How much does the average wedding cost in Canada? Honestly, the answer is as unique as each couple getting married.
Although you may see lists of average wedding costs tossed around online, everyone’s nuptials are so customized — factoring in the location, the food, the guest list and many more items — that a single “average Canadian cost” is actually not super-helpful as a benchmark. In fact, you can have a wedding at any price if you’re mindful of the requirements of your special day.
However, you can create the perfect wedding budget that fits you and your style. Here are the main factors you need to keep in mind, plus some helpful ideas for thinking through the logistics so you can find real numbers that you can work with.
January 18, 2021 in Life
Every couple has their own wedding priorities. For some, serving a multi-course dinner and really good bubbly are at the top of the list. For others, it might be landing an amazing wedding photographer or a jaw-dropping venue. Attire like tuxedos and bridal gowns are another wedding cost, as are wedding rings, officiant fees, a cake, flowers, invites and favours — not to mention transportation and accommodation.
The list really does go on, whether you’re calculating how much a small city hall wedding costs, or you’re set on an opulent ceremony and deluxe reception. Here’s what to think about when it comes to determining wedding costs that fit into your budget.
They come in a huge range, from budget-friendly to luxuriously extravagant, but venues can often eat up a large chunk of your wedding budget. Some couples host both the ceremony and the reception in a single location for convenience, while others may choose a different ceremony locale from their reception venue to showcase their wedding theme or style. Here’s how the costs break down for some popular options.
While civil offices and houses of worship can sometimes be less costly, they aren’t generally free. Keep these fees and deposits in mind when you’re booking.
• City hall wedding ceremony: Civil marriage ceremonies at your local city hall vary in price according to municipality, but they are often the least expensive option.
• House of worship wedding ceremony: Traditionally, a wedding ceremony in a synagogue, church or other house of worship is free, but there is often a suggested donation that couples choose to pay. Ask what that amount is before you book. And remember that fees for music and flowers are usually extra.
• Event space ceremony: You can host a wedding in this type of public space and still choose a different locale for the reception. Costs to keep in mind are the event space’s rental fee, officiant fees and flowers or other decor, which can include chair rentals.
The reception venue dictates everything from your guest count to your food choices, as many venues work exclusively with caterers of their choosing or have their own kitchens on-site. Costs are subject to change, of course, but in general, these are the options from highest to lowest.
• Hotel reception: Luxury hotels are typically the most extravagant places for wedding receptions, with prices to match. Often you can host the wedding ceremony there, too.
• Banquet hall reception: Banquet halls vary in price across Canada. The costs depend on things like where they’re located, whether you’re having a buffet-style meal or multiple courses, and what your beverage offerings will be. Due to higher demand, city banquet halls are often more expensive than rural ones. Tip: An open bar can be a considerable cost in your overall food and drink budget. Plan accordingly.
• Barn, farm or vineyard/winery reception: Rustic weddings with amazing photo ops have made farm and winery receptions increasingly popular. Of course, depending on your choice of decor, flowers, musicians and the like, the price can vary widely, as can the venue’s amenities. Extra costs to keep in mind above the basics include transportation and accommodation.
• Historic house, museum or art gallery reception: Renting out event spaces for wedding receptions is a common practice for some of your favourite museums, galleries and historic houses. Some allow you to bring in a catering team of your choice, allowing you to shop around to save on costs and get exactly what you want. Ask before you book.
The average wedding photographer cost can vary. The first factor in determining the price is how popular your wedding date is — off-season prices might be more reasonable. Another is how many hours the photographer (and assistant, if there is one) will work. To cut costs, some couples choose to have only one of the day’s events — the ceremony or the reception — professionally photographed.
Another key consideration is what you want as a finished product. Prints that you can frame or give out, or other keepsakes such as photo albums, come at an additional cost.
Determining wedding flowers’ cost is largely an aesthetic decision. If your heart is set on having a very particular shade and type of flower — say white peonies or pale pink roses — the costs can go up. However, if you’re willing to use seasonal flowers, you might be able to bring the price down. Incorporating branches and grasses into the floral design can also help you save.
Wedding gowns are often the largest expenditure for people choosing traditional outfits. Suits and tuxedo purchases (or rentals) can also add up. Shoes and accessories come next in the cost hierarchy. Keep all of these in mind as you’re setting the budget for this area.
According to traditional etiquette, wedding party attendants are responsible for paying for their own attire. But some couples with larger budgets may decide to help with that expense.
Another thing to note is any outfit change that’s required. Some brides change into a second dress or more comfortable shoes at the reception. If this switch is on your agenda, pencil it in when you’re adding up clothing costs.
As you might expect, the more tiers and elaborate decorations on your cake, the higher the price tag tends to get. Other elements that are rolled into a wedding cake’s cost are the baker’s expertise (hand-piping and lifelike fondant flowers require a skilled hand) and specialized delivery that gets your cake to its venue in perfect shape.
Cakes covered in fondant, a sugary paste that is rolled out for a smooth finish, makes a cake more durable and resistant to melting, but it tends to cost more than simple buttercream icing.
Rings are another traditional wedding day must-have, but unlike everything else on this list, they are items you wear every day after the ceremony. It pays to research and find one you’ll enjoy seeing all the time.
Prices can vary widely, but here are a few factors that can determine the final cost.
• The type of precious metal you choose, such as platinum, or white, yellow or rose gold
• The width of the band
• The design (simple or intricate), and whether it needs to match an engagement ring or your spouse’s band
• Durability of materials
• Whether there are precious gems set into the band
• Custom engraving or inscriptions
• Where you make the purchase (from a custom jeweller or a large retailer)
Another highly variable cost is wedding save-the-date cards and invitations. You can do just about anything here, from going totally DIY and purchasing them off the shelf at a big-box store for very little, to splurging on a custom design from a stationery printer and having a professional calligrapher hand-letter each detail.
Remember that there’s more paper than just the invitations to consider. RSVP cards and return postage can also add to the bill.
Other miscellaneous wedding costs to keep in mind include party favours, marriage license fees, officiant fees (including their travel costs) and your own travel costs and accommodations. (You don’t pay for your attendants’ and guests’ rooms, but you are usually responsible for arranging a block of rooms at a discount.)
You may also want printed menus, and escort cards or place-setting cards. (Escort cards direct guests to a table with no fixed seat, while place cards are slightly more formal options for receptions where everyone has an assigned chair.)
Gratuities are another extra wedding expense to be aware of. Ask vendors if they are included in the price when you’re booking their services. For people who work long hours at your wedding (such as photographers and musicians), covering their meals is customary. And last, but not least, don’t forget the taxes on all goods and services.
Creating a budget is one of the first seven tasks to put on your wedding planning timeline. You may want also to set up a dedicated credit card for wedding expenses, which can help make your wedding costs easy to track.
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