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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 04-Dec-15 14:06:35

Are today's weddings a waste of money?

Do today's couples invest too much in their weddings? We hear from gransnetter egraham1960 on the vast differences between today's nuptials and her own, 36 years ago.


Are today's weddings a waste of money?

Posted on: Fri 04-Dec-15 14:06:35


Lead photo

Do today's couples invest more in their weddings than they do in their futures?

As I begin preparations for my fifth (and last, thank goodness) wedding this year, my thoughts turn to the preparations I was making 36 years ago for my own upcoming nuptials.

1. We booked it three months before the date we wanted to get married, none of this four years before malarkey!

2. My hen do was in a local nightclub...on a Monday...four days before the wedding. No foreign weekend away for us.

3. I booked my flowers the day before, from a local market stall! (Wasn't even going to have any, but my mother thought I'd better had!).

4. My wedding presents included monogrammed his and hers towels; (which I still have); nylon pillow cases (which I never used); Pyrex dishes (still bloody brilliant to this day) and Ravenhead glasses. No money towards a honeymoon climbing Kilimanjaro or whale watching in the Maldives.

My hen do was in a local nightclub...on a Monday...four days before the wedding.

5. I booked our honeymoon from an advert in The Sunday Post (a very popular Scottish newspaper, which features Oor Wullie and The Broons - a must read for the whole family!) - a week in an apartment in Torquay. Sure, it was the inspiration for Fawlty Towers, but it was £84 for both of us!

6. On the morning of my wedding I travelled on the bus to the hairdresser's for my Farrah Fawcett flick hair do.

7. I did my own make-up. I remember I used pink eyeshadow, thinking it was more 'weddingy' than my usual green smear!

8. My mother, mother-in-law and I made the buffet for the evening party ourselves. I was still boiling eggs at midnight!

9. And lastly, we did do something that is very 'in' at the moment. We got married abroad! We crossed the border into Gretna Green.

I wonder if all this money and time spent on weddings makes the couple any happier, or is simple better? Whatever, I am pleased that couples still decide to make the commitment, and am looking forward to the wedding of our niece - and wearing the dress that cost more than my entire wedding!

By egraham1960

Twitter: @Gransnet

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 04-Dec-15 14:13:16

I went on my honeymoon on the back of a motorbike. We had three days in an old folks' home a small hotel in the New Forest. (The maid knocked on our door on the first night. Asked if I wanted my hot water bottle)

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 04-Dec-15 14:13:45

Yes. (actual answer)

rosesarered Fri 04-Dec-15 14:15:43

Yes, I think that far too much money is spent and far too much agonising over trivial details of the wedding.All this 'fairytale Wedding' stuff, where did that come from?!
You can have a nice wedding and reception for a tiny slice of the cash spent on what is called the average wedding, if you do things carefully.Save the money for a deposit on a house, or on furniture.
It seems that the more lavish the wedding, the more the bride turns into a bridezilla.

Galen Fri 04-Dec-15 14:19:31

We spent our 1/52 honeymoon in a cheap hotel in Clevedon that seemed to cater for pernament residents in their eighties and nineties on Zimmer frames. They locked the door at 8.30 pm.
We had only £10 between us and it was all we could afford.

granjura Fri 04-Dec-15 14:24:37

Totally- absolutel madness and a recipe for disaster- so many couples beginning married life with wedding debts! Sad.

Anniebach Fri 04-Dec-15 14:48:40

If it's what the couple want then why not , it's their choice

annsixty Fri 04-Dec-15 14:52:28

Wedding on the cheap, we ourselves were very young and poor as church mice and my mother had been widowed for 10 years. Splashed out on 2 weeks in Newquay, went on the train as we didn't have a car, then back to rented rooms to save hard for a house. We started our family 7 years later. Still here after 57 years. Fancy do's costing tens of thousands don't do it for me. My own DC's wedding were nice but not extravagant, sadly one is now divorced and the other one separated.

Jayh Fri 04-Dec-15 14:54:34

Two years ago, my son and his partner decided to get married with the minimum of fuss. He told us when to turn up at the register office and little else. Only close family and friends attended, about a dozen in all. There was no wedding dress or flowers or official photographer. My son arrived wearing a green parka and carrying a CD player. I could see the registrar and staff looking a bit askance when he said he was the groom.
The short service was conducted with four little 2 year old girls running around and there was much hilarity. The registrar was great. She joined in the laughter and I can honestly say it was the most joyous wedding I have attended. In the end I decided this was because there were no distractions to the couple exchanging their vows ( apart from the little girls ) No wedding clothes to admire, no posh setting, no bells or whistles. It was lovely and my son and daughter - in - law were so happy.
Afterwards we went to a restaurant for lunch and then unexpectedly back to our house. I had to nip into sainsbury's on the way home to pick up a cake of some sort, in the end a Gruffalo one !
It was a super day, totally stress free. When my daughter got married, she had the full Monty which took months to plan and cost a fortune. That was a great day too, but I now know that spending a lot of money is not necessary to celebrate a marriage. But I think it takes a bit of courage as the current trend if for a big do to mark the special day.

annsixty Fri 04-Dec-15 15:06:22

My neighbours D is marrying at Easter. It is the second time for her and the first for her partner with whom she has lived for some time now. It is a very big and expensive do and her dress is big, white and sparkly. The invites have already gone out with a poem asking for money in lieu of gifts for a holiday with her two children in Florida. Their day their choice but I hope my family members would not go down that path.

