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How should a wedding be celebrated?

10:57 UK time, Thursday, 5 August 2010

Weddings are self-indulgent and over-blown vanity projects according to the Reverend Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's speaking on Radio 4's Today programme. Have we lost sight of the true meaning of marriage?

The Reverend went on to say that celebrity weddings featured in magazines have damaged the true meaning of the marriage ceremony.

Catherine Westwood, editor of Wedding Magazine, responded by calling the Reverend "old-fashioned". She says that a wedding should be a party and it is still a way of celebrating a life-time commitment.

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What are your feelings about modern-day weddings? Are they a huge expense without meaning? Or are they a way of proving enduring love? What was your budget like? Have you been a guest at a wedding and felt under pressure to spend a lot of money on transport, accomodation and a gift?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.

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  • Comment number 1.

    He is correct in that celebrity weddings are obscenely expensive.
    The Clinton's spent $10 000 on a cake for goodness sake, while there are people in the US starving.
    Do these people have no moral conscience?

  • Comment number 2.

    2nd time around, I had the most amazing wedding, great venue and all that, not massively expensive, but we fed and watered most of our friends and a good time was had. I have great memories of the day.

    Mostly though, my wife was there. It doesn't matter how and what you do, unless it's only for show, in which case, don't bother. That money would be better spent helping the young couple through financial storms that all too regularly break marraiges these days, flash ceremony or not.

    Ceremonies don't prove love, they prove purse, or ability to get credit, but not love. In fact, if you feel you need the over extravagant all spinning and dancing show, then there's probably an insecurity already there. Love doesn't need to show it's wallet, but it often does.

    Love is about staying together, not getting together.

  • Comment number 3.

    How should a wedding be celebrated?

    However the Happy Couple' want it to celebrated obviously.

    Is someone seriously trying to suggest that there should be a homogenous 'one-size-fits-all' apprroach?

    I know its silly season, but HYS has a distinctly light-weight feel about it at the moment...

  • Comment number 4.

    A wedding should not be celebrated in any particular way - it should be up to the people who are getting married.

    So, the Reverand should not say how we should celebrate, and neither should Catherine Westwood.

    Up to us - plain and simple.

    (Oh, and mothers should keep out of it if the couple have a particular desire too)

  • Comment number 5.

    This is an interesting question and the answer is personal preference. The act has different meanings for different people-

    For those believing a religion it is a union under god. Yet still blow a load of money on the event (sounds against god to me but anyway). Some people are pressured into having a weading by religious relations who somehow feel they can dictate how someone else should live. I know this because I am pressured by my partners mother and grand parents (I dont believe in marriage) but I wont give in.

    To other people it is an excuse to have a party and have fun (such as a wedding in klingon) which excuses the expense.

    The saying is that a wedding is the womans day. For the men who watch women go on a spending spree we know why a wedding costs so much (all smile now)

  • Comment number 6.

    As modestly as possible with only the immediate families present.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think its pretty naive to say that individuals arrange exorbitantly expensive weddings because they want to express them selves or fulfil some cherished dream.
    The reality is we live in an increasingly mediated society where people feel under pressure to match an idealised lifestyle unobtainable to most.
    In other words we often make judgements about our own worth and the worth of others based on very shallow and material values ( I am not religious by the way )
    Maybe its ok if you've got pots of money, but I think that in the past people realised that the priority was to set up a home and furnish it.
    Given that debt is a huge factor in marital break up it seems weird that people want to start the hardest part of lifelong relationship paying for one day of excess. The reality is that its great to celebrate a marriage but what's important is the feelings you have for each other not the gratification you might get from feeling `special`, ie being extravagant.

  • Comment number 8.

    Like all things it’s about consumerism and image and nothing to do with a lot else. Ooh guess how much our wedding was? Pass me the vom bucket please.

  • Comment number 9.

    My own wedding was very small, immediately family and closest friends only. I refused to spend a fortune on people who were only there for the party. A wedding is a serious commitment and the more it is treated like a stage show the more unlikely the participants are to take the occasion and the vows seriously.

  • Comment number 10.

    Most weddings are naff and cheesy - people allow themselves to be brainwashed by tradition, and the wedding industry's emotional blackmail.

    If two people really love each other, having a big flash ceremony is irrelevant - love is the most important thing.

  • Comment number 11.

    Far be it from me to tell anyone how to celebrate their nuptials. It really is all relative how much people spend. And some people get horribly in debt. Others have money to burn. I'm afraid that's life.

  • Comment number 12.

    Money is a fantastic way to alienate those closest to you. In that sense, it is a bit ridiculous that such gatherings that are meant to bring people together often drive them apart instead. You should not spend a year's salary on a celebration that will at most last 3 days. It is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 13.

    Most weddings are satires by those who commit to gay lifestyles and others despising monogamy. Ceremonies are parodies for mocking stable, emotional relationships. Churches tire from performing rituals for couples really looking for a quick divorce or open sexuality. The wedding of Charles and Diana appeared more as a spoof than a serious ceremony. Too many of the couples suffer from one spouse not wanting the other spouse or those laughing-off the idea of commitment to one person.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is fed by the industry; when I got engaged I bought one magazine that told me I needed to start a fitness regime 18 months before the big day and that it would cost at least £18000 (including, of course, dancing lessons and a going away outfit). I never bought another magazine, we arranged our wedding in 3 months for a total cost of £5000 and had a beautiful ceremony, dinner and games with 60 family and friends. It started at 4 and was over by midnight, and it really was the most wonderful, happy, joyous day of our lives. We just wanted to show our friends our love for each other, and make sure they enjoyed being there, and that's exactly what I think we achieved.

  • Comment number 15.

    "Weddings are self-indulgent and over-blown vanity projects according to the Reverend Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's"

    I find this comment a bit rich coming from a minister of the church, where of course there is no self-indulgence or over-blown vanity at all. The words pot, kettle and black spring to mind. Given that more people choose civil marriages rather than church marriages, Giles Fraser may want to reflect on why that might be.

    Some people like big showy weddings and some don't; it's called 'choice'.

  • Comment number 16.

    JOE BLOGGS wrote:

    He is correct in that celebrity weddings are obscenely expensive.
    The Clinton's spent $10 000 on a cake for goodness sake, while there are people in the US starving.
    Do these people have no moral conscience?


    Quite often the same people that spend obscene amount on a cake ALSO spend obscene amounts on charity.

