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Thrifty couples swap wedding bells for bricks

Lavish weddings are becoming a thing of the past as austerity-hit Europeans opt to put money they would have spent on the ceremony and celebrations into property instead, according to a new report.

A survey of 12,000 Europeans by Dutch bank ING shows that 60 percent would prefer a thrifty wedding in order to offset rising housing costs. That figure rose to nearly 70 percent in both Spain and Italy, and to 67 percent in the UK, where house prices have soared. Germany was the only country where less than half of respondents said housing trumped wedding costs.

The median cost of a wedding over the past 5 years was 5,000 euros ($5,483), though respondents on the upper end were shelling out over 50,000 euros for their nuptial.

Still, wedding costs were cited as the most expensive life event for Europeans during the same time period, ahead of divorce, unemployment and child rearing.

ING Senior Economist Ian Bright told CNBC that there is a significant generational effect on spending habits.

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"Housing prices and mortgages are more expensive, and student debt as well," he said during an interview on Capital Connection.

"You've got to have somewhere to live and it is advisable to take higher education. Now these things cost more than they did in the past."

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Brides and grooms are increasingly paying for weddings themselves, with only 9 percent receiving family contributions and 15 percent going into debt to cover the costs of the big day. Still, nearly half of those surveyed say that it's friends and family that have too much influence on how much is spent.

But couple's aren't necessarily lamenting the trade-off. Only 32 percent who were married in the past five years said their wedding would have been better if they'd spent more.

Guests, on the other hand, are concerned they're spending too much. Formal wear, travel costs and wedding gifts are hitting the pockets of friends and family, with 62 percent agreeing that accepting a wedding invitation is too expensive.

"With other costly life events to consider, it's important to plan and be comfortable with how much is being spent," Bright said in a press release.

"When it comes to marriage, it seems that it really is the thrift that keeps on giving."