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One in six British weddings now take place abroad

Press release: 30/05/2013

  • The number of Brits getting married overseas has increased almost 20% over the past decade [1]
  • British guests at overseas weddings have forked out nearly £7.3 billion to attend in the past five years [2]
  • Overseas weddings cost £10,000 less than the average UK ceremony [3]
  • 3.7 million Brits (8%) have attended a wedding abroad in the past five years [4]

The lure of warm weather and cheaper prices is prompting an increasing number of British couples to get married abroad, according to new research from LV= travel insurance.

One in six married couples - 280,000 in total [5] - tied-the-knot overseas in the past five years, an increase of almost 20% compared to a decade ago.

Getting married abroad is a tempting prospect for British couples with guaranteed good weather and a smaller bill for the festivities. While travel and accommodation are understandably more expensive for overseas weddings, the venue, entertainment, catering, photography, decorations and the honeymoon are all typically cheaper. In fact, overseas weddings cost £10,000 less than the average ceremony in the UK.

Yet while it's often cheaper for the couples to get married overseas, it's far more costly for their guests. Brits have forked out almost £7.3 billion to attend weddings abroad in the past five years, including the cost of new outfits, travel, accommodation and a wedding gift. On average, guests pay almost £2,000 each to go to an overseas wedding - almost four times as much as they would spend to attend a UK wedding (£500).

As a result, almost a quarter (23%) of those who attended a wedding overseas say they had to cut back on their own holiday in order to attend, while a similar number had to sacrifice their vacation altogether [6]. One in ten (9%) Brits say they have had to turn down invitations for overseas weddings as it was just too expensive to attend.

The USA is the most popular country for an overseas wedding followed by Spain and Italy, while Las Vegas is the most visited city. The main reason couples give for choosing the destination is that they have a family connection with the country (63%), with better weather (32%) and an exotic setting (27%) being the other top reasons. Some couples say they chose to marry abroad as they simply didn't want the big wedding they would have had in the UK (22%) or that they just didn't want to make a fuss (11%).

In total, 3.7 million Brits (8%) have attended a wedding abroad in the past five years, and a further one in 10 (11%) have been invited to one in the near future. In order to meet the additional expense, some may be tempted to cut back on travel insurance yet the research reveals that one in ten (9%) people who attend a wedding abroad get sick or injured during the trip, so scrimping on cover may be a false economy.

Choosing to marry abroad can be a savvy move to save money and guarantee good weather - but it can be costly if you're a guest. Combining the wedding trip with your annual holiday is a good way to save cash, but you shouldn't cut back on travel insurance. With as many as one in ten guests getting sick or injured at overseas weddings, it's vital you're covered should the worst happen, even if you're only away for a few days.

Selwyn Fernandes, Managing Director of LV= travel insurance

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Table 1. Breakdown of cost to attend a wedding in the UK and abroad


UK wedding

Overseas wedding
















Table 2. Top ten destinations for overseas weddings
























The research was conducted by PCP research and commissioned by LV= travel insurance. PCP questioned five samples of UK adults in total: 1) a representative sample of 2,000 UK adults, 2) 800 UK adults who attended a wedding in the UK in the past five years, 3) 800 UK adults who attended a wedding abroad in the past five years, 4) 200 couples who got married in the UK in the past five years, 5) 200 couples who got married abroad in the past five years. The research was conducted between 8-20 May 2013.

  1. Source: PCP omnibus research. 1.9% of UK adults had a wedding abroad in the past five years (2013-2009), compared to 1.6% a decade ago (2008-2004), representing an increase of 19%.
  2. Source: PCP research. According to the research 7.8% of UK adults have been to a wedding overseas in the past five years. The UK adult population is 47.7 million. 7.8% of 47,700,000 equates to 3,720,600 UK adults. Each of these spends an average of £1,959. This equates to £7,288,655,400, or almost £7.3 billion.
  3. According to the PCP research, the average cost of a wedding abroad is £11,532. According to separate a study by You and Your Wedding magazine (May/June issue) the average wedding ceremony costs £21,939. This represents a difference of £10,407.
  4. Source: PCP. 7.8% of UK adults have attended a wedding overseas in the past five years, equating to 3.7 million people.
  5. Source: PCP and ONS. The only figures available for the number of weddings in the UK in the past five years from the Office of National Statistics cover the years 2010 (when there were 277,740 weddings in the UK) and 2009 (267,898). Data for 2011, 2012 and 2013 is not yet available. The average number of weddings in the UK each year, based on 2009 and 2010 figures, is 272,819.

    From the PCP research we know that UK weddings represent 83% of the total number (with overseas weddings comprising the remaining 17%). (272,819 / 83) X 100 = 328,698 UK adults get married in the UK and abroad each year. 17% of these took place overseas, therefore 17% of 328,698 = 55,879 (rounded to 56,000) overseas weddings take place every year, or 280,000 in the past five years.
  6. Source: PCP sample of 800 UK adults who have attended a wedding abroad in the past five years. 23% said they had to cut back on their holiday to attend the wedding, and 23% also said they had to sacrifice their holiday to attend.

About LV=

LV= employs 5,700 people and serves over five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK’s largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.