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And when it comes to guests being left hugely out of pocket thanks to brides wanting ever grander — and more drawn out — celebrations, she is far from alone.

For those invited to several weddings a year, the cost can be crippling.

The dreadful truth is that even though Gemma was about to make her vows, she knew she didn’t love the man standing at the altar.She knew, just moments from now, she was about to make the biggest mistake of her life.‘This will sound like the most awful and shallow admission,’ says Gemma, who married aged 27 five years ago.‘But I walked down that aisle, with the people who love me most in the pews either side of me, knowing that I didn’t want to marry the man waiting for me.Both depend in part on whether the non-Catholic spouse is a baptized Christian or a non-baptized person, such as a Jew, Muslim or atheist.If the non-Catholic is a baptized Christian (not necessarily Catholic), the marriage is valid as long as the Catholic party obtains official permission from the diocese to enter into the marriage and follows all the stipulations for a Catholic wedding.Walking down the aisle towards the man she was about to marry, Gemma Andrews could see her mother up ahead wearing her best hat and, beside her, her grandmother tearfully clutching a handkerchief. A sea of faces smiling, dabbing their eyes and wishing her luck.

This was meant to be the happiest moment of Gemma’s life.

They ended up spending £5,000 on flights and accommodation in Jamaica, as well as a further £310 on travelling from the Isle of Man to a London airport.‘Neither of us had enough savings or high enough salaries to fund the trip, so we had to borrow the money from my dad,’ she says.‘Not only that, we also had to ask my parents to look after our two children, as there was no way we could afford to go as a family.’Sadly, despite the exotic location, the free-flowing champagne and the no-expense-spared reception, the marriage was not to last.

Eighteen months later, Siobhan told Claire that she had filed for divorce.‘Meanwhile, we were still paying my dad back in instalments,’ says Claire, who is still smarting at the thought of the money she spent attending what turned out to be a flash-in-the-pan marriage.

"She had probably never looked a black man in the face, let alone had a conversation with him, and now one was in her daughter’s home, dating her granddaughter."The story does have a happy ending, though.

At one point, Ervin called Graham's grandmother to congratulate her on her 60th wedding anniversary—"Anniversaries are a big deal to him," Graham explains—and from then on, Grandma "loved him." Adds Graham, "I’m so grateful that happened, and it never would have if ­Justin hadn’t put his hand out there.

Until recent decades, the idea of a Catholic marrying outside the faith was practically unheard of, if not taboo.