Thinking of getting married? Read on

A full-blown wedding now costs pounds 10,000. Mark Rowe reports
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The Independent Online
Here comes the bride ... and here comes the five-figure wedding. The average cost of getting married in Britain is approaching pounds 10,000 for the first time.

The news that will bring gloom to all parents with an unmarried daughter - and ensure that the happy day is one thebank manager will remember - is that a classic wedding, from engagement ring to honeymoon, now costs pounds 9,534.

The bill is more than two and a half times the figure of 10 years ago, when it stood at pounds 3,773.

An annual survey by Wedding & Home magazine shows that almost all the costs involved have risen in the past year, usually far above the rate of inflation.

The most expensive place to marry is London, where the average bill comes to pounds 11,319. Couples hoping to have any money left over for the odd stick of furniture should head to the provinces. The cheapest weddings are in the North, where the average cost is pounds 8,855, and the Midlands where it is pounds 8,860.

Tying the knot in Northern Ireland now costs an average of pounds 8,951, in the South-west pounds 9,108, and in Wales pounds 9,240. The Scottish average is pounds 9,507, in the South-east it is pounds 9,775, and in East Anglia it is pounds 10,424.

The survey suggests couples looking to exchange rings should perhaps first exchange bank statements. On average, engagement rings cost pounds 68 morethan in 1996 at pounds 680, and wedding rings now cost pounds 162 for the bride and pounds 138 for the groom.

The average wedding dress costs pounds 731, and almost one in four brides is willing to splash out more than pounds 1,000. Men appear to treat the issue of dress more soberly, with 60 per cent still hiring a suit for the day at pounds 77.

One consolation is that the cost of hiring the reception venue, where champagne, beer and wine will temporarily ease the pain of all these bills, has gone down since last year by pounds 145 to pounds 576. The average number of guests at a reception is 106.

The wedding cake costs around pounds 163. Photographers charge pounds 367. A video costs a further pounds 213.

After the reception, one night in a hotel costs pounds 115. A two-week dream honeymoon will now come to about pounds 2,256 with one in five couples heading for the Caribbean. Home charms are not forgotten, though, with more couples (11 per cent) choosing to honeymoon in the UK than in the USA (9 per cent).

But the rising cost is doing little to keep couples from the altar: the average period of engagement is down four months to 18 months. However, women (aged 27) and men (29) are both a year older when they walk down the aisle than in last year's survey, and 79 per cent of couples live together before marriage.

The magazine received detailed cost breakdowns from more than 2,000 readers.