Liam Croke: I, heavily indebted, take you equally indebted

Let me ask you a question - what do, all of the following have in common?

Let me ask you a question - what do, all of the following have in common?

€0.41 cent per second.

€25.69 per minute.

€1,541.67 per hour.

Believe it or not, when you multiply each of them out over a 12 hour period they all add up to exactly the same amount which is €18,500.

What is so special about this figure you might ask. Incredibly, it is the average cost of an Irish wedding.

Research carried out last year found that the average cost of a wedding in Ireland is €23,500 (€21,340 in Limerick) with about €5,000 of this amount being spent on the honeymoon.

So, the actual cost of the big day out, on average, is €18,500, which really surprised me when I started researching this topic.

I am married to Roseann 19 years in July of this year and whilst writing this article I was asking her how much our wedding cost back in 1995. Including our honeymoon it came to just under £5,000 punts.

We had our reception out in the Shannon Shamrock which cost us £2,000 punts, Roseann’s dress was £500, our DJ was £90, our cake was £100, our honeymoon was £1,500 (we went to Mexico) and all the other outgoings amounted to in total £5,000.

Maybe I am just naïve but I just couldn’t believe the amount couples spend nowadays. And the only reason I started looking further into this area was because I met two couples this week who in the next 18 months are going to get married. The couples were going about it in two different ways, financially speaking.

The first couple, who live in Dublin by the way, have set themselves a budget of €30,000. Of this amount €10,000 is going towards their honeymoon and another €3,500 is going on both the stag and hen parties both of which will be outside the country.

They must have seen my jaw drop because they asked “Are we mad?” I didn’t answer them straight away because they were obviously very excited talking about it and far from me to burst their bubble.

So, rather than answer them, I enquired how they were going to finance everything. I was hoping they were going to say from savings they had built up over the past couple of years but, oh no, the two words that came from their mouths were the ones I really didn’t want to hear – Credit Union.

They had some savings in place with their Credit Union, €6,000 I think, so they told me their CU had approved them to borrow five times the amount they had on deposit.

“How much are you going to pay back each month if you borrow that amount?” I asked.

“Not sure, we will work that out when we get back from Vegas,” came the reply.

Thankfully they didn’t hear me taking our Lord’s name in vain at that stage.

I just thought what a really bad way to start their lives together, getting that much into debt for just one day. Admittedly one of the most important and exciting days of their lives, but, really, is the cost of the day worth €25 per minute?

I don’t know, maybe I’m a bit old fashioned or maybe I’m showing my age but €25 per minute, really?

The other couple I met this week are getting married in July 2015 and their budget is €15,000 including their honeymoon but they are saving €400 each into a joint savings account and both have moved home to save on rent etc. so it is going to be a very tough 18 months but they are putting in the hard effort because they don’t want to get into debt for one day, a day that could take them many years to repay.

And on this last point, the first couple I met, let’s call them Posh & Becks, or maybe it should be Dumb & Dumber, will be making loan repayments for the next 2,555 days all for that one day.

Will their wedding be that much better or more impressive than the couple who won’t borrow a cent?

Who knows but if you have ever seen that programme on Sky Living – Four Weddings – very often it is the wedding with the smallest, not the biggest, budget that wins. And I personally think it is the people you invite that really make your wedding memorable, not anything else.

Planning for a wedding should be exciting and I remember half the fun of saving for it was being broke at the end of the month because all of our money was in our “wedding account”.

But it was worth it and I know that the road to “I do” is absolutely paved with Euro signs but couples really do need to be on the same page when it comes to planning for their wedding.

You are going to have to compromise. Lionel Ritchie is not going to be the after dinner entertainment, so tough decisions will have to be made. A quite word though to the gentlemen – pick your battles carefully!

And long after you are married you will continue to make choices and compromises about money – should we move house, will we upgrade the car, should we stop eating out so much, can we afford the foreign holiday etc. and making those tough decisions together, before you get married will stand to you both.

My advice to those of you who are thinking of getting married this year or next, rather than setting yourself up for a lifetime of debt by borrowing, is start saving now, set yourself a budget and stick to it. Work out together how much is needed and then get busy saving.