Does your big day have to mean big costs?

The average cost of a wedding in the UK currently stands at an eye-watering £30,355....but not all couples are saying ‘I do’ to expensive nupitals as Helen McGurk discovers

Saturday, 23rd March 2019, 7:00 am
Julie and her husband Martin McMullan on their wedding day

Some years ago an unflattering term was coined for a certain breed of bride - namely, the ‘bridezilla’.

Chances are many of us have encountered or know of a ‘bridezilla’ - a woman who, upon becoming engaged, moprhs from a person of reason into an obsessive monster on the rampage with plans to stage the most perfect wedding - and if that involves dancing Shetland ponies at the reception, then so be it.

It is well documented that celebrities and a lavish marriage go together like a horse and carriage.

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When comedian Russell Brand and singer Katy Perry tied the proverbial in 2010, they celebrated with an embarrassment of riches - elephants, a fortune-telling parrot, fire eaters and snake charmers; the pair divorced after just 14 months.

But, of course, it’s not just celebrities who go over the top on a grotesque wedding day spending spree.

In today’s culture, your big day is big business, with designer gowns,lavish receptions, elaborate wedding cakes - a carnival of excess which has seen wedding costs balloon beyond all economic prudence.

It is not much of a surprise then, that new figures have revealed the staggering cost of a wedding in the UK - a whopping £30,355.

According to Bridebook.co.uk’s National Wedding Survey 2018, the cost of getting hitched has hit an all-time high, up by £3,365 - or 12 per cent - from £26,989 the previous year.

When it comes to location, London is - perhaps unsurprisingly - the most expensive place in the UK to tie the knot, where the average wedding spend is £31,837. In second place comes Scotland, at £19,791.

In contrast, Northern Ireland is the cheapest place to get married, with couples here spending £12,783 on average.

One Belfast couple who made a vow to dispense with all the unnecessary expense are Julie Kerr and her husband Martin McMullan.

The pair, who are due to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in May, got married at the Little White Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

They stayed at the Luxor Hotel and got the full wedding package, booked through a local travel agent, for under £2,000.

Julie explained: ‘‘This included flights, five days in Vegas, hotel stay, limo picking us up the morning of the wedding and the wedding ceremony all booked in advance and the licence organised for us at the Clark County Courthouse in Vegas. All we had to do was check in to the hotel and our itinerary was all arranged so we could relax and enjoy ourselves.’’

Julie added: ‘‘I bought my wedding dress brand new online before the trip, did my own hair and makeup on the morning of the wedding and the flowers and finishing touches, including wedding pictures and DVD of the day, were all included in the price of the wedding package.’’

Julie said they treated the trip as their wedding and honeymoon all rolled into one.

‘‘On the afternoon of the actual wedding we were at a pool party in swimwear with drinks and enjoying the sunshine.

‘‘Our wedding dinner that same evening was held at the Top of The World in Vegas (a rotating restaurant) and was a seven-course (each) fine dining meal all for under £100 (including steak as we are big steak fans).’’

Reflecting on her big day, Julie added: ‘‘We aren’t church-goers and anyone that knows us well knows that we are a bit wacky, quirky and unconventional and like doing things our own way so us taking off to Vegas to get married really was no surprise to anyone, but also by the time we got married in 2014 we had three children and a house to run and had been engaged for a number of years first so when it came to us actually getting married, we wanted to get married for us and our family but not have £20-30,000 of a debt hanging over us which we would struggle to pay off for years.

‘‘Also by getting married in Vegas we were also more or less guaranteed amazing weather on the day, in fact my other half was so hot in his full suit he couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel to change and get a cold beer.’’

Julie’s advice to others planning a wedding which won’t leave them crippled by debt is simple.

‘‘Make your wedding day speak all about you as a couple and how you want to enjoy and remember the occasion and not about others.

‘‘Our wedding day was stress free, on a budget that we could afford (guilt and debt free) and was still the most amazing day of our lives.

‘‘If I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change a thing!’’