Getting hitched – the hidden costs

Did you see footage from an appalling wedding video the other night on the news or read about it in the papers? Mark and Sylvia Day in Wakefield forked out nearly £1500 for a professional photographer to take snaps and video their big day, only to receive blurred pictures and an amateurish video in which you can barely see the bride and the cameraman swears after dropping the camera on the floor. The couple sued and received compensation.

We’re off to a wedding this weekend and, while the Days’ experience is a horror story, talking to other friends who got hitched recently, I’m suspicious that some service providers view a wedding as an opportunity to line their pockets. As soon as you put ‘wedding’ in front of any services you require, many brides say, expect the price to triple.

With the average wedding costing around £17,000, here are some hidden wedding charges you might not expect to find on your bill:

Corkage costs. You might think you can save money by providing your own cheap booze – I even suggested to somebody recently that they make their own homebrew – but many venues charge for corkage. Sometimes the cost can be up to £11 a bottle. Not all venues charge ], though, so check before you book. Check whether quoted prices include VAT or if there are further extra service charges to be added to your bill. Query too whether you’ll be tied into the venue’s caterers and entertainers. If you provide your own entertainer, the venue may demand that they have public liability insurance.

Wedding dresses. I’ve just been reading comments from some brides on a forum bragging about getting their gowns for only £900! I’m horrified that this is perceived to be a bargain, but of course designer gowns can cost thousands of pounds. If that isn’t enough, you may have to book an appointment just to try on these frocks and if you’re a no show, many outlets charge a cancellation fee of up to £50. Watch out for other charges too, such as fitting fees (if your wedding is a year ahead, you may need several fittings), dress storage and delivery fees. Make sure your upfront quote covers all of them.

Hair-raising charges. A hairdresser charged a friend of mine £60 to do a ‘hair rehearsal’ a few months before her wedding and demanded that the bridesmaids show up and pay £40 for theirs too, despite the fact some of them lived hundreds of miles away! Other friends were charged £80 and were unhappy with the results. Why not get a friend to do your hair instead?

Some moneysaving suggestions from frugal brides I’ve spoken to:

Make a realistic budget and stick to it. Research all the options early on and decide what you can afford and what aspects of the wedding you want to spend your money on. Will anybody care if there is no chocolate fountain or your dress isn’t Gucci? Do you need a coach and white horses to take you to the ceremony or will a taxi suffice? Check out specialist charity shops such as Oxfam’s online bridal dress shop and outlets which lists frocks donated by designer outlets, many for under £100. Shop around and visit as many venues as possible.

Have a buffet or BBQ. Traditional sit-down meals tend to be more expensive per head than a buffet, which has the added bonus of getting guests up out of their seats and talking to other people. Why not investigate some unusual options, such as a BBQ or hog roast? Does it have to be in a special venue? Why not consider a local restaurant, village hall, cosy pub function room or even a friend’s home? Bear in mind, though, that if you want to hire a marquee for a back garden, the costs could run into thousands of pounds as you’ll need lighting, flooring etc.

Do your own photography. Do you need 5,000 photos in an album costing £2,600? With digital cameras widespread nowadays, couldn’t you get a friend to take some snaps? Make sure they download the photos onto a laptop and back them up in case something goes wrong.

Consider wedding insurance. Friends of ours were horrified when a company providing the wedding list gifts went bust days before the wedding, and I’ve heard of other people who got the venue ready in advance, only to have it broken into. It may be worth considering wedding insurance, but check what it will cover. Your existing home contents coverage may provide cover for wedding gifts etc. Plus, if you pay for items costing £100 to £30,000 by credit card you can already claim the money back from the retailer or card company if there is a problem.

Did you have a frugal wedding? How did you save on costs? Have you come across any other shocking wedding expenses? Leave a message and let me know.

