The cost of tying the knot

How you manage your wedding budget will have a serious impact on your financial future.

– Video supplied by BrightRock

Welcome to the Change Exchange, where we’re discussing rings and cha-ching!

One of the more common questions I receive from readers is about taking out a loan to pay for their wedding.

Traditionally a young couple could expect the bride’s parents to pay for the wedding, with a contribution from the groom’s family to cover the drinks bill.

Unfortunately for many young couples today that is now the exception rather than the norm. Most young people, especially those from previously disadvantaged communities, find themselves more likely to be supporting their elderly parents than receiving any assistance from them with the wedding costs.

A 2012 survey by Visa found that 30% of the women interviewed were prepared to spend more than six months’ salary on their wedding.

According to wedding planners you can expect to spend around R70 000 to R80 000 on the average wedding with around 80-100 guests.

This is how most wedding budgets are divided:

  • About 50% of the budget goes to the venue – that includes hire costs, food and alcohol;
  • The wedding gown and accessories account for around 10% of the budget;
  • A further 15% goes to photography, music, flowers and décor;
  • Things like the cake, invitations, candles and table gifts account for about 10% of the total amount;
  • Wedding planners also suggest you budget around 10%-15% for unforeseen costs such as travelling expenses, service providers and consultation fees.

A great resource is the online wedding budget tool provided by

More than just the wedding itself

But the cost of marriage doesn’t just begin and end with the wedding. There is the honeymoon, the engagement ring and in many cultures lobola, which the man is expected to pay to his future parents-in-law.

The costs of a honeymoon, ring and lobola can range enormously, but the average amount the women in the Visa survey were prepared to spend on their honeymoon was around R27 000. A quick browse on social media platforms found that men expected to spend around R20 000 on an engagement ring and R40 000 on lobola, though I should mention that there were some exceptions ‒ some men paid R250 000 for lobola and about R100 000 for the ring!

So a couple will begin their married lives by spending anywhere between R130 000 and R170 000 just to tie the knot – and these are moderate numbers; the costs could quite easily be double.

This equates to a 10% deposit on a R1.3 million home, or if invested would grow to R500 000 within ten years. This is assuming that the couple actually had R150 000 to start with.

If this couple with the R150 000 wedding budget took out loans to fund it, they would pay R5 500 a month over the next three years, or a total of R200 000, for that wedding. That’s a lot of money for a young couple who have dreams of buying their first home and starting a family.

How you manage your wedding costs will have a serious impact on your financial future.