62,000 couples from the UK choose to get married abroad each year, typically saving £4,517 compared to the cost of getting hitched in the UK, according to new research seen exclusively by Moneywise.
But some can save a lot more, with 22% saying they saved more than £10,000 by tying the knot in another country, according to the research from an international payment company.
Commenting on the research, Nilan Peiris, vice president at TransferWise, says: “Looking overseas is a great way to save on costs, which means people are free to spend their money on making the day as special as possible.”
Of course getting married abroad may cost more for guests to attend. See our tips on how to Cut the cost of saying yes to wedding invites.
The reasons for marrying abroad
Money saving isn’t the biggest driver for overseas weddings, though affordability is a crucial factor for one in six couples.
Instead, the majority get hitched internationally because one of the betrothed has friends or relatives in their target country, and in two in five cases one of the happy couple is originally from the country they’re getting married in.
Weddings held in other countries tend to be smaller, more intimate gatherings, according to Jo Daye, founder of wedding consultancy Accent Events.
She says: “The couples I work with are attracted to the idea of a wedding in the sun with the bonus of a cost saving, but also to having a more intimate wedding without the pressure of a big, ostentatious event.”
Most popular destinations
Most people who marry overseas head to mainland Europe, according to the research, which looked at money transfers by thousands of people sending money abroad to pay for weddings. A third of overseas weddings happen in Spain, France or Italy, beaten only by Ireland, where a sixth of couples go.
Older couples are more likely to travel further abroad, with pensioners most commonly getting married in America, and 46-60-year-olds more likely to go to Australia.
How to keep costs under control
Though getting married in another country is generally cheaper, 9% of couples surveyed ended up paying more than they would have done in the UK, and not keeping an eye on transaction costs can quickly evaporate any potential savings. The difference between the best and worst deals when sending money to another country can be 5% - for a £20,000 budget that’s an immediate, avoidable loss of £1,000.
To get the best value from specialist currency brokers and peer-to-peer currency platforms, you’ll generally need to set up a bank account in the country you’ll wed in. Some companies operate cheap, “execution only” deals that will get you a competitive price on the spot, while more advanced brokers will be able to advise on whether you’re likely to be better off if you transfer money now, or wait for exchange rates to improve.
Wedding planners can also work with you to negotiate better prices, as well as helping with the administration of paying all your suppliers.