Personal Finance: Getting Spliced without Being Fleeced; I Do - and Hang the Expense. but as Jane Hall Reveals, Getting Married Abroad Can Significantly Cut the Cost
Byline: Jane Hall
GILLIAN MULLEN and Mark Alderson are determined that their wedding day will be exactly what they want.
So the couple from Benwell Village, Newcastle, are escaping family pressures and getting married in Sri Lanka this summer.
And because they aren't having to fork out for a church wedding, bridal attire, reception and honeymoon, their nuptials are only going to cost them pounds 6,000 - that's about pounds 8,000 less than the average cost of a home-based wedding.
Gillian, 31, a healthcare trainer, and Mark, 34, a head chef, have been together for 12 years, but only decided to tie the knot 12 months ago.
Mark says, ``It may sound selfish, but by marrying abroad we are able to organise the day ourselves and spend as much as we want. We have nobody but ourselves to please.''
The couple have booked their pounds 3,000 16-day wedding package with Kuoni Travel and will be flying out to Sri Lanka in late August. The price includes the marriage licence and certificate, bridal bouquet, groom's buttonhole, photographs, video of the ceremony, cake, decorated wed-ding location and a ``going away'' elephant ride.
The couple have yet to decide what they will be wearing, but they don't intend to spend more than pounds 500 on the rings with pounds 1,000 spending money.
A pounds 1,000 celebration party for their family and friends is being planned for their return, taking the total cost of their wedding to around pounds 6,000.
Over the past decade the expense of tying the knot has doubled. In 1993 a happy couple would have spent an average of pounds 7,699 on the nuptials. But the law changed in 1995 to allow weddings to take place at more unusual venues, and many couples now hire luxury hotels and stately homes for the ceremony and reception.
As a result the cost of getting married in the UK has soared to pounds 14,000 according to online wedding planner Confetti.co.uk - brides are now spending more than pounds 2,000 on their wedding dress, other outfits and beauty treatments for the occasion - and many cash-strapped couples are now looking for a cheaper option to the traditional church, reception and honeymoon.
Marrying abroad is the answer.
Thomas Cook has recently increased its wedding pro-gramme for 2003 to accommodate a 28% rise in the number of couples booking to get married in foreign climes. …