The damage

This week: Melanie Clulow finds out how much it costs to get married

According to the breathless prose of the bridal press, the cost of the average British wedding has exceeded pounds 10,000 (you can add another 20 per cent if you live in London) - rather steep for regular 20-somethings contemplating a public celebration of their love. Despite people traipsing up the aisle at a riper age than they did even a decade ago - now late, as opposed to early, 20s - over three-quarters still go for the satin meringue bridal gown, the traditional church nuptials and acres of fresh flowers.

The preliminaries Engagement ring pounds 700; announcement in The Times pounds 20; 100 invitations, plus first-class postage pounds 200.

Preening Professional make-up application for bride, bridesmaid and mother of the bride pounds 90; bride's hair pounds 75; bridal lingerie pounds 70; bride's dress pounds 650; bride's shoes pounds 65; pearl tiara (newly de rigueur) pounds 180; groom's outfit pounds 300; bridesmaids' outfits pounds 400.

The day Chauffeur-driven Daimler pounds 175; two wedding rings pounds 315; flowers (including bouquet, posies, buttonholes, centrepieces, church decoration) pounds 230; photographer pounds 500; videographer pounds 300; ceremony fee pounds 263; biodegradable confetti pounds 37.

The food of love Hire of country house pounds 500; three-course sit-down meal for 100 pounds 1,900; 10 disposable cameras for candid shots (one per table) pounds 90; five cases of Laurent-Perrier champagne pounds 1,008; wine pounds 420; wedding cake pounds 150; wedding favours (although no adult has ever actually admitted to liking them, sugared almonds are still the most popular choice) pounds 175; jazz band pounds 1,000.

Afters Bride's going-away outfit pounds 180; first-night hotel pounds 120; Caribbean

honeymoon pounds 2,200; thank-you presents for bridesmaid and best man pounds 80.

Total: pounds 12,393 (or elope: a Registry Office wedding can cost as little as pounds 51)

Sources: wedding suppliers, `Bliss for Brides' magazine, `Wedding and Home' magazine

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