New wedding trend shocks Aussies online: 'This is completely tacky!'

With the cost of living impacting weddings, some couples have made an unexpected request of their guests.

As Aussies continue to cut back on non-essentials amid the cost-of-living crisis, some couples are taking their commitment to savings to the next level.

With weddings usually coming at a weighty price tag, many Australian couples have decided they need their guests to make a financial contribution to their big day. As a result there seems to be an emerging trend of asking wedding guests to pay for their own meals.

The move has ignited a huge debate online, with traditionalists calling it "wrong", "tacky" and "embarrassing" to ask those attending the wedding to essentially pay their own way. While on the other side, wedding planners say couples have been doing it for years and the prevalence of the trend is just increasing due to sky-rocketing costs.

A bride looks lovingly at her groom at their wedding reception.
More brides and grooms are turning to family and friends to help with the cost of their weddings, asking for guests to pay for their own meals at the celebration. Photo: Getty

'Fun dinner party with no dinner?'

One bride was called out when asking for help to design her RSVP cards when people online noticed that she was asking for guests to choose not to eat or to select the meal they wanted with a price tags attached. It wasn't the only thing to catch they eye of Facebook users, with the bride saying she was hosting a dinner party, five months after being married and was paying for everything else but the food.

"My wedding venue requires me to purchase food through them for the reception but has said people sometimes choose this option. Nothing about my reception is very typical anyway, so I'm wondering how insane or rude or cost effective/ smart (lol) you think this is?" the post read.

She added: "The planner sent me this as an example of how to present it to guests."

An RSVP card offerings guests not to eat or to pay for their meals.
The RSVP option of paying for your meal has outraged some who say it's tacky. Photo: Facebook

The bride was slammed by Facebook users in the comments, who didn't hold back on their thoughts about asking people to pay for their meals at what was essentially the couple's wedding reception. "Oh hell no!!! This is completely tacky," one person wrote.

"So, it's supposed to be a fun dinner party? That means the hosts (i.e. the bride and groom) are to PROVIDE dinner. Not pawn the damn costs on to others smh (shaking my head)." Another wrote: "What kind of fun dinner party does not include dinner?"

Others called out the fact the bride had mentioned they were funding the "entertainment aspects" of the dinner party, including a photo booth, props and lights over feeding their guests.


"What has happened in the world that someone prioritises a photo booth, lighting and props over FOOD!! You can easily provide a basic meal for the cost of a photo booth."

Not everyone thought it was wrong to ask guests to pay for their meal at a wedding reception, with one user commenting they would happily pay if it meant a better wedding for their friend or family member.

'If you're short on cash ... DON'T HAVE A WEDDING'

A heated debate also erupted online over another bride and grooms request for guests to pay $40 into their bank account ahead of the wedding to cover the buffet. The couple asked for the contribution in lieu of traditional wedding gifts. A photo of the invite was shared in an online group about wedding shaming and most commenters were outraged by the idea.

The poster shared the invite with the description: "No, no, no, no, no, and no". One person commented: "If you can't afford a wedding DON'T HAVE A WEDDING." Another wrote: "If you’re that short on cash, either don’t have a big wedding, or write 'no boxed gifts please' on the invitation, as is standard. Most people know that is code for 'cash or cheque gifts only please'." Others said it was a "tacky" request and it was strange to ask for money to be transferred.

It wasn't all bad news for the couple though, with some users saying they didn't hate the idea but it could have been executed better.

"Not going to lie, I'm here for it ... they said in lieu of gifts, so they're literally just asking people to put [money] towards the meal so memories can be created instead of everyone feeling the need to get them useless junk. I like it," one person wrote. Many others commented that what they were asking for was much less than what mosts guests would usually spend on a gift, so it worked out better for them.

A screenshot of the wedding invite.
There's been mixed reactions to a bride and groom asking for guests to pay into a bank account for their meal. Photo: Facebook

A new wedding trend?

The average cost of a wedding in Australia has declined in the past year, as more couples look at cutting costs due to the cost of living crisis. Getting married now sets a couple back, on average, $33,000 according to Easy Weddings, down from a whopping $55,000 in previous years.

Yahoo Lifestyle spoke to two wedding planners who were had opposing views to whether is appropriate to ask guests to pay their way at a couple's special day.

Rad Agency's Founder Kate Radcliffe-Reid said over the past eight years, she has seen the rise of the backyard wedding, especially as cost-of-living sky rocketed in 2023. She said most couple were more likely to ask guests to bring a plate of food, rather than of outright asking for money.

Radcliffe-Reid said there's both pros and cons, but when you look at the full picture, gifts haven't been popular for years, with most couples preferring a wishing well which sees guests put money into a card.

Kate Radcliffe-Reid smiles at the camera.
Kate Radcliffe-Reid said there's been a spike in backyard weddings since 2023 when cost-of-living pressures reached their peak. Photo: Supplied

"Dinners (not including drinks) are an average cost of $65 per person. If the couple ask for the money to cover dinner instead they receive $15 more (on average per person), but the admin! It’s hard enough to get RSVP and dietaries out of everyone on time so if your caterer required this money up front the couple would likely need to cover it at first anyway. You’re telling a guest 6-12 months in advance that they are paying $65 for dinner, they have time to save and you are also saving them the hassle of getting cash out or buying you a towel and flannel set."

Radcliffe-Reid admits the move isn't traditional, when it's explained to guests, they are more likely to come around. "It takes the 'tradition' out of socially normal exceptions and like any change in behaviour, it takes time and people will reject it at first without looking at the full picture!"


She said if you're planning on asking wedding guests to chip in on the cost of the meal it is vital to get the wording right in your invitations and make sure to give guests plenty of notice. She also said it's best to be direct with your request for cash and explain why you made the decision. Most people will most likely to able to relate to the decision.

"At the end of the day, it’s all about you two and your special day. If you give them a year's notice and they are a friend/family member who wants to attend, they will. If they are struggling financially but want to attend you have given them heaps of notice and they can get their auto savings on and do $1.25 a week, for the year and show up to celebrate love!"

'Plenty of ways to save'

It's a big "no" to asking for your guests to cover their own meal at weddings for Lara Stuchbury from Redlands Registry. The wedding planner told Yahoo Lifestyle a wedding dinner is more than just a meal, it's a way to show appreciation for the effort and expense guests have gone to, to join the couple on their special day.

"There are lots of other ways to keep big expenses down. For example, there is now a trend towards smaller wedding ceremonies, with registry-style weddings," she said. Stuchbury said these kinds of wedding can often be more intimate.

Lara Stuchbury from Redlands Registry (left) said couples need to look at other cost-cutting measures before asking guests to pay for their meals. Photos: Facebook/ Getty
Lara Stuchbury from Redlands Registry (left) said couples need to look at other cost-cutting measures before asking guests to pay for their meals. Photos: Facebook/ Getty

"It’s a trend that’s really increasing in popularity. I run a registry wedding business and many couples have been opting for this kind of wedding to save money and stress. I’ve married couples who have wanted the ceremony to be intimate and romantic and then celebrate when it suits them. It’s been perfect for couples who weren’t able to have the big wedding during covid but have actually found getting the legals out of the way and saving the cost of an expensive celebrant/ ceremony has allowed them to spend that money on the all-important celebration."

She said it's important for couples to remember why they are getting married. She reminded couples that bigger isn't always better, for the couple, the bank balance and their guests.

"I think it’s only normal to get caught up in the planning because there’s so much to consider, the whole process can feel very overwhelming. Once couples decide on getting married with me it’s like a weight is lifted off their shoulders. They can focus on what’s really important, and that’s sealing the love they have for each other."

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