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."
Simon Read: Frozen in time - the expat British pensioners who deserve a better deal
Donald MacInnes: My wasted hours in the retail deserts of Dixons-Carphone
Bargain Hunter: From The Outsider to 1984, catch a cut-price classic, read it in the rye
Money Insider: Smart alternatives to the pensioner bond
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 1 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 2 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
- 5 This crazy skiing video will leave you feeling queasy
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...
Day In a Page
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village