Find out what it covers and slash costs
Weddings and civil partnerships are an expensive and emotional business – the right ring, perfect dress, dream venue – and that's before the food, cake and guests. With potentially huge costs you should carefully consider if you need insurance.
This guide explains the basics of insurance for a wedding or civil partnership (which are treated exactly the same way), what it covers and how to get it cheaply. Also see our 50 Cheap Wedding Tips for more ways to save on the big day.
Coronavirus and wedding insurance
If you're looking for more information about how coronavirus could affect your wedding and travel plans – and whether you're covered under your current policy – see our Coronavirus help guide.
But if you want to buy a new policy to cover an upcoming wedding, you've much less choice as several insurers have stopped selling new policies – though this guide will help you through. See our MSE News story explaining which insurers are no longer offering new policies.
In this guide
How to buy wedding insurance
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Wedding insurance explained – the 10 need-to-knows
You've popped the question, they've said yes (hoorah!) and now it's time to start planning and paying for the big day. But with the average wedding costing over £30,000, should you fork out for insurance to cover it? Before we get going it's vital to understand what wedding insurance does and doesn't cover. In a nutshell...
Wedding insurance covers a problem with the venue or a supplier, or a key wedding party member falling ill. It does NOT cover a change of heart.
There's lots more to consider so our need-to-knows will help you decide whether you need it or not.
Only get wedding insurance if you'd be left out of pocket if something went wrong
The kind of policy you buy, or even if you buy it at all, turns on how much you're spending on the big day and what kind of wedding you've planned.
Not every wedding is the size of an Elton John bash, so if you could easily rearrange it on your own, then wedding insurance isn't a must (see our 50 Cheap Wedding Tips for lots more ways to save).
However, if the financial and emotional stress of rearranging would be too much, insurance will be worth a look.
Venue cancellation and supplier failure are the two main reasons people buy wedding insurance; policies are available from £19 for weddings of £2,500 and go beyond £300 for a £100,000 wedding, and also depends if the wedding is abroad.
Insurance usually covers venue or supplier failure, key people falling ill, NOT cold feet
All wedding insurance policies are different so always check the small print. But as a rule of thumb, here's what policies typically DO cover.
If the venue for your wedding or reception were to flood, burn down, go bankrupt or have to cancel your booking then you should be covered. You may not see the phrase 'venue failure' in basic policy terms. Instead, it'll be part of what they call 'cancellation cover'.
This is because were the venue to cancel on you it almost always means the wedding is off. If you successfully claimed under this clause because the wedding was off, you would receive cash from your insurer to rearrange your big day to a similar standard as planned.
This claim may still need to pay other suppliers of the original wedding even though it won't go ahead as planned, but the insurer should pay for replacements for the new date.
If one of your pre-booked suppliers, such as those supplying your flowers, cake, transport, photos or music, lets you down (ie, you don't get the item/service, or it's damaged) you'll be covered for any deposits you've paid out and any additional costs you incur. This only works if you've got a written agreement or contract with the supplier – and not all insurers cover the same suppliers, so check.
You will be covered if you have to cancel or rearrange your wedding because of illness, death or accident to the couple getting married or someone in the wedding party (close family, the bridesmaids or best man) as long as the illness wasn't caused by a pre-existing condition.
If any of the wedding party are called for jury duty or are a serving member of the UK armed services and are posted overseas unexpectedly you'll also be covered.
If at least 50% of the guests can't make the wedding because of serious weather conditions, which causes you to postpone, you should also be covered. The exact T&Cs differ for each insurer; with John Lewis for example, if at least 50% of guests can't make it, the policy will pay out. Debenhams says the weather conditions need to have caused major disruption to travel services such as rail, road or bus to trigger a payout so check the small print first.
What you'll be covered for will depend on the item...
These should be covered if you lose, damage or have them stolen but only usually from a week before the wedding and up to 24 hours afterwards, although this can vary by a day or two so always check the small print. Engagement rings, which are often more expensive, will not be covered so you should add these to your home insurance.
