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."
- 1 Should Apple buy Greece?
- 2 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 3 Drummer Lee Rigby's family reject 'extremist' groups using Woolwich murder for political gain
- 4 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 5 Fox News anchor asks 'what's to prevent' three people from marrying after same-sex marriage legalised
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Austerity is essential if Britain wants to reduce inequality – why can't the left-wingers who march against it realise this?
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
iJobs Money & Business
£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...
Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...
Competitive (Freelance) : Guru Careers: An Investment Writer / Stock Picker is...
Day In a Page
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.
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.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
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.
Well-located for coastal walks and popular restaurants, this detached four-bedroom home offers views over farmland, to the Solent, the Purbecks and Bournemouth.
If you love high ceilings, school conversions like this one are bang on the money. This two-bedroom flat is minutes from Burgess Park and the foodie haven at Borough Market.
Set within a church conversion in Bermondsey, this two-bedroom maisonette combines existing features, such as original arches and brickwork, with a contemporary finish.
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 four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
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.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
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.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
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.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.