Brides and grooms where you are might not be able to get fries with their vows but there are a number of other ways to tie the knot on a tight budget.
From fast food to fast wooed … it may not be everyone’s idea of a romantic, atmospheric day to remember, but McDonald’s is offering McWeddings on the cheap.
With catered weddings running to many thousands of dollars, McDonald’s.”warm and sweet wedding package” will set newlyweds back $HK9999 ($1280) – but, so far, only in Hong Kong.
Engaged for a Mcwedding … Kelvin Kwong and Ashley Tse prepare for a McWedding with a McEngagement party, featuring a stacked apple pie “cake” at a McDonald’s restaurant in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters
The restaurant chain says the concept fills a niche in the region, where its restaurants are popular dating venues and the prices for more traditional Chinese banquet weddings run high.
Since the launch of the service in January two wedding parties have signed up and about 70 other couples are in talks.
“They date here, they grew their love here, so when they have this important day they want to come over here,” Shirley Chang, the managing director of Hong Kong’s McDonald’s outlets, told Reuters.
The package includes pink invitation cards decorated with golden arches, decor featuring the likes of Ronald McDonald, and food worth up to $US385.
Guests will be asked to raise their thickshakes and softdrinks for a toast rather than champagne flutes though, as alcohol is banned in the family friendly restaurants.
Additional items will cost extra, including “white balloon” gown rental ($US165), a balloon wedding cake ($US88), and a large pink McDonald’s backdrop ($US321).
So, will Sydney brides and grooms be offered a similar service?
McDonald’s in Australia says it has no such plans.
But there are other ways to save on the expenses.
Marriage celebrant Nitza Lowenstein offers the use of her backyard on Sydney’s north shore for small, budget weddings, charging only slightly more than a registry office ceremony – generally between $450 and $500.
The bridal party can pop a bottle of champagne at the end and will often head off to dinner at a restaurant afterwards – even McDonald’s if they so desire.
“It’s a tailor made ceremony for them,” she says.
“It’s really memorable, it is not just going to sign papers. Through word of mouth I had a couple that really couldn’t afford a wedding and it was wonderful to help them.”
Another option is the local park or beach, although permission has to be sought from local councils and there might be a fee.
At Jeffrey Street Wharf in Kirribilli the fees start at $178 with additional costs added for ceremonies of more than 60 people.
“It is getting harder and harder to go to a public pace and not to pay,” she says.
Lowenstein officiates at weddings of all budgets and says there is often conflict between what the couple can afford and social pressure to have the whole package.
Her advice – shop around as some venues will offer good deals from time to time, and some days of the week are less expensive than others.
“Between $70 and $100 [a person] is a really cheap package, including alcohol and food,” she says. “Some say you can’t get away with less than $150 a head for most places in town.”
Another option is to hire a community hall.
Wedding planner Jennifer Kennedy is helping a client to decorate a hall they have hired for $500.
In the context of the $50,000 to $70,000 weddings she often works on, this one has a much smaller budget. A total outlay of $25,000 expected, including honeymoon and rings.
In this couple’s case, they want the best and can’t afford it.
“You can always wow people with the details,” she says.
Her other budget wedding tips include ditching the wedding cake if the dessert is included in the catering package, not spending $300 on shoes no one will see and making your own wedding album from high resolution photographs.
“Always negotiate with your suppliers; everyone is negotiable,” she says.
As for the McDonald’s option, she’s not entirely convinced.
“I can see the appeal if you’re a McDonald’s fan and your budget is tiny,” she says.