For better, for worse, that'll be £20,000
However squeezed their wallets, couples still splash out on weddings. Alison Shepherd looks at ways to cut the cost, but not the fun
Sunday 09 May 2010
Wedding bells may evoke warm thoughts of romance and love, but with couples blowing on average £20,000 on just one day, a cool head is called for.
Despite the high cost, the desire for fairy-tale nuptials appears not to have been curbed by the current squeeze on bank accounts. Instead, families are seeking cheaper ways to create the dream.
"DIY is the way to go now," says Helen Crockett, the features editor at Brides magazine. "Rope in family members. Could your mum bake the cake, or your friends help arrange flowers? We hear from our readers that getting guests to help in this way makes them feel more involved. It makes the event more quirky and individual. There is absolutely no stigma involved."
Ms Crockett's other tips for a cheaper wedding include haggling over every detail. "There is nothing that is not open to negotiation," she says. "Avoid peak seasons; buy your wine in Calais or at the supermarket; go for a buffet, rather than a sit-down meal; and, most importantly, avoid using the 'W' word until the very last minute when shopping around.
"Many suppliers will hike up their prices as soon as they hear 'wedding'. Tell them that you're pricing a 40th or 50th birthday. Leave 'wedding' until after they quote if at all possible," she says.
Another sign of the times is the rise in the number of couples – now up to 45 per cent of them, according to Wedding magazine – who are willing to break one of the last taboos and ask guests for cash instead of handing out the dreaded gift list.
"There has definitely been a cultural shift," says Martin Bamford, a financial planner and the managing director of Informed Choice.
"But many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of just handing over money, in which case travel vouchers could be a good choice. If the guests are family, the cash could be given in terms of a savings account or investment fund, but friends setting up a third-party account would probably get far too complex."
Mr Bamford also points out that such cash gifts are exempt from inheritance tax rules, as each parent can give up to £5,000 to a marrying child on or immediately after the day of the wedding, grandparents £2,500 and non-family £1,000, without it counting as part of the giver's estate when the taxman calls, should the guest die within seven years of the big day. This is on top of the £3,000 a year that every individual is allowed to give for any reason.
With all that cash arriving in embossed envelopes, and pouring out of the couple's bank into the suppliers' coffers, it's no wonder that wedding insurance is a growing industry.
The most obvious, and universal benefit of an insurance policy is to cover the couple's costs if the wedding has to be cancelled for any unavoidable reason. But in addition to this, policies offer cover for loss or damage to essential items such as the bride's dress, the cake or the couples' rings; and for the failure of a supplier to fulfil its side of the contract.
"Many things you buy for your wedding will be protected if you use your credit card to pay," says Cathy Neal, a senior researcher with Which?. "All cards cover goods or services between £100 to £30,000. And many home contents insurance policies will cover gifts around a wedding date. But sometimes you may have to pay in cash for a particular service, for instance employing an individual caterer, in which case a separate insurance policy may be worth it, just in case that supplier fails to deliver."
Although Ms Neal says wedding packages are "much of a muchness" in terms of what they cover, there is a huge variation in the range of premiums and payout limits on offer.
For instance, at the cheaper end of the market, for a £20 premium, E&L will insure up to £6,000 for a cancellation; £5,000 for supplier failure; £4,000 for damage to or theft of gifts, and £3,000 for loss of photographs. Whereas Greenbee offers up to £50,000 for cancellation; 50 per cent of the cost of supplier failure; £15,000 for theft of gifts; and £3,750 for loss of photographs, for a £355 premium.
"It's important that you look at what you need, how much you are spending, and what you fear may go wrong, and check the individual plans before you take out any policy," says Ms Neal.
It's not only the couple who can take out insurance, she adds, but also anyone who has paid for any aspect of the celebration. Ms Neal also warns that although several insurers will offer travel insurance as part of a wedding package, the cheaper, more comprehensive option will probably be a standalone travel policy for the honeymoon.
"Unfortunately, none of the insurers will pay up for either the bride or groom changing their minds," warns Ms Neal.
And a final word of warning for all lovebirds comes from the cool head of Mr Bamford. "Taking love and romance out of the equation, weddings can be extremely expensive events," he says. "If you're struggling day to day and the housing ladder is a long way off, is it really worth spending what could be a deposit on a home on one day which will disappear in a flash, rather than create a solid foundation for your years together?"
Cathy Neal, Researcher, Which?
"With the thousands of pounds that can get spent on a wedding, an extra £25-£30 for insurance is tiny, for peace of mind. But you need to check exactly what coverage is offered and compare it with your needs, to ensure you get the best value and that you're not paying twice for protection already offered by your credit card or home contents insurance."
Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk
Buying property overseas? Check out these hotspots
Bargain Hunter: Exclusive discount on a SmartGlider - a self-balancing electric scooter
Kate Hudson's online sports brand Fabletics drains your account if you don't say 'stop'
House prices plummeting in London's most expensive boroughs, but going up in the suburbs
Peer-to-peer lending rates put Nisas to shame
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
iJobs Money & Business
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...
£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...
£20400 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and highly reputable organisat...
Day In a Page
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.
This recently-refurbished three-bedroom home has bi-folding doors that lead out to a decked seating area - ideal for alfresco dining this summer.