BBC News published some fake news today, which it would be remiss of me not to pull them up on. The story, in the BBC's words, is this: "A couple unable to afford their dream wedding have asked guests to contribute up to £150 each to attend, under a 'business model' devised by the groom."
From the looks of it, this story originated as a bit of fluff from a local newsroom in Derby, but was quickly escalated up the news flagpole, tweeted by the main BBC News account and, at the time of writing, is currently the second most read story on the entire BBC News website, just above "Parsons Green bombing: Two more arrested over Tube attack", but below "Baby names: Olivia top for girls as William makes way for Muhammad".
It's obvious what they wanted from the story: a sort of muffled outrage from snotty Tories who think that if you can't afford a wedding then you shouldn't be getting married in the first place, as if marriage is basically a right that should only be afforded to homeowners with good credit ratings and a DIY box in the garage. And bingo, that's exactly what they got:
Let's put aside the fact that it is now commonplace for the bride and groom to demand presents from a registry, which is basically asking people for money, just dressed up with a John Lewis interface. Let's also put aside the fact that the average cost of a wedding in the UK is now £27,161 – almost four grand more than the median family income in the UK (£23,500). This means many couples are spending more than a year's earnings on their wedding, so it really doesn't seem that unreasonable to ask guests to help out with that if they can – especially, as is the case here, when the majority of the money being put up by guests goes towards covering their accommodation.
This story, which as I've been writing this has overtaken the baby names thing to be the most read story on BBC News, is just a complete fabrication. Let's look at the details:
- There will be 60 adult guests and guests are paying £150 each – a total of £9,000
- Parents will pay £50 for each of the 20 children attending – a total of £1,000
- The groom's mother is paying £750 for a hog roast on the day of the wedding. His father is also giving £500
- The couple are spending about £2,000 of their own money, which will cover alcohol, food, the wedding dress, bridesmaids dresses and cheap suits for the groom and best men
- The charge includes a three-night stay at the venue in Derbyshire, which has a pool and spa
So basically, the couple are paying for the ceremony, the food and the booze, while guests are paying for the accommodation. It's a bit fudged because the ceremony and the accommodation is in the same place, so maybe some of the accommodation money will end up going towards venue rental – but basically, guests are paying £150 for a three-night stay in a hotel with a pool and spa, while the couple are covering the rest.
Do you know what that is called?
The whole story is made to look like these guys are cheeky fuckers, but as you can see from the couple's confused response, the guy is the most normal bloke in the world just organising a normal wedding:
"The groom, who lives in Rotherham, denied being 'tight' and insisted the idea had 'gone down well' with guests. 'People always pay a large amount of money to go to a wedding anyway, so why not have it paying towards the actual wedding rather than just to a business owner?'
Yeah, no shit it went down well with them; the guy is offering them a hassle-free three day wedding for less money than it will take to get a return train from London to Derby.
It's not an outrage, nor is it a great business plan; it is, at best, a slight adjustment to the financial planning of a wedding that slightly benefits both the guests and the party – and even that would be generous.
I'm not even saying the BBC should focus their resources on proper news; I'm saying that even if they were casting around for some light wedding-based fluff they could have covered this story of an Australian wedding where six (SIX!) guests wore the same dress without planning to:
I mean, what are the chances of that? How many dresses are there in the world, and these six women all chose the same one? And it's horrible. I mean, look at that fucking dress. Six bonkers women cover themselves in a 1995 Robert Dyas wallpaper themselves at the same wedding. There's your story!