til debt do us part

If you’ve recently popped the question – or heard those fated matrimonial words and said, "YES!" – the chances are you’ll now be feeling the strain.

You will probably already have a long ‘to do’ list and you’re wondering how you’ll even manage to book an aisle, let alone walk down one.

And then there’s the cost. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes reportedly spent around $3 million on their Perfect Day.

Now although this is a fantasy figure for the majority of us, it is likely that we will be thinking five figures for a wedding. That’s a lot of cash to spend on one day.

Fortunately for those of us who are not A-list stars the 27th of February marks the launch of Marks & Spencer’s new range of wedding dresses. The new gowns will cost from an astonishingly low £59.99 – but with the cost of the typical wedding often hitting the £20,000 mark, what difference does a dress make?

MoneyExpert.com looks at ways to help you cut costs or, if you’re hell bent on the Real Thing, how to mitigate against living in debt for ever more…

Do it on the cheap

Ok, so you haven’t got £20k and you still want to get married. A ‘best value’ option would be to hop off to Gretna Green – you can have a civil ceremony for around £100 and most hotels or B&Bs won’t charge you extravagant inner-city prices to spend the night.

What to wear? Well, you’ve got your £59.99 M&S wedding dress and Asda do a great line in suits for the groom. Get one of them and you’ll have change from a £20 note.

If you’re going to splash out on anything, make it the ring – it’s one of the few mementos from the whole occasion that’ll last a lifetime. Weddingrings-direct.com will get you a diamond-encrusted ring for under £1,000. Argos will get the basics done for as little as £9.99.

Have the Perfect Day – but don’t pay for it forever

If however a civil ceremony in Gretna is not your idea of the perfect day and you want the fairytale, think about how to spread the cost.

Do you have savings you can use? Will your parents help out? Work out how much you can set aside between now and the big day so that you have some sense of the amount of cash you will have to borrow to make ends meet.Let Money Expert show you all the loan options.

Something borrowed – but don’t get the blues

There are various options open to you, depending on how much money you need to borrow for your wedding. If you think the amount is reasonable, it’s worth asking your parents for a loan. This won’t always be possible but whenever it is the chances are you’ll be miles better off than asking a commercial organisation.

If neither mum nor dad can help, the most sensible option is probably to take out a personal loan. If you’re borrowing under £5,000, you could try to put your spending on a 0% credit card. But with this option you don’t have to commit to a repayment plan and unless you’re disciplined you could carry that debt for a long time. And once the interest-free deal expires you will have to pay far more interest – up to 16% – than you would with other options.

Unsecured personal loans allow to you borrow anything up to £25,000 over a period of between six months and ten years. The longer you take to pay the money back, the more money you’ll pay as the interest accrues.

The best deals on personal loans start at 5.9% with Alliance & Leicester or Moneyback Bank. At that rate if you borrow £10,000 over five years, you’ll pay £11,571 in total and your monthly repayments will be around £193.

But watch out for hidden catches. If you get a windfall and want to repay a loan early, many providers will charge you a fee for doing this. Also if you miss a payment you’ll count the cost.

Money Expert.com show you the best credit card and personal loan deals for your individual circumstances.

Make sure you are not left counting the cost of getting married

Your wedding should be the best day of your life but it can become a millstone around your neck if you overstretch your finances.

Don’t let your perfect day be ruined by sticking your head in the sand. Be prepared and get savvy about the credit deals on the market. This way you won’t be counting the cost of getting married after the big day.

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