(Special) - Summertime in Canada is wedding time.
While a wedding can be a magical event, it takes a lot of planning and, in many cases, a good deal of money. In addition to selecting the guest list, the location, dress and tuxedos, associated events like showers, stags and rehearsal dinners, couples ultimately have to decide how much they plan to spend on their dream day.
The wedding industry is estimated at more than $4.5 billion a year. Canada averages about 156,000 weddings a year, about 46 per cent of them being in Ontario.
The average cost of a full-blown wedding today in Canada can be more than $32,000, according to Wedding Bells Magazine. A smaller, festive wedding can run around $20,000 while you might get away for $10,000 for a small, cosy, intimate affair. Flowers can set you back up to $1,500, $12,900 for a bridal gown, $9,400 for the venue such as a club or public hall, $2,300 for a photographer and $4,700 for a honeymoon.
According to a survey by BMO Bank of Montreal, the high cost of organizing and putting on a wedding today are causing 67 per cent of soon-to-wed couples to delay their marriage. Thirty-one per cent of those married within the past five years said they postponed an engagement or wedding because of finances. Couples planning to marry in the next five years expect to spend an average of $14,281 on wedding expenses.
Housing costs were ranked as the top barrier to getting married, employment status - either being unemployed or underemployed - followed by debt.
The survey also found that fewer couples are expecting to get help for their families to cover wedding expenses.
Soon-to-be-newlyweds expect to cover on average 53 per cent of their wedding costs with money they've saved themselves.
"When you factor everything from the rings to the venue, dress and honeymoon, getting married can be a significant financial commitment," says Janet Peddigrew, vice-president of BMO Bank of Montreal. "An important first step for any couple thinking about getting married is to determine what kind of celebration is financially realistic. One way to do this is by sitting down with a financial advisor to create a plan that takes all aspects of the wedding into account.
To manage rising costs soon-to-wed couples are employing a number of strategies to save money, including having a smaller wedding, making their own decorations, centrepieces or invitations, getting a fried to act as the disc jockey or photographer, holding the wedding on a less popular day, and having a destination wedding.
Because marriage creates some new and important financial and tax planning challenges, it's important for couples to discuss such things as creating a realistic household budget based on income and decide how much they want to spend on the wedding and future things like mortgage and retirement savings.
It's also important for them to understand marital assets.
Generally, all assets acquired during a marriage are shareable between both spouses while the assets that each spouse brings into a marriage are not. However, there are some notable exceptions depending on the jurisdiction in which you live.
Weddings often can result in a financial nest-egg for the couple, and one of their first joint decisions might be what to do with it - pay off student debt or a loan to finance the wedding, use it toward a down payment for a home, or put it into a Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or a Tax Free Savings Account.
Money can be a hugely important aspect of marriage. Spouses need to work together to accomplish their financial goals before and after marriage. Candid discussion and good planning before the wedding can ensure that couples start off their married life together on the right foot.
Talbot Boggs is a Toronto-based business communications professional who has worked with national news organizations, magazines and corporations in the finance, retail, manufacturing and other industrial sectors.
Copyright 2013 Talbot Boggs
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