The price of love: Noosa council says it’s $567.50 if you want to say I do

Noosa has long been a favoured destination for loved-up couples wanting to tie the knot, with its white sandy beaches and clear blue waters offering the perfect backdrop to say “I do”.

Oct 16, 2020, updated Oct 16, 2020
Noosa wedding operators say the council's rising wedding charges could turn couples away.(Supplied: Lindy Yewen)

Noosa wedding operators say the council's rising wedding charges could turn couples away.(Supplied: Lindy Yewen)

But a steady rise in Noosa Shire Council’s wedding beach permit fees has sent ripples through the lucrative wedding industry, with a local celebrant warning the hikes could turn clients away just as the industry recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Jacqui Gray said the $567.50 three-hour Main Beach foreshore permit, up from $159 in 2014, was “outrageous”.

“I’ve had one couple go to Caloundra instead,” Ms Gray said.

“I’ve got another couple that have transferred theirs to Marcoola beach.”

Gray said while she had not lost business yet, the flow-on effects were being felt in the shire.

“Accommodation in Noosa has been cancelled and restaurants in Noosa have been cancelled,” she said.

“I had a couple last week who actually cut down their honeymoon by one night because one night’s accommodation was the same as the council permit.”

Paying it anyway

Gold Coast couple Julia Blume and Andrew Gerrard tied the knot on Noosa’s famous Main Beach foreshore last month.

It was a childhood dream fulfilled for the bride, albeit an expensive one, after paying $515 to the council last year to secure the spot.

“It’s definitely too expensive … just for hiring a place for a few hours and not getting anything else for it,” Blume said.

She said she understood why the council enforced a fee, but a cheaper rate would attract more couples.

In 2019, there were 324 weddings booked in Noosa, with 192 on the Main Beach foreshore.

This year there have been 93, including 41 on the foreshore, with the council citing coronavirus for the substantial decline.

Other sites around Noosa, such as Little Cove or Noosa Woods, are cheaper to hire, with permits costing $223.

Gray warned Noosa was in danger of losing business to areas further afield, like Cairns or Byron Bay, as Queensland’s border reopened to northern New South Wales.

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She said the fee hike this financial year exacerbated an already challenging year for small businesses.

Gray said the council did not consult the industry before increasing the fee, nor did it offer businesses any help to offset the change.

“So many of our small businesses have been severely impacted by COVID,” she said.

“People are quite outraged; we are not getting that assistance.”

Fees ensure ratepayers don’t pick up the tab

Council property manager Clint Irwin said phasing in the fees ensured a “full cost recovery process” and stopped ratepayers from being forced to subsidise the service.

Irwin said the $567.50 charge, including BYO equipment, ensured couples could enjoy their day while factoring in the maintenance of the area.

“The fee gives the couple a three-hour wedding timeslot in a picturesque environment, regarded as the premier north-facing location in Australia,” he said.

“The funds cover administration costs, management of bookings and maintaining the wedding areas to the high standard expected for such an important occasion.”

– ABC / Tim Wong-See

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