Monday, 27 May 2013

Family Lawyer: costly wedding receptions contribute to divorce

The absurdly high expense of many weddings is not only unnecessary but actually a contributing factor to the breakdown of marriages.

Recently there has been some talk in the press about the amount that couples spend on their weddings. For example, the Guardian has an article: Here comes the bride's £14,000 bill

The press and many couples often unfairly cite "Church fees" as a reason for not getting married in Church. In fact, as the Guardian list shows, fees associated with the Church are dwarfed by, for example, the fee you would pay a professional photographer, let alone the cost for "food and drink": the reception is always by far the greatest expense.

(The fee listed by the Guardian as "Hire of Church" would include the fee for registration - something people would have to pay anyway for a civil marriage.)

A parishioner passed on to me an interesting follow-up letter in the Times. Here is the link to the letter by Amanda McAlister, Head of Family Law at Slater and Gordon. It is behind the Times paywall, but I have copied out a "fair use" quotation:
I estimate that between 70 and 80 per cent of divorce cases I deal with, within five years of marriage, cite overspending on their wedding day as a contributing factor to their relationship breakdown.
My normal motivation for advertising that marriage in Church need not cost very much is to encourage people actually to get married rather than just cohabit. Amanda McAlister's letter adds an important new perspective from an authoritative source.

Sometimes cohabiting couples say to me that they have to wait until they can afford a lavish wedding reception because of pressure from their families to have a "traditional" wedding. I point out to them that the tradition is actually that the bride's father pays for it. If we returned to that custom (or even had the cost shared between the parents) it would soon reduce the expectations to a more realistic level and save the spouses themselves from having to go into debt for the sake of pleasing others.
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