'Til Debt Due Us Part: Why It's Important To Budget For Your Wedding

2018-06-04   minute read

Leah Drewcock

Lifestyle Debt

Your wedding will only last one day, but your marriage is for the rest of your life. Planning for a wedding can be overwhelming and the excitement and desire to make a memorable event can lead to significant overspending. Costs add up quickly and before many couples know it they're starting their new life together buried under a mountain of debt.


The financial burden of wedding debt can get in the way of other goals such as buying a house, saving for retirement and even starting a family. Not to mention, debt and other financial concerns are a leading cause of marital distress and a contributing factor in divorces.

I recommend that couples start the discussion about money early and keep the lines of communication open. Understanding each other's financial situation and approach to money can help set the stage for a successful financial future together.

Before the Budget:

Before looking at the numbers, it is important to know who will bear the cost of the wedding. Will the bride and groom be footing the bill themselves or will it be a collective effort with the families contributing?

You'll also need to know what the preferred method of payment is. Will you require debt to pay for part or the total cost? Will this mean acquiring loans or using existing credit you already have access to? How much debt can you or your family members reasonably take on without affecting your other financial responsibilities?

The Wedding Budget:

Many people find that a wedding is one of the most complex budgets they will have to prepare. It may be helpful to plan for multipole cost categories with their own subcategories. It is important to define these categories and have a unique budget for each. 

Here is a list of common categories you could include:

  1. Wedding Planner – if you choose to use one
  2. Stationary – invitations, announcements, thank-you cards, place settings
  3. Ceremony – site rental, officiant, license, music
  4. Jewellery and Gifts – wedding bands, wedding party gifts, party favours
  5. Reception – rehearsal dinner, site rental, wedding cake, catering, alcohol, entertainment, decorations
  6. Attire - bridal gown, tuxedo rental, wedding party attire, accessories, hair and makeup
  7. Flowers – wedding party bouquets and boutonnieres, reception flowers, ceremony flowers
  8. Photography – before wedding, ceremony, reception, album and videography
  9. Transportation – parking, limousine rental, taxi coupons, accommodations
  10. Honeymoon – transportation, accommodation, food, passports and spending money

Budgeting Blues:

Don't be surprised if your first attempt at budgeting is higher than you expected.  You have likely been imagining your big day for a long time and you have a vision for your ideal wedding. With the average wedding costing upwards of $30,000 the ideal wedding doesn't always fit in the budget. 

The good news is that by identifying your priorities you can begin planning your unique and memorable wedding, at the same time keeping it affordable. By budgeting for each category specifically you can avoid surprises that can make your wedding memorable for the wrong reasons.   

Creating Your Memorable Event:

After setting your initial budget, review each category and prioritize your top three. If the wedding dress, cake and jewelry are most important to you, then you may have to scale back your flowers bouquets or transportation. 

To get the best wedding for what you can afford think about these additional considerations when setting your budget.

Timing – Almost everything is more expensive during 'wedding season'. Consider alternate times of year to tie the know to maximize your spend.

Guestlist – More guests = higher cost. Prioritize your guest list and invite only those you genuinely want in attendance.

Wedding Party – Will you be paying for the wedding party's clothing and transportation to the various venues? Will you be giving gifts to the wedding party? How many will you ask to be in your wedding party? These decisions will impact your budget.

Taxes, Tips and Service Fees – Remember to include applicable taxes (GST and PST) and other potential hidden fees like coat check, servers and liquor license to name a few.

Venue – Indoor or outdoor, church or backyard? Weather can be factor needing additional consideration. For outdoor weddings you will need a contingency plan in case of increment weather. 

Honeymoon – After the initial cost of the honeymoon (flight, hotel, etc.) you must also consider time off work, passport costs, vaccinations and house / pet sitting services.

Guests – Remember there is a cost for your guests too. Give your friends enough time to budget for the expenses they will incur (gift, travel, attire). If you are planning a destination wedding, you may find that many of your guests will not be able to attend due to the additional cost of travel.

Sticking to the Budget:

Congratulations, you have a plan, now it's time to track your actual spending and stick to your budget.  Like any budget be prepared for fluctuations in what you forecast and what the actual costs are. Don't forget to build some wiggle room into your budget for unexpected expenses and cost increases.

Importantly, if credit is a part of your wedding payment plan you will need to include debt repayment in your plan as well. There is always a cost to borrowing so be sure to budget for the interest you will have to pay so you have a clear picture of the total amount you will owe.

To help you through this process, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada offers a free interactive budget worksheet.

Free Confidential Consultation:

If you're overwhelmed with debt because of a wedding that went over budget, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help. During a Free Confidential Consultation, they'll work with you to review your financial situation and determine whether you might benefit from a Life-Changing Debt Solution. After explaining your options they'll help you choose the one that's right for your unique situation. You don't have to struggle alone, learn how you can begin the next chapter of your life together with a financial fresh start.

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