Anyone who's ever so much as hovered on the fringes of wedding planning will have seen one of these articles. Shocking rise in the cost of the average wedding, picture of tasteless pink bride standing next to cake the size of a respectable starter home, reassurance that it doesn't have to be that way, followed by awesome photographs of a stunning wedding and reception that, according to the bride (I'm afraid it is usually the bride) involved, cost less than £500 and a marvellous day was had by all.
Great! you think, and start reading through for hints and tips. And then you start to realise that what she actually means is that the wedding expenses that were significant enough to be counted only cost her and her husband £500, and she either hasn't realised the cash value of other people's contributions, or she's choosing not to count them in a bid to gain moral high ground on the basis of frugality.
You realise that the wedding was conducted by Uncle John the vicar, who was able to waive all fees from venue hire to bell ringers, and jolly the Church Ladies into making that week's floral decorations in the preferred wedding colours.
You find that the dress (normal shop price: about £800) was made by the bride's ex-housemate who just happens to be a wedding dress designer/seamstress, that the fabulous cake (normal shop price: about £400) was donated by Auntie Linda who just happens to be a baker and decorator of wedding cakes, and that the food (normal shop price about £20 per head) is being provided free of charge by the groom's parents who just happen to own a catering business. A cousin who's on a hairdressing course, an uncle with a posh or classic car, and a friend-of-a-friend who's just setting up in the DJ business are optional.
You are told that "it's easy" to make your own invitations and place cards and so on for a modest outlay of about £50. Assuming, of course, that you have already invested several hundred pounds in a decent trimmer and a selection of corner punches, a proper craft knife and cutting board, a decent printer, endless accessories like glue dots, pritt stick, and backing card - and assuming that you possess a certain degree of design aptitude.
Next you discover that the amazing photos were taken by a professional. The fact that a decent professional photographer will often charge a three or even four-figure sum for shooting a wedding isn't mentioned - the photographer was either another person the couple just happened to know who owed them a massive favour, or he was hired by the families as a gift.
Yes, it turns out that the way to have a wonderful wedding on a budget is to be surrounded by generous, interested family and friends who are already (a) professionals in wedding-related industries, (b) incredibly creative, and/or (c) prepared to spend their own money so that you don't have to. Easy! Erm...
We're spending money on professionals to take care of certain aspects of our wedding. This is not a moral issue.
We're definitely looking forward to getting married, and to having the party with our nearest and dearest, but I think we'll also be glad to escape from the insane and contradictory world of wedding planning.