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Insure your wedding ceremony against unwelcome incidents

Your wedding day is one of the most unforgettable days of your life. The last thing you want is for the event to be remembered because of a catastrophe.

There are countless ways the big day can be wrecked. The maid of honor gets appendicitis, a plumbing problem floods the reception hall or guests end up eating Beanie Weenies because the caterer mixed up his dates.

Even more potential calamities lurk in today's tumultuous world. Airports closed because of terror alerts or virus scares could keep key wedding participants from arriving on time. And several brides and grooms have been shipped overseas to fulfill military service obligations before they got to say "I do."

Such are the incidents for which wedding insurance was invented.

Costly weddings mean costly concerns
Leah Ingram is the author of seven bridal books, including "The Portable Wedding Consultant," and countless articles for national bridal magazines. She says that with the amount of money spent on weddings (the average is more than $27,000 according to a survey conducted for the Conde Nast Bridal Group), getting insurance is a no-brainer.

"The average wedding costs as much as a down payment on a house," Ingram says. "It's a major investment. It just makes sense to get insurance."

Plus, she notes, the insurance can do wonders for a bride's peace of mind, especially with the number of vendors involved and the variety of issues that can't be controlled.

Wedding insurance is a well-established product in Great Britain, but it's been available in the United States for only about a decade. Specialty carrier WedSafe and general insurer Fireman's Fund are two policy sources. You also can ask your personal or homeowners insurance agent about special-event coverage.

WedSafe's lower-limit policy premiums range from $185 to $405. Coverage goes as high as $50,000 for weddings that have to be canceled or postponed.

Coverage typically includes wedding cancellation or postponement if a member of the bridal party dies, gets sick, is injured or can't come to the wedding because of military service or the shutdown of commercial transportation. (Pre-existing medical conditions are excluded.)

It also will help pay for the reconvening of the bridal party for new pictures if the photographer loses the film or it's damaged at the lab, new wedding rings if they're lost, and replacement of damaged, stolen or lost wedding gifts.

Cold feet, however, are not covered. If a bride or groom has a change of heart, the cost of the canceled wedding comes out of his or her own pocket.

Worried about her own wedding
Karen and Roger Sandau started WedSafe after planning their own wedding in 2000. It was supposed to be a small ceremony on Maui. Before they knew it, the guest list was at 62 people, Karen was sending "enormous deposits" to vendors hired sight unseen through the hotel, and hurricane season was on the way.

"The icing on the cake was Roger's bachelor party was turning into a three-day snowboarding weekend," she says. "Our honeymoon was 12 days in Fiji. I thought, 'What if he breaks an arm or a leg? I'm going to kill him.'" (He went to Vegas instead.)

An attorney who specializes in the music business, Roger was accustomed to getting one-day cancellation insurance from a broker in London who insures massive rock-concert tours. When Karen mentioned her concerns, the broker suggested insuring the wedding. But U.S. coverage at the time was extremely limited and expensive, so she didn't buy it.

"For the country that has the biggest, most expensive weddings in the world, how could this not exist?" she asks. "I was a bride. I know it's a really exciting time. Cancellation and postponement are very drastic. People want to follow through on their weddings."

Sharon Naylor, author of "The Complete Outdoor Wedding Planner," strongly recommends wedding insurance for the simple reason that you're dealing with a host of vendors and there's a lot of money at stake. Plus, we live in a society in which people will sue for just about anything.

How strong is her recommendation?

"If you're having an outdoor wedding and you don't have insurance, you're a moron," she says. "When you look at the amount of money it is, it's worth it. The big benefit is the peace of mind."

Pat Curry is a freelance writer based in Georgia.'s corrections policy
-- Updated: May 2, 2006
More stories by Pat Curry
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10 ways to save money on your wedding
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