Traditionally, talks of setting a wedding budget were simple and quite clear – the bride’s family would pay for the engagement party, the wedding ceremony, and the reception while the groom’s parents paid for the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon.
Fast forward to 2022 and the entire makeup of the wedding budget breakdown can take on many different forms. I always encourage couples to start the planning early, and the saving even earlier – a wedding in 2022 can set you back quite a bit.
Given how touchy the subject of personal finances can be, here follows some helpful guidelines if you're looking to get started.
Tip 1: Figure out who's paying — and for what
Gone are the days of wedding expenses being covered entirely by the parents. Nowadays, with couples getting married later in life and already being employed and self-sufficient, it’s much more common for couples to cover the costs of their own wedding or for finances to be split between the couple and the two sets of families.
Given how sensitive the topic of finances can be, it’s good to have these conversations as early as possible and to come to an agreement on what the overall wedding budget is, who is responsible for what, and most importantly, who has the final say — especially since someone who is contributing financially to the wedding might feel a sense of entitlement when making decisions.
If this isn’t something you’re comfortable with, it’s better to know ahead of time. Having conversations early helps to avoid awkward and difficult conversations later in the process.
Tip 2: Choose a realistic budget
If you’ve never planned an event before, you might want to sit down. According to MoneySense, the average wedding costs in Canada can range anywhere from $22,000-$30,000 CAD. In bigger cities, like Toronto and Vancouver, that amount can skyrocket up to $125,000 CAD.
With this in mind, you’ll want to make budgeting a priority. Creating (and sticking) to a budget will help you from falling prey to things outside your budget and creating unnecessary debt. As much as we might love everything we see, not all budgets can have it all.
While this is an important milestone for many people and a time to allow for a few splurges, a wedding definitely shouldn't equal bankrupting yourself in the process.
Tip 3: Find a wedding planner (or app)
Whether or not your budget allows you to hire a wedding planner (which can run you anywhere from $1,500 CAD for day-of planning to $18,000+ CAD for full-service planning), do create a budget tracker of some sort.
Whether you chose to go the classic spreadsheet route or choose from one of the endless budget tracking apps and websites dedicated to this topic, your finances will thank you in the long run.
Tip 4: Focus on what’s most important on your wedding day
There are so many smart ways to have the wedding of your dreams, on whatever budget you can afford. A wonderful exercise that I always encourage couples to do is to create a vision board and list their top three priorities. By visualizing and clearly identifying what’s most important, people are able to better allocate their funds in smart ways. A less elaborate affair can still make for a wonderful, elegant, and memorable wedding.
Take flowers, for example – if this makes your top three, and you want to add them to all corners of the room and from the ceiling, Andrea Nobile, Director and Head Designer of Fiorissimi Floral Designs in Vaughan, offers the few following practical budgeting tips:
Get several quotes from different vendors. You’ll be surprised how prices fluctuate between different companies.
Focus on the head table which is the most seen by guests. Drawing attention to too many areas can be overpowering and unnecessary.
Shop what’s in season - don’t ask for peonies in November!
Tip 5: Look for ways to cut expenses
Whether you’re planning a wedding for 25 people or three days of elaborate fun, expenses will always be front and centre. In the effort to keep your planning and dreams as realistic and as stress-free as possible, here are a few easy ways to reduce costs.
First, consider cutting the guest list – maybe it’s limited to immediate family and friends only. Perhaps it’s an adults-only or no plus-ones event. Secondly, consider a less elaborate event (more doesn’t always mean better). Finally, consider doing a few things yourself with the help of family and friends: homemade favours, centrepieces from your garden, etc. With a little creativity and planning, you'd be surprised by how far even a modest budget can stretch.