Wedding season is upon us. But white dresses, black tuxedos, parties and showers can place quite a financial toll on the milestone of marriage.
Should a fairy-tale wedding mean delaying a down payment on a home? That’s a trade-off many couples may choose to make these days.
A WeddingBells.ca survey of 2,309 Canadians estimated that the cost of a Canadian wedding was around $31,685 in 2014, and there was about 162,065 weddings across the country that year.
The average cost of a wedding is a good point of comparison against other major financial goals in a new marriage.
The Canadian Real Estate Association estimates the average price of a new home in Canada to be $448,862, a new car (according to Power Information Network data) can be $33,000, and many couples are still paying off university or college debt.
Before planning a wedding, it’s wise to start with planning finances. A meeting with a qualified financial advisor might help put wedding costs into perspective with other major financial priorities.
Here are some other tips to help soon-to-be-wed couples hear the sound of wedding bells – not wedding bills:
Marry off-season: According to Weddingbells, 65 per cent of weddings will occur between June and September with 25 per cent of weddings taking place in August.
The most popular day to get married is Saturday and nighttime is the most competitive time slot for receptions. Consider a January wedding when the post-holiday rush is over- cold weather wedding venues are generally empty and priced to move.
Weekday weddings have the potential added bonus of having guests drinking less (it’s a work night!) and weekend brunch weddings can be served buffet-style with more reasonably priced menu choices.
DIY if possible: Couples with a flair for party planning, decorating and cooking might be able to slash costs planning and executing their own event with minimal dependence on hired help.
Ditch the paper and postal fees and go with a digital wedding invitation. Many websites make it easy to track RSVP’s, which means one less stress for the couple-to-be.
Say yes to a second hand dress: One of a bride’s favourite wedding moments is finding that perfect dress. But does it have to break the bank?
Weddingbells’ survey suggests that Canadian brides spend an average of $1,716 on their dress. Retailers often mark-up dresses by 200 per cent or more despite it only being worn for one night.
Try online wedding sites such as davidsbridal.com andsimplybridal.com or, for a cheaper alternative, explore second-hand bridal stores such as stillwhite.ca and oncewed.com.
Plan a destination wedding: Weddingbells proposes that 15 per cent of Canadian brides are planning on having a destination wedding, a number which has more than doubled since 2009.
Resorts around the world and well-known wedding/travel destinations like Las Vegas or Hawaii offer wedding packages that blend a ceremony and vacation getaway.
Planning a winter wedding? Research options in a warmer climate or go off the beaten path and look into a snowy destination at a ski resort.
Budget in Contingency: Sure, everyone envisions the perfect fairy-tale wedding but couples often forget to consider possible mishaps.
The reality is, if you plan for cost overages then you may never blow your budget. Try to keep 5 per cent of your budget for unforeseen costs. Areas that couples can overspend on include flowers, weather-related expenses and last-minute vendor cancellations.
Planning ahead and including a contingency fund will help handle any financial wedding hurdle along the way.
Bottom Line: Dream weddings don’t have to put a couple’s financial life on hold. Consider real financial priorities first and build a smart wedding budget from there.
Carla Hindman is the Director of Financial Education at Visa Canada.