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Planning your Wedding on a Budget

August 2, 2017

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Congratulations – you’re engaged!

Once the initial shock and excitement settles, it’s time to start planning your wedding! While you have probably pictured your perfect wedding day a thousand times, have you thought about what this special day is going to cost you? Can you afford to have the wedding of your dreams, or are you going to have to make a few compromises? If you think your eyes may be bigger than your budget, this blog is for you! Read on for some money-saving tips and insights that are sure to help you plan your dream wedding without breaking the bank.

Step 1 – Create a budget

According to a recent study, Canadians are spending an average of $31,110 on their weddings.

If you find this number alarming, you’re not alone. It’s imperative to create a budget with your partner to determine how much you can realistically afford to spend on your big day. Sit down and discuss what is important to each of you and start your research. Consider the average cost of wedding photography, catering and ceremony/reception venue rentals in your area. Make sure your budget is in-tune with reality and that you aren’t allotting just $2,000 for dinner for 200 people when most caterers in your city are upwards of $40 per plate.

Step 2 – Come up with a plan

Brainstorm some ideas as to how you may be able to save or generate extra money to put towards your wedding. Open a TFSA (tax-free savings account) with your bank and set up automatic withdrawals from your regular chequing account twice a month. Even if you can only afford $20 a pay cheque that’s an additional $40 a month (or $480 a year) that you weren’t saving before.

If you start planning your wedding a year and a half in advance, you’d have over $700 saved by the time you were ready to pay the balance of your photographer, wedding commissioner or marriage license.

Depending on your financial institution, you may also be able to switch your bank account over to an account that rounds all your debit purchases up to the nearest dollar. For example, if your morning double-double costs you $2.25, your bank account will automatically round that up to the nearest dollar and put $0.75 into a separate savings account for you.

Start collecting empty bottles and cans. Most recycling centers can set up an account for you and every time you drop off a load, instead of giving you cash, they’ll apply the balance to your account. When you’re ready to withdraw the funds, the recycling center will cut you a cheque for the balance in your account. As long as you’re willing to put in a little bit of elbow grease, you can generate a substantial amount of cash in a relatively short period of time!

Step 3 – Compromise

This is a word no bride (or groom) likes to hear. Unfortunately, if your budget isn’t the $30,000 Canadian average, you’ll have to deal with this concept eventually. To try and lessen the blow, here’s a few alternatives to consider:

  • Have your wedding on a weekday instead of a weekend
  • Cut your guest list down to under 100 people
  • Buy your wedding dress online from a discount retailer

In case those alternatives are too drastic for you, we’ve come up with some compromises that may be a little more practical than the aforementioned:

  • The Dress – Check out thrift stores or consignment shops for a pre-loved dress. If you spend less on the dress itself, you won’t end up going over budget once you’ve factored in the cost of alterations.
  • Food – If you’re worried about hiring a catering company to feed your 200 guests at $40 a plate, you may be inclined to take on the food prep yourself. A roast beef dinner with all the fixings would cost you substantially less than the catering counterpart, particularly if you’ve got a healthy number of people willing to lend a hand.
  • Décor – Party rental places are great for people who don’t have the time or the creative ability to conjure up perfectly coordinated wedding themes. However, if you’re a relatively crafty individual, you may be OK with the thought of putting in the work to get the result that you want for a fraction of the price of paying someone else to do it for you.
  • Location, location, location – In a perfect world, we’d all have a scenic ceremony venue that is straight out of a magazine and a reception spot that ticks every box on the list, but in the real world, we have to be more practical. By choosing a venue in a smaller, neighbouring town, you can save some serious change, particularly with a venue that allows for the ceremony and the reception to be held on the same grounds.
  • Bar – Do you dream about having an open bar where your guests can drink as much as is required to get them on the dance floor without having to pay a dime? Sadly, the cold, hard truth is that at the end of the night when you get your bill, you may be in for a huge surprise. Speak with service organizations in your area such as the Kinsmen or Rotary Club and find one that provides a toonie bar for a flat rate. Some of them provide all the booze, mix, cups and a bartender for the whole night. Although it’s not quite free, most guests won’t mind paying $2 for a drink when compared to the standard $6 or $7.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that no one ever said planning a wedding on a budget was going to be easy. Getting your hands dirty will more than likely have you uttering profanities and shedding tears at one point or another, but when you come out of it with no wedding debt, you’ll be delighted to begin your married lives together without the financial burden of a wedding paid for with credit.

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