South African wedding couple costs

The number of weddings in South Africa is steadily decreasing.

Civil unions decreased from 151 000 in 2014 to just 138 627 in 2015, for example. According to figures released by Stats SA, the number of traditional weddings plunged even further, from 20 259 in 2007 to just 3 467 in 2015.

It’s likely that one factor in the sharp decline in weddings is the high cost of getting married.

South African wedding costs

In South Africa, couples and their families currently pay an average of R150 000 in wedding costs. Some spend less, while those who opt for lavish events or large guest lists spend a great deal more.

Throw in all the bits and pieces – wedding rings, a honeymoon and, for the majority of South Africans, lobola – and a wedding becomes a sizeable financial commitment.

Cost of catering at a popular venue

Entertaining a wedding party of 20 guests at a popular wedding venue, with a three-course meal and plenty of booze, has an average price tag of R150 000 to R160 000. This includes the cost of table flowers, entertainment, a photographer, a wedding cake and the services of a wedding planner.

Escalate the guest list to 60 people, and the costs triple too.

Wedding outfits

On average, expect to pay R30 000 or R40 000 for a wedding gown, bridesmaids’ dresses and the groom’s tuxedo – all outfits likely to be worn just once.

The rings

According to financial advisors, Crue Invest, South Africans spend around R20 000 to R30 000 on wedding rings. That’s pretty much in line with the maxim that no more than two month’s gross salary should be budgeted for the jewellery.


In traditional African marriages, it’s customary for the groom’s family to pay the bride’s family a gift in the form of lobola.

A starting point in most lobola negotiations is the cash equivalent of 10 cows. According to the Nguni Cattle Breeders Association and based on 2017 sales prices, the average cost of a cow is around R12 000. That translates into R120 000 just for lobola.

The honeymoon

A survey by The Wedding Expo reveals that the average South African couple spends between R5 000 and R15 000 on their honeymoon. Island destinations like The Maldives, Mauritius and Zanzibar are the romantic destinations of choice.

All-inclusive honeymoon packages at off-season rates have become increasingly popular among newlyweds who are trying to cap the costs associated with their union.

Ways to keep wedding costs in check

It is possible to manage the costs of a wedding and avoid overspending. The last thing anyone wants is for newlyweds to begin their lives together with unnecessary debt – so it’s good to keep perspective.

The wedding celebration itself is simply a celebration with family and friends. It doesn’t have to include all (or even any) of the bells and whistles that the industry tells us it should, from vastly overpriced dresses and cakes to professionally catered, three-course meals for hundreds of guests.

The first rule is plan a wedding you can afford. Keep the guest list manageable, inviting only close family and friends.

If you can’t afford a venue, get married at home or choose a spectacular outdoor setting, and opt for more casual catering. For example, opt for a buffet rather than a three-course meal and have an open bar only for a limited amount of time.

If you can’t afford a honeymoon, ask guests to contribute cash rather than gifts – or plan a later honeymoon, for example as a way to mark your third or even fifth wedding anniversary.

Where to get a loan to cover wedding costs

If necessary, you may opt to get a loan to help cover the full cost of a wedding.

One alternative to a bank loan, which can be difficult and time-consuming to obtain, is an asset-based loan. This involves using a valuable asset you own as collateral for a loan. Because the loan is secured, there’s no delays due to lengthy application processes.

At lamna, we offer fast, discreet loans against the value of a wide range of assets, from luxury watches and jewellery to vehicles or artwork. For more information about using an asset to secure a short-term loan – for example, to help cover typical wedding costs in South Africa – contact us on 086 111 2866 or simply complete and submit our online application form.

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