What a wedding REALLY costs

Alright Ladies… you’ve got a gorgeous ring on your finger, you have a beautiful Pinterest board filled with sensational and inspiring ideas and you are SO excited to begin the process of wedding planning. But have you any idea what this type of dream wedding will cost you?  In January this year, Derryn wrote a blog post on what a wedding costs based on a styled shoot that she photographed and based on the experience of planning her own wedding.  Today we are sharing her article with our Hooray readers in the hope that it will be of some assistance to newly engaged couples.  Derryn explains why she decided to share this information with her readers and gets straight to the point about what a wedding REALLY costs.


In October last year I got married. So many people said to me, “Well it’ll be easy for you, you’re in the industry!”.  I’d always smile politely but think to myself, if THIS is easy, then what is the ‘regular’ bride going through??!!

This led to conversations with my decor and flower friend, Carolyn from Adore weddings. We chatted about how overwhelming planning a wedding can be and about how difficult it is for couples to get their dream wedding on a budget. Instead of prioritising and spending money on a  few aspects that are really important to us, we try to do it all.  I often hear stories of couples entering marriage overwhelmed with debt because they didn’t stick to their budget – or worse, they didn’t have one!

In my experience as a bride, the key to wedding planning is PRIORITISING. My advice is that you sit down together as a couple and think hard about what is really important to you – allocate funds in those areas and then rely on friends and family for the rest.

My husband and I tried to do this, but I wasn’t true to myself and I didn’t list my dress in the top 5.  I mean, what was I thinking?! Long story short, I ordered a cheapy online – FAIL! Then I went to a cheap dress maker – FAIL AGAIN!  I finally went to a dress designer, whom I paid more than I ever thought that I would, BUT who made me the dress of my dreams!

I just had no idea that a dress of that quality would cost that amount. I truly believed that I could get the quality that I wanted for R2000 online.  I had no idea what flowers cost, I had no idea what venues charged, I had no idea what it would cost to hire a tent or a generator or candle sticks! Being a photographer meant nothing! I was as ignorant as any person who has never been married before.


Since then, I have found myself asking brides “so, how’s the planning going?” and then beginning a lengthly chat about vendors, suppliers and costs.’

So when Carolyn approached me and asked if I wanted to do a styled shoot with her, I said yes on the condition that we would use it as an opportunity to educate our friends and clients on what our services really cost. We feel that if you go into the process with a better understanding of what it costs to throw a top class event for 100 people, you will feel less overwhelmed when the planning begins and hopefully allow yourselves the time to save appropriately.

Weddings are not cheap – we are NOT trying to rob you – but if you are after a certain standard or quality (as I was with my dress and as I hope you are with your photography) you will need to read this.

Since I am a wedding photographer, let’s start there…

Wedding photography in Durban can range greatly in cost. From my research, the average price for decent quality photography is between R10 000 – R25 000. Anything below this is maybe a little sub-standard, or they are possibly just starting their business (I started at R6000).  When I look back at the work that I was producing at the beginning of my career, I cringe a little – but those prices and that quality of work suited those clients. Anyone who is charging above R25 000 and getting bookings, is likely to be very experienced and talented. What you pay for photography will depend on how much you prioritise photography in your wedding budget. If you hire a photographer in JHB or CT you are likely to pay about 20% more.

so, here are my packages…


– Basic Package: R14 000
8 hours wedding coverage, roughly 400 photos on USB.

– Regular Package: R17 500
10 hours wedding coverage, roughly 600 photos on USB, 1 large lay flat album.

– Luxury package: R19 500
12 hours wedding coverage, roughly 800 photos on USB, 1 large lay flat album, 2 small coffee table books.

For all couples regardless of the package chosen, I send a link to a personal gallery the week following their wedding with an overview of their wedding day.

When browsing through wedding photographers, be sure to take note of the type and style of the album you will receive.


FLOWERS&DECOR: Adore weddings

Flower crown: R225

Bouquet: R575


WEDDING DRESS: Julia Ferrandi Designs

Words from Julia…

Getting a wedding dress made by a designer can be a costly process and the variables can be overwhelming. Be honest with your designer about your budget and what you feel comfortable affording, this helps us tailor a dress to your budget.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about all the costs involved. I am very open about where your money is going and i itemise my quotes. Some designers don’t do this but it doesn’t hurt to enquire on where you can save money without compromising on design value or quality. Remember, going to a designer is costly however you are getting the invaluable benefit of experience and quality.

Things to avoid if you are budget conscious are too much lace appliqué. This includes those fabulous illusion necklines ladies, where the lace appears to float effortlessly on your skin. This is not magic but rather the skilled hand of a designer.  This is expensive for two reasons, it is very time consuming and takes incredible skill to create a seamless finish on barely there sheer mesh. Opt rather for a design that focusses on a strong silhouette using plain fabrics or a whimsical textured tulle skirt. This can be equally fabulous and have that WOW factor you are looking for.

The cost of the dress featured in this shoot is R 16 500.

This dress in inspired by the textures of beach sand and the clean lines of a shoreline. This design represents the simple design philosophy of our brand “fashion design, done simply, done well”. The dress features a delicate halter neckline, plunging cut outs and sheer lace appliqué. The slim fit skirt is made in a fully beaded silk georgette that is comfortable to wear and flattering from every angle.


HAIR&MAKE UP: Make-me-up

Kezia says…

Makeup and hair is a huge part of your photos! There’s nothing worse than looking white or creepy in photos you want to look at for the rest of your life!

