The Italian Almanac

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wedding season

Wedding Season

Happy couples in Italy are forking out the equivalent of two years' salary to pay for their wedding day, a report by consumers' association Federconsumatori revealed. As this year's wedding seasons kicks off, the price of tying the knot in Italy has increased by 40% in the last seven years to an average of 27,000 euros.

Federconsumatori said it based its calculations on around 100 guests attending ''a normal, tasteful ceremony without any extravagances, including an excellent meal and a beautiful dress''. But couples opting for a full Hollywood-style bash were stumping up around 47,900 euros, the association added. ''Despite profound social changes, marriage still retains its fascination,'' the association said. ''But to avoid nasty surprises, its important for the couple to work out if they have sufficient funds''.

The biggest outlay remains the wedding meal, which in Italy tends to be a massive, multi-course marathon that can keep guests at the table for up to eight hours. While the number of diners and the type of restaurant can temper costs, the average sit-down dinner with friends, relatives and acquaintances leaves the bride and groom out of pocket to the tune of 10,000 euros. The traditional tiered cake topped with plastic figurines will set the happy couple back an additional 300-600 euros, while spending on bags of sugared almonds given to each guest as a memento adds up to around 1,200 and 2,500 euros

The report showed that while brides are spending between 2,500 and 5,000 euros on a wedding dress and veil, the cost of dressing the groom is no longer far behind. Men eager to look their best are stumping up around 2,000 euros on a suit, plus another 250 euros on shoes, the association said. Couples are also investing in fancy underwear for the occasion - the bride spends between 200 and 500 euros, while men cough up between 80 and 120 euros for wedding-night briefs.

Also adding up are the rings, musical entertainment, videos and photos, car hire, floral decorations and the wedding bouquet. The spending is not over once vows have been pledged and the meal is over and done with, however: newlyweds are now paying out an average of 3,000-5,000 euros for a honeymoon - up from 2,000 euros in 2001. The report may go some way to explaining why marriages are on the decline in Italy - according to national statistics bureau Istat there were 250,000 weddings in 2005 compared to 419,000 in 1972.