    The Clinton family have personally given something like $6 million in charitable donations and the William J Clinton foundation has been responsible for distributing over $10 billion in corporate and private money to slow the spread of aids.

    So questioning their moral conscience seems somewhat trite.

  • Comment number 17.

    Like so many other displays of wealth, celebrity weddings prove that you cannot buy taste!

    But why stop at weddings? Look at the spectacle some parents make of their children at first communions etc.

    Surprised at the church though, surely if people can afford such displays of wealth, the church has missed an opportunity to bump up its charges!

  • Comment number 18.

    I agree with #4.

    However, when my daughter gets married I hope that she feels that what's happening is more important than how much it costs!

  • Comment number 19.

    What is the point of a wedding? You spend £20,000 to be with the person you were with yesterday, in the same house, with the same problems... except with a £20,000 debt and a hangover. Does the marriage-focussed tax system really compensate that much? And if you break up, it's another £20,000 in legal fees. Frankly, the whole concept of marriage seems outdated and pointless to me. It's a contract between two people and the state. And I don't need the state to tell me who I love.

  • Comment number 20.

    Catherine Westwood, editor of Wedding Magazine, responded by calling the Reverend "old-fashioned". She says that a wedding should be a party and it is still a way of celebrating a life-time commitment.
    Hmmm. What else would one expect the editor of Wedding magazine to say ?

  • Comment number 21.

    I was married in 1978 and ours was a very quiet and modest affair in a small chapel followed by lunch in a nice restaurant for about 8 people - pretty minimalist really!

    My recent experience suggests that there is a tendency for couples to worry enormously about achieving perfection down to the last detail, often at huge cost, which puts them and their marriage under strain for some time afterwards. The fashion to fly themselves and guests out to exotic places seems to me to be well over the top and can often lead to total disaster if things go wrong, quite apart from carbon footprint issues.

    There is a strong 'me-too' effect, where couples feel they have to compete with others in their circle. The celebrity culture and the growth of wedding planners and websites only makes this worse.

    Regrettably, the concentration on outward display rather than the underlying meaning of the event, is a reflection of modern consumerist society.

    When my daughters get married (if they do), they will be encouraged to keep it simple and only spend what they can immediately afford. I will give them a sum of money on the basis that it is spent on setting up home rather than lining the pockets of the wedding industry.

  • Comment number 22.

    I actually cancelled my wedding because I was worried that I was getting more caught up in the "Big Day" than in the idea of being married. This is one day at the beginning of a lifelong commitment. The service is the commitment & should be treated as such, the party after is the celebration.
    I should add that we did marry in the end - 11 years in September!

  • Comment number 23.

    Humanist weddings put the couple's own outlook on marriage and their own words of affirmation at the heart of the ceremony,requiring them to give due thought to what marriage means to them. Ironically, such weddings are not legally valid in England and Wales (though they are in Scotland). Couples who want their marriage to be legally binding have to have a minimal register office ceremony before going on to have the humanist ceremony of their choice. It remains to be seen whether the coalition government will change the present antiquated and discriminatory law in favour of one that is more inclusive and fair.

  • Comment number 24.

    The most important thing is to make sure your guests have a good time. Don't keep them waiting while you have endless photos taken of you with Auntie Doris etc between service and reception ; serve gallons of real Champagne and give them edible food. If you are on a tight budget , spend less on the dress and flowers etc and invite fewer people. That way everyone will remember what a good time they had.

  • Comment number 25.

    Well my middle daughter gets married at the end of the month (after living with partner for 16 years) and so far......

    The wedding dress was easy, but the choice of bridesmaids dress was left to a 12 year old and is in total meltdown.

    My daughter is struggling to keep the numbers of her friends and their hangers on down to the maximum allowed to comply with the fire regulations.

    My daughter (she is 34) wants ballons (ballons for gods sake!) on the tables. A choclate sponge for the wedding cake, (my wife makes a fantastic fruit cake and has done cake decorating classes so much she could turn professional). Almost all her friends have 'offered' to help and as she cannot say no, her mum who does a lot of design has been excluded to only do the table flowers (and find the venue). (At one point there was going to be choclate lollypops until I said I would throw mine away).

    My daughter just really wants a party, has no idea about 'ceremony'.

    The only advantage I can see for me is that my wedding speech is to be no longer than 5 min and has to have none of my favorite (embarrasing) anecdotes about her childhood.

    My daughter now realises that events like this do not organise themselves and given the choice again would have had something much smaller, proberbly overseas (like daughter No 1).

    Still, my daughter will be beautiful, surrounded by loving family and friends and I will cry my eyes out.......

  • Comment number 26.

    Ask the bride, they normally make all the decisions, the groom is just expected to turn up.

  • Comment number 27.

    Weddings are very special events. Celebrity weddings are ornate affairs simply because the couples involved have earned the cash through their own efforts or have inherited the money from enterprising, rich ancestors and hence have the capacity to spend. If the money has been earned honestly and through the dint of sheer hard work, nobody should ever question the right to spend that money. Of course if the celebrities decide to donate money to charities of their choice as well, they would endear themselves to the public at large. But that should be a personal decision.

  • Comment number 28.

    The issue of losing the real, underlying meaning of marriage and the question of 'how' weddings should be celebrated are, in my opinion, two largely separate matters. The underlying meaning of marriage is being gradually eroded not by huge celebratory bashes - or even wanting to be a princess for the day - but by the ease of getting a divorce (thus lack of genuine responsibility to really work on things), lack of pre-marital preparation for what life-long committment entails, and often immaturity from either or both sides to be able to be with one person forever. I don't think large weddings have anything to do with it at all - if people can afford it and want a huge party to celebrate their committment, then so be it. As long as the reasons for marriage aren't a wedding itself!

    It is, however, sad that it is becoming increasingly difficult to have an even modest party without paying through the roof for it.

  • Comment number 29.

    Marriage proved to be a logistic and bureaucratic nightmare for me. I was serving my country in the Armed Forces in Kiev, Ukraine, awaiting orders to ship out on active service. My wife is Ukrainian and we had to prove temporary residence in the UK borough in which we wanted to marry (we lived in an apartment in Kiev)!!!! This would enable us to secure the blessing of the church and assist with compliance with UK visa entry regulations.
    You cannot begin to imagine the hassles we went through, including the cost, the organisation of a UK wedding (from overseas). The church authorities were probably the biggest hurdle, with their archaic and out-of-date rules. No wonder people are flocking away from the church in droves!
    Outcome: Lesia was 100% worth it and we have been happily married for many years.