It's usually covered up until the start of the wedding reception if it's lost, stolen or accidentally damaged. If you pick it up from the shop but it isn't packed properly while transported to the wedding and is ruined, it won't be covered. Similarly, if it's stolen from an unattended car and it's in sight you won't be covered.
Similarly, flowers are usually covered until the start of the reception. They need to be packed properly while they're being taken to the wedding and if they're stolen when left unattended, it's unlikely you'll be able to claim.
You'll be covered if the wedding attire – the wedding dress, suits and other outfits – is lost or damaged beyond repair while in your possession. The items are usually covered from the date you buy the policy if you have bought them, or 24 hours before if they're being hired. The insurer should pay for repair or replacement clothes plus hire and alteration charges.
If your gifts are lost, stolen or accidentally damaged during the wedding – either those brought by guests for you or presents you've bought for those at your wedding – they will be covered as long as they haven't been left unattended.
Some insurers, such as Wedding Plan*, put limits on individual presents of a maximum of £250. The cover usually applies up to one month before and 24 hours after the wedding date.
If you've asked your guests to give gifts of money or cheques then check the policy wording as not all insurers will cover this.
If your photos or videos can't be developed due to a technical fault or the professional photographer fails to turn up (willing amateurs won't do), you'll be covered. However, if the photographer just isn't very good, fails to get a good shot of the mother of the bride or can't shoot straight you won't be covered.
Most insurers will pay out for you and the wedding party to get dressed up again and have them retaken. The cost of hiring wedding outfits is usually covered.
The bride and groom are covered if they're liable for injury to a third person or damage to a third party property, such as the venue; a stunt which goes wrong, say. Though this does not cover accidents caused by anyone else at the wedding, such as your guests.
Legal costs and expenses are covered for the bride and groom if they pursue legal proceedings because of an event at the wedding that causes death or serious injury that triggers a cancellation.
Watch out, though: the following are typically NOT covered by standard wedding insurance policies.
If you or your partner gets cold feet and decides not to go through with the wedding, it won't be covered. In typically dry small-print language, it's called a 'disinclination to get married' in the T&Cs of your policy.
Say only the wedding cake is damaged. You'll get your money back for the cost of the cake but you won't be covered for anything else, ie, you cancel the wedding as a result.
If you need to cancel your wedding because you can no longer afford to pay for it you will not normally be covered under your wedding insurance policy. This is because it is classed as something you may have known about when you took the policy out. If the financial difficulty is caused by redundancy it may be covered although there are restrictions. Typically, this might be a payout made only if you took out a policy more than eight weeks before you lost your job.
If your wedding has to be cancelled due to illness, death or accident of someone in the wedding party (usually one of the people getting married or close family) you will be covered unless it is caused by a pre-existing condition such as a heart condition or diabetes. Check the T&Cs of the policy carefully to see what is and what isn't included.
The following are typically not covered on more basic policies but you can sometimes pay extra to get them added.
If your wedding is an outdoor one you're unlikely to be able to recover the costs of heavy rain or a thunderstorm ruining your event if you have a standard policy. However, specialist policies may be available via brokers. If you've an elaborate outdoor ceremony and want protection, try the British Insurance Brokers' Association to help you find the right product.
If you put up a marquee on your land (or on hired land that doesn't belong to the marquee owner) you generally won't be covered. So if you erect one and need cover, you'll have to pay extra, if the policy does not automatically provide the cover. The price will also depend on the value of the marquee and the number of days' cover you need. This covers not only damage to the structure of the marquee but also the staging, chairs, tables, lighting and flooring, and to marquees hired by you. If the marquee is an existing, physical part of the wedding venue, you should be covered for any damage under that part of the policy.
If you're using ceremonial swords you'll often need to pay an extra fee. This is partly due to the fact that they're often of high value and borrowed from a regiment. The price depends on the value of the sword and the number of days' cover you need.
