How to avoid wedding debt

Toronto ON – Invitations, check. Venue, check. Wedding gown, check. Money in the bank – oops! In a recent survey of brides conducted by Wedding Bells magazine, the average cost of a traditional wedding in Canada is $22,429, excluding the honeymoon.

Planning a wedding can be so much fun when you don’t have to think about the money, such as spending $750 for a limo, $500 for hairstyling or $600 for the wedding cake. Is having a traditional wedding worth going into wedding debt for before you say ‘I do’?

“Going into debt for the wedding of your dreams can cause financial stress on any new marriage,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. “If it’s a traditional wedding you want make sure you have enough resources to pay for it or create a less expensive dream wedding.”

Of the brides surveyed, 51 per cent are planning a traditional wedding, 38 per cent will have a more casual event and 8 per cent are opting for something simple.

Paula and Steve (not their real names) are getting married this summer. They are among the 8 per cent who have opted for something simple. “We’ve chosen a venue based on our love of nature, sent out e-vites to preserve the environment and are asking guests to bring contributions to our potluck dinner, instead of gifts,” says Paula.

Now Paula and Steve’s idea of a wedding isn’t for everyone. However, when cost is an issue developing a budget based on what you can afford is definitely a great way to reduce the odds of going into debt.

To avoid starting married life off in debt, Consolidated Credit offers these money-saving wedding ways:

  • Give Yourself Enough Time. Set a wedding date that will allow you and/or your family time to save for wedding-related expenses.
  • More Work. If money isn’t readily available, consider getting a second job to supplement the wedding budget. Or, simply cut the budget.
  • Set Limits. Invite 100 guests instead of 150; perhaps first cousins are invited, but second cousins are not. Serve a three course lunch instead of a five course dinner.
  • Do It Yourself. Enlist the creative talents of relatives and friends who can help you make your wedding gown, create floral arrangements or even bake the wedding cake.
  • Loosen Up. The less formal the affair, the more affordable it is. Instead of a sit-down dinner, go for a casual brunch or barbecue. Pass on the limousine. Choose a morning or afternoon wedding. They’re less expensive than evening affairs.
  • Pick And Choose. Indulge in a designer dress, but go barefoot. Ditch the hors d’oeuvres, serve the wedding 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, perhaps you may be able to share some of the costs of flowers and decorations.
  • No Holidays. Holiday weddings are more expensive because you are competing for catering services, wedding and reception sites, DJs, limousines, photographers and more.

>The Wedding Planner is a free publication you can download from Consolidated Credit.

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