It has been reported via the Daily Mail that Britons now spend a staggering £7.5 billion a year getting married. As someone who has attended no fewer than 20 weddings in the last four years alone, this statistic doesn’t surprise me in the least. Each wedding I have attended seems to be glitzier and glossier than the last, with each bride and groom eager to out do the one who has gone before them. Looking back at the photographs, many of the beautiful weddings I have been fortunate enough to attend wouldn’t look out of place gracing front cover of Hello!
It was therefore even less of a surprise to discover that according to the Office of National Statistics, the amount spent on weddings in the UK has more than doubled since the 1980s, and despite the financial crisis, it is reported that a couple still spend between £21,000 and £25,000 on their wedding – almost the same as the national average wage. As a result of this spending more than 20 per cent of married couples start their life in debt after splashing out much more than they can afford.
With statistics such as these, it’s little wonder that High Court Judge Sir Paul Coleridge who launched ‘The Marriage Foundation’ last week, complained about the influence glossy magazines such as Hello! have on the wedding industry.
Sir Paul went so far as to say that ‘The more we spend on weddings, the greater the rate of family breakdown.’ Whilst I don’t entirely agree the amount spent at the outset is a complete reflection of longevity, with so many couples starting their married life with crippling amounts of debt, and ultimately having to realise the true meaning of ‘for richer for poorer’ so early on in their marriage, it would be difficult to argue that debt isn’t a major contributing factor in many marriage breakdowns.
Whilst many more couples are finding themselves seeking a divorce after only a few years of marriage, I don’t honestly believe that anyone walks up the isle in their designer togs thinking ‘oh well, if it doesn’t work out it’s easy enough to get a divorce.’
What I am absolutely convinced of however, is that every year men and women alike become swept up in a fairytale and all the focus is on the one day rather than what happens afterwards. The reality for many is that when the last slice of the five tier bespoke wedding cake has been eaten and the five figure designer gown lays crumpled in the spare bedroom, they are unable to make the commitment and sacrifices that marriage requires.
What is certain is that marriage is always going to be a topic of great debate. And so with the wedding season fast approaching, and as I watch the next round of worried brides wondering if their big day will be big enough, I can’t help wondering which of the four marriages I will witness this year will last the distance. Will it be the extravagant affair with all the trimmings, or will it be the couple who are having a small intimate affair with their nearest and dearest and a hotpot supper. Watch this space!
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