Royal or student: why get married?

Back in October whilst on holiday in Kenya, Prince William proposed to his long-term girlfriend, Kate Middleton with the ring of his late mother, Princess Diana. After practising for 10 years, the couple are expected to become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the eve of their wedding in Westminster Abbey, which takes place on April 29th.

Although security for the day will be paid by the tax-payer, ‘Wills’ and Kate’s family will be footing the bill for the actual wedding, which is believed to be in excess of £50m.

With Britain enjoying a Bank Holiday to celebrate the nuptials, it will be one of the most widely covered Royal events with live, online broadcasts going out around the world.


Despite the costs of a student lifestyle, some are still keen to have their big day. Photo: Anneka James

However, it’s not the only wedding of 2011. Although the number of weddings in Britain are going down, figures from 2008 show that there were still over 200,000 of them a year. It’s the way many British people live today and, it might not be the typical choice for young people, but even students are choosing it as their lifestyle.

“After over four years together, it seems that marriage is the most natural step for us as a young Christian couple in love,” says Bethan Murray, soon-to-be Mrs Anness, a third year criminology student.

She will marry her fiancé Karl, this summer back home in Norfolk, but she insists that it will not get in the way of her last year at university: “It hasn’t been stressful so far, in fact it’s taken my mind off studies in the ‘down-time’ away from essaying and revising,” she says.

The average cost for a British wedding is reported to be over £20,000 today, including such things as a honeymoon wardrobe, pre-wedding gym memberships and the infamous stag and hen nights.

Despite the high costs, Bethan says that the day can be afforded by a student who works hard with supportive parents: “Karl’s got a full-time job, I’ve got a part-time job and both sets of parents are very generously contributing to the costs.”

Working hard in order to raise the money for the special day seems a popular choice, as Sarah Warren, a third year psychology student, explains: “My fiancé works full-time in the RAF and I will also have a year of work to help pay for it. Our parents are both wonderful in their help – whether it is time, money or both.”

In the 21st century it’s unusual for couples to get married so early in life. In fact, studies show that the average bride is now 30, delaying the big day by pursuing a career, wanting to save money – or waiting for ‘Mr Perfect’ instead.

A third year, media production student, Darren Mitchell agrees with waiting to exchange vows in order to save money. He and his finance, Gemma, “plan on getting married when we can both afford it… not until we’re settled down and have an income and a place of our own”.

However, Bethan says that there’s no such thing as too early: “I don’t think you can put limits either way and it’s no different to an older person leaving it ‘too late’.”

According to a study by Bradford University’s Simon Duncan, in the past, the three main reasons for marriage were sex, co-habitation and children, but that is not the case anymore. His study revealed that it is now “a way of publicly showing your commitment and social success”.

This may be true for the Royal couple, who even match the average age of marriage, being 28 and 29. For Darren and Gemma, age didn’t come into it. Darren’s reason for a proposal at university? “Because I love my girlfriend,” he says.

The Royal Family look set to make around £44 million on merchandise to help with the upkeep of the Queen’s Royal Collection, including a new £5 coin, the standard china collection and even a set of toys for the Early Learning Centre. Some of the memorabilia made, such as T-shirts and aprons were all rejected as ‘poor taste’, but the Royals did change their mind on tea cloths.

The wedding is also sure to gain support for the Royal Family not only in Britain but globally; there have even been orders for commemorative mugs from as far as Japan.

There are many reasons why people get married and it’s a lifestyle that many people choose to follow, both Royal and student. Although without the money available from merchandice it might be much more of a struggle for students.

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