  • Comment number 30.

    In my person opinion, marriage is an outdated concept.

    I don't need an expensive piece of paper to tell me that I love someone...

  • Comment number 31.

    A wedding is for a day; marriage is for a lifetime. Enjoy the day, but don't get too focused on it . . .

  • Comment number 32.

    These days weddings have become an exhibition of the pretentious. But the best weddings are those without guests. This enables the prospective man and wife to focus on their committment to each other and avoid the stupidity, bling and unecessary cost of following the fashion of the great unthinking. And of course, newly weds would find a much better use for their hard earned cash that funding the profits of the "Wedding Manager" the florist, the dress, the clothes hire, the disco, the food, the stretched limo etc etc. Try a drive-through wedding in Nevada.

  • Comment number 33.

    I have been to so many weddings from the obscenely extravagant to the sparsely budgeted and I have to say I prefer the least expensive option. It seems more personal.

    Friends of mine who were keen to maximize the money they had for a deposit on a house decided that, rather than have some expensive affair they opted for a wedding where, instead of gifts, everyone participated in the wedding. Some friends were chauffeurs, some caterers, some ushers, some flower arrangers. I was both best man and master of ceremonies at the reception.

    Frankly that will go down as the greatest wedding I have ever been to. Everyone was involved, everyone felt included, it was never about money, it was about a group of friends and family coming together to join in the celebrations of two people who wanted to marry.

    At the other end of the spectrum, I have been to lavishly expensive weddings and have never been so bored in all my days. Sitting there like some kind of spectator, it was just so impersonal.

    Save your money, get your friends and family involved - it’s the best way to do it.

  • Comment number 34.

    Who has the right to define how a wedding should be celebrated? It is (or should be) entirely a matter of choice, decided on by the bride and groom. Our civil ceremony was a modest affair. We made and decorated our own cake, did not bother with special wedding cars, (my wife to be stayed in the hotel venue overnight in a wonderful suite with an adjoining room where the hair was done on the morning of the ceremony), and we invited only immediate family with a few close friends. We did not have a wedding list, considering the company of our guests as the real treat, no disco (who really enjoys them anyway?), no free bar (funny how there was no hint of drunken misbehaviour), no evening do, and no limo to travel to another secret hotel for the night. And do you know what? It was perfect. Our only extravagance was a pro-photographer and what a gem he turned out to be. The money we saved on unnecessary fripperies we spent on the honeymoon, and we were not left with the feeling that we had been at any stage exploited or ripped off. So how should a wedding be celebrated? With common sense, within financial limitations and with honesty.

  • Comment number 35.

    The Canon of St. Paul's is berating people for self-indulgence and vanity?

    Has he not looked at the building he works in, or the thousands of other churches and cathedrals? And that's just in this country, there are millions of places of worship around the world.

    Religion is more guilty of ostentation than anything, this man should shut up about people that are following that example.

  • Comment number 36.

    These overly large and expensive weddings are such a waste and often serve as a platform for the display of grossly bad taste, over indulgence in food and alcohol. The sad thing is that where one sees hundreds gathered for some of these events it is a pretty safe bet to say that ten or twenty years down the line, if the marriage has lasted that long, that the happy pair will not have seen or heard during the intervening period from 80% of the guests. If at least some of the money expended on such events was instead invested towards the provision of a family home or the university education of any off-spring it would go to ensuring a better chance for a happy and successful marriage as well as reducing the demands placed on the taxpayer for more affordable housing.

  • Comment number 37.

    The man is spot on!

    I find that the more money you spend on a wedding in relation to your income, the less likely the marriage is to last the distance. 5 of the weddings I have attended in the last 15 years have ended in divorce. I must admit, not one single divorce was a shock, the writing was on the wall at each wedding, which - yes you guessed it - was massive and showy!

    I've been happily married for 13 years, and until today, I thought I was a bit weird because I was never really that invested in the big day - I just wanted my husband! I didn't want to be late for church because I think that is the height of rudeness to your guests, the vicar, and most importantly - the poor guy at the altar! As for princess dresses; they are for 7 year olds, not grown women.

    I don't see anything wrong with the cost of Chelsea Clinton's wedding though, she is the daughter of a head of state, there are massive security implications, and as you would expect, a lot of guests. The cost was proportionate, and I think she looks very happy, as does her husband.

  • Comment number 38.

    Clergymen should realise by now that they don't have any right to express their opinions on marriage as if all marriage is an act of union under God. If he think marraige is becoming tacky then he should just address his flock rather than the population at large.

    People can have any kind of ceremony at whatever cost they choose to. Personally I wouldn't want to spend very much, but I'm not going to attack people who do - it's their perogative.

  • Comment number 39.

    Post #2 is exactly right. The emphasis should be on staying together, and marrying for love. Marriage is seen by many people now as the next fasionable thing to do, and many younger couples seem to want to copy the trashy and materialistic ideals of celebrities. Look how much money and hype went into Jordan and Peter Andre's wedding, and where has it got them? They have split up and and have been bickering about it ever since, whilst even more crudely making a TV show out of it and raking in the money. Funny how 50 years ago there weren't any trashy celebrities and the divorce rate was nearly half what it is today. Not coincidence.

  • Comment number 40.

    How can a man who lives his life in gowns, surrounded by alterboys, with flunkies shaking insense and goes through ceremonials every day have the audacity to talk about weddings?

    This man is employed by a church that only exists because, at the time of it's inception, it had a randy king that had a distinct love of weddings.

    If someone has the money for a lavish wedding then let them have it. It may be a waste of money, in some peoples eyes, but it is their money. For someone that makes a living out of ceremonies to make a comment on this is daft.

    I suppose to many on HYS, anyone that can afford a wedding is a blood sucking capitalist and they should donate all their spare money, that is the money left over from their 99% tax, to Somalian women's hostels, Palestian relief, another Jaguar for Lord Prescott or any other loony left project.

    If Bill Clinton has $10000 for a cake then he can send the remains to Africa and they can enjoy it too, as it must be very tasty.

  • Comment number 41.

    It's all very well saying "no-one should tell me how to get married" but it is the Church that marries you, so it IS their right to comment. If you don't like it, get married in Las Vegas and stay away from our respectable Churches

  • Comment number 42.

