Get hitched without breaking the bank

By Esther LeeBride and Groom Posing on Stairs

If you’re in your 20s or 30s, chances are you’ve attended some weddings lately. You might even be planning one yourself. Everyone knows that weddings are a big expenditure, but do you know how much they really cost? If you’re thinking between $10,000 to $20,000, you’re on the right track. Now take that number and double it. According to a 2015 survey by Weddingbells magazine, Canadian brides expect to spend $30,717 on their wedding. Think that’s a lot? In the U.S., The Knot asked almost 13,000 couples last year and found that the average couple spent US$35,329 on their wedding—and that didn’t include the honeymoon. Yikes. Getting hitched is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and one you shouldn’t have to rob a bank to afford. Here are a few creative tips to bring down the budget while still having a blast. Just think of what you and your partner will do with the money you’ll save.

Food and venue

This is usually the biggest wedding expense. According to Weddingbells, Canadian couples spend an average of $11,046 on the catering and venue. But there are cheaper options: getting married in a friend’s backyard, at the cottage or in a park. One fun way to save? Swap the high-priced rubber chicken dinner for a food truck instead. Most trucks charge a minimum of $1,500 (serving 80 to 100 people). When we called up Toronto-based Gourmet Gringos, they quoted a price range of $20–30 per person for a full course meal including soup or salad and mains ranging from tacos to chicken and rice, with churros for dessert.

Average spend: $11,046
Food trucks in a friend’s yard: $3,840*

*includes allowance for officiant and alcohol

The dress

It’s easy to get teary-eyed over brides finding their dream dress on TLC shows like Say Yes to the Dress. But some of those dresses cost upwards of $5,000! You’ll be pleased to know the average amount people spend on dresses is much less — about $1,260 (US$998) according to one 2017 survey. Better yet, Brides magazine has a list of 40 wedding dresses that cost less than US$1,000 and affordable brands like Topshop and British online retailer ASOS now have bridal collections with some amazing options coming in under $100.

Average spend: $1,260
Wedding dress from ASOS: $100

The honeymoon

Popular honeymoon destinations include Bali, Venice and Paris. According to Weddingbells, Canadian couples expect to spend $4,489 on their honeymoon. But if you’re open to different locations you can save a bundle. Cancun offers the same sun, sand and serenity as Bali, but when we checked, a round trip flight to Cancun, Mexico, from Toronto was going for as little as $273 with dates available from July to September. Even if you splurge and spend a week at a four-star resort and budget $200 a day for food, it would only cost $3,157 for the entire trip.

Average spend: $4,489
Sunny honeymoon in Cancun: $3,157

Total savings if you took these budget hacks: $9,698

We managed to squeeze almost $10,000 out of the average wedding budget. But why stop there? There are all kinds of ways to save money on your wedding while also making sure that you have a great experience you’ll remember for years. Do you have a money-saving wedding tip? We’d love to hear it. Share your experiences in the comments.

Make saving as easy as spending

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