THE cost of love has blown out almost $50,000 as couples spare no expense to say 'I do', a national bridal magazine survey has revealed.Proving there is no recession in bridal town, wedding investment has risen 73 per cent nationally since 2001, Bride to Be magazine's 2008 Cost of Love report says.A significant rise in destination weddings has seen the Hunter's vineyards rise in popularity with associated accommodation costs one of the many benefits for nearby business. The average outlay on an Australian wedding is just under $50,000, which sounded "about right" to Hamilton couple Con and Yvonne Safouris, who married in December.The result for the couple, aged in their mid-30s, was an elegant affair culminating in a reception at City Hall for 170 of their friends and family.With styling and theming paramount, couples are spending three times as much on details such as flowers, decorations and cakes, survey results showed.Couples spent more on the reception despite having fewer guests, with the average cost of a reception $10,486, the data showed. "We didnt want a 'princess for the day' style of wedding, but something timeless that we would remember forever," Mrs Safouris said.The couple spent about $100 a head for their guests with added costs including decorations (flowers, chair and table decorations that included fresh flowers), room hire, entertainment and extras such as providing their own champagne flutes and cake knife.Overall investment in weddings has risen 25 per cent in the past two years alone with more couples taking a less traditional path to the altar, the survey revealed.Fewer than one in three weddings take place in a church, with outdoor civil ceremonies now in vogue.Marrying later was also common, 55 per cent of marrying couples had opened a joint bank account and 42 per cent had taken out a home loan together before their nuptials.Brides are spending more on their dresses, with an average cost of $2200, up from $1940 in 2006. The average spend on a groom's suit is about $600, the survey revealed. In her role as a Hamilton dress designer, Mrs Safouris said brides would spend between $1700 to $5000 on a custom-made gown.Couples also continued to remain focused on post-wedding bliss, spending $6829 on their honeymoon, a 12 per cent increase from 2006.