You met and fell with love with the right person, you got the ring (yay!) and now it’s time to plan the wedding! All very exciting things, but many brides-to-be aren’t quite prepared for the serious price tags that come with pretty much anything that the big “W” (wedding) is associated with. I got engaged in January and I’ll be getting married this October. With just 9 months to plan our wedding, it was important for me and my guy to stay aligned on the big decisions (and the price tags attached to them).
My friends at TD recently conducted a survey and found that one third (31%) of Canadian Millennials spent more than they expected on their wedding receptions, and went over budget by an average of 55%. As I put the finishing touches on my own wedding plans, this information rings fairly true to the observations I’ve made throughout the process. I found these wedding planning tips quite reassuring when thinking back to some of the tough “yay or nay” decisions my fiancé and I had to make.
TD encourages couples to start with smart budgeting and savings strategies to ensure limited surprises on the path to wedded bliss. 21% of couples surveyed went into debt for their wedding – to avoid “til debt do us part”, TD and wedding planner Rebecca Wise recommend the following:
- Talk openly and honestly about what you can realistically afford and what you are comfortable spending in total. We made a “must-have vs. nice-to-have” list to help us prioritize things.
- Breakdown the cost of everything from attire to catering to make sure all “must-have” elements fit within the total budget. Build in a buffer of 5% for unexpected costs. TD offers online saving and budgeting tools that can help you plan out your expenses.
- Track wedding-related expenses against the budget to keep spending on track and make sure even small costs are accounted for – I built a massive wedding spreadsheet in Excel to keep track of everything and it’s been SO helpful. Live on your phone? TD’s new money management mobile app, TD MySpend, is an effortless way to see where your money goes.
- Think ahead. A wedding is a monumental occasion, but the marriage that follows is full of big financial decisions (houses, cars, children, etc.). Commit to being open and honest with each other about your finances.
My fiancé and I knew that we wanted to spend the majority of our budget on a downtown Toronto venue and great catering. We want our guests to have the best time at our wedding, so good food and an open bar were top priorities for us. Next, we knew we wanted live music and great photography to capture the memories – so they came in as the next priorities. Since those are all fairly expensive things, we had to cut a few things from our “nice-to-have” list – such as floral centrepieces, guest favours and wedding cake. To be honest, I don’t need those things – I’m having a blast making my own centrepieces with inexpensive craft items, and a candy buffet is going to be a lot more fun (and affordable) than a traditional wedding cake that rarely gets eaten.
Here are a few more Save vs. Splurge vows for couples from Wedding Planner Rebecca Wise:
- I vow to shop around: Don’t feel pressured to book the first venue or buy the first dress. Check out trunk shows and sample sales to find savings on attire, and consider renting a tuxedo or suit instead of buying new. Accessories like cufflinks or jewellery can also count as “something borrowed” to keep costs down.
- I vow to save where possible: Wise suggests saving on décor by alternating between elaborate and tall floral centrepieces and simple, low centrepieces. Not only does this give variety to your space, it’s also cost effective. In addition to décor, couples often splurge on food and beverage. Wise suggests opting for a reduced bar during cocktail hour by serving only beer and wine or a passed signature cocktail.
- I vow not to compare myself to others: While social media can be a great tool for wedding inspiration, it can also lead to unrealistic expectations and the temptation to overspend. Wise stresses that every couple is different and if you are going to splurge, do it on elements that really personalize your wedding, like a late night food station featuring your favourite dish or acoustic guitarist to play your favourite song while you walk down the aisle.
Now that I’m all done planning my wedding, I can enjoy the summer months with my hubby-to-be and rest assured knowing that our big day is going to be truly special without putting us into financial trouble. My biggest piece of advice for brides-to-be: HAVE FUN and don’t sweat the small stuff. Wedding planning can be an enjoyable process!
Big thanks to my friends at TD for the helpful (and timely) wedding planning tips!