The biggest expense is food and drink, which on average costs £5,727, with the second-biggest cost being the bride’s dress at £1,268. The figures don’t include the average £3,704 couples spend on their honeymoon, but as these beautiful brides explain below you can’t put a price on love.
Here, they reveal all about their dream weddings, say why they wouldn’t change a thing and that their big day was worth every penny.
Tanya Baughan, 34, married carpenter Neil, 41, in a teppee marquee at Knepp Castle in Shipley, West Sussex
Date: 25 June ‘16
Time and place: 12 noon at Worth Church, Crawley, followed by a reception at Knepp Castle in Shipley, near Horsham, West Sussex
Honeymoon: Moon Palace, Cancun, Mexico
Budget: £30,000 plus
Tip: Negotiate with everyone. I haggled for everything and got up to 50 per cent discount. Weddings are so expensive that you have to make every penny count.
‘Even as a little girl I knew I didn’t want a traditional wedding and wanted to throw the best party ever. At first, I was looking for a barn for the wedding, but then I heard about the lake and grounds at Knepp Castle and when I visited I fell in love with it. We could only hire the land for the day though, as they don’t do functions at the castle and, luckily, I found a brilliant marquee company called Beautiful World Tents and chose their teppee marquee.
Neil and I had been friends for a long time before we got together, and aren’t the formal type. We already had our two boys, Cole, now six, and Gray, now four, and had just bought our house when he proposed.He’d planned to cook a romantic meal, and give me the ring he’d designed and had made for me, but then I ended up looking after our friend’s children, and so he proposed in bed. I loved the ring – a beautiful, but chunky, round diamond in a square setting of white gold, surrounded by smaller diamonds, but we were so busy doing up our house that there wasn’t time to plan the wedding.
My father Gary had sadly passed away from a brain tumour when Cole was just nine months old, and so I knew I wanted his dad, my granddad Ron, to give me away. Suddenly I realised with a jolt that he was getting older and that I might not have the luxury of time, and so I began to plan the wedding. We saved up for it ourselves, and I had fun making sure everything was just what we wanted. My dress was a present from my mum Carolyn, and was a fitted, lacy, ivory Olvis dress from the White Mischief bridal shop in Henfield, West Sussex. It cost £1500 and I had a veil for the church service, and high heeled shoes, that I had to try on next to Neil first to make sure I wasn’t taller than him at the church. I’m 5ft 6 and he’s 5ft 10 and the shoes I loved were very high. Luckily, he was still taller than me. Just.
I had six bridesmaids who wore lace and chiffon dresses that I ordered online from China, while Neil had his blue check suit made for him at Gresham Blake in Brighton. He had six ushers and two best men, and our little boys were page boys. The church was just over the road from my brother Marc’s house, so I stayed there the night before and got ready from there. My friend Claire Tanner, who has a salon in Crawley, did my hair and I chose a make-up artist called Danni Alders who was fantastic.
We walked to the church, as it was only a minute away, and I was fine until I went to visit my dad’s grave before walking into the church as he’s buried there. After laying a button hole on his grave, I was a little teary. I had to force myself to pull myself together for the ceremony, but it was an emotional moment.
It was a summer wedding and it was sunny one minute then there were hailstones and sunshine again. I thought it was a sign from Dad to show that he was there. After the service, which was beautiful, we went to the teppee marquee where we had curry from London caterer’s Deli-licious, and a three-tier cake made by my aunt Lyn.
Instead of names, I got mini pictures of all the 100 guests and stuck them into a cork, and used them for place settings. We were eating butter chicken and side dishes and so I gave everyone yellow disposable aprons to protect their clothes. I wore mine over my wedding dress as I didn’t want any stains.
We had a bar, which we paid for until after the dinner, when another 70 people came. We had a band, but we didn’t do a first dance as I have two left feet, but I was up dancing by the end of the evening.
Neil and I spent the night at Cisswood House in Horsham while my in-laws had the boys. Then the four of us jetted off to Mexico for a fortnight’s holiday.
We spent more than £30,000 all in, but it was an amazing day, and I wouldn’t change a thing. The service was my favourite part – looking at Neil as he became my husband while surrounded by my friends and family was just overwhelming.
The day went by so quickly that I wish I could do it all again. I loved every moment.’
Events executive Emma O’Malley, 35, of Rusper, West Sussex, married business development manager James, 38, at her local church then had a barn reception
Date: 19 December ‘15
Honeymoon: Sri Lanka and the Maldives
Budget: £22,000 not including the honeymoon
Tip: Don’t stress about things that don’t really matter, like the cake. Enjoy every moment as it takes so long to plan and then the day flies by.
‘I’ve always loved winter and imagined walking down the aisle on a crisp, sunny but cold day in December with a flurry of snow all around me – and that’s what we had. Only it was such good weather we had to hire a snow machine and had that instead of confetti.
