When you first clap eyes on the love of your life little do you know it, but you’re also embarking on what could very well be one of the most expensive spending sprees of your life.
In love, as in life, as they say, you have two choices – you can either leave it to chance, fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it, or up the stakes and go for broke.
When it comes to finding love the latter could put a serious dent in your bank balance.
The fact that the online dating industry is estimated to be worth £2billion tells you that it is indeed big business.
The plethora of dating sites out there makes finding your ideal partner anything from free to about £100 a year. But that’s a drop in the ocean of the true cost of love.
According to Maestro, the debit card company, we spend on average £200 on every date.
While men spend almost 10 times as much as women on buying drinks and meals, women match the amount spent on themselves as part of their pre-date preparations (you know, the outfit, the trips to the beauty salon and so on).
And with someone having sat down and totted up that the average single person goes on three dates a year, that’s £600 spent all in.
Although of course how long it takes this ‘average’ person to find The One must be even more impossible to work out.
Total cost: Let’s be kind and say they find their true love within 18 months, so that’s a spend of £1,000 including the cost of a little help from an average-price online dating agency.
[Related link: Start dating today]
Once you’ve hooked the prize then get ready for some really hard core spending. Because when we’re talking about the ‘M’ word – marriage – it can only mean one thing – huge expense.
First up there’s the engagement ring. Some people stick to the traditional two months’ salary when it comes to deciding how much to spend on a rock. But these days that’s a bit too old hat. According to insurer LV, two-thirds of men now spend less than one month’s wages on an engagement ring, with the spend averaging out to around about £1,500.
A much more sensible way to set a budget is to go for something that you can both afford and that you both like. And then shop around.
This is a ‘big ticket’ purchase so don’t be afraid to haggle a little over the price. It’s all good practice for when it comes to the wedding planning.
Throw in an engagement party at an average spend of £500-£600 and possibly even the new trend of hiring a photographer to snap the event - another £400-£500 - and it all soon adds up.
Total cost: You could be looking at close to £3,000 all in.
The Big Day
The average wedding now costs close to a staggering £20,000. Recession or not it seems that most brides, and indeed grooms, want their big day, no matter what the cost.
And as the very word ‘wedding’ has retailers, caterers, cake makers, florists and the like rubbing their hands in glee, it’s not all that difficult to see where the ridiculous price tag comes from.
Brides Magazine has calculated that the average cost of a wedding dress is now over £1,000, with the photographs and video footage coming in at close to £2,000 and even the florist cooking up a cost of between £300 and £400 on average. Don’t forget the venue, the catering, the honeymoon, the thank you gifts for the wedding party and it soon adds up.
But there’s really no sane reason why something for a wedding should cost four times the price on any other occasion.
OK, so shopping for a wedding dress is not something you can do in secret (although many shrewd brides now buy off the peg eveningwear instead of going for the full bridal gown). And you may struggle to talk ‘button holes’ with a florist without giving the game away.
But by getting initial quotes for things like the venue and catering at the straightforward ‘party’ price you could save thousands on the overall cost.
Total cost: £20,000 based on the average cost
Keeping love alive
According to a poll by Santander, people in relationships spend £879 a year on their spouse or partners for their birthday, Christmas, anniversaries, restaurants, drinks and other romantic outings.
Interestingly, Valentine’s Day is one of the less expensive annual events. On average men spend £40 on keeping their valentine sweet, while girls get away with spending just half that sum.
Total cost: Taking an average of £879 over a relationship lasting at least 40 years would see you spending a whopping £35,160
So there you have it. The love of your life costs about £50,000. And remember that with two of you in the relationship that’s almost £100,000 you’ll have forked out for the pleasure.
However, aside from the financial benefits of living and holidaying together, tax advantages and whatnot, there are two things to remember before looking into your love’s eyes and seeing a drain on your expenses – finding another partner would mean all the dating, engagement and wedding spending would have to be repeated. And that’s before we deal with the cost of a divorce.
On top of that, it’s not like going it alone’s cheaper, the Co-Op recently calculated that being single costs you £5,000 a year – or £200,000 the same period we’ve studied here, four times as much as being attached.
So while love might, after all, cost something, it’s still a lot cheaper than the alternatives.