TORONTO - Many young couples dream of throwing a huge traditional wedding, surrounded by throngs of family members and friends, followed by a reception that guests will always remember.
But it's essential for young people to get married on the right foot financially, particularly those who are weighed down by large student debts and starting off a new career.
To ensure your dreams don't get the best of your finances, think about how you can create a memorable occasion all the while putting expenses under the microscope. Costs add up quickly, and before you know it, your wedding could run a tab of up to $20,000 or more.
My fiancee, Aimee, and I are in our mid 20s, and are to be wed in August of this year.
We could've easily spent plenty on a venue and thousands more on flowers, a photographer and a band. Invitations and postage can cost hundreds, while charges for catering can send a wedding budget soaring.
And that's before even considering the dress, hair and makeup, rings, cake, transportation, officiate and all the other extras that add up.
Websites like Weddingwire.com or theknot.com can help breakdown potential costs, as well as help you search for reputable venues and vendors.
We've opted to have the wedding away from home on Prince Edward Island since we feel that no one else need be witness to the ceremony.
Instead, we are throwing a pre-wedding party to include friends and family in the celebration — who offered not only their help in planning, but also to bring cake, fruit and vegetable platters and other items.
Friends and family helping with the food preparation is a great way to save money and also adds a family touch to the party.
Everything, including our reception, the marriage ceremony, flights, and accommodations for an eight-day trip — which also turns into our honeymoon — came up to less than $4,500.
The dress, shoes and accessories were bought for under $250 and can be worn again as opposed to hanging in a closet for years, compared with fancy dresses than can cost thousands.
Renting a dress could also be an option for a bride on a budget, costing a few hundred dollars.
Kyle and Robynn Amyotte, a newlywed couple in their early twenties from northern Ontario spent two years planning and saving for their wedding after getting engaged.
"We planned it that way in order for us to come up with an estimated budget and have the time to save more than enough for the wedding," said Robynn.
The Amyottes said their wedding cost approximately $13,000, with family contributing about $3,000. Besides saving up the difference themselves, the rest of the funding came from a stag and doe fundraising party.SEE: 5 ways to save money on your big day. Story continues below:
When it comes to wedding dresses, "consignment" isn't code for a gaudy explosion of taffeta from the '80s. Consignment boutiques carry many gowns that have never been worn because the wedding never happened or because the bride found a second gown that she liked better. You can get unworn or gently worn dresses for up to 80% off the original purchase price.
Carrying a brooch bouquet made of beautiful costume jewelry that you collect from your relatives (your something borrowed!) or vintage boutiques (your something old!) is a stunning alternative to fresh flowers. It's unique, personal and you don't have to worry about wilted or discolored blooms. You can also save thousands of dollars if you use faux flowers for your bouquets and centerpieces.
Scope out local brew-on-premises wine facilities, where you can buy wine for as little as $3 a bottle. If your venue lets you buy your own wine, you can put a bottle of red and a bottle of white on each table. Create custom labels for an added personal touch.
Multi-tiered wedding cakes look fabulous in photos. But let's face it, people don't really eat the cake and many venues charge exorbitant fees to slice and plate a piece for each guest. Rather than forgoing your dream of a three-tiered cake, ask your baker to use faux slabs for the bottom tiers. These will be covered in fondant and decorated to look real, but only the top layer will be edible; that's the part that you and your groom will cut and can keep if you wish. Serve each guest personalized cupcakes which can also act as your favor and you'll save a ton of cash on butter and flour.
Aside from being a cute and inexpensive way to thank your guests for celebrating with you, saplings give back to the environment and symbolize the growth of your marriage. Place the sapling in a decorated pot to make the favour DIY.
"We made $2,700 from gifts and door prizes, plus people bought pies to hit us with. It was a huge success and tons of fun — minus being pied in the face over 30 times," said Kyle.
A do-it-yourself approach can help alleviate some of the costs.
The Amyottes produced and delivered their own invitations and as well made small personal decorations, the bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres.
You could also opt for a homemade cake and appetizers, as well as simpler finger foods, or skip the dinner portion altogether and invite guests for a night of dancing. Closing the bar during dinner, or opting for a cash bar can also help cut costs significantly.
Destination weddings allow the bride and groom to save money because your wedding and honeymoon can be rolled into one. When held at an all-inclusive there are few outside costs — and even dinner and drinks are included in the initial price tag.
It also helps keep the guest list small because friends and family front their own costs for the vacation.
If you are having a wedding at home, try limiting your guest list, choosing a date off peak season or on a less popular day than Saturday.
A fancier, more extravagant wedding won't necessarily make it any more romantic or memorable, but it could cost you a lifetime of debt if you're not careful.
Marriage commissioner Brenda Bulger, who performs civil marriages, said the most romantic wedding she's ever overseen was also the least expensive she'd ever seen.
"The couple was on vacation camping on PEI and decided to get married while they were here," Bulger said.
They presented rings they had given each other earlier in the relationship as their wedding bands, and wore the clothes already on their backs.