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13 Responses to Getting hitched – the hidden costs

  1. Bill says:

    Welcome to Rip-Off Britain!Why not a quick Registry Office job, with a quick charter flight to the sunny South, the Med etc., for a small beach party?Bikinis are obviously much cheaper than wedding gowns, even better if they are home-made.I am just about to purchase Office Pro, as I have been complimented on my home-made birthday, xmas, leaving & other cards so oft. Unfortunately, I am no artist, & it is not possible to create folding cards in Powerpoint or Word.I do guarantee that home-made is not only miles cheaper, but also far superior in quality!A wedding should be good (clean) fun, for all ages, not an over expensive, equally oversize misery. You can wear a decent suit, or a bikini, so oft & so long after the wedding, that it is a long term purchase, at a reasonable price, not a simple one-off, to be worn once only. Mebbe I\’m a mon, but to me, the so-called fairer sex begin to look all so stupid.Why blow all the cash on one day, why not celebrate every year, or even every month instead?

  2. James says:

    I think people perceive weddings as a way to show off, and impress (if you\’re that way inclined) people with how extravagant they can afford to be. My wife and I paid maybe £4k for our wedding, and it was fantastic, everyone commented on how they liked the different approach. We got married aboard HMS Trincomalee which is berthed in a maritime museum, and had the reception there too. My wife made the cake (and made it Vegan too, as I am Vegan, she a Vegetarian) and a friend decorated it. My wife bought her dress online from a shop in Texas, and paid about £600 for it, and one of our friends paid for his Mum to alter it as a wedding gift. We sourced our own Vegan wine, and paid corkage (which was more per bottle than we paid for the wine!) The catering was done by the catering company based in the museum, and we had simple, mostly Vegan dishes which were the same for everyone (tough if they didn\’t like it, we did!) We stayed for a few hours in the reception room, drinking and talking, with just a stereo we bought for the occasion to provide background music. We then headed to a local pub, and everyone dispersed as and when they felt like it. There was no pressure to put on heirs and graces, everyone felt relaxed enough to enjoy the day and not think of excuses to disappear early, and we enjoyed seeing those that mattered (guest list of 50) on our special day. We celebrated our fifth anniversary this year, and have been together for 15 years in total, during which time we have seen many expensive weddings come and go, and the marriages fail. The important thing about a wedding is that two people who love one another have chosen to invite people to witness a commitment being made, and the rest is just set dressing. If this dressing overshadows everything else, then what does that say about the couple getting married?

  3. andrew says:

    Who is it that really wants all trappings….the bride?…the brides mum (oh yes)…the brides dad (no..he is paying)…the groom (I don\’t think so)…It really is all an illusion…months of planning and being taken for a sap, all for one day! White wedding gowns…..well strike me down…white symbolizes virginity….draw your own conclusions.Marriage…pah, bah humbugLive together, stay single or whatever but avoid any woman who wants marriage like the plague. You may find five years down the line your wonderful wife is leaving you…taking the kids…half your assets and you will pay for the next 18 years. Men are such saps…taken to the cleaners and what for I ask…..

  4. Leanne says:

    We\’re getting married in 6 weeks & the wedding with a hot buffet in the day for 45 people & a cold evening buffet for 60 people incl my dress (£65 from e-bay,brand new!) photographer, DJ, flowers, custom made invitations and all the other fancy trappings cost just over £2,500. It can be done, you just need to be super organised & not averse to shopping around and bartering with service providers.

  5. Neil says:

    While I cannot condone a fellow \’colleague\’ over his appalling photographs (digital tachnology has made, I regret to say, lazy in that they feel they can just snap away whereas, in the days of film, one had to make every picture count as it was costing you money every time you fired the shutter) and then failing to utilise one useful action i.e. edit, some photographers in this \’digital age\’ have lost a whole sense of proportion and who do not listen to their clients e.g. I recently quoted a couple a modest £300 for a wedding photography package to take place in a registry office. Some of my other \’colleagues\’ were quoting a minimum of, in one case, £1,000, and in the other £2,500. Get real folks! Yes I got the wedding.However, I must take to task the comment about getting a friend to take some snaps. I have to ask how many weddings has this \’friend\’ photographed? Does he/she know what family groups to photograph? How to pose them to look good? How to set out the dress so that looks good on photographs (the bride may have paid hundreds and hundreds of £, so wants it to be shown off properly)? Does he/she know the etiquette regarding photography in churches or of the requirements of the registrar? What would happen to that friendship if the friend messes things up? Forgive, perhaps, but everyday the couple look at their wedding photographs they will never forget.One last thought. Some couples are almost insisting that the photographer hand over, often for nothing, a cd of all the photographs that the photographer has taken so that they can (here their blatantcy is staggering!) \’print off copies for themselves and friends\’. Have these couples ever heard of the 1988 Design, Copyright and Patents Act which all \’artists\’ fought long and hard for? Even if they know about it, they seem in blissful ignorance about its consequences. Presumably they are the same people who think nothing of \’sharing\’ music files for, er, nothing! More fool the photographers who give away their talents for nothing. They are obviously so desperate to get the work. My experience of an expensive photographer: 2,500 shots taken; 150 in the album (that\’s only 6% of what was taken); cost £15,000 (do the maths: that\’s £100 a photograph) Phew!Unhappy Snapper.

