There’s no escaping the fact that weddings are more expensive than they’ve ever been. Recent data from the Knot shows that the cost of an average wedding in 2019 hit $28,000USD.¹ That’s almost $40,000 CAD.
In other words, the average Canadian wedding costs about as much as a typical Bachelor’s degree.
So it’s unsurprising that many couples focus on the bottom line. When the tallying begins, they zero in and look for ways to save a few bucks.
But are the savings actually worth it?
In our opinion, not necessarily. Here’s why.
Cutting Corners Costs You
There’s a reason weddings are so expensive. Weddings are a very unique occasion meant to occur only once in a lifetime. They showcase types of indulgence and luxury that most people do not often experience.
But on this day, the expense is worth it for the outsize impact the memories will have on the rest of your life.
Consider wedding gowns. According to Brides, the average cost of a wedding gown is $1,631 USD including alterations (equalling about $2,000 CAD).² Why are wedding gowns so expensive?
First, wedding gowns often make use of luxury materials, like satin, silk, and chiffon, or handmade fabrics that include elements of applique, embroidery, sequins, or beads.
Second, they’re handcrafted by talented seamstresses and made to order.
Third, they are envisioned by talented designers that spend years learning to balance comfort, fashion, and cost.
If $1,600 USD seems too high a price tag, then, consider your alternatives. Fast fashion may cost a fraction of the real thing, but they typically will not be handmade to order, as thoughtfully designed, nor made of luxurious materials.
That substitute is just not as likely to become the heirloom wedding gown many brides dream of.
The bottom line? Weddings are expensive because you get what you pay for. Your big day is too important to settle for anything subpar.
Your Wedding is Worth the Expense
“In my experience, trying to save money at the expense of the wedding day typically ends in disappointment,” says John Green, Director of Operations at Arras. “It’s easy to see why couples make these decisions; the money has to come from somewhere and a $40,000 price tag can seem huge. But those cut corners can really detract from the overall experience of the day.”³
We’re not advocating that couples spend outside their means. It’s very important to know how much you can afford to spend on your wedding and that you stick to that budget. But it’s critical to balance your budget against your expectations in a realistic way.
“For example, couples have asked to hire fewer servers for their reception dinners,” says Green. “They think the expense of that extra staff will save them money. But ultimately, guests end up waiting longer for drinks or plates to be cleared so that staff shortage detracts from the overall experience of the guests.”³
The same goes for decor. If your venue offers a decor package, like Arras does, embrace it.
“The reality is that it’s incredibly challenging to outdo the experts when it comes to venue decoration,” says Green. “Unfortunately, couples that take on their own venue decor will often find themselves disappointed. In cases like these, it is truly worth the expense.”³
How To Budget For Your Wedding
You can avoid such disappointments by being realistic in the budgeting phase of your wedding planning.
Start by deciding on the amount you want to spend on your wedding day events—ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and after-party. Know that costs tend to creep upward, so be conservative in your budgeting and create contingency plans for possible overages.
Next, decide what really matters to you. Typically, the things that make a wedding day special are precisely the line items which cost the most. Consider the gown, the photographer, the venue, the drinks, the food; all of these items are goods or services that are provided to you by experts.
This is why they’re expensive. As illustrated by the wedding gown discussion above, you get what you pay for. Let’s face it; your cousin’s iPhone is simply not as good for photos as a hired photographer with a professional grade camera.
If you try to save money on these services by cutting corners (like reducing the number of staff), that absence will be felt on (and probably long after) your special day.
Conversely, if the designer gown truly doesn’t matter to you, trust yourself to find a cheaper alternative elsewhere. The key is balancing your priorities with the constraints of your budget without skimping.
If you find your budget stretched and feel desperate to reduce your expenditures, don’t zero in on specific line items like staff numbers; rather, consider the entire day.
Do you need 400 guests, or would 250 suffice? Reducing the number of guests instead will allow you to wine and dine the guests that do attend rather than stretch to accommodate a much longer guest list.
It’s important to invest in the things that matter most to you. There’s no sense spending on half measures that will only lead to disappointment.
“We are honoured every time a couple chooses Arras to host their wedding day,” says Green. “It’s one of the most important days of your life. If you ask me, the things that will make your day special are worth every penny.”³
1 theknot.com. “This Was the Average Cost of a Wedding in 2020.” Accessed September 24, 2021. https://www.theknot.com/content/average-wedding-cost.
2 Brides. “Everything That Goes Into the Cost of a Wedding Dress, Explained.” Accessed September 24, 2021. https://www.brides.com/average-wedding-dress-cost-4799007.
3 Personal communication between Rose Agency and John Green, Director of Operations at Arras, September 2021.