Everyone loves a good wedding – so much so that according to the advice website Fool.co.uk, one in 10 of us are willing to borrow on credit cards to pay for the big day.
Now that doesn't seem a bright idea: as anyone who has been married will tell you, the chief cause of arguments is money. Saddling yourself with a whopping credit card bill at the start of married life is tantamount to trying to run the 100 metres with one ankle chained to the starting block.
Even if the big day isn't funded by debt, it can still blow a big hole in savings, either the couple's or their parent's. Fool.co.uk says that one in 12 couples spend £20,000 on their wedding, and it's easy to see how. A couple of summers ago, a rash of my friends tied the knot in the UK and each wedding got progressively more expensive as they seemed to try to outdo each other for grand location, food and champagne. At the last and most lavish bash, a professional opera singer even rocked up and belted out some tunes. But the peer pressure to put on a good do and invite everyone you've ever set eyes on is enormous, and any economy is seen as being tight-fisted.
No wonder increasing numbers of couples, the survey reveals, tie the knot overseas. You get fewer guests making it along, the food is better and cheaper, hoteliers abroad seem a little less keen to use weddings as a wallet- fleecing exercise, and you're probably already in your honeymoon destination. Oh and the weather is invariably much better.
Bring banks to heel
So the banks want to appeal against the High Court ruling that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has the right to decide whether or not unauthorised overdraft fees are unfair.
This will delay a final resolution of the great bank charges debate for another year and that is clearly the banks' intention. Meanwhile, those consumers who are suing their banks for the return of previously imposed overdraft fees will probably continue to have their claims put on ice by the banks, with the full backing of the Financial Services Authority (FSA). And the banks will be free to impose fresh fees on customers who go into the red without permission.
The OFT, which is meant to be independent, ought to be allowed to get on with its job of deciding what's fair and what's not. We need an end to this issue so that consumers know where they stand. The FSA should tear up the banks' "get out of jail free" card and ensure they deal with the thousands of claims pending.