The wedding season is in full swing but disasters can occur. Adrian Ewington explains why wedding insurance has become important

The cost of getting hitched has soared in the past 10 years with the average British couple now spending between £16,000 and £25,000 on their big day. With a greater scope to plan these special days most couples overspend their budgets by 15%.

Most British couples still get married in the UK but more are opting for cheaper, sunnier, weddings abroad. With recent weather events, this is a sensible option as claims have recently increased due to venues being flooded leaving, in some cases, the betrothed to find a replacement venue within hours of their ceremony.

Wedding insurance is still comparatively young. It was created by broker Jackson Emms (now part of Towergate Risk Solutions) in 1988. It approached the former Allianz Cornhill with the idea and, since then, Allianz Insurance has underwritten almost 200,000 policies.

The market continues to grow, with companies jumping on the wedding carriage and the topic receiving coverage in magazines and national papers – raising public awareness and effectively selling itself.

But there is still scope for increased public awareness as only 20% of couples currently take out wedding insurance.

However the sector is likely to see increased activity as awareness grows of the benefits and the importance of the cover.

Some brokers may find it difficult to find a way in without having links to the trade, emphasising the importance of the insurer/broker relationship. Of course most insurers would look to partner a broker in selling a policy, and in doing so, a broker can receive between 10% and 15% commission.

But although about 65% of wedding insurance is sold through brokers, there is stiff competition as more weddings are taking place in hotels, castles and listed buildings where wedding organisers receive the same commission.

There are approximately 311,000 weddings a year, costing most couples half a year’s salary. This might explain why wedding insurance is taken out mostly by parents.

However, many still take the ‘it won’t ever happen to me’ attitude, or do not truly appreciate the value of the cover provided. That leaves just one in five seeking insurance as a safeguard should disaster strike.

Insuring one of the most expensive days of your life makes sense, especially when the cost of a wedding is more than what most people spend on a new car.

Every year wedding insurers are phoned by tearful brides speaking of unfortunate and unforeseen events – such as the illness of a close family relative or sudden closure of a reception venue – which have turned their excitement to angst.

“The most common calamity is damage to the bride's dress. Children have added colourful touches with their paints, drunken relatives have spilt red wine and cute little furry friends have had fun chewing through the luscious material

The most common calamity is damage to the bride’s dress. Children have added colourful touches with their paints, drunken relatives have spilt red wine and cute little furry friends have had fun chewing through the luscious material.

Other matrimonial disasters include wedding photographs not processing properly, caterers not turning up, a bride’s chauffeur going to the wrong house and a photographer dying on the church steps.

For some, being wed at their favourite football team’s playing ground in the obligatory footie gear makes a perfect

day. Others decide to have underwater weddings or take their vows standing on Ascot race course.

Castles and listed buildings are also increasingly popular while some animal lovers choose to get married among the wildlife at their local zoo, where guests are collected from the car park in the tour trains and taken to the ceremony, followed by a free zoo tour.

However, after incidents of drunken guests trying to climb into the lions’ den, some zoos have put a stop to hosting wedding receptions.

But all these crazy ways come at a price. Five years ago an engaged couple would pay £500 for the hire of a castle, as opposed to what now costs £3,000 plus.

When considering a quirky alternative venue, many will also have to put down a hefty deposit to hold their choice of day, sometimes as much as two years in advance and, without insurance, if the venue goes bust or gets flooded, the loved-up will be out of luck, and out of pocket.

Premiums for wedding insurance policies can start as low as £49 and are priced accordingly depending on the choice of insurer and package (see box).

But the principle behind each package remains the same – it is intended for mishap rather than misunderstanding, and offers peace of mind against eventualities beyond the betrotheds’ control. IT

Adrian Ewington is senior product developer for Allianz Personal

Wedding Insurance: what is covered

Cancellation Up to £5,000

Loss or damage to:
wedding attire Up to £3,000
photographs Up to £3,000
video Up to £3,000
presents Up to £3,000
rings Up to £2,000
wedding cake Up to £1,000

Loss of deposits Up to £3,000
Public liability Up to £2m