Ten cute little ways to help you say 'I do' to a low-cost wedding
If you're planning to pop the question this Valentine's Day, be sure you have deep pockets.
The average cost of getting hitched is now €21,666, according to a recent survey by the wedding website weddingsonline. That's about a 10th more than it cost to get married this time last year – and the cost of the big day isn't getting any cheaper.
"It looks like 2014 and 2015 will be bumper years for weddings," said Jonathan Bryans, sales manager with weddingsonline. "Prices may go up if there isn't the availability of bands, djs and so on. Suppliers are more confident this year. They are holding the line and not offering many discounts any more.
"Some of our suppliers, such as photographers and bands, have increased their prices at the start of the year. Some hotels are raising their wedding prices for 2015."
So if a €21,666 bill has you running for the hills rather than up the aisle, is there anything you can do to make your wedding day more affordable? Here are 10 tips that could get you there.
1 It's known as the most depressing month of the year – but getting married in January could save you a few grand.
For example, it costs €4,400 a night for the exclusive use of Ballinaccura House in Kinsale for your wedding in January – but €6,600 a night during the summer. Getting married on a Sunday or during the week could also save you a few bob. The Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin offers a 10 per cent discount off the price of the meal if you get married from Sunday to Thursday.
The Powerscourt Hotel in Wicklow also offers a meal discount of about 10 per cent if you get married mid-week or during the winter.
If you are banking on a winter discount, don't pick a date too near Christmas – you're unlikely to get anything knocked off the price of your wedding near the festive season.
2 Don't beef up your guest list just because the hotel offers a discount for more people. A larger guest list could more than double the bill for your meal – even if you're getting a discount.
Let's say you're planning to invite 60 guests at a rate of €70 a head and your chosen hotel offers you a 5 per cent discount if you invite 140 or more.
The bill for 60 guests will come to €4,200 – but the bill for 140 guests comes to €9,310 – and that's including the discount.
3 Know where you stand on the service charge. Some hotels and wedding venues automatically charge a service charge on food and drinks – and this could bump up your wedding bill by as much as an eighth.
4 Before you book a hotel or country house, find out if you must guarantee a certain number of guests. If you do, chances are you will have to pay for the meals or rooms of absent guests – if fewer guests turn up than you had hoped.
5 Keep the meal simple. "A lot of couples now opt for a set menu with one vegetarian option as opposed to two or three options for the starter, the meal and the dessert," said Bryans. "This is another great way to keep the costs down."
At Markree Castle in Sligo, for example, you'll pay €58 per head for a meal that offers one starter, main course and dessert – but about €106 per head for a meal that offers two choices of starter, main course and dessert.
Another good rule of thumb is to stick to the three courses. A three-course meal in Ballinacurra House costs €57.50 per head – but you'll pay €75 per head if you go for its six-course meal.
6 Cut out frills, such as chocolate fountains, fireworks displays and wedding videos.
"One thing we saw in the boom years was chocolate fountains," said Bryans. "A chocolate fountain could set you back between €500 and €600 – that's an easy thing to snip. The average fee for a wedding video is around €1,000 but it's not really perceived as essential to get a video these days." The bill for a fireworks display could easily set you back €1,000.
7 Bringing your own wine or champagne could keep your drinks bill down – as long as the corkage fee isn't too high. You'll usually pay between €7 and €15 in corkage fees.
If your hotel's corkage fee is on the high end – but it offers bottles of wine for less than €15, it could work out cheaper to order your wine directly from the hotel.
8 No matter how much you love kids, think twice before inviting them to your wedding. As well as paying for their meals, you will probably also have to cough up for children's entertainment, such as magicians or caricatures.
9 A wedding planner could set you back between €2,000 and €3,500. If you or your spouse-to-be have any kind of an organisational head, this is a job you can do yourself.
10 Be sure you are happy with the hotel you have chosen for your wedding before handing over a booking deposit. Booking deposits for weddings can run into thousands of euro – and as they are often non-refundable, you may not get your money back should you not go ahead with the wedding. You could also get hit with a hefty charge if you change the date of the wedding close to the day.