By Jeffrey Schwartz
Like many other couples across the country, you got engaged over the winter holidays and can’t wait to start planning your big day.
The guests, the dress, the venue, the flowers and of course, the honeymoon are all top of mind as you begin to share your good news with family and friends.
But before you get carried away planning the wedding of your dreams, it’s time for the two of you to sit down and talk money.
Weddings are expensive. In Canada, the average cost of a wedding and honeymoon is more than $28,000, according to weddingbells.ca
That is quite a bit of money to be dishing out when you are just starting your life together.
So before you fall in love with the perfect dress or put a deposit down on the exotic honeymoon, the two of you need to determine how much you can realistically afford to spend on your wedding.
Discussing your financial situation and determining who is willing and able to contribute to your wedding expenses is the first step toward the success of this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Are your parents footing the bill or are the two of you paying for the entire event yourselves? It is becoming common for young couples to pick up at least a portion of the wedding tab, so be realistic about how much you can put aside between now and the wedding day.
Once you have determined how much money you can afford to spend on your wedding day, you need to choose where you want to spend the money and where you are willing to cut back. Setting a wedding budget will allow you to prioritize what areas of the big day are most important to you, and will help keep costs within reason.
If planning the wedding of your dreams is within budget and won’t put the two of you into debt, go for it. If you can’t afford it, consider having a smaller wedding or pushing the date back to give you more time to save. You can also try some of these tips to help save for your big day.
- Set limits. Invite 100 guests instead of 150. In most weddings, reducing the number guests will provide the biggest savings. For example, first cousins may be invited, but second cousins are not. Have two bridesmaids instead of 10. Serve three courses instead of five.
- More work. If money isn’t readily available, consider getting a second job to supplement the wedding budget. Or simply cut the budget.
- Do it yourself. Enlist the creative talents of relatives and friends who can help you make your wedding gown, create floral arrangements, bake your wedding cake or even make the favours.
- Loosen up. The less formal the affair, the more affordable it will be. Instead of a sit-down dinner, go for a casual brunch or barbecue. Get rental cars in lieu of limos. Choose a morning, afternoon or a Friday wedding. These are less expensive than a Saturday evening affair.
- Pick and choose. Indulge in a designer dress, but go barefoot. Ditch the hors d’oeuvres and spend your money on exquisite entrees. Serve a great cake and skip the dessert table.
- Put it off. Get silver wedding bands now and upgrade to platinum on your first anniversary.
- Coordinate with others. If another wedding is being held within a few hours of yours in the same location, try to share some of the costs of flowers and decorations.
- Skip the holidays. Holiday weddings are more expensive because you are competing for catering services, wedding and reception sites, DJ’s, limousines, photographers and more.
Your wedding should be an event you never forget, not something you are still paying for on your fifth anniversary. By taking the time to budget and prioritize, you can have your dream wedding without maxing out every credit card you own.
Jeffrey Schwartz is the executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and president of the Credit Association of Greater Toronto. Consolidated Credit is a national non-profit credit counselling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance. Visit www.consolidatedcredit.ca for more information on credit counseling, debt management and budgeting.