Congratulations, you’re getting married! But now you’ve got to plan the damn thing. The first thing you need to figure out is your budget and what you’ve got to work with. From the big costs to the smaller items, everything adds up but with the right financial planning, you’ll be able to make your big day perfect.
A poll conducted for Global News found that Canadians believe a realistic price tag for a wedding should be just under $9,000. But Jodi Gagné, wedding planner and founder of Simply Perfect, believes that’s a serious low-ball. A more realistic number? $40,000 to $50,000. That’s based on 100 guests at $200 a person. A bit of a blow to the bank account? Maybe. But realistic nonetheless.
Read on for a breakdown of the average cost in Canada for what you can expect. Keep in mind, Gagné works out of Toronto, and while you may find similar costs in other popular metropolitan areas like Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary, the costs will differ slightly from province to province.
Average cost in Canada: $3,500The range is broad, says Gagné, and depends on whether you're going with a wedding planner day of, or full planning. "If it's management coordination for the day of, you're looking at a starting cost of $2,000," explains Gagné. "Because it's not just about having someone come up on the day, it's building a relationship with them prior to the event so that they can execute. They have to have an instant knowledge of the details that the couple has planned so they can bring the event to the next level. It becomes an extension of the couple on the wedding day and execute it on their behalf." Expect to pay $2,000 for that. Gagné tells her clients to pay no more than 12 per cent to 15 per cent for planning services. So for a $50,000 budget, don't go over $7,500. And why wouldn't you enlist a planner? They'll ensure that no major issues happen, like these shocking celebrity wedding day mishaps.
Average cost in Canada: $22,500"There are people who can say you can do a wedding for $20,000 to $25,000 but if you're in the downtown core of a major city, you're not in a banquet hall, you're at a venue where you have to bring everything in, so that goes much higher," says Gagné. "Rule of thumb is the venue, food, bar and staffing costs is about 50 per cent of your overall budget so if you have 100 guests and it's $200 a person, that alone is $20,000." Also, if it's not factored into the cost, renting upgraded linens like napkins and tablecloths could also run you about $1,200. For inspiration, check out these breathtaking Canadian wedding venues.
Average cost in Canada: $600"For 100 people, you can get away with $600 for a nice two- or three-tier cake," says Gagné. A money-saving option? Make your own. Check out these homemade wedding cake recipes for starters.
Average cost in Canada: $2,000"The gown, veil, accessories, all that stuff, that is your wild card," laughs Gagné. "I would average about $2,000." But depending on the bride, that can easily skyrocket. It might very well be the most expensive item of clothing a woman buys in her lifetime (and worn for the shortest amount of time), which might be why some brides are looking at more practical options. It helps that popular brands like H&M have entered the gown game.
Average cost in Canada: $400 (rental); $800 (purchase)A lot of men nowadays have invested in a good quality suit, something every gentleman needs in their wardrobe, insists Gagné. "That can range from $800 and up, or there's always the opportunity to rent a tux, which is obviously a lot less, anywhere from $350, $400."
Wedding hair and makeup
Average cost in Canada: $500Assuming the bride is only taking care of herself and not paying for her party, Gagné says it can start at $400 "but that should include a trial." You can't go wrong with this wedding makeup look.
Average cost in Canada: $1,200"This one varies as it all depends on the bride and groom's preference," says Gagné. There are those who can find what they're looking for on Etsy — or get matching tattoos, "but a good starting cost is $600 each." And keep in mind, this doesn't even count the engagement ring.
Average cost in Canada: $1,750Gagné says you can spend anywhere from $1,500 and $2,000 for a DJ but advises against a band. "A band can range anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000, so with a $40,000 or $50,000 budget, a DJ is the way to go."
Wedding ceremony music
Average cost in Canada: $600Now this is different than a DJ. "Your ceremony and cocktails could use a live element — a lot of couples really appreciate that special touch." Gagné believes $600 could get you a duo or trio. To help kickstart your wedding song picks, we found this year's best first dance songs, father-daughter songs and more to inspire your own.
Average cost in Canada: $3,000"Flowers would be the personal flowers, the flowers for the reception, the centrepieces and accent pieces," says Gagné, adding the wedding reception decor is included in this as well.
Average cost in Canada: $450Gagné suggests budgeting $4 to $5 a person. Hopefully you'll pick something special your guests will appreciate.
Average cost in Canada: $2,000Sounds steep but there's more than just the invites to think of here. "That'll be your invitations, RSVP cards, hotel cards, maps, ceremony programs and menu cards," Gagné sums up. "You can get a nice custom feel without breaking the bank." These papers are super important on your wedding planning checklist.
Average cost in Canada: $425The person marrying you ranges anywhere from $350 to $500, says Gagné.
Average cost in Canada: $100The cost of a marriage license varies across the country, with it being as low as $60 in Saskatchewan to $130 in Nova Scotia.
Average cost in Canada: $4,500"There are a million photographers out there that have various bills that they feel they need to consider," says Gagné. "They may have a full-time job and they're doing this on the side and it's a creative outlet for them. Then there are others who have had intensive training, they do this full time and they're definitely artists." She believes a photographer can start at about $3,500 "but that depends on how many hours they work, whether you want an album; then the price will just go up." Just hope some of the more camera-happy guests stay out of their way.
Average cost in Canada: $2,750If you're on the fence about getting one, Gagné says "do it" but warns that you should ensure you have the funds to do it."You can be safe with $2,500 to $3,000, that's reasonable. There are some companies that offer photo and video but you definitely need two bodies to do the work."
Wedding party dancing with strobe lights
Average cost in Canada: $1,000Something you might not have considered in your wedding budget is the AV stuff, from basic lighting to slideshows.
Average cost in Canada: $600Like with everything else, it all depends on your needs, whether you "need a Navigator or a 14-passenger, then you're looking at $1,000 for five, six hours," said Gagné. "But if you only need a Town Car, then it's less. And of course there are couples who want a Rolls Royce." Best bet? "Assume there's three hours worth of driving and budget for $200 an hour." A venue for both your ceremony and reception can save on this.
Wedding night accommodations
Average cost in Canada: $400Factor in about 1 per cent, so $400 if you're working with a $40,000 budget. And it's totally worth it — for your own sanity. "Invest in actually staying at a hotel the night of your wedding because that allows for that evening to last a little bit longer as opposed to going home and seeing the dishes and seeing all the evidence of wedding planning and, 'You know what, honey, I'll meet you upstairs, I'm going to clean up real quick,'" laughs Gagné. "Extend that surreal experience of just being married."
See how much things have changed since the last time we covered how much the average Canadian wedding actually cost.