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Navigating the financial landscape of weddings can be a complex affair, especially when you’re faced with the choice between a traditional wedding and an elopement. In Queenstown, known for its breathtaking landscapes and romantic getaways, both options come with their own set of costs and experiences. This guide aims to provide you with a detailed cost comparison between eloping and hosting a traditional wedding in this beautiful part of New Zealand. Whether you’re drawn to the intimacy of an elopement or the grandeur of a conventional ceremony, understanding the financial implications can help you make a decision that aligns with both your dreams and your budget.

How much an Elopement in Queenstown Costs:

Eloping in Queenstown will always be significantly cheaper than having a traditional wedding, simply due to the fact that no guests will need to be catered for. The price can vary in cost depending on the package you choose. At Nomad Weddings, we offer the following packages, which are all customisable:

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Eloping in Queenstown

$40,000 – The Cost of an Average Wedding in New Zealand

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - Reyn and Justin celebrate their Stoneridge Estate Wedding, walking down the aisle amid confetti.

The cost of an average wedding in New Zealand is $40,000. Let’s break this down:

  1. Venue: $12,000
  2. Catering: $8,000
  3. Photography: $4,000
  4. Dress and Attire: $3,000
  5. Miscellaneous (flowers, decor, stationery, favours etc.): $13,000

The In-Depth Average Cost Breakdown of a Wedding in New Zealand

Venue: $1,500~12,000+

The venue is often one of the most significant expenses in a wedding budget. This cost can include not just the space itself but also additional services like security, parking, and sometimes even in-house catering. Some venues offer package deals that might include chairs, tables, and basic decor, but these are often basic and may not align with your vision, leading to extra costs.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - A group of people standing on top of a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu, comparing the costs of elopement and traditional weddings.

Deer Park Heights in Queenstown as a venue, offers some of the best views in New Zealand. Wedding Permit fees start from NZ$1,500 for an intimate wedding with under 20 guests.

Catering: $8,000 (Average)

Food and drink are essential elements of any celebration. The $8,000 estimate often covers a per-head cost for food, which can vary depending on the type of meal (buffet vs. plated dinner) and the cuisine. This cost also usually includes servers, bartenders, and sometimes even the alcohol. Don’t forget to account for additional costs like cake cutting fees, corkage fees, and gratuities. Depending on how much the guests like to drink, the bar tab can often extend to $10,000 (additionally).

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - A table set up with place settings and flowers.

Photography: $3,500~6,000+

Capturing the memories is another significant but necessary expense. The cost can also vary depending on the destination, experience, length of time they’ll be at your event and the final deliverables, such as the number of edited photos and albums.

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We are primarily Wedding Photographers here at Nomad Weddings.

Dress and Attire: $2,000~5,000+

The bride’s dress is usually the most significant wedding attire cost, but don’t forget the additional elements like alterations, accessories, shoes, and possibly a second outfit for the reception. The groom’s tuxedo or suit, bridesmaids’ dresses, and groomsmen’s attire can also add to this cost. Some couples also choose to provide some attire elements for their bridal party, which would be part of this budget.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - A wedding dress hanging from a window in a cabin, emphasizing cost comparison between elopement and traditional weddings.

Decor and Styling: $1,000~2,000+

From table centre pieces to aisle runners, the costs of decor can quickly add up. Don’t forget additional elements like signage, fairy lights, and perhaps a photo booth for added fun. You can check out Amoment Weddings for wedding decor needs in Queenstown.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - A cost comparison between elopement and traditional weddings.

Flowers: $450~$2,000+

Bouquets, boutonnieres, and floral arrangements for the venue can be surprisingly costly. If you opt for out-of-season or exotic flowers, the price can go even higher. Our favourites are The Flower Room and Orange Blossom Design in Queenstown.

Shannon and Riaan eloping for their wedding on top of a hill in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Stationery: $800

Invitations, RSVP cards, thank-you notes, and postage can make a significant dent in your budget. And if you’re going for custom designs, the costs can escalate.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - A watch and jewelry are laying on a table.

Wedding Favours: $500

Whether it’s personalised trinkets or edible treats, wedding favours for your guests can accumulate in cost, especially if you have a large guest list.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - A group of groomsmen holding up fake groomsmen heads during a traditional wedding.

