Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Runaway marriage - a better (and cheaper) option

Note - the Landlord Law Blog has now moved to www.landlordlawblog.co.uk.

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There’s been quite a bit in the news recently about on the one hand how good marriage is for family life, but on the other hand how it is getting less popular. Well there is one very good reason which may partly account for its popularity decline - it is very expensive. Or, rather it is perceived to be very expensive. £14,000 is a figure I have heard as being an average price for a wedding. A phenomenal amount of money to spend on just one day.

But you don’t really need to have all that. The church, and the wedding breakfast, and the clothes, and the reception, and the disco, and the buffet, and all the relatives you don’t really want to see ... All you need is a license and an appointment at a registry office. That’s what we did.

We decided to get married but did not want all the doings. We just wanted to be married. We got a license, booked date in a registry office in a different town (you don’t have to get married on a Saturday, and if you get married on any other day you can get an appointment really quickly), told no-one, and just want up there and got married.

It was great. We had a friend come to be one witness and got an old lady off the street to come and be the other witness (I had always through it would be really romantic to drag a stranger off the street to be a witness) – she was delighted! Then we went and had a pub lunch. We had had a combined hen and stag night the night before when we went to see Joan Armatrading who happened to be in concert that night. It was a lovely time, a time just for us. I don’t think we would have enjoyed it any more if we had had the £14,000 do, in fact I am certain we would have enjoyed it a lot less.

Then we went back and told everyone. Their faces!! It was great fun, but also very romantic.

I think all this expensive wedding day business is a mistake. A racket in fact, maintained by those with a financial interest in perpetuating it. To have a chance of a good marriage, you have to want to be married, not to have a fairytale 'day'. It is the married life that is important, years and years of it, not just one day at the start of it which is going to cost a fortune, put you in debt, and probably thereby make the rest of your married life (or at least the early years) more difficult.

Marriage is good. Your children are legitimate, which (whatever anyone says) I think is nicer for them. You are next of kin to your spouse, which means you have the right to be with them in hospital and be consulted if they are very ill or have an accident. Even if you do not make a will, your spouse will inherit all or part of your estate on death. And if you divorce there is a court who can, if needed, supervise the fair division of your possessions and make provision for the care of the children. Maybe these things do not work as well as they could all the time, but they are generally there to facilitate the family and fairness.

I think that our cheaper, alternative model for getting married should be promoted. It is just as much, if not more, fun than the expensive version. But you have more money at the end of it, and instead of spending hours and hours planning events and frocks, you can spend more time thinking about your life together. Which is after all what getting married is all about.

And maybe more people would get married if they did not feel put off by having to wait years and years for a Saturday registry office appointment and by feeling that they have no option but to pay such enormous sums of money for the wedding event.

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2 comments:

Jon Page said...

"And if you divorce there is a court who can, if needed, supervise the fair division of your possessions and make provision for the care of the children. Maybe these things do not work as well as they could all the time, but they are generally there to facilitate the family and fairness."

You've never got divorced have you?

The divorce system is so disastrously unfair as to present sufficient reason NEVER to get married.

The phrase "fair division of YOUR possessions" (my capitals) is typical. Why should MY possessions, including my house, be divided? If the courts divided joint possessions and let each party keep their own it might be fairer.

Given this blog is aimed at landlords, look at it like this: how would you like to have half (or more) of your portfolio that you have spent years building up given away to someone you've been married to for only two years, as a reward for their having had sex with someone else?

As it is, marriage should be avoided at all costs.

Tessa said...

Of course, you have to be careful to marry the right person ...