    To me a wedding should be an expression of love and commitment, not to be confused with material wealth. Does an unostentatious quiet wedding mean that this love is any less - or could it be that the itimacy makes it all the more romantic and sincere?

  • Comment number 43.

    I film weddings for a living, and there is steady trend to the "look at me" aspect.

    Couples are spending more time on the rehearsing of the dance or ensuring they get the cool picture as they are on the arragements for the main part of the day.

    Thats, fine and it keeps things interesting, but anyone that says the "look at me" approach isn't on a massive increase doesn't go to a lot of weddings.

    I think the worst aspect is the cost. £20k seems to be the average, but you can cut that massively with a few compromises.

    I managed to cut mine from £18k to £6k, but swapping to a venue not tied into a catering company. I dumped canopies, over the top cars, expensive favours, and swaping out of date photographers for a photo/video combination.

    The venue, dress and meal was still stunning. And the £12k I saved went into our pension. Afterall, we promised to look after each other til death do us part.

  • Comment number 44.

    You only have to look at the ridiculously overblown affairs that certain footballers and other 'celebrities' have, to see where a lot of this comes from.

    At the end of the day, a wedding contains a marriage ceremony, where the couple are making a public statement of commitment to each other, in front of those who matter most to them. The rest of it is a celebration of that.

    Spending even a few thousand pounds on it seems overblown to me. Perhaps you have to ask who are they trying to impress? Whose ego is getting the once-over?

  • Comment number 45.

    Was there a punch-up at the Clintons wedding?

    I think it's not a proper wedding unless there is a punch-up.

    One wedding I was at in the 1970's I had to hold the bride back from punching the lights out of some trollope who was making eyes at her mothers new boyfriend......

    O happy day!

  • Comment number 46.

    I got married this May, and we wanted it small, so it was small. It was intimate, romantic, all the guests laughing and smiling and everyone has told us (even the photographer) how happy we looked. Isn't that what it should be about? We love each other, wanted to get married, so did. It might not have been big and expensive, but we enjoyed ourselves.

    However, some people do want the bigger wedding for whatever reason, it can be a real confidence booster, or maybe your family is big, and I think they should be able to celebrate their day the way they want to, I certainly did!

  • Comment number 47.

    Fully agree with Rev Fraser. My daughter has succumbed to the 'me, me' me' wedding next week, unfortunately supported by her mother. Programmes such as 'Four Weddings' and magazines on the 'perfect wedding' just support the idea of it being an event with no decorum or propriety more a chance for a party (which you can have at any time) and not a life changing event that can still be for life (or is that too old fashioned now?). The so called friends invited (many have not had the decency to reply) are invited in place of family, now considered too passe for such an 'event' all adding to the sense that the happy couple are too precious in their own eyes to have any self worth - they are just having to be seen by peers to be 'in with the crowd', all of whom have no idea of life and the world in which they live is only here by sacrifice and hard work. When did society lose its own self esteem?

  • Comment number 48.

    A daughter of my Dad's friend was very insistent on a lavish £35k wedding including a chartered private jet experience which basically went up in the air, circled birmingham a few times and came back down.

    3 months later, yes 3 months she was fed up and left. Parents not happy but apparently all she wanted was the 'big day' and not him.

    I love my partner dearly and after 12 years of being together she knows only too well that I would never marry her. If she loves me she will stay and if she wants the 'big day' then she can find someone else.

    Incidentally, did anyone catch the ground-breaker on divorce law that can prevent women obtaining financial information underhandedly in an effort to increase entitlement? Does anyone know if this extends to home ownership? I would love to marry her in all honesty but I have always told her that my home is rented.

    Women are beautiful and wonderful but never underestimate how clever they are when it comes to entitlement and asset tranfer.

  • Comment number 49.

    Being recently married - and having been lucky enough to have had the perfect day that was everything my husband and I wanted - it makes me feel rather irritated that people feel the need to judge and comment on a couple's decision of how they would like to celebrate the start of their married life together.

    Some weddings may appear lavish, some modest, some outrageous and some completely bizarre depending on your viewpoint. However, is it not the freedom of choice in holding your wedding day the way you want to, that makes marriage so wonderfully personal and cherished to the couple involved?

  • Comment number 50.

    After writing a list of those we should invite to our wedding we looked at the huge cost of inviting over 250 guests. As we were paying for the wedding ourselves we realised the money could be better spent on things we needed rather than satisfying the needs of others.

    We opted for a much quieter wedding with all the trimmings. We invited 30 must have guests and got exactly what we wanted and paid for everything comfortably. We were married in the Registars and booked a local restaurants barge for the reception giving us the benefit of their extensive Menu. The feedback we received was excellent and we are still complimented on how much our guests had enjoyed themselves.

    Couples don't need to spend a fortune to have a very memorable day.

  • Comment number 51.

    I suppose I can see where he is coming from, especially when you see the celeb couple get divorced in the same mags a few years later.

    Just had my 1st anniversary. We had small country wedding in our own village. Practically every thing like flowers, cakes, bridesmaid dresses, photographer, hair and make up for the girls were wedding presents from friends and family. The wedding dress was a bargin to boot.

    Perfect day in every way (including the things that went wrong because something always does) and cheap too! Most of the cost was the church fees, buffet and disco!

  • Comment number 52.

    I read this article with a great deal of interest, as I have been putting off my plans to get married because of the prohibitive prices around it. It seems it is very nearly impossible to get married and not spend massive amounts of money on doing it. I have absolutely no intention of spend £17,000 - £20,000 on a big party and I feel this is very much down to the "industry" that has grown up around the modern wedding. Just the experience of getting engaged was enough to get our fingers burnt by this so-called service industry. All providers of services and products that are related to engagement and marriage seem to think they have the right to hike up their charges by adding a grand onto everything that involves weddings. The jeweller from who we ordered the engagement ring is a case in point. The first jewellers we approached with the specifications of this ring we wanted was going to charge us £1,300 for the design and production of the ring (which, I might add, contained no diamonds, so the cost was not in the quality of stones etc). When we approached a second jeweller with the same specifications, but explained the ring as a birthday present, the price quoted to us was £700. And £700 we paid and were very happy with the ring until a stone came out of it and we sent it back for repairs upon which, the jeweller objected to the fact that we were using this ring as an engagement ring "because it had not been designed as an engagement ring to be worn every day". Clearly my statutory rights as a consumer state that if he has manufactured a ring for me to my specifications he should have made it durable enough to be worn regularly. (I don't know many people who can afford £700 for a ring only to be worn occasionally!)It was clear to us that upon finding that we had not informed the jeweller that he was making an engagement ring for us, he now feels hard done-by that he was therefore not able to whack his extra £1000 charge on top of the £700 we paid him.