We even moved the machine to the reception so it was ‘snowing’ when our evening guests arrived. I wasn’t just a bride but a snow queen. It was beyond anything I could have imagined, and so special.
I met James through a dating site, Plenty of Fish, and never thought it would lead anywhere. But he had hazel eyes, a nice smile and was so funny, I didn’t stop laughing. I found out that he’d been on a date with my sister Kathy when she was 13. They’d gone to a roller disco, but hadn’t had a second date, and I thought it was hilarious. Luckily, she doesn’t tease me about marrying her ex, and they were only teens so it was all rather innocent.
James proposed on Christmas Day 2014 at the top of the tower of my local church, St Mary Magdalene, in Rusper, West Sussex. He’d arranged the whole thing with the vicar and had even signed a disclaimer as it was so high up. All my family knew that he was going to ask me to marry him so when I came down crying, sporting a solitaire diamond ring, they weren’t surprised.
We didn’t want a summer wedding as we love winter walks in the country and wanted one of those cold but sunny days in December. We found out it would be cheaper to get married in the winter than the summer so our budget would stretch a little further.
Organising the wedding was relatively easy in that I knew exactly what I wanted. I was always going to get married in our local church where we got engaged, and I wanted a barn for the reception. We looked at lots of venues before we found the one, called The Great Barn at Dorset House, in Bury, West Sussex.
We bought in a company called Reveries to do the lighting and décor although we did the table centre pieces where we filled vases with cones and trees with snow and icicles. James was involved, which was great, and so was one of my best friend’s, Lucy, who I’ve known since we were five. She’s an events and wedding organiser so helped me enormously.
My mum bought my £1600 Ronald Joyce lace dress for me, which I found at White Dresses and Tiaras in Crawley, West Sussex and I matched it with a silver headpiece with diamantes and pearls, and ivory shoes with a gold trim.
James wore a Ted Baker midnight blue suit, and had three best men as he couldn’t choose between his brothers.
It was important that I felt that we did something in memory of my father, Neville, who sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer when I was 19. So we decided to buy all the drink for the bar but ask guests to donate money at ‘Nev’s Bar’ at the evening reception so we could raise funds for St Catherine’s Hospice, who had looked after my dad. We had a barrel engraved for guests to put their donation in, and also bought lights that spelled out Nev’s Bar.
I also had a locket in my bouquet which was open so you could see two pictures – one of my dad and one of me with him when I was 17. It was nice to have him so close to me on my big day.
My mum, Jane French, gave me away. It was so special getting married in our local church surrounded by all our loved ones, around 110 people, and I was on a high as we were driven to the barn reception in a gorgeous Rolls Royce.
We had a winter menu of mini fish and chips, sausage and mash, and a trio of desserts, and the caterer decorated a cake I bought at M & S. More people came to the evening do, where we had a band, and did our first dance to Ed Sheeran’s Tenerife Sea.
The whole day flew by, but it was amazing when we found out we’d raised £1,745.20 with Nev’s Bar. It would have made my dad so proud.’
Cats’ Protection education officer Petra Coghlin, 34, of Steyning, West Sussex, married pharmaceutical salesman James Elliott, 40,
at Brighton’s Hotel Du Vin
Date: 15 February ’17
Honeymoon: Ski-ing in Tignes in French Alps
Tip: Insist on having what you want and don’t be persuaded otherwise. For us, it was important to keep our wedding small so we focused on it being small and intimate rather than perfect.
‘I’ve always wanted my wedding to be more of a party than a traditional ceremony which is why we held it in a cellar at a hotel.
We are in love but James and I are not romantics. He proposed over a pizza while we were on holiday in Vietnam last April and he didn’t have a ring because he knew I would want to choose it. I went for a halo ring, of a diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds on a platinum band.
We only started organising the wedding last November while on holiday in Thailand, but I knew I didn’t want anything big or over the top. It was more important for me to become Mrs Elliott than have a big, white wedding.
We had 60 friends and family to a simple, low-key ceremony in The Screwpull Cellar, which is an old wine cellar with lots of atmosphere, and exposed brick work.
I wore a red velvet pencil dress from the Pretty Dress Company, which I bought online for £160 and teamed with a white fake fur stoll and black patent high heels. I wanted to be able to wear the dress again, so couldn’t justify buying an expensive wedding gown. James wore a navy Boss suit with a red tie.
There’s a vintage style theme so I carried red roses and black ivy and my bridesmaid Claire wore a black dress. After the ceremony, we had drinks and then moved to The Dome room where we sat down to a meal of parmesan and pumpkin soup, confit of duck, and crème brulee.
We put disposable cameras on the tables so everyone could take pictures. I didn’t want any part of the wedding to be stuffy – and wanted our friends and family to have fun. We stayed overnight in one of the hotel’s suites, which meant we could really relax. It was a brilliant party where we happened to end up as husband and wife — just how we planned.