For makeup we charge R550 for the bride (because she gets some extra special attention) and R450 for the bridal party. Those include bridesmaids, moms, grans or anyone else wanting their makeup done.

Hair styling for the bride is R500 and the rest of the bridal party is R300.

We then charge a travel fee to get to the venue, unless you are getting married in or around Durban, the travel fee then wouldn’t apply.

Some brides like to order a touch up kit for the day. This is usually a powder (Kryolan), lipstick (MAC) and a few clips for the hair/veil etc. This touch up kit generally costs R350-R450


CATERING: Funny Bunny

When I was researching wedding catering for my wedding, the average cost was R300 per head. Catering just wasn’t at the top of our budget, so we opted for something cheaper but still amazing. We had a gourmet braai with 4 salads by Cyniggy. The cost for catering was R150 per head.  It was perfect for us…memorable, delicious, filling.

If you are having a more casual wedding and feel that a 3 course plated meal just doesn’t suit your vibe, I would totally recommend some local cuisine in the form of snack platters from Funny Bunny.

Pickle Photography and I held a networking event after this shoot, and hired Funny Bunny to cater for us. Well….people are STILL talking about the food.


Savoury items are 3 to 4 bites each and guaranteed to fill the gap at the end of the night.

– Mini Lukka Burger:
A rich brioche bun and a free range beef patty smothered in pineapple bacon jam (say what?) and red pickled onions

– Mini Lamb Bunny:
Slow braised lamb shoulder in a paprika, mustard and green chilli sauce, pickled carrots and red cabbage

– Mini Wors roll:
Cheese stuffed chilli wors on sauerkrout with a sweet mustard sauce and crispy shallots

– Mini Veggy Burger:
Brioche Bun, slow roast portabellini mushroom, and deep fried Brie topped with red pickled onions

– Mini Veg Bunny:
Butter beans, kidney beans and chickpeas, braised with tomato potatoe and the mother in law, pickled carrots and red cabbage


Mini chocolate and mint tart, mini Lemon tart, mini lemon merangue pie, mini cooked berry flan, mini melk tert, mini chocolate ecclair.

Costs from Jordan of Funny Bunny:

4 items – 4 savoury R100 p/p
6 items – 4 savoury 2 sweet R120 p/p
8 items – 4 savoury 4 sweet R140 p/p

Transport: R4.50 per KM return to Durban

Equipment hire: R500

Servers not included, if tray service is required please inform and we can make a plan for you.


Back to Carolyn who did our flowers and decor…

Every client has different requirements with regards to the look/feel they are going for, the number of guests (therefore number of tables and amount of flowers and decor) they will have, as well as their budget. Flower and décor quotes are therefore tailored according to each client’s individual needs. Consultations are available at Adore’s studio at a rate of R300 per hour.



100 guest wedding with banquet tables including set up, excluding candles

4 rows of banquet tables, 4 tables long with:

2 x rose gold tea light candle holders @ R15 each
2 x large arrangements in dark urn @ R700 each
1 x small arrangement in copper vase @ R320
2 x bronze candle stick holders @ R65 each
2 x hexagonal copper candle holders @ R85 each

Total décor and flower cost: R28 000

Set up and break down: R2500

Delivery and collection: R6 per km


•    Hanging wreaths = R205 each



100 guest wedding with banquet tables including set up, excluding candles

4 rows of banquet tables, 4 tables long with:

2 x rose gold tea light candle holders @ R15 each
1 x large arrangements in dark urn @ R700 each
2 x hexagonal copper candle holders @ R85 each
5 x hanging lamps @ R50 each
3 x hanging wreaths @ 205 each

Total décor and flower cost: R15 265

Set up and break down: R2500

Delivery and collection: R6 per km


VENUE: Ciao Bella

Ciao Bella weren’t able to give us a cost as they are still working on their 2015 wedding prices.

What I can tell you though is that it is an AWESOME venue. Apparently the space was originally used as a holding cell for female prisoners. It’s on Mahatma Gandhi Road (more famously Known among locals as Point Road)  The area and the venue has SO much character and charm.


I am totally aware that the prices I have given you above are NOT the cheapest in the market. If you do some looking around, you will find companies that can provide a service for less.  These are MY recommended suppliers. I trust their work and I value the service you will receive from them. When planning a wedding, its not just the end result that you need to consider but the journey working with service providers.

I really hope that this break down of costs has helped you to see what a wedding (as seen in this shoot) can cost you, and helps prepare you for the big event that you are planning.  Weddings are an expensive affair, BUT if you are true to yourselves as a couple and if you are honest about your budget, you can make it work.

Don’t forget – at the end of the day you are beginning your marriage. You have him and he has you… don’t lose sight of that!


Please note that this article was written in December 2014.  Costs have not been updated and therefore may not be today’s price.

Big thanks to Dani, our super gorgeous model and to EVERYONE who was involved in the shoot.

Photography: Derryn Schmidt Photography




Derryn Schmidt: 0825632282

Make up and hair: Make-me-up



Kezia Myatt: 0832677098

Dress Design: Julia Ferrandi Design



Julia Ferrandi: 0724304100

Decor and flowers: Adore weddings and eventing




Carolyn McNeil: 0833644658

Catering: Funny Bunny



Jordan: 0791859353


Venue: Ciao Bella



031 3325917


(Feel free to search the hash tag ‘pickleandschmidt’ on instagram to see more pics of the venue, food and decor)


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