Music and Entertainment: $1,200

Hiring a DJ or a live band for entertainment is a common practice. Additional elements like a dance floor setup or specialized lighting can also add to the cost.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - A couple comparing the costs of elopement and traditional weddings.

Cake: $1,000

A multi-tiered cake from a reputable bakery can be expensive. Add customisation or special flavours, and the price increases. Sophie Roseanna Cakes has been very popular in Queenstown.

A couple cutting their wedding cake at night.

Transportation: $1,000

If you’re providing transportation for your guests or renting a special getaway car for yourselves, these costs can add up.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - Wedding of Dwayne and Cathlyna's silver car parked in front of a church.

Celebrant: $600

The person who legally marries you also comes with a fee, which can vary depending on their experience and demand. Most celebrants in New Zealand charge between $400-$800.

sarah noble queenstown wedding celebrant
Sarah Noble – Queenstown Wedding Celebrant

Wedding Planner: $2,000~5,000

If you’re hiring a professional to help you plan your big day, their fee can be a significant portion of your budget.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - A woman lighting candles at a table.

Miscellaneous Fees: $1,400

This is a buffer for unplanned expenses like additional meals, last-minute decor changes, or emergency kits.


Expanded Cost Breakdown of an Average Wedding in New Zealand with Additional Factors

On top of the costs listed above, there can be additional costs depending on how you plan your wedding.

Helicopter Flights to Mountain Tops: $1,560 – $10,000+

For those looking to add a touch of adventure to their wedding, helicopter flights to mountain tops can offer an unforgettable experience. This cost includes the flight itself and any necessary permits. Keep in mind that weather conditions can affect availability.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - A newlywed couple poses on a mountain peak, overlooking picturesque landscape.

Videographers: $3,500 – $12,000

While photography captures beautiful still moments, videography brings your wedding day to life in motion. Costs can vary based on the length of coverage and the style of the video. Some packages may include drone footage or even a same-day edit to be shown during the reception.

At Nomad Weddings, we offer Wedding Videography Services as well.

Queenstown NZ Wedding Videography – Nomad Weddings

Destination Travel Costs: $2,000 – $4,000

If you’re planning a destination wedding or have guests coming from various locations, travel costs can add up quickly. This can include flights, car rentals, and any other transportation needed to get everyone to the venue.

Felicia & Kent's pre-wedding shoot captures a plane flying over a lake with mountains in the background in Queenstown, NZ.

Accommodation Costs: $1,000 – $3,000

Accommodation is often a necessary but overlooked expense, especially if the venue is far from home. This cost can vary widely depending on the type of lodging, from budget hotels to luxury resorts. Some couples opt to cover the cost of accommodation for close family or the bridal party.

Queenstown New Zealand Elopement Wedding Photographer - Bo and Junyi are preparing for their Heli Pre Wedding Shoot in a hotel room.

Wedding Rings: $1,000 – $4,000

The symbols of your everlasting commitment, wedding rings can range from simple bands to intricate designs with diamonds or other precious stones. The cost can vary significantly based on the materials used and the complexity of the design.

Yachts/Boats: $2,500 – $6,000

For those dreaming of a nautical touch to their wedding, renting a yacht or boat can offer a unique and luxurious experience. The cost usually includes the boat rental itself, crew, and sometimes basic catering. Additional expenses may arise for specialized decor, upgraded catering options, or extended rental periods. Whether it’s a serene sail around Lake Wakatipu or a lavish yacht party, this option adds a distinct flair to your celebration but also comes with its own set of costs to consider.

Incorporating a yacht or boat into your wedding plans can elevate the overall experience but will also contribute to a higher total budget. As with other special elements, it’s crucial to weigh the cost against the unique memories and experiences it will provide.

A bride and groom share a passionate kiss on the bow of a boat at Lake Wanaka, creating an unforgettable moment.
Lora & Jason’s Wedding Reception on the Pacific Jemm

Adding these additional factors into the mix, the cost of an average wedding can easily exceed the general estimate of $40,000 NZD. Each of these elements contributes not just to the cost but also to the overall experience of your special day. Whether you opt for a traditional wedding or choose the intimacy of an elopement, being aware of these potential costs can help you plan a celebration that aligns with both your vision and your budget.