  • Comment number 53.

    Im planning my wedding for next year. We are only planing on spending at the very most £1000.
    There will be only close family there no more than 20 guests.
    The dress will be from ebay - you only wear it once why spend lotS
    Belfast City hall for wedding - Not religious
    Restraunt for a meal - Just off the menu so everyone gets a choice and not paying wedding prices.
    Topped off by a reception with family and close friends in my grandparents backgarden under a hired marquee.
    Thats all I want. I dont understand why anyone would spend thousands of pounds on one day and party for their friends(well Im not drinking on my wedding night)It should just be about proving and showing your love for someone and wanting to spend the rest of your life with them.
    I will say though I will be spending a bit more on the honeymoon but only because it will be our first holiday together but also we are planning on starting a family so it may be our last.

  • Comment number 54.

    I know I will be shouted down (because people don't like hearing the truth) but the creation of marriage is recorded in Genesis 2:23-24: "The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." God created man and then made woman to complement him. Marriage is God’s “fix” for the fact that “it is not good for the man to be alone”

  • Comment number 55.

    "But if you want to point a finger at a group exploiting soon-to-be married couples, says Catherine Westwood, point it at the venue owners, caterers and wedding suppliers, who push up their prices as soon as the word "wedding" is mentioned."
    Hmmm maybe there is a reason suppliers "push up the prices as soon as the word wedding is mentioned"
    That would be because as a supplier you have one shot to get it right, if you get it wrong you will get sued and brides (and to a lesser extent grooms) are frankly the least flexible and most demanding customers a business is ever likely to encounter. All these little touches that "make our wedding so individual" make life for the vendors that little bit more difficult... and so the cost goes up.
    Catherine Westwood wants the brides and grooms to get their products and services at rock bottom prices but that would, for most suppliers, mean reducing the customisation... moving to more of a one size fits all. And from my experience that is exactly what brides and grooms are trying to avoid, whether they express that as a full-on-fairytale wedding with 100 white doves or an oh-so-down-to-earth-eco-chic-low-key-organic-locally-sourced-nettle-wine-we-did-it-all-for-50-quid type affair.

  • Comment number 56.

    I have to agree a lot of couples spend far too much on their weddings, but at the end of the day it is their choice, and it does create a lot of jobs in the hospitality sector.
    Most people would be better off spending a lot less on a wedding and using the money saved to get on the housing ladder, or put money away for when they want children.
    I know it's not romantic to say this, but around 50% of the marriages will end up in divorce, so why waste so much money.

  • Comment number 57.

    Our traditional wedding two years ago was not overly expensive (nowhere near the national average), although we did it all in fine style and it was a wonderful day. We had a church wedding and dinner in a beautiful local hotel - no disco, extravagent table settings or fireworks (but the caricaturist after dinner was great fun and a massive success!). We, our parents and our 40 guests all have very happy memories of an intimate and joyous occasion and spending more money would not have improved things one bit.
    I absolutely agree with previous comments that getting married is easy, staying married requires work. A good reality check might be: is marrying this person so important to you that you would be quite content with an undistinguished registry office with two witnesses?
    Yes, the Big Day and the party are fantastic but, if that's the focus and not the marriage vows you're making, there's a strong chance you will have problems later.

  • Comment number 58.

    We did a lot of our wedding stuff ourselves. My wife found a pre-made dress she liked, she baked and iced the wedding cake, I made the cake stand, we went to the local garden centre the day before the wedding and bought pot plants that were in bloom instead of spending a lot on cut flowers and we spent the afternoon with friends and family decorating the pots. We did have a formal sit-down dinner after a ceremony with the local registrar (no church) which was the biggest expense, but hired the local village hall for the evening entertainment and had a ceilidh band. Evening food was once again home-prepared.

    Neither of us saw any point in starting married life with a huge debt to pay off, so we were cutting costs as much as we could.

  • Comment number 59.

    For once I agree with the God botherer. I can't understand why people spend such obscene amounts of money on what is effectively a theatrical performance. My daughter will be lucky if she gets a pork pie salad and a crate of brown ale when she gets married. If she wants music, she'll have to put money in the jukebox herself. (Do they still have jukeboxes in pubs?)

  • Comment number 60.

    We had a fantastic wedding with no relatives (although we love them dearly), no friends (ditto),but with just two random witnesses and a minister to do the wedding on a beach in the Seychelles. We did this to avoid hurting those who couldn't make it for various reasons (health/finances etc). It was the best day of our lives and all our relatives and friends loved the idea that we had 'eloped' even though we've been together for 18 years ! We have nothing to prove aside from our love for each other.

    My mother used to sing for big weddings and sometimes she would have 6 in a day. It was like one big long procession of one in one out. Even at a young age it really did make me realise that having a wedding was more about a union of love and not about how big your dress/cake/hair/guest list could be !

  • Comment number 61.

    I've been to several weddings in the last few years that have been highly extravagant. They've also cost me a fortune to attend.

    Of course the wedding day is about the happy couple and they should have everything they want the way they want it but I've noticed a few things about weddings recently:

    1. You're notified so far in advance (more than a year in many cases) that it's impossible to find a good reason not to attend.
    2. The wedding ceremony has to be in a quaint little church in the middle of nowhere and is inaccessible using public transport (other than a taxi).
    3. The wedding reception is usually on the other side of the nearby town, necessitating a cadged lift or another taxi of some 15 to 20 miles.
    4. Lots of guests will be using their 'weekend' 2 seater convertible cars and will be unable to offer lifts to anyone without inconveniencing their partner.
    5. The reception will be in an enormous banquet hall in a hotel in the middle of nowhere which hasn't got any cash machine facilities forcing you to buy drinks on a tab (to which they add 10% service charge to the already expensive drinks).
    6. The entire hotel will have been booked by the wedding party for family and overseas guests so I'd have to stay elsewhere overnight.
    7. The venue chosen is just far enough away to require an overnight stay before and after the wedding.
    8. Local B&Bs and hotels know there is a wedding nearby and have inflated their prices for that particular weekend.
    9. There's a 'dress code' for the wedding with very clear instructions for friends of the groom to be dressed similarly (we weren't even ushers or groomsmen).
    10. The wedding list inevitably has been circulated to family members first so the cheapest gifts remaining when I get a chance to look at it are around £60.

