BREAKUP VALUE
Calling of the Wedding
Edited by TOM SULLIVAN

Week of 5/28/07
 
AS SUMMER APPROACHES, so do the bells of June nuptials -- and the pitter-patter of runaway brides and grooms.

With the average cost of an American wedding now weighing in at around $30,000, cold feet can be mighty costly. While wedding-cancellation insurance has been around for more than 15 years -- covering such contingencies as illness and earthquakes -- the one calamity that could not be covered was the fateful decision by a bride or groom to call the whole thing off. That was, until now. Wedding-insurance pioneer Fireman's Fund has begun offering "limited innocent party change of heart" coverage.

The term "innocent party" is the key. If either the bride or groom flakes after endless months of planning and thousands of dollars in deposits, the parents hosting the wedding could be made whole, because they would be a classic innocent party. But if the engaged couple were paying for some or all of their wedding and one got cold feet, their portions wouldn't be covered, explains Rob Nuccio, chief executive of RV Nuccio & Associates, who works with Fireman's and created the cold-feet policy.

A basic cancellation policy for a $27,000 wedding costs about $220. That's slightly more than the average cost per guest, so Erron Al-Amin, senior director of personal insurance marketing for Fireman's, offers this helpful tip: Invite one less distant relative and think of Fireman's as just another invitee. "Except," she says, "we're the best you are going to have." Party on!