This extends the personal liability protection from just the happy couple to cover all wedding guests invited to your big day. So, if anyone invited to the wedding accidentally injures a third party or damages property then this will protect them from any financial consequences.
It's important to make sure that your wedding insurer is FCA-regulated so you're protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
If your insurer goes bust, the scheme will try to find another provider to take on your policy, or issue a substitute. However, if you have any ongoing claims, or need to make a claim before a new insurer is found, the FSCS should ensure you're covered financially.
Paying by credit card gives some protection but isn't a substitute for insurance
Anything bought worth between £100.01 and £30,000 on a credit card is covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which makes the card provider liable if something goes wrong. Even if you only pay a deposit (for the venue, for example) by credit card and the rest in cash you're still covered for the whole cost of hiring the venue. See Section 75 refunds for more information.
Yet it doesn't cover certain elements that insurance does, such as someone falling ill or personal liability.
You may also be able to get your money back through a scheme called chargeback, if you paid on your debit card or for an item £100 or under on a credit card.
However, this is nowhere near as strong as Section 75 because it's just about the Visa/Mastercard/Amex process, which is nowhere near as weighty. You also can't take the issue to court if your bank won't pay. For full details see our Visa, Mastercard & Amex Chargeback guide.
This is because several insurers, such as Direct Line, LV and More Than, will at no cost to you increase your contents cover for a month around the wedding date. This covers valuables inside the home such as wedding presents but it doesn't always happen automatically, so call your insurer to check if you need to manually add it on.
Below is a table of some of the market's biggest players that will increase contents cover for your wedding or civil partnership.
Axa (HomeSmart/HomeSure) £7,500 increase Churchill 10% of the sum insured Direct Line 10% of the sum insured Esure 15% of the sum insured John Lewis (Plus Cover) £7,500 increase LV 10% of the sum insured More Than 10% of the sum insured Saga 20% of the sum insured Sheilas' Wheels 15% of the sum insured Correct at February 2020
A successful claim doesn't always mean cash in your pocket
Smaller mishaps, such as rotting flowers or ripped suits, usually trigger a single payout for the cost.
But if the problem's so severe – say, your venue has flooded – that the wedding has to be rearranged, then your insurer may instead arrange an alternative wedding, so you won't actually be paid any redress, it'll just sort out the new Big Day.
Notice the emphasis on the words usually and may, as there's no one definitive rule; it can vary by insurer.
Don't forget on any claim there's an excess to pay. For example, say your wedding flowers are a write-off when they arrive: you might typically be entitled to £2,000 cover but have to pay a £25 excess, so only get £1,975 back.
You can buy up to TWO years in advance
The sooner you buy your wedding insurance the sooner you're covered, should something go wrong and you need to cancel, postpone or get a refund for one element of the wedding.
It doesn't cost any extra to book earlier and you can buy most policies from two years before the wedding date up until around a week, or sometimes 24 hours, before – even if you've already paid for deposits.
This means you'd be covered should the venue be destroyed in a fire a year before your wedding date, or if a serious illness set in for a family member six months before the ceremony.
Getting wed overseas? Grab a specialist deal
If you're shunning the possible rain-filled skies of Britain for sunnier climes – and need wedding insurance abroad - ensure you check the terms of your policy so it covers you abroad, as not all do.
It can typically cost from about 10% extra but does vary.
It's also worth noting that for overseas weddings some parts of the policy might not be included – such as public liability for weddings in the United States or Canada – so always check the small print before you buy. Also see our Cheap Overseas Travel Tips to cut travel costs.
Planning an extravagant stunt or fireworks? Hire a professional or pay extra
If you're planning to mark your celebration with a special stunt such as a firework display, don't let your drunk uncle take charge – and cause £1,000s of damage.
Most wedding insurers won't cover firework displays but you may not need to pay extra for it if you've hired a reputable firm with its own cover.