    Of course the wedding will also be highly enjoyable; the bride will look stunning (always), the best man's speech will have an entertaining yet seemingly innocent reference to the stag do, funky chicken dancing will be inevitable and the band/DJ will be possibly the worst entertainers ever (but no one will care).

    It still smarts when you shell out 500 notes for your friends' big day. Add in all the expense of the stag do and pretty soon we're talking serious money.

    I must say though, midnight bacon sandwiches was a genius addition to one particular wedding reception. Fantastic.

  • Comment number 62.

    I work at a printers and the latest ‘trend’ is to include a ditty with the invitation, saying something along the lines of “We already have everything we could possibly want in our beautiful home, etc. etc” then asking guests for a ‘donation’ to their honeymoon! I would call this a begging letter. If couples already have everything, then surely guests could be asked to donate any money/presents to a charity at their discretion.

  • Comment number 63.

    I have always admired Giles Fraser’s contributions to the TFTD slot on the Today Programme. He is well read, writes and delivers excellently and often provokes interesting debate, no less so than on this occasion. (Mind you, I was more comfortable with him at Putney than I am with him at St. Paul’s, but that’s a purely personal matter.)

    In my humble opinion weddings should be celebrated (word used advisedly) primarily as the married-to-be couple would desire. However, a compromise is usually necessary since parents and grandparents from different generations have their own ideas in these matters.

    During my fifty years of adulthood I have witnessed many weddings (as a photographer) and their aftermath (as a voluntary worker with a certain organization that shall remain nameless).

    A good deal of what Giles had to say should be listened to with serious reflection. We live in a glitzy, disparate world, one in which presentation and the media play an important part in the rise and fall of the “status” of individuals. Moreover, in a predominantly (?) secular society attitudes to relationships have changed dramatically. On this point I invite Giles to comment on “sex before marriage”. That should open up a hornet’s nest or two!

  • Comment number 64.

    Our wedding cost no where near the suggested average amount, yet we still had touches that were special to us and hopefully enhanced the day for those we had chosen to join us to celebrate our marriage.

    For the weddings of others I have attended, they have largely had the same attitude, except one, who thought bigger was better as you would receive more gifts...strangely this couple also had a engagement party, large christenening party for their child, etc, etc.

  • Comment number 65.

    The Rev is absolutely right. But what really concerns me is the social pressure to spend tens of thousands on a big wedding that could be better spent on something else, like the deposit for a house. Young people today have enough financial pressures what with student loans and getting on the housing ladder. Blowing such a large sum of money on a one day extravaganza just makes no sense at all.

  • Comment number 66.

    I have to say that I enjoyed mine but 15 years after the divorce it is a fading memory..

  • Comment number 67.

    Some of the recent D List celeb weddings and those of footballers have turned into a carnival of the grotesque. Hello magazine seems to love them though & in many case picks up the bill for the whole show.

  • Comment number 68.

    A wedding brings families together so it can't be all a bad thing.
    I don't think everyone gets married so they can say look at me; more likely to say we are happy and we want you all to meet each other. Let's get together for a great day and here is an excuse for everyone to come from far and wide.

  • Comment number 69.

    Way back in 1984, the sole reason that I and my husband (STILL my husband, I hasten to add!) chose to get married was because, being god-botherers, we wanted our deity's blessing on our decision to spend the rest of our lives together.

    So my parents put an engagement announcement in The Times, and a flood of advertising material from all and sundry arrived, along with a stack of gifts (many from people I'd never heard of but who were, my parents said, distant relatives... ones so distant they hadn't even made the Christmas card list). I put my foot down about venue, the church where I worshipped each week, and fought to get some of OUR friends on the guest list as well as all these people I didn't know. And lessons read by the then Archdruid of Wales (the first public reading of the new Welsh translation of the 23rd Psalm) and my university chaplain, who at that time was an Anglican Deaconess (she's now a priest, but ladies were not eligible for ordination then, else she'd have been officiating!).

    And then a big formal reception... one of my husband's friends bought me a pint because he thought I looked like I needed one, and one of my friends took a photo which in later years amused staff at Whitbread's Brewery where I was installing a computer system because you could see their logo on the pint pot! (Never did tell them that it was a pint of Brain's actually!).

    So whatever sort of wedding you choose, one of the best things is the memories - I could fill the page, but you lot would get bored!

    So do as you feel best, but do it because you want to stand up and say with and to the individual of your choice, "I love you," out loud and where everyone else (and your god if relevant) can hear.

  • Comment number 70.

    Its largely a waste of money as most marriages end in divorce.

    Most companies charge more when "Wedding" is mentioned, its just a chance for hotels and the industry to rip you off.

    I know its not romantic but neither is losing you children, house, job, income and life to divorce.

  • Comment number 71.

    As a wedding celebrant who creates and conducts ceremonies for people from all over the world, I find that people are much more thoughtful and mature in approaching marriage then they ever were. Couples I work with get to reflect on what the marriage really means for them and how they want to commit to it through choosing their own vows. These days, people are much freer to say what they mean and not rely on words given from a traditional format if they wish.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 72.


    I'm in obscenely expensive hired clothing spending obscene amounts of money to show my "love and compassion" for another person by pouring money down the drain of an outmoded yet legally binding ceremony originally designed to show that women are nothing but property.

    I'll probably spend the next 10 years paying emotionally for this nonsense once the illusion has worn off, and I probably don't even particularly like the person I'm with, so I'll have to go through some cumbersome and expensive legal activities to reverse it!


  • Comment number 73.

    There's a focus on planning and arranging the wedding day (possibly the honeymoon too) rather than on preparing for the marriage. Wedding magazines seem to add to this, emphasising dresses, gift lists, flowers, wedding venues and suchlike rather than suggesting cheaper options. A registry office wedding and d-i-y reception needn't require vast sums of money (when brides and grooms have student loans to repay, car loans and aspirations of mortgages, let alone children).

    When we married, we knew my husband only had a few days left to live. But if we'd wed a decade earlier, I doubt we'd have spent much more!

  • Comment number 74.

    I feel sorry for the parents that have to fund these lavish events.

