For many happy brides and grooms to be, a wedding is seen as the biggest party of their lives, with a cost that can run well over five figures, to much, much more. It’s a booming industry and businesses across the country are all vying for a slice of the action, whether it be photographers, venues, dress designers, caterers, stationers, travel agents, and even wedding planners.
After 40 years of steady decline new statistics have confirmed that, despite the financial downturn, weddings are on the up and with an industry worth a staggering £10 billion, there’s no denying that weddings are big business. A wedding celebration in the UK on average now costs a little over £25,000, many spend more, many less - some people are happy with a quick visit to the registry office while others wouldn’t feel properly married without a huge ceremony and reception - but there’s no escaping the multitude of elements required and it’s these that add up… trust me, I know.
We’re not talking extravagance here, such as cloud bursting. Yes, you can even guarantee perfect rain-free weather on your big day by hiring a weather modification company. ‘Cloud bursting’ involves a team of pilots and meteorologists who will fly a light aircraft above the clouds, sprinkling them with silver particles, causing the clouds to burst and vanish before the big day. This will set you back a mere £100,000. And we’re not talking hiring a private island for your venue either, but just the wedding dress alone can costs hundreds… thousands, once you’ve factored in the costs of alterations, shoes to match, jewellery to match, perhaps a veil (one with crystals would be prettier, pricier but prettier) and then perhaps an outfit to change into in the evening, and you’ll need a bag to match that one of course. The costs keep adding up.
A study conducted in 2016 by wedding website hitched.co.uk found that the single biggest wedding expenditure is venue hire, costing an average of £3,738 (14.8% of the total cost) and finding a venue was ranked as the top priority by brides when planning their big day, above setting the budget and deciding the guest list. The honeymoon is the second biggest outlay, costing an average of £3,366 (13.4% of the total budget), followed by food at £3,072 (12.2%).
For wedding businesses this comes as good news. Brides and grooms are often, and understandably, particular about the services they choose, which makes the industry an extremely competitive one. Nowadays couples want a wedding to reflect themselves, they want much more than a dusty pink and ivory theme, they want patterns, prints and objects to reflect an overall ‘story’. Gone are the days of traditional tableware, up lighters and stale fruit cake, now think tableware with the couple’s initials engraved onto each item, indoor ‘trees’ adorned in twinkling fairy lights, a ten-tiered wedding cake (created by that famous celebrity cake maker) oh and an ice cream parlour on wheels, just in case anyone gets peckish at 2am. Mini moons are also on the rise, where loved up couples take a mini break straight after their wedding, before jetting off on their ‘proper’ honeymoon at a later date. If you can afford it, why not?
In a 2016 report published by Destination Weddings Travel Group, personalisation was a prevalent theme as couples sought ways to customise their wedding and honeymoon, with couples spending on average 11.6 months planning for the big day. And it’s in the interest of industry experts to help them aspire to this, after all it’s supposed to be the perfect day. The best day of their lives in fact.
And we haven’t even discussed the guests yet - the costs for the guests, that is. With a third of adults attending a wedding last year, American Express calculated the average spend by guests and it’s potentially more expensive than a holiday! In 2016, the average wedding had 141 guests and factoring in accommodation, a gift, the outfits, travel to and from the venue, and the hen or stag night, guests are likely to spend a huge £640 per wedding.
I am sure having read the above it comes as no surprise that for most people, weddings can be a bit over the top and self indulgent, and perhaps the industry has reached extreme levels, because all you really need is two people in love and a marriage certificate to seal the deal. ‘But then who’s going to record that special moment on camera for us? And we must have a video to show our children. What do we eat? Canapes? Pink champagne is a must. The Maldives is on our bucket list after all’. And as you can see, the cycle begins again. This big bucks business is certainly here to stay.