How many weddings have you been to where the groom makes a WWE-style entrance down the aisle while donning a suit covered in SpongeBob SquarePants characters?
Warilla newlywed Dan Southern threw his fists in the air as heavy metal music blared from the speakers inside the Woonona Bulli School of Arts hall on the morning of July 8.
He waited onstage for his sweetheart, Naomi Robinson, who came dancing down the aisle soon after, wearing a bright designer pom pom dress - which she scored off Facebook Marketplace for cheap.
Her father, dancing alongside her, wore a shiny rainbow sequins blazer.
It was an eccentric wedding with a special twist, Naomi said. Everything was organised meticulously within a strict budget.
"We didn't want a situation where we could only invite 40 to 50 people," the bride said.
"We decided to think about our money a little bit more carefully.
"This community hall is absolutely incredible, you can hire it for the entire day for $700."
As the cost of living continues to skyrocket with no reprieve in sight, the creative couple wanted a day they remembered forever - without the heavy price tag. So they threw a non-conventional nuptial.
"We're not people that stick to the norm, we decided to give everyone a chance to be a bit crazy for the day," Naomi said.
"Social media is an absolute beast these days.
"What we have to do is look past all of the things that everyone else is doing, and find what's in your heart that you want to do - and just do it."
According to Oneflare, the average cost of an Australian wedding is around $51,000.
And when you break down what the special day includes - from the dress, catering, music, travel and booze - it's easy to see how quickly costs can rack up.
But Naomi and Dan worked hard to stick to their budget of under $18,000 for 200 people.
Their musical friends provided live entertainment, they enlisted the local Lions Club to cater the event with sausage sizzles, and patiently waited until soft drinks were slashed to half price at Woolworths and Coles.
"We paid $3 a sausage and got 400 of them," Naomi said.
One hundred pizzas were also ordered from Dominos Woonona, and 2,500 beers were purchased from Dan Murphy's using member's offers.
"I just waited and waited and waited until they were cheap," Naomi said.
Naomi even scouted for her dream technicolor wedding dress online, eventually nabbing a $2700 designer dress second hand for just $400.
The guests were also encouraged to lean into the eccentricity, with the dress code listed on the invites as "an opportunity to dash patterns, wear bright colours or pop something on you've never had the chance/courage to wear".
The result? A hall full of people wearing velvet suits, fluffy leopard print coats, hot pink princess dresses and even Bananas in Pyjamas costumes.
People in Wollongong are more likely than the rest of NSW to choose not to get married, according to the latest Census data.
In 2021, 11.3 per cent of Wollongong residents were in de facto relationships, compared to 9.6 per cent in the 2016 poll and 8 per cent a decade earlier.
In NSW, 10.4 per cent of the population were in de facto relationship in 2021, up from 9.4 per cent and 8.3 per cent in the previous Census.
Family law solicitor Jessica Koot said there are roughly the same amount of people in long-term romantic relationships, but that less of them are getting married.
"From hands-on experience, I really think that the cost of living is making a big difference," she told the Mercury earlier this year.
"It's having to juggle between, 'Do we buy a house or a unit and are we able to enter into the property market or do we have a wedding and an engagement?'"
But Naomi wants to show others it's possible to have your dream wedding day, without spiralling yourself into serious debt.
"You shouldn't not get married because you don't have the budget for it," she said.
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