    Its okay if its your money your wasting but wasting your parents money or inlaws is not acceptable.

    Surely if you love someone, you dont need an expensive wedding to make it special.

    £20,000 on one day is really a waste of money when you could do so much more with it and have more fun.

  • Comment number 75.

    In 2007, a friend's daughter and her fiancé decided on a lavish beach-wedding in Antigua, so all their close friends and family, none of whom are remotely wealthy, were forced to spend thousands of pounds merely to attend the ceremony, which my wife and I thought an act of immense selfishness.
    Three years later, the golden couple are separated. She is living with her parents; he dosses on a friend's sofa. There is a toddler and divorce is pending, largely because of the financial and emotional stress of being unable to keep up the mortgage interest payments on their over-ambitious first home.
    Would things have been different with a more modest wedding, and a more affordable first home?
    Well, at least they might have got their priorities right, and set the marital cross-bar just a little lower.

  • Comment number 76.

    I much prefer a funeral to a wedding.

    I hate the pressure of having to be exceptionally happy when your not, or even if you are happy why does the 'big day' need to be the happiest day of your lives? If that's the best then it's only down hill from there.

  • Comment number 77.

    My partner and I are getting married next year. We have managed to keep the cost of the whole thing down to just over £4,000, and it will be a small ceremony for immediate family and best friends, with a big party in the evening for extended family and friends to come along and celebrate with us. I am purposefully avoiding anything 'unneccesary' or adopting any traditional things that have no relevance to me. Our union will be about just that, and will be personlised - a reflection of us as a couple. I am horrified by the expense many people go to on their weddings - if I had that much money to throw about I would use it as a deposit to buy a house. I am looking forward to the day itself, and especially to being married, but I am so far not enjoying the preparation and the expectation of others with regard organising this event. If there is anything about your wedding that is not personal to you, then why have it included in the day? My friends and family are coming along on the day to help affirm the commitment that my boyfriend and I are making to eachother: nothing more, nothing less.

  • Comment number 78.

    #29 Chris wrote: "Marriage proved to be a logistic and bureaucratic nightmare for me. I was serving my country in the Armed Forces in Kiev, Ukraine, awaiting orders to ship out on active service. My wife is Ukrainian and we had to prove temporary residence in the UK borough in which we wanted to marry (we lived in an apartment in Kiev)!!!!"

    You should have got married in Ukraine, Chris. My wife is also Ukrainian. We got married in Kharkov (her choice), a registry office (ZAGS) ceremony followed by a restaurant party for selected friends and relatives. Cost: less than £1K. It was also much more fun and the food was far better than you'd get in the UK. And we're still married - 8 years this month!

  • Comment number 79.

    Actually most people see it as a celebration," says Catherine Westwood, editor of Wedding magazine.

    "If the celebration is throwing a big party and having that public declaration of love then I think it should be treated that way."

    Well, yes, but there is more to it than that. Whether a marriage is religious or secular it involves exchange of vows and promises and signifies a commitment. Solemnity and celebration used to be the two elements of a wedding - but it seems that the latter now overshadows the former.

    Let's have moderation all things. It is perfectly possible to have a great day without going to the excesses that, sadly, now seem to be part of many mainstream weddings.

  • Comment number 80.

    Agree with other posters it's entirely individual and each wedding should be different.
    Since the Reverend Giles Fraser is so concerned about the amount of money being spent on weddings is he prepared to ask the Church Of England to cut their church fees (which can be anything from £200-600) and to start waiving their extra charges such as Organ maintanance or allowing a camera into the church (I think my sister was charged over £100 for these two together)?
    Next to your kids being born your wedding day should be the happiest day of your life so I think people should do whatever makes them happy.

  • Comment number 81.

    My recent wedding was £500 all in. I avoided the nightmare of who to invite by not inviting anyone...

  • Comment number 82.

    After all the fuss, palaver, arguments, stress - not to mention the staggering amount of money involved - it would be interesting to find out just how many "happy" couples think to themselves on the day after the ceremony "So - is that it?" and "what about Happy Ever After?"

  • Comment number 83.

    The average wedding costs around £15k to £20k depending what figures you believe.

    I wonder how people on the dole can afford a wedding.

    If we are a Christian nation we would give to/help out these people who clearly cannot afford the costs of an average wedding.

    David Cameron, Leader of the 'secular' government, believes in the 'Big Society' and helping people who are married couples.

    People who have childen, but not necessarily in marriage, receive Child Benefit/Allowance.


    I look forward to a raft of measures/aids for assisting low income couples enjoy what is a very important day.

  • Comment number 84.

    Terrible behaviour at weddings these days. All dressed up in extravagant clothes, dripping with gold and jewellery, demanding that the whole event is all about "me, me, me", pretending to be "celebrities" we should all look up to...

    I'm talking of course about the clergy and god. Hypocrisy abound!

    Of course, i'm getting married in 3 weeks. Hooray!

  • Comment number 85.

    My husband and I focused on the marriage, not the wedding day. It seems that many do not, but what point are amazingly glamorous wedding photos without a happy marriage?

    We had a small wedding of close friends and family, a small but lovely reception and a lot of fun. It was a perfect day.

  • Comment number 86.

    We got married almost 6 years ago. Our day was very much about each other and whilst we wanted it to be perfect for both ourselves and our guests it was about having a relaxed, intimate and fun day full of joy and love rather than creating a 'show'. Our whole day plus our 2 week honeymoon cost about £4,500 and we had everything that we wanted (including having many friends involved in the making, planning etc). Our day was perfect - as is our marriage. It certainly does not all have to be about the money.

  • Comment number 87.

    Each to their own I suppose but a church wedding should be formal and the vows taken in earnest. Registry weddings can in their simplicity be more dignified and profess a greater commitment without all the excess.
    Won't be able to change anything as there is an industry dependent on it. And relationships formal or not are easy come easy go these days. People are simply too fickle.

  • Comment number 88.

    41. At 12:24pm on 05 Aug 2010, think_green wrote:
    "It's all very well saying "no-one should tell me how to get married" but it is the Church that marries you, so it IS their right to comment. If you don't like it, get married in Las Vegas and stay away from our respectable Churches"

    I just love how god botherers always show themselves to be less charitable and christian than atheists.

  • Comment number 89.

    He's right.
    I got married in a registry office, with 3 guests. Why?
    Because we couldn't stand the thought of what has become a "normal" wedding now. And we'd had enough of our families telling us who to invite, and what to do to conform to this illusion.
    And getting married in a church when you don't subscribe to that religion, or just paying lip service to it so that you can, is shallow beyond words.