Auntieflo Fri 04-Dec-15 15:23:27

We got married in 1961, I was 19, DH was 22. I bought my dress from the Co-op on instalments, and my aunt paid for the headdress. As I was in hospital having my tonsils out not long before the wedding, DH ordered my flowers, so I didn't know what they would be until they arrived. Actually they were lovely. Mum and her friends prepared a wedding breakfast between them, and it was held at home. It was a very hot September day and Mum had cooked a roast chicken dinner for midday. I had two helpings, then thought I might not get into my dress, but I did. My " Matron of Honour" supplied her own dress, and the two little bridesmaids dresses were made by their Mum. A friend of the family made and decorated the wedding cake. I kept the top tier to celebrate the birth of our first baby, but when he arrived, two and a half years later, we didn't fancy it. DH arranged the honeymoon on the Isle of Wight, abroad in those dayssmile and we went by train, me in my new smart suit with matching gloves and shoes. I don't know how much was spent, not a lot, but we are still together after 54 years. Ahhhh, and I still love him to bits,(nearly all of the time)

ninathenana Fri 04-Dec-15 15:30:43

We didn't even have a honeymoon tchsmile DH went back to work on the Monday.
DH's nephew who had lived with his partner for 8yrs and had a 5yr old got married last year in a beautiful country house with every little detail co-ordinated it cost tens of thousands of pounds. Madness IMHO but their his money their choice.

Eloethan Fri 04-Dec-15 15:34:21

My friend's daughter and her husband spent £35,000 on their wedding - and that didn't include the honeymoon. They are quite comfortably off but I still think it's ridiculous. At least they're still together after 6 years.

My son's best friend spent a huge amount on his wedding too and had a very luxurious honeymoon. The marriage lasted a year. Undeterred, he married again and spent huge amounts the second time around also.

TerriBull Fri 04-Dec-15 15:45:34


Too much invested in one day, we would much rather help our kids with bricks and mortar, a home is much more important than entertaining hoards of people and having a flashy show. I don't include very close family or old friends, but I do think a lot of it could be pared down to a fairly intimate affair inviting those who really care about the couple. I understand the need for a religious service for those with who practice, but otherwise I see nothing wrong with a civil ceremony.

Nowadays, hen and stag are also factored in for some and they can be another whole set of horrors that bump up the expense and don't always end well either sad

I don't have a daughter but I simply wouldn't stump up for this sort of occasion. If the couple in question want something big and flashy I think they should be prepared to pay for it themselves.

We got married with the minimum of fuss, close friends and a meal in a lovely hotel afterwards overlooking the River Thames. It's really about the rest of your lives together not that one day.

tiggypiro Fri 04-Dec-15 16:13:14

My dress cost 12gns (remember those?), my mum made the cake and I iced it, we did the reception between us and it was held at home, honeymoon outfit I made myself and honeymoon was a week touring Scotland (B&B) in a borrowed and battered old mini. Wedding presents were of course the pyrex dishes, 2 tablespoons, blanket etc and 3 of my mum's friends clubbed together to give us a toaster.

My daughter went to a wedding where all the guests were given a programme for the day which started off at 8am with the bride being woken up with a glass of champagne !!! It never got to the bit after the wedding thank goodness but did run to quite a few pages.

When my daughter got married we did lots of things cheaply. She was living in China and designed and e-mailed me the invitations, place settings, etc and I printed them off and mounted onto cards - it saved a small fortune. I also made the cake and a friend iced it, made the bridesmaid's dress (not easy as she also was in China but it did fit !) and dried rose petals for confetti. Lovely weddings do not have to cost a fortune but there always seem to be a bit of 'one-upmanship' amongst brides and as for stag and hen do's I'm just so glad I am never invited !!

M0nica Fri 04-Dec-15 17:45:06

I am not a wedding person. When I got married I wore a white mini-dress bought for a fiver from a boutique in Reigate high street, even in 1968, a fiver for a dress was cheap. We married in church, with 17 guests. My uncle, a priest, performed the ceremony.

We spent our honeymoon in the flat we were renting, there was no point in going away for a honeymoon in February, unless you can afford somewhere warm or interesting, and we couldn't.

DS & DDiL had a wonderful wedding without too much cost. Again a church wedding but DDiL is an events organiser and part time folk singer and people offered services as wedding presents, the photographer came free, as did the cake, the catering was done at cost and some creative friends decorated the village hall where the reception was held. We provided the wine. An ensemble her sister belonged to provided the music in the church and the Master of Ceremonies was a Performance Poet dressed in a smock (he is a friend). We all rallied round to lay out the hall for the reception and returned the following day to do the clearing up.

