budget, but couples find it really hard to trim the guest list. We’re afraid of offending people, we believe we have to invite certain people, and often we want more people than we can reasonably afford.

We’ve started including two downloadable wedding budget spreadsheets with our wedding planner book, so that those tools are immediately available to begin, and can hopefully cut down on stress from day one.

What’s your advice to anyone who is recently engaged or planning a wedding?

I believe almost everything about wedding planning should be personal, so Ilove the movement of trends towards more unique, individual experiences and would recommend people forget about all traditions and just do what makes them happy. I would also suggest Incorporate planning the honeymoon as part of planning the wedding, both so that you’ve budgeted for both and also have something to really look forward to not too long after the wedding, as it can be such an exciting lead-up that can almost feel a bit flat afterwards.

Ultimately, the most important thing is that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to wedding planning. Discuss your expectations, talk about what is really important to each of you, and make sure you have a clear, shared vision before you start making any plans.

Resene Post Page Bottom

Accommodation Review: Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel

Welcome to Capsule Travels, where we bring you stories, reviews and experiences of all the best the world – and New Zealand has to...

How Are You, Today… Brooke Fraser? The Kiwi Singer Talks Motherhood, Turning 40 and The Magic of The Creative Process

In our story series ‘How Are You Today?’, we have a meandering, mental-health focused chat with some of our most well-known New Zealanders. Check...

The Divorce Diaries: ‘The Text Message That Prompted the End of My Marriage’

Maria and Jake divorced because of a text message. That's how it started. From there, Maria watched as their marriage completely dissolved. Welcome to...

‘I Thought Covid Wasn’t Really a ‘Thing’ Anymore. Now I Have Long Covid’ One Woman’s Regret & Her Warning to Others

In the early days of hearing about the condition, many of us furiously Googled 'How to not get Long Covid'. When we were exposed...