Australian Wedding Facts Sheet
Marriage and weddings have changed in many ways since record-keeping in the 1900’s, from COVID, lockdowns and the pandemic from 2020-2022, the Marriage Act amendments in 2017 for marriage equality, and so much more.
How has the Australian marriage landscape changed? Read on to find out.
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Number of Marriages
Fewer couples are getting married.
The Australian population has doubled since the early 1970s and even in 2019, there were fewer marriages than in 1970. This trend can be attributed to a cultural shift and changing attitudes towards work-life balance, and recently, due to the impact of COVID and associated restrictions.
In the 1970s, the crude marriage rate in Australia was 9.6 marriages per 1,000 residents. In 2020, the rate was 3.1 marriages per 1,000 Australian residents, the lowest rate ever recorded. In 2021, the crude marriage rate was 3.5 per 1,000 Australian residents, a 16.1% increase from 2020. 
Where couples were forced or rushed into marriages in the past due to various stigmas towards cohabitation before marriage, less pressure from families and society for couples has seen a decline in the crude marriage rate in Australia.
Cohabitation Before Marriage
An increasing amount of couples are living together before marriage and they are living together for longer periods of time.
The number of couples living together has increased from 16% of couples in 1976 to 81% in 2017. There are no updated statistics at the time of updating this article.
Religious Versus Civil Weddings
Fewer religious ceremonies are in favour of civil marriage ceremonies.
An overwhelming 96.5% of all marriages in the early 1900s were performed by ministers of religion in Australia. By 2000, there was an equal number of marriages officiated by civil celebrants as religious ministers.
In 2020, 80% of marriages in Australia were performed by civil celebrants. This corresponds with data that reflect a decline in the role that religion has in the average Australian lifestyle.
Average Marriage Length of Divorcing Couples
Queensland has the highest crude divorce rate of 2.6 divorces per 1,000 estimated resident population, while the Northern Territory has the lowest divorce rate at 1.8 per estimated resident population.
The median duration of marriage to separation was 8.4 years in 2021, a slight decrease from 8.6 years in 2019.
Since 1997, the crude divorce rate in Australia has been declining. The increase in 2021 of 13.6% is in part attributed to administrative changes to increase finalisations and reduce timeframes, reducing backlogs of divorce applications.
The median age of men when divorcing was 45.9 years in 2021, and has been relatively steady since 2017. For women, the median age in 2021 was 43, and again, relatively steady since 2017.
Average Marriage Age in Australia
Australians are waiting longer before getting married.
To be legally married in Australia, a person must be at least 18 years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18 years old.
According to ABS data, in 1971, the median age for men was 23.4 years, and for women, 21.1 years. In 2021, the median age of men was 32.1 years, and women 30.5 years. This has remained relatively steady since 2018. This also lines up with the 2022 findings of Easy Weddings, who report the average age of grooms at 32, and brides, 31.
Historically, Easy Weddings did have different results than the ABS. In 2015, the average age at which women in Australia marry was 29.2 years of age while it was 32 for men. In 2018, the average age had fallen slightly, where the average age of the bride was 28 years old and the average age of the groom was 29 years old.
Cost of Weddings
One of the problems with citing the average cost of weddings in Australia is that there is no central administrative body that collects this type of data. The Australian Bureau of Statistics does not collect information on the cost of weddings. As such, sources are scattered with varying sample sizes and collection methodologies.
MoneySmart, a mini site run by Australian government body ASIC, provides the most official data with the average cost of a wedding in Australia is $36,000. This figure is based on 2012 data and is one of the most commonly cited statistics.
Since 2012, the average cost of weddings in Australia has increased.
According to Wedded Wonderland, the average cost of weddings (including the honeymoon) in Australia has been:
People’s desire for unique and personalised weddings may be a factor in why the average wedding expenditure has increased. For example, brides in 2019 spent on average $5,260 on their wedding dress while in 2020, a similar sample size spent on average $6,864 on their wedding dress.
Spending on engagement rings and wedding rings has also increased, and while that’s including capital cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, it’s an average across all of Australia. We see a gradual increase year after year as couples come in determined to keep up with the crowd. Wedded Wonderland reports a cost of $12,690 spent on an engagement ring in 2020, up about $1,000 from 2019. ,
Another data source, Bride to Be magazine’s 2017 Cost of Love survey, reported Australian couples were spending an average of $90,128 on their wedding, which was a significant increase from their 2015 findings which found the average wedding was $65,482.