  6. piper says:

    Hi Neil – I\’m not knocking your living as a professional photographer and I can see that many clients will want something for nothing. For some people excellent professional photos are really important and of course, if that\’s the case, it\’s a burden to expect a friend to stand in. Especially if all goes wrong. But when my parents got hitched on a small budget in the 1970s they didn\’t bother with a photographer as fancy photos weren\’t important to them (just as an expensive dress costing £1000\’s might not matto another bride) and they had just bought their first home and were skint. They still treasure their own photos though. Wow, Leanne, I am very impressed with your tiny budget! What kind of venue are you getting hitched at and how much did it cost there? Good for you too, James. I think it\’s good to do your own thing. Bill – a bikini is certainly an option but maybe also a mankini for the groom to make it fair (as long as you\’re not marrying in November!).

  7. Grover says:

    Not All professional photographers do it to rip couples off and if you look carefully, there are really good professionals who really enjoy this work and charge realistic prices and produce outstanding pictures. You don\’t have to have an elaborate leather bound album with hundreds of pictures in it, or have the photographer in attendance from dawn to dusk, most will work within your budget.OK, I will admit to being a photographer, but as to making a living at it? Not many of us manage that…my excuse it that life in a wheelchair is just too boring and weddings are such fun! I just need more invitations…….and if you thing the wedding industry is a rip off, try being disabled!I agree with Neil in all he says, especially in the cost of photographing a \’modest Register Office wedding\’ for which I charge the same amount and as for his coments about \’getting a friend\’ to take snaps, in my career, I have met many photographers at all levels, and know many very experienced and well known photographers who are actually terrified at the prospect of photographing a wedding. Even an experienced amateur snapper can lose their nerve on the day, or worse still, not turn up. At least with a pro, you have a better chance of them turning up, actually knowing what they are doing and producing the album you want of your wedding day. Wedding photographers do not just take pictures, they have to act like a cross between a stand up comic and a regimental sergeant major to get the pictures on the day…….and I do it in a wheelchair……I really must be mad!I photograph a lot of low budget weddings where the family get together and do lots themselves, so weddings do not need to cost a fortune……you just have to do a bit of homework, a lot of planning and make sure everyone has a lot of fun…..including the photographer.