A professional company – and many charge no more than £800 for a half-hour display – will not only bring the know-how to make the display a success but will also carry its own public liability insurance, often with millions of pounds of cover, in case something does go wrong.
If you plan something even more exotic with fire – and many ceremonies do use fire in a limited capacity – always check with your insurer to see if it'll cover you for a higher premium.
Using a trusted supplier lowers the risk
To lessen the risk of something going wrong and ruining your day, it's important you pick reliable companies when you put your wedding together. If your venue is a multi-billion pound hotel chain you'll be less likely to worry about it going bust, though it's still not risk-free.
Get personal recommendations and do your research on suppliers, such as looking for reviews on the internet. Other practical tips include scanning the MSE Forum for ideas and looking up local Facebook groups and forums for tips and recommendations. Two specific wedding forums worth checking out are You and Your Wedding and Hitched.
Get everything in writing and keep receipts
Keep a record of everything you book in writing, make sure you have written agreements or contracts with your suppliers and get receipts for everything you pay for. You may need to dig these out when making a claim.
Jot down the dates of when each full payment is due, to ensure you don't lose deposits or lose track of suppliers.
You need travel insurance for the honeymoon
If you've got wedding insurance this WON'T cover you for your honeymoon. You'll need to buy separate travel insurance, as you would with any holiday.
And like with any trip, always buy cover as soon as you book so it covers you for cancellation or anything else that might go wrong BEFORE your honeymoon. For full help and to find the best buys, see our Cheap Travel Insurance guide.
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Route to getting wedding insurance
If you've read through the need-to-knows and think wedding insurance is right for you, follow our step-by-step plan to getting the best possible cover for the best price.
Unfortunately many insurers have stopped selling new policies, due to coronavirus and the risk of cancellation but our steps to getting cover, including wedding insurance abroad, should help.
Step 1 is essentially the prep, then pick the best policy you can from steps 2-4, and see if you can get cashback on top (step 5).
Before you even start looking for wedding insurance policies, make a list of all the things you're planning to spend money on, to get the total cost. It's vital you do this anyway for your budgeting, but insurers put their different types of cover into bands, depending on the total cost of the wedding.
It's important to get it right so you're not left under-covered. Say you break your £20,000 budget and spend £30,000 but were only insured for the original sum; if you had to cancel, you'd only be covered for two-thirds of the cost.
To avoid this, ensure you tell your insurer if the cost rises unexpectedly during the planning stages, though you may have to pay to increase the cover level. Don't include items you won't need insurance for, though: if you plan to settle a large drinks bill run up on the day, leave it out of your costing.
Wedding insurance isn't on any of the main comparison sites and the only one to offer a small comparison is CompareWeddingInsurance.org.uk. It's a useful starting point.
The few insurers that do offer a policy appear to have caveats which could affect the cover you get for coronavirus cancellation, so check the policy carefully.
For example, Covermywedding.co.uk appears to be selling insurance still but states on its website that "any new wedding policy issued after 6pm on 10 March 2020 will no longer provide cover for claims resulting from coronavirus".
Emerald Wedding will only cover weddings that are over 150 days away, while Wedinsure says it will only cover weddings that are at least five months away.
If you have positive or negative experiences, or know of other insurers we should be mentioning, please let us know.
If you've time, brokers can give advice on what policy to pick, and they often have connections with various insurers so might be able to offer you a special deal.
Your best option will be to find a broker who's a member of the British Insurance Brokers' Association, who'll be able to help you find the right product.
Once you know your cheapest price, hunt down any cashback deals. If you're new to cashback sites, make sure you read our Top Cashback Sites guide for pros and cons before using them.
What to do if something goes wrong
First, you need to complain to your insurance company directly. If it doesn't respond, or if you don't like what it says, then you don't need to just take it.
You can escalate your complaint to the free Financial Ombudsman. The ombudsman is an independent adjudicator which will make the final decision on a claim if you are locked in a dispute with your insurer. For more on how to make a complaint, read our Financial Rights guide.
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