Tying the knot can cost more than a house deposit, which puts a dream wedding out of reach for many couples. So how do you afford the big day and can parents help?

Figures from wedding-planning website Bridebook suggest that the average wedding now costs £27,000, while a 10% mortgage on the average UK house would cost £22,000. “The cost of a wedding can be really daunting,” says Helen Adamou, wedding planner at Aphrodite Weddings. “People are always surprised by how much it is.”

With growing financial pressures on households including rising inflation, getting on to the housing ladder, or saving for children’s school and university fees, it can be hard to see how to afford a wedding as well.

Working out the cost

When considering the cost of a wedding, the most expensive parts tend to be the venue and the food, says event planner Katherine Pinner from Big Little Moment. “Having a figure in mind of what you’re willing to spend and what you’ve got to spend, either yourself or through family contributions, is a good place to start,” she says.

Brides Magazine puts the cost of hiring the venue for a wedding reception at nearly £4,000, while the catering tends to come in at a similar price.

An expensive honeymoon could cost more than the venue hire, with an estimated price tag of almost £4,500, while the wedding dress alone can cost over £1,000.

Pinner warns that unexpected costs can soon mount up, and push the price up even higher. “VAT is a big one. There are also things like credit card interest, dry cleaning your dress after the event and ceremony charges,” she says.

Adamou says that the couples who come to her often underestimate costs such as transportation and the price of having somewhere to stay the night before.

“There are always ways to bring the cost down, but it is about thinking outside the box,” she says. “My tips include getting married on a Thursday rather than a Saturday, as that way you can have your wedding at almost half the price.”

How to pay for the big day

Many couples save for years to afford their wedding, with family members often chipping in as well. The tradition of the bride’s family paying for the wedding seems to be on the way out.

A recent YouGov poll suggests that this is the most unpopular wedding tradition, with 76% suggesting it should be dropped. The majority of people surveyed felt that the bride and groom should pay for the wedding themselves, followed by a combination of both sets of parents.

Gifting Money

For families who want to give a gift to help pay for a wedding, there are some tax breaks. Catherine Reese, Chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual, says there is an extra Inheritance Tax (IHT) allowance that allows each parent to give up to £5,000 to their child on their marriage or civil partnership.

Grandparents can give up to £2,500 and anyone else up to £1,000 free of IHT. This is in addition to the annual exemption that allows each of us to give away £3,000 each tax year, which if not used can be carried forward one year. This would allow parents to give their child up to £22,000 completely free of IHT. Reese says that those saving or investing to help pay for their child’s wedding should make the most of the tax efficient options, to help them make the most of their money.

“You can now invest up to £20,000 each tax year into an ISA, which protects returns from Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax,” says Reese. “The ability to access pensions from age 55 gives many parents another option when it comes to helping out their children. Getting advice can help you to understand all the options and make the right decisions.”

Protecting the big day

After spending so much money on wedding plans, couples should ensure that they are protected from any issue that could jeopardise the event. Specialist event insurance is available that can cover for the failure of any wedding suppliers as well as loss and damage of wedding attire.

NFU Mutual offers a range of home insurances that increase the value of contents cover by up to 25% for one month before and after your wedding or the wedding of a family member living in your home.

You need to know

  • The value of pensions and investments can fall and you may get back less than you invested.
  • The tax treatment of pensions and ISAs depends on your circumstances and may change in the future.
  • The age at which you can access your pension will change to 57 in 2028.
  • The Inheritance Tax rules may change in the future.

Get in touch

NFU Mutual Financial Advisers can help you and your family plan for the future. Speak to your local NFU Mutual Agent or phone 0800 056 0142 (select option 3) and we will put you in touch with your personal Financial Adviser.