Meanwhile, Easy Weddings reported an average cost of $31,368 for 2018. In 2022, they reported the average cost of a wedding was $32,288, slightly higher than previous surveys they had done.
The average cost of a civil celebrant in Australia is $770 in 2022, with slight variances between States and Territories. 66% of couples ask guests not to take photos on their phones for an “unplugged” ceremony.
Wedding photography is typically the second biggest wedding-related expenditure after wedding reception costs. According to Easy Weddings, the average cost of hiring a professional wedding photographer differed significantly by state and territory in 2022, ranging from nearly $4K to under $2K:
- $3,702 (NSW)
- $3,074 (VIC)
- $2,927 (ACT)
- $2,842 (WA)
- $2,752 (SA)
- $2,725 (QLD)
- $2,178 (TAS)
- $1,820 (NT)
The average cost of wedding cakes across Australia is $558 with 73% of couples purchasing a wedding cake and 20% reporting that a friend or family member will be making their wedding cake.
Australians on average spend $1,678 on their wedding flowers.
The wedding venue is typically the largest wedding-related expenditure with an average price per head of around $150. Given that the average wedding has 100 guests, the average cost of the wedding venue in Australia is $15,000.
For weddings in 2023, the estimates go higher: $34,715 for the wedding, $6,000 for the engagement ring, $14,758 for the venue, and 65% of couples are concerned about cost-of-living. 
Impact of COVID and Lockdowns
Unsurprisingly, throughout COVID snap lockdowns in Australia and differing regulations around how many people could gather impacted both the number of weddings and how weddings that did go ahead happened. 6% of couples chose to postpone their wedding 4 (or more) times, with 55% of those surveyed by Easy Weddings choosing to postpone their wedding once.
Overall, marriages fell by more than 30% in Australia in the first 6 months of 2020. 
Only 1 in 10 of those recently married felt that COVID had no impact on their preferred wedding plans, and 94.2% reported their honeymoon was impacted. Of those who had shared they felt the pandemic impacted their wedding plans, the most commonly reported was that it limited the amount of people who could attend, with 57% of respondents citing this as an issue. Aligned with this the biggest stressor for those couples was important people or family members not being able to attend, reported by 71.5% of respondents. 
There was also a shift in budgeting — couples in 2022 spent more overall on their weddings, and yet invited fewer people: from an average of 105 guests at a total cost of $33.5K to an average of 87 guests and $35.5K. 
In 2022, while lockdowns and restrictions were for the most part behind Australia, a reported 12% of bookings were cancelled or postponed in January alone.  Additionally, one of the common positives from couples when working with caterers for 2023 weddings was clarity around social distancing practices. 
As well as affecting the couple and those attending, of course this has affected various Australian wedding businesses, with 55% reporting they’re “open but struggling” and only 20% saying it’s business as usual. 69% of wedding businesses reported a loss in 2021. 
In 2023, couples surveyed by Easy Weddings plan on spending more on their honeymoon on average — 38% more, to be specific, at just around $8,000. 
Couple’s Priorities are Changing
Most marrying couples hire a wedding venue, a wedding photographer, a makeup artist, and a hairstylist.
Custom websites, videographers, planners, champagne fountains, photo booths, lolly buffets, choreographed dances, drone photography, stylised receptions, tailor-made gifts and goodie bags are some of the personalisations that many couples are happy to indulge in for their wedding celebration.
We can see this impact sometimes in the gap between the original wedding budget and the final cost: $25.4K average originally budgeted, and $32.3K spent on average in actuality.  That’s close to 60% of the average salary of people aged 21-34, so no wonder some are looking for alternatives and ways to save money. Of a survey of about 600 respondents, Nine found 30% shared they spent less than $5,000 on their wedding in 2022. 
But not all couples are spending more across the board. Of those that Wedded Wonderland surveyed in 2020, 22% of couples are using a taxi service like User to drive themselves to their wedding, 32% of groomsmen paid for their own suits and 30% of bridesmaids used their own dresses.
With the current string of rate hikes on mortgages and increases in inflation, a number of couples are opting for spending less on their weddings in order to invest the money saved or using it to save for a down payment.,  Other couples are choosing to elope, a bit of a carryover from many micro-weddings that happened during the pandemic restrictions. 
According to Easy Weddings, the most popular wedding themes in 2022 are garden/outdoor, romantic, and rustic, with the romantic theme usurping rustic for the first time in a long while.
The wedding venue remains as the biggest priority in the wedding planning process with 26% of couples confirming their wedding date based on their chosen venue’s availability. 
Article originally published 3 Jun 2019, updated 6 July 2023