As the wedding was hundreds of miles from our home we rented a big 6 bedroomed house for the weekend and over 3 nights provided bed and meals for a revolving selection of wedding guests.

Neither DH and I nor DS and DDiL had hen/stag nights. As Terribull says it is the marriage that matters, not the wedding.

ninathenana Fri 04-Dec-15 18:40:59

TerriBull I think few couples these days expect or want the parents to pay.

rosesarered Fri 04-Dec-15 18:57:04

Our daughter did!

morethan2 Fri 04-Dec-15 19:04:32

I love a wedding. All that goodwill, hope and happiness. Family and friends sharing their happiness. My three children's were all very different one abroad, not too expensive, one cheap and traditional, (this one didn't last) the last one extortionate. I loved each one. Sharing it with people who'd known, loved and watched them grow was amazing. Each of the brides had very expensive designer dresses and I was privileged to be invited to accompany all three shopping for them. I think I enjoyed that experience more than the wedding. I hope on grey days in my old age I can pull the memories forward and relive them. Women today are so lucky those type of dresses were out of mine and most of my contemporaries reach. So my answer is no weddings are not a waste of money if that's what the couple want and are happy to pay for it.

Indinana Fri 04-Dec-15 19:30:06

I made my wedding dress and veil, and the three bridesmaids' dresses. My going away outfit was a snip at £5 in Leadenhall Market - a French Navy linen jacket, skirt and trousers, all fully lined and with the Jonelle label. The skirt was 2 sizes too big, but no problem, I took it apart and remade it. I had my hair done at a local hairdresser, but did my make-up myself - nobody in those days would have dreamt of having a make-up artist confused
My dad hired a marquee and invited neighbours of my sister to run the bar for us - no pay, they were happy to do it for free food and drinks and they enjoyed the party. We had a record player and whoever was nearest put on a new LP when needed. All the food was done by any friends or family who could lend a hand - I spent my wedding eve with my mum and sister making up 12 loaves of sandwiches grin. My sister made quiches, an aunty made 6 Victoria Sandwich cakes, mum made half a dozen trifles. And as it was a summer wedding, plenty of neighbours donated flowers for decorating the marquee. My dad had his own carpet business so he brought home some cheap carpet runners to go from the marquee into the house and along to the toilet grin.
It was a wonderful day, we didn't have little favours on the tables, or pick and mix with specially printed bags for the children, or chairs festooned with oversized satin bows, or any of that extravagant nonsense that is de rigueur these days.
And then we had a week in Lynmouth, North Devon, and my brand new husband got food poisoning and was ill in bed for 3 days gringringrin

rosequartz Fri 04-Dec-15 20:25:22

The OP is a generalisation. Not all young couples spend that amount or ask for ridiculous things for presents.

I am sure there has always been a wide variation in the amount spent on the nuptials and on the wedding present list.
I'm sure ours cost more in comparison to either of the two DC's weddings (one still to go, if she bothers at all grin).

Iam64 Fri 04-Dec-15 21:00:53

I don't feel it's right to get all superior and put our judgy pants on about ' the youth of today and extravagant weddings' . As most couples pay for their own weddings and often already have a home together, surely our role is to go along in a spirit of happiness and goodwill.
I would not want a huge do but as it isn't my wedding, I'll buy a frock, or some other appropriate item of clothing, buy something off the list, or give a cheque towards the honeymoon, put on some lippy and share in the joy. ??

granjura Fri 04-Dec-15 21:38:29

Well yes- but there is no denying that the pressure to out-do the Jones (or rather the Beckhams) is not huge. I've known many a groom who, after 2 or more years of stressful preparations and temper tandrums- had lost the will to live, or to marry- but felt they couldn't pull out due to cost. What a way to start.

I love a good wedding too- but not an ostentatious and snobby one- where it's all for show and the dreaded video.

NotTooOld Fri 04-Dec-15 22:00:38

Yes, ridiculous! I feel it's all for show and outdoing other couples - it's a competition. I can't believe all the fuss that's made, let alone the expense. I know a couple who had private dance lessons specifically so they could impress with their first dance.

Nelliemoser Fri 04-Dec-15 22:38:37

My mum made my dress.
We had just bought a house and paid the solicitors estate agents fees and had little spare money.
We planned to go down to Weston Super Mare to camp for a couple of nights before going back to our jobs in London.
As it happens it started to pour with rain so we had a meal in a restaurant and rang my mum to say could we were come back for the night and the following day we packed our stuff and drove home. We did get a holiday later on in the year when our bank balances had recovered.

All you need is a venue a bit of a party and good friends and family around you.
Being of a cynical bent I have a theory that for many more expensive weddings the length of a marriage is inversely proportional to the cost of the ceremony. Just look at many celebrity weddings.