In the UK, nearly fifty per cent of marriages end in divorce within five years. Indeed a significant proportion of young couples are now choosing to eschew the arrangement entirely, electing rather to live in what earlier generations called, with a lascivious wink, 'sin'. The icing it seems is right off the wedding cake.
One of the first casualties of this change in social mores is, of course, the traditional 'white wedding in June', followed by a slapup bean feast for all in the TA hall. Those marrying for the second time (the triumph of optimism over realism) may recall the agony of that excruciating ritual, and not wish to repeat it. Then, of course, with the world facing financial doom and gloom, the fact is that newlyweds of whatever stripe, have better things to do with their money - like going on holiday, perhaps.
So let's take a look at current wedding costs in the UK. The average price of a ceremony and reception (this is the average, mind you) is in the region of £20,000. Did you know that a wedding cake alone can now tip the scales at a thousand quid? Then you've got more hands held out - flowers, choir, wedding gown, bridesmaids, taxis and on and on - the list is endless.
And for what, exactly? The bride and groom are bit players in a tragic comedy dominated by others. The reception allows feuding relatives to re-visit past schisms, whilst at the same time knocking back your vintage champagne at 40 quid a bottle. At the end of it, all there's left to do, is pick the rice out of your ears, untie the tin cans from the back of the rental limo and count the cost, of course.
Many Brits are now choosing to tie the knot in more congenial surroundings, far removed from their extended families and Aunt Agnes' insatiable thirst for gin. We talked to the Laguna hotel people here in Phuket. Like most units in the group, Laguna Phuket offers a combined marriage and honeymoon package in surroundings which are just not available in the 'sceptred isle'.
Without wishing to give a detailed price list rest assured, the actual cost of the ceremony is a fraction of what it would be in Europe. As for the hotel and airfares - well you're planning to go on honeymoon anyway, aren't you? In addition, in these times of reduced occupancies, there are all sorts of special offers and promotions, which hotels like Laguna would wish to press upon you. Moreover, it's not just the 'dollars and cents' side of it. There's the quality of the arrangements.
Laguna's fully air-conditioned, glass-walled chapel is an exquisite gem nestling on the lake shore. The couple arrives by boat, everything is personalised and there's no time constraints to worry you. Sparkling wine, flowers, the photographer and a candlelit dinner-for-two afterwards are all included. Dress informality is the order of the day. Rather than stuffy satins and starched collars, be comfortable in light cottons and silks for her and linen for him. Leave the tie at home.
After the great day, Laguna Phuket can offer the newlyweds fivestar accommodation and superb cuisine. The hotel is situated amid 1,000 acres of parkland dotted with scenic lakes and there's three kilometres of stunning white sandy beach.
Resisting the temptation to indulge in any smutty honeymoon jokes, we'll only mention that if you're here for a couple of weeks, the island has got much more to offer than superb beaches and luxury hotels. There can be no better way of starting married life than a round of golf at one of the island's splendid courses! If you fancy a bit of shopping then we've got world-class department stores and trendy boutiques by the dozen. Why not take a trip round the bay in an open long-tail boat? If you've got the energy there's everything from whitewater rafting to Muay Thai gyms. You like Thai cuisine? The little woman can even do a short training course on the basics. "Splendid idea," I here you say.
Well, there you have it. There's an old saying that marriages that start well, last long. The choice is up to you. The Registry Office, Aunt Agnes and a week's 'B & B' in Bognor - or Paradise.
Photos and story from Laguna Phuket Website: www.lagunaphuketweddings.com