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I was inspired to write this post after seeing another blog entry remarking on the “high” prices charged by marriage officers for their services.

According to the South African Bridal Industry Academy (SABIA) the wedding industry is worth R27 Billion annually.  If accurate it’s a staggering figure when you consider that 200,000 marriages are registered annually in South Africa which translates to an average cost of R135,000 per wedding!  This covers all costs relating to a wedding from preparation, the event itself (including guests traveling from abroad) and the honeymoon. According to this article foreign couples coming here to get married spend up to R1 Million on their wedding!

Is this massive cost justified?

Being a marriage officer I have some bias for my particular service since given the above amount my cost is around 1% of the total and I’m the only supplier who absolutely HAS to be there.

Having performed over 500 weddings I have seen everything from 5 star service for 150 guests in the middle of the African bush to 5 people in a park without a single refreshment! So it all comes down to what the couple (read: Bride) want.

As with anything of a social nature there can be pressure from friends or family to do it better than others have done. This can make it pretty expensive.

And as  the wedding industry is seen as a growth industry so more people view it with a gleaming eye and decide to try their hand at making it into a full time profession.  To make a living you have to sell your service at a price that does make a living. And that can make it expensive.

And most importantly a wedding is sold as probably THE most important occasion in a woman’s life and consequently are willing to do what has to make it  the event of a lifetime.  And that can make it expensive.

So, is it justified?  Depends who you talk to, who is paying for it and who is selling it.  But one thing is for certain:  The industry will continue to grow and become worth more for as long as couples are willing to pay what is asked for.

My advice to anyone getting married is remember that there is a vast amount of choice so never take the opinion that you absolutely have to have something or buy something or do something in a certain way.  It is YOUR wedding so demand and get the service you are paying for.

Lastly, from my biased opinion, a wedding remains one of our cultures great personal celebrations and whether its big, small or expensive it is a wonderful expression of an important moment in anyone’s life.