Counting the cost of true love

Anybody who keeps half an eye on the goings on in celebrity land cannot help but have noticed that love is in the air for a great many happy couples. As is usual in these glitzy, glamorous circles, nothing is being done by halves and the cash is flowing as freely as the champagne no doubt will be at the nuptial celebrations.

One of the biggest weddings on the horizon is the marriage of Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria to her fiancÈ Tony Parker, a star player in the US national basketball league. The pair are due to be married next month in a lavish Paris ceremony.

Cake arrangements take the biscuit

As usual, the surreal comes as standard with our celebrity friends. The couple have reportedly spent £3,750 – yes, £3,750 – on a wedding cake. In a move that some might consider surprising – given that France is the home of the patisserie and thus a Mecca of luxury baking – Ms Longoria’s cake has been prepared in the US and is to be shipped to France at an undisclosed cost, accompanied the whole time by a paid guard – You couldn’t make it up!

The Rolling Stones – available for weddings

Closer to home, the daughter of Rolling Stone and all round rock ‘n’ roll wildman Ronnie Wood is to be married soon. Leah Wood, on the verge of a music career herself, is to wed long-term partner Jack Macdonald. However, she claims to be "very conservative" compared to her father and told the Sun she is planning a traditional church wedding.

One thing that more than likely won’t be traditional is the wedding band. There is a good chance that guests will be treated to a couple of numbers by the rolling Stones – the kind of wedding entertainment that money literally can’t buy.

Meet Liz Taylor, wedding expert

According to aptly-named Manchester based wedding planner Liz Taylor, celebrity nuptials have a big influence on people’s wedding plans. She told the Manchester Evening News that trying to achieve such fabulous standards themselves "can be quite intimidating for couples". Money is a major issue, she explained.

"Whereas £5,000 or £10,000 was a significant amount a few years ago to stage your wedding, now £20,000 or £30,000 doesn’t go very far. The average person using our service spends £100,000 – but you have to realise that many of them want to get married in the south of France, Spain, or Ireland and there are significant costs by virtue of going out of the UK."

Lord & Lady Muck

In Ms Taylor’s opinion, people spend such big sums because they are intent "on having something very special" (although splashing out £100,000 may be a little too "special" for most). David and Victoria Beckham have apparently had "an enormous influence" on the everyday weddings market, which has resulted in wedding planners being "inundated with requests for thrones".

Material girl

All the pressure to have the perfect wedding has led to the ‘discovery’ of the latest modern malaise: Competitive Wedding Syndrome. A recent survey of 1,000 brides-be by wedding planners TK Weddings concluded that for most, outdoing their peers was more important to them than the fact that they were actually marrying the person they love. Of those surveyed, 59 per cent wanted guests to think it was the best wedding they had ever been to.

Why pay less?

The cost of the average wedding has doubled in the last decade to reach £20,000 – equivalent to around £60 per minute – and many of the couples surveyed were taking on second jobs or taking out loans to pay for the ceremony.

TK Weddings managing director Tamryn Kirby cautioned people planning a wedding against getting carried away, saying: "Hopefully couples will have written a budget early on in the planning and will have stuck to it, but as the day gets closer and panic sets in, it’s easy to start haemorrhaging money."

MoneyExpert advises that you don’t leave your financial planning to the last minute. Make sure your wedding isn’t still being paid for years and years to come and organise a loan or sign up for a 0% purchase card now and enjoy your big day safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to start married life in financial mess!

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