The average wedding in Canada costs just over $31,500, according to a 2015 survey by Wedding Bells magazine. And if you plan to hold your wedding in an urban centre such as Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal, you can expect that figure to easily climb to $50,000, depending on the number of guests.
That’s a lot of cash for young couples who are also likely paying off student loans, budgeting for a down payment, and hoping to take a honeymoon at the same time.
Venue, food, and alcohol are generally the largest expenses, but weddings have a seemingly endless number of costs that can unexpectedly add up: invitations, flowers, cake, the rings, the photographer, wedding dress and tuxedo, makeup and hair, party favours, entertainment… you get the idea. For budget-conscious couples, here are four ways to keep those costs under control:
There are two easy ways to save thousands of dollars on your first major wedding decision: First, pick a date outside the peak May to September season. Second, have your ceremony on a Friday or Sunday, instead of in-demand Saturday. Sundays of long weekends are a great idea since many people won’t be working the next day.
Pick a single, non-traditional venue
Instead of having separate venues — one for the ceremony and one for the reception — combine them and save around $1,500. A restaurant is ideal for this, and allows for further savings. They don’t charge a rental fee and the place is already set-up with tables and chairs. Usually there’s just a required minimum-spend to rent the restaurant out for the night.
Ask for wedding help instead of gifts
Keeping your wedding as DIY as possible on less labour intensive items (invitations, party favours, decor, hair and makeup) is a big money saver. If you aren’t crafty, ask talented family or friends to lend their skills in baking, photography, graphic design, music, hair styling or makeup, instead of giving you a cash gift or one off the registry. But remember to be respectful of their time and efforts – they’re your wedding guests, not workers. If something isn’t as important to you – decor, or a big cake, for example – skip it. If you don’t care, guests won’t notice.
Establish a honeymoon registry
Honeymoon registry websites allow your guests to contribute to your vacation instead of a gift. People are divided on whether or not this is tacky (the Emily Post Institute gave it the OK), but it’s one option for couples who already live together and don’t need traditional household registry items. Choose a registry that identifies specifically where the money is going, so people can feel like they’re gifting you a specific experience. Remember, your wedding isn’t carte blanche to milk people for stuff. Don’t forget the thank-you cards.
Use your credit card – responsibly
Weddings require a lot of deposits. Unless you can afford to fork over a lot of cash up front, you’ll probably be charging some of those costs to your credit card. However, when used responsibly, you can reap a lot of travel miles or cash back rewards by using your card to pay for wedding expenses – as long as you pay it off as you go. Using a credit card also gives an extra layer of protection for fraud and warranties.
It’s important to find the right credit card, though. If you have a remaining balance, shift it to a balance transfer credit card (or a low interest credit card with a balance transfer option) with a low (or 0%) interest rate, so you aren’t paying the 19.99% interest rate most rewards credit cards charge. However, these near-0% rates don’t last forever. Aim to have the balance paid in full by the time the deal expires— starting off your marriage in debt is not a good idea.
One great credit card for both purchases and balance transfers is the American Express Essential Credit Card. It has no annual fee, and offers a low 8.99% interest rate on purchases, and 1.99% on balance transfers for the first six months. If looking to pay a lower interest rate on an existing balance, the MBNA Platinum Plus MasterCard, another no-fee card, offers a 0% interest rate on balance transfers for a full year – currently the longest zero-interest period on the market.
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