  8. Bill says:

    Piper!I find that wellie gogs are best in November for UK, & remember winters when I drove the wrong side of the M50/M5 northbound for 3 hours on Xmas morning, as the northbound carriageway was completely snowbound. I saw no ploughs, not even a squad car, no other traffic at all. I also remember camping in both Wales & Scotland, with, & without, canvass, in snow & ice, even in a blizzard. A fantastic honeymoon!But then, I would never marry again in a British winter, or even summer. I much prefer the sunny south, the Med, or the South Pacific. I also wonder on the wisdom of marriage, as an institution. There are much less expensive institutions, offering muich more liberty & independence. I do not drink or smoke, & have no wish to smoke passively, no woman is worth that, not even You, darling. I do not take sugar or choclate, have no reverence for any Divine power or person, am a child of Nature, & wish to remain so. Surely my independence, & liberty, is not much to ask of this so-called life.Grover!I have never tried a wheelchair for size, but have many friends & colleagues, some of whom I meet on a daily basis, who survive quite well, despite the rigours of life. I went totally blind a few years ago, & not only found life tough attempting to survive alone, with no assistance whatever, but also learnt a tremendous measure about life in general. Thankfully, it only lasted 1 year. The greatest lesson, was the way people take the opportunity to abuse, & rip us off, even worse when we are in any way disabled, injured, or wounded. They are far worse than wolves or vultures.As to photography, I have never had the necessary cash to even buy a camera, or hire a photographer, until a few years ago, after my blind spell. Due to a slight change of career, I needed a new Mobi, & a camera. I tried the cheap disposable camera from tesco, & soon became bored with the extreme cumbersome celluloid. As a result I finally changed a 10 year old mobi, for a £50 model, complete with 1.3Mp camera. I found it so easy, & simple, although my Bluetooth is not the best, & find that an A4 needs at least 5Mp, but it is fine at A5. As an absolute amatuer I have been coplimented by several arty types on my pic quality, & have begun snapping wildlife & other rural scapes for them, as also for charity use. I could never be a poet, or any other form of artist, but have always had an extreme steady rifle hand, & an equaly sharp eye. I also like "mechanical advantage", & find the conference recording, the bluetooth headset etc. on the \’phone extreme useful, down loading both conference, & some \’phone conversations as a sound file, as also typing some up as text.Us over 50\’s fossils have a choice, we keep pace with modern technology, or we go under. I am currently debating: should I fit the new clutch thrust bearing myself, possibly with new friction plate, as i have done so oft before, or should I shell out on pro fitting, at £50-£70/hr. it should take me no more than 90mins. , but I would have to jack it up, lower the heavy box, kerb-side & alone, then replace the box, lifting the entire power train back into place. Many times in the past I have found exhaust systems & starter motors have complicated, & frustrated, access to the clutch. It is a twin layshaft drover box, in a large 3.5t LDV Convoy. Such is life.

  9. Nicky says:

    I bought the vast majority of my wedding stuff from Ebay. I couldn\’t bear the thought of spending loads of money on a dress I would only wear once! I think it was about £50. It was new, but I know you can get second hand ones too on there. I also got my tiara (£10), Veil (£5) bridesmaid dresses (£80 for 4), wedding favours (about £15 for 50) bubbles in the shape of champagne bottles (about £10 for 50). I had a lovely day, and I do not thing the \’standard\’ suffered for my ebay purchases as they were all brand new! I would rather spend £900 on a holiday.

  10. karen says:

    i got my dress on sale, if i hadnt had so much as a xmas card from relatives in 5 years they wernt invited, including the honeymoon all done for under £3000 best day of my life. you can get lovley invites and stuff from the high street, and a friend (who used to be a photographer) lovely pictures for £50. the day should be ebout you and your hubby not how much money you can spend.

  11. Jason says:

    We had our wedding in February. Not only do you almost guarentee the venue you want is available but most of our wedding costs were half the price of a "summer" wedding. You do gamble with the weather but hey in this country you gamble with the weather any time of the year. Venue was cheaper, cars much cheaper, band cheaper.We went to a wedding fare to search for photographer and videographer so we could see some samples of their work. Both were cheaper because of the time of year.We had a fantastic day and saved about £8K on having it in the summer.

  12. Kelz says:

    i have been buying items for my wedding due aug 2010 i got my dress from ebay – brand new tailor made for £48, i bought all my flowers from ebay (fake ones – look jsut as good as the real thing) for £30, grooms suit is from ebay too and i am making my own invites with guide off the web, grooms dad is doing the pics but everyone has digital cameras now so ill get lots of pictures taken. I am doing a buffet (making it myself) in the local community centre hired out for a small charge. I have also booked our honeymoon at a great price too £199 each! my total costs will come up to about £800 (including honeymoon) i know someone who got married and spent £3000 just on the honeymoon itself.My costs may be cheap but how is anyone going to find out unless i tell them. I like being frugal.

  13. Suz says:

    Friends of mine had a "bring a dish to share" buffet for the evening do – it was great. Huge variety of food, no one bothered about bringing one thing and it all turned up and dishes took themselves away at the end of the night. Why go overboard, people enjoy contributing and being part of the event, it can be more relaxed that way. She found her dress on e bay by the way and made deorations from twigs and ribbons. It was beautiful.

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