Saturday 10 December 2016

You can have a wedding fit for a queen

From horse-drawn coaches to only-slightly-over- the-top fireworks displays, the bill for a dream wedding could run into tens of thousands if you're not careful, writes Louise McBride

Published 24/04/2011 | 05:00

NOT many of us can hope for a wedding as extravagant as that of Prince William and Kate Middleton this Friday. Get carried away with designer labels, fairytale castles and fancy fireworks, however, and your wedding bill won't be too far behind the Royals.

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DESIGNER RING

€9,300

If, like Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, you spend more of your time window shopping at the Tiffany Store in New York than you do buying jewellery there, keep it that way.

A Tiffany Garden cobblestone wedding band in platinum with diamonds costs €9,285, according to the wedding planner, Rosemarie Meleady of www.theweddingplanner.ie.

"A non-brand wedding band can be bought for as little as €120," said Meleady.

The wedding band could be the least of your worries if you need designer jewellery to match. A 34.62 carat diamond bracelet by the international jewellers, Lugano Diamonds, could set you back about €67,000. A pair of Lugano black-and-white diamond cuff links for the groom could cost over €2,400.

FAIRYTALE CASTLE

UP TO €30,000

If you have 100 guests at your wedding, you could pay up to €30,000 to get married in an Irish castle, according to Meleady.

If you and your knight in shining armour are broke -- but you must have your wedding in a castle -- be inventive.

"You could hire Johnstown Castle in Wexford for your wedding ceremony and have a reception at a venue nearby," said Meleady. "In this case, the cost of the castle hire and wedding reception for one hundred guests could come to less than €5,000."

If you want to have the ceremony and reception in a castle, consider having your wedding mid-week as it may work out cheaper. For example, it costs €1,000 a night to hire Markree Castle in Sligo from Sunday to Thursday in 2012 -- the price is €2,000 on weekends and €4,000 on New Year's Eve.

DESIGNER DRESS

€10,000 PLUS

Vera Wang dresses, which have been sold in Brown Thomas until recently, can cost up to €10,000. "As Brown Thomas have discontinued stocking Vera Wang, brides will need to travel to Britain or the US to get these dresses -- which adds to the cost," said Meleady. "However, you can get gorgeous designer wedding dresses for as little as €175 from Barnardos."

If you have your heart set on a Vera Wang dress, you may still be able to get one off the rail in Brown Thomas -- at a fraction of the usual price. Sample sale Vera Wang dresses (which have usually been worn before) are now selling in the store at discounts of between 50 and 70 per cent.

PHOTOGRAPHER

UP TO €4,000

Unless you want haphazard photos of your wedding day -- without sight of the mother of the bride or other members of the bridal party in the album -- don't hire your friend to photograph your wedding (unless of course, they're a professional photographer).

Professional wedding photographers can be worth the money -- particularly if you can hire one for between €800 and €1,000 for the day. Some however charge as much as €4,000 -- so be careful who you choose -- and which album you go for.

The most expensive type of wedding albums are usually storybook albums -- where the pages look like pages in a book. If the storybook album is bound like a book, you could pay between €2,000 and €3,000 or more. Opt for the traditional slip-in album and you could pay less than €1,000.

Most photographers provide a CD of your wedding photos along with the album. Make sure you choose a photographer who does not have a copyright on the wedding photos in the CD. Otherwise, if you're getting copies of the wedding photos for relatives after the wedding, the bill for the copies could almost be as much as the wedding album. One print could cost as much as €60 -- 10 prints later, and you'll have paid €600 for your copies.

FIREWORKS

UP TO €4,000

If you want to follow in the footsteps of footballer Robbie Keane and have a fireworks display at your wedding, be sure you have the wallet to match. It usually costs at least €1,500 to have a 10-minute display at your wedding -- though the bill could climb as high as €4,000, depending on how elaborate your display is. Such extras as initials in a heart of fire and you're looking at another €350.

Hire a caricaturist for the day instead and you'll only pay between €400 and €500 to entertain your guests -- if you want to hire entertainment at all.

HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE

€1,200

Save yourself more than a grand on the return trip to the church by giving up your dream of a horse-drawn carriage -- and getting a friend or relative to drive you instead. In Dublin, a bride could easily cough up €1,200 to get her to the church and back in a carriage drawn by four horses. (The return journey usually includes the spouse, of course). Even if you settle for a carriage drawn by only two horses, you could still have to pay about €850.

And, of course, there's no point getting the bridal couple to compromise on transport -- if the bridal party don't too. Unless you can get the bridesmaids off their high horses and arrange for a relative to drive them to the church and back, you could be a few hundred euro poorer. It can cost between €300 and €400 to hire a stretch limo or Mercedes for a wedding.

FLOWERS

€1,000s

Between flower arrangements for the church, buttonholes for the groom and groomsmen, corsages and flower gifts for the mothers of the bride and groom, bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids, and flowers for the tables during the meal, the flower bill for a wedding can easily run into thousands of euro.

If you've got a winter wedding, chances are your flower bill will dwarf that of a summer wedding as many flowers won't be in season.

Your flower bill could easily top €1,000 if you want flowers that are out of season -- or if you're determined to have calla lilies, orchids, magnolias, gardenias or peonies.

Settle for lavender, daffodils, daisies, carnations or roses, and you could more than halve your bill.

Keep it simple. Does anyone really notice the pew bows on the seats or the flower arrangement on the altar? Do groomsmen really appreciate the expensive gardenia in their button holes or would they settle for some lavender?

Some florists, such as Flowers Made Easy (www.flowersmadeeasy.ie) have wedding packages where you can pick up bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids, buttonholes and corsages for as little as €250.

STATIONARY

€1,000 +

Let's face it, no matter how special you think your big day is, most of your guests will throw your wedding invitation in the bin soon after your wedding (if it even lasts that long). So why spend a fortune on silk ivory invitations or invitation cards made with a particular variation of wood grain?

The bill for 120 invitations could easily come to €650, including €340 for the invitations themselves, €95 for envelopes, €150 for envelope seals and at least €66 for postage. Throw RSVP cards and envelopes into the mix, as well as thank you cards for wedding gifts, and your stationary bill could easily come to €1,000.

Be a true cheapskate by emailing your invitations. If you don't want to go that far, print off your own invitations, snap up cheap envelopes in a discount store -- and forget about the fancy envelope seals.

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