IF the only thing that puts you off marriage is - besides a one in two chance that it may end in divorce - the outrageous expense, then you could do worse than consult the Reverend Ron Leatherbarrow, rector of St Mark's Church in Blackley, north Manchester.
Thanks to Ron, happy couples can enjoy their special day safe in the knowledge they've only had to shell out pounds 767. His agency, Halo Halo, provides cut-price deals that include outfits, hairdressing bills, the reception and photographs, a honeymoon in Southport or the Lake District and even free flowers - courtesy of the local crematorium. As Ron wisely points out, flowers are flowers wherever they come from.
Acting as an agency, Halo Halo relies on different businesses in the area: "We know a company who do a lovely buffet for pounds 3 per head," enthuses Ron. "You can have the wedding videoed for pounds 50, the organist at pounds 30, a three-tier sponge cake for pounds 75 and a honeymoon suite at Windermere costing pounds 72 for two days." If a Rolls-Royce is too pricey to hire, he recommends a mini-van laid on by a taxi firm for pounds 55.
With such low prices, his scheme now under-cuts more established companies in the field - one has already criticised him for encroaching on the market. "But we don't make money," Ron insists. "We're a charitable organisation acting as an agent for companies who can make special offers."
He came up with the idea of weddings-for-all several months ago while baptising babies of various unmarried couples. "I thought, these people are bothering to come to church to get their children baptised, so what's stopping them getting married?" Apparently, the money. "They say that's definitely the reason. It's amazing actually - it's got nothing to do with cynicism. They would love to have a ceremony …