    We wanted to get married because we wanted to make that serious commitment to each other.

    Get married for yourselves, not for other people's sake, or for show.
    It's about that commitment. Parties can be done any time.
    Want to show off? Take the 20 grand avg wedding spend, and buy a sports car. At least if you then split up, you can sell it.

  • Comment number 90.

    Unbelievable comments from Reverend Giles Fraser........I have always had the view that weddings should be for religious people who feel the need to have their relationship blessed in the eyes of God. However, it now seems that a wedding (whether that be in a church, registry office, hotel or wherever) can be a celebration of two peoples relationship and a way of showing the world exactly how they feel about one another.

    I actually think now that the less "religious" the wedding ceremony, the better - although im not sure what is more irrelevant these days, christianity or marriage......

  • Comment number 91.

    It's like Christmas - the true meaning is lost in bling, vanity and selfishness.

    Personally I've never had the urge to dress like a puffball and humiliate myself by leaking makeup all down my face in front of thousands of people when I cry.

    Personally, I've never wanted anything more than a registery office. I want a marriage, not a wedding!

    And no, I don't celebrate "demand a lot of presents day" in December either!

  • Comment number 92.

    Why do people get married these days?

    a) Is it a joining of two souls in the eyes of God?

    b) Is it for legal reasons such as a person needing citizenship in another country?

    c) Is it simply because it is the next step in a relationship according to customary traditions?

    d) Or is it to keep up with the Jones's?

    If your answer is anything but d) then a huge overpriced spectacle of a ceremony should not be important; this whole notion of 'every girl dreams of their wedding is very mythical, Americanized and out-dated now. The prospect of divorce is putting many off the total idea of marriage, whilst others just prefer something modest and low-key amongst close friends and family, and those are usually the marriages that last.

    I blame royalty and idiots with 'celebrity status' (I use that term very loosely as I'm not celebrating them, I don't know about anyone else) like Jordan and Victoria Beckham for filling peoples heads with the nonsense of making a huge scene or grand gesture. It is unnecessary, vain and totally overpriced.

    Love cost's nothing.

    Another thing. Apart from obvious legal advantages why do atheists get married? The whole spiritual idea of marriage is not applicable to their beliefs, it makes no sense to me and is a little hypocritical in my opinion.

  • Comment number 93.

    There is no news, we have to talk about something
    type your comment here!!

  • Comment number 94.

    What do you expect in a culture of Cinderella and Camelot?
    Little girls await their Prince Charming and the Prince can always afford a huge palace wedding.
    I agree with the Reverend Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's. I feel that we have lost sight of the true meaning of marriage, the bonding of two people until death do them part; there appear to be a lot more people divorcing than dying.
    The advertising/wedding industry is not helpful - the ideal dress, the ideal flowers, the ideal wedding scenario, the ideal everything - except the idealic commitment of love through the bad & the good until death do them part.
    Catherine Westwood, editor of Wedding Magazine, says that a wedding should be a party and it is still a way of celebrating a life-time commitment. Indeed, but since when did a party, celebrating a life-time commitment, need to cost so much materially when it buys so little spiritually. The wedding has become more a life-time commitment to debt than to love.

  • Comment number 95.

    People should celebrate their wedding as they want, within reason, as long as they also plan and prepare for the marriage that follows. When I go to a wedding, I'm celebrating the fact that the couple have chosen to commit to spending the rest of their lives together, not that they've chosen a big dress, a fancy meal and a pretty venue.

    I also say celebrate within reason, as big weddings have their downsides - the potential disappointment if something on the day doesn't go to plan; the financial burden of paying off thousands of pounds of debt; and the return to "normal" life post honeymoon seeming an anticlimax. Neither of the last two will give the marriage a great start, even if the wedding goes without a hitch.

  • Comment number 96.

    Yes I think far too much importance is placed on weddings these days. Funnily enough it seems the more elaborate the wedding, the shorter the amount of time the marriage lasts.

    I think it's now time that marriage was introduced for gays and lesbians. It's time for our politicians to stop being so spineless and stand up to organized religion and make them comply with British law. Civil unions have shown the ridiculous right that unions between two people of the same sex does not actually bring the world tumbling down so now it's time to sweep away the last bit of hatred and bigotry and let them get married in church if they choose to.

    Bigoted Britain needs to end.

  • Comment number 97.

    I'm sorry but Oliver James' mother is wrong. My soon-to-be-ex husband and I had a very understated wedding that cost around one tenth of the average. Two and a half years later we split up.

    Marrying without love is also in my experience no guarantee of a long and happy relationship. I think if you really want to know what makes a marriage healthy and happy, you should ask the people out there who have remained married through thick and thin, rather than people like Oliver James and Dr. Fraser.

  • Comment number 98.

    Celebrity types dont have a wedding - they put on a show.
    When will the chavs of the UK realise that they cant afford to keep up

  • Comment number 99.

    Weddings are an extension of the personalities of those getting married as well as their attitudes towards social conventions. Posers have posy weddings; happy, warm people tend to have happy, warm functions; unpretentious non-conformers might keep it special but unconventional (e.g. service at top of Blackpool Tower).

    And it's usually the receptions that are the tackiest bit, and by far the most expensive.

    Best advice I could give to those wanting to keep the budget tight is concentrate on the key things - dress, venue and food - and worry less about the massive amount of over-priced, dull and exploited stuff - e.g. cakes, excessive flowers and vehicles. By far the most over-priced bit of excess is the photos.

    Get an army of 2-3 trusted ones to take photos throughout instead.

  • Comment number 100.

    People tend to spend thousands that they don't have on a wedding and then spend years after arguing over money problems. Our wedding cost more than expected, but was still only 10k (including honeymoon!) and relatively simple. My dress and my bridesmaids cost half of what seems to be the 'norm', the ceremony (conducted by a friend) and premises (our place of worship) were free, the photographers were friends so we had a 90% discount, and we only got charged for ingredients on the cake (another friend)! The most expensive was the meal, buffet and party afterwards at a hotel which accounted for nearly half the amount. In the end it was what WE wanted, and it was fully paid for within 2 months of the day. It was fantastic and people are STILL calling our wedding the best they've ever been to. It doesn't need to cost a fortune, the memories make it priceless.


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