Podcast: Two Cents' Worth

The wedding economy: a love story

In this week's business podcast, we look at those planning their big day in New Zealand's wedding economy. RNZ senior business journalist Kim Savage discusses her own experience.

Sam and I met four years ago, when we were both in our late 20s. We wanted it all, the travel, the house, the family and now the wedding.

So, we're doing it all. Never mind the bank account.

My fiancé, Sam, worries about all the extras.

“I was in charge of the food, the booze and the band and that has all gone to budget. Everything else has gone over,” he said.

“[It’s] the things that creep up and bite you in the ass. The make-up and the hair. Then you've got the flowers for the bridal party it's a kick in the teeth when you get that bill.”

One woman who is cashing in on all those extras is Charlotte-Lee Butler.

She created and sourced all this stuff for the wedding. I put heaps of work into it because I love doing it and afterwards I kind of had all this stuff,” she said.

But stuff she means rugs, brassware, glassware, vintage furniture.

Lee-Butler had been looking for a business idea and after her wedding, she found one clogging up her garage.

Among some of her gems is an antique Enfield bicycle and a retro caravan which has been converted into a bar.

I'm not making millions of dollars doing what I'm doing but I've also got a really great lifestyle,” said Lee-Butler.

“You've got to be committed and I think a lot of businesses start out and in the first few years you see them disappear, so you've got to decide how to make it work.”

The growth in niche businesses like Lee-Butler’s is possibly down to the changing trends in weddings.

Sam and I are not the only ones getting married later in life. Since 1980 the median age for a man getting hitched has gone from 25 to 32. For women, it’s gone from 23 to 31.

And wedding planner Paula Bevege said the style of events is changing too.

“We are seeing a big trend going back up to the big numbers between 120 and 180 whereas traditionally they were sticking between that 80 and 120 mark,” she said.

But, as I’ve discovered, more guests means more money.

Bevege said the average wedding costs $40,000.

A lot of people would spend less than that if they're doing a lovely DIY wedding and doing it really simply. A lot of people would spend a lot more than 40 thousand,” she said.

“There's a really good market in New Zealand that would be spending over 80 thousand [and] anything up to 120 thousand for a wedding.”

Money is the first thing she Paula talks to couples about when they sit down to chat.

“Mostly they've been together for quite a while, so they have a really clear idea about what they want, what's really important to them,” she said.

It's hard to argue a wedding is a good investment. You don't get much of a return on your money except maybe some nice cookware for the kitchen, a few photos and a joyous occasion with friends and family of course

But wedded couples might actually be better off.

A 2005 study by a US economist followed the net worth of individuals through their 20s, 30s and 40s. It concluded that the wealth of married participants increased by 14 percent for each year they were wed.

It’ a completely different story if you divorce though.

So, why do couple go to all the effort and expense of getting married?

“We've got the house, we've got the one year old... it just sort of completes the sort of triangle,” said Sam.

“It’s just what you do when you have met the woman you love.”

About Two Cents Worth

Two Cents' Worth has been launched by Newsroom in a co-production with RNZ. It is the country's first weekly business podcast and will be broadcast just after the midday news on Sundays on RNZ National, will be available on both RNZ and Newsroom's websites and can also be found on iTunes and other podcast apps.

Each week we will examine one issue in depth and then convene a panel discussion. Here is this week's version on RNZ as well.

Two Cents' Worth - the business week and the business outlook. Previous episodes are below.

Episode 1: Sunday November 4. The rise of double cab utes, the TAB's big profit and a threat to small electricity retailers.

Episode 2: Sunday November 11. Why your first job is crucial, why interest rates are so low and why wholesale power prices are so high

Episode 3: Sunday November 18. Inside a zombie town as its mill faces a closure decision, how a New Zealand company won big in Singles day and the future of Vector after the departure of chairman Michael Stiassny.

Episode 4: Sunday November 26: The rule of 8s and Trade Me’s big buyer

Episode 5: Sunday December 2: Why we don't buy cheap petrol

Episode 6: Sunday December 9: Inside Open Banking.

Episode 7: Sunday December 16: A ride sharing revolution

Episode 8: Friday January 25: Salmon set to surpass dairy, save the planet

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