How to be a wedding guest on a budget

By, Carla Hindman,

From wedding showers to engagement parties to wedding ceremonies, the cost of celebrating the couple-to-be can put a strain on your budget during the summer wedding season. According to WeddingBells Canada, weddings are a $5-billion business in Canada, with more than 160,000 weddings taking place every year and 67% of weddings occurring between June and September.

Are weddings also a financial burden for guests? For a few years in my late twenties, it seemed like as soon as summer hit, I was spending every weekend at a wedding, and spending all my dollars while I was at it! Though I loved celebrating with my friends, between travel and gifts, the pressure from all the partying was putting a strain on my bank account. If you’re heading to a few weddings this summer, here are some tips to get you through the season without paying the high cost of love:

Build a budget: Before wedding season, take inventory of upcoming weddings and build a budget based on your current financial situation. Do you have wiggle room for the extra dollars you may need to fork out on expenses beyond the main event? If not, consider making adjustments to your spending habits leading up to wedding season. Need help building a budget? Practical Money Skills has a calculator that can help you build or even rework a budget.

Wedding Attire:  Want to look your best on someone else’s big day? It’ll cost you. RetailMeNot says that Wedding guests spend an average of $325 for wedding attire, with men outspending women (men spend an average of $334). Don’t be afraid to recycle your outfits. For men, simply changing a shirt and tie combo can make for a quick and less costly new look. Women can save by exploring dress rental stores with options that will keep them on trend. Another option is to stick with a classic little black dress, but switch up accessories for a different look. If you really want to wear something new, you can make a little extra cash by selling your old suits and dresses at a consignment shop or online. Also, be on the lookout for buy, trade and sell groups on social media sites – often they have gently used attire that could help you celebrate in style.

Wedding Gifts: Wedding gifts can also take a big slice out of your budget. According to the RetailMeNot survey, 54 per cent of Canadians prefer to give cash. But cash is not always king for your budget. Consider bringing together a group to pitch in for a big-ticket item and don’t forget to look for sales while shopping the gift registry. Giving the newlyweds an experience, like a cooking class or a honeymoon excursion, is also a great idea for a present. Most of all be thoughtful. If your friends have invited you to share their day, hopefully they’ll be more thrilled with your presence than your present!

Travel expenses: Travelling to and from a wedding can be costly. If possible, travel with a group to cut down on fuel and hotel costs. Heading to a destination wedding? A WeddingBells survey estimates that one in four weddings that occur between November and April will be destination weddings. Explore using your rewards or loyalty points on airfare and hotel costs.

Bottom Line: Weddings are expensive, even if you’re not the one walking down the aisle. With planning and budgeting you can enjoy wedding season without breaking the bank.

By, Carla Hindman, Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada

Wedding Vendors & Brides Beware

By Sharon Kawano

Unknown to many wedding vendors, but as of May 1st, 2015 all decorators and wedding vendors are now being charged a fee of $1.00 per person to conduct business at the following Banquet Halls in Surrey:
Aria Banquet Hall
Bollywood Banquet Hall
Bombay Banquet Hall
Crown Palace Banquet Hall
Dhaliwal Banquet Hall
Fraserview Banquet Hall
Grand Taj Banquet Hall
India Banquet Hall
Maharaja Catering & Banquet Hall
Mirage Banquet Hall
Paradise Banquet Hall
Punjab Banquet Hall
Riverside Banquet Hall
Royal King Palace

We WERE NOT aware of any of these fees prior to the wedding we decorated yesterday. The bride had booked with Mirage Banquet Hall well over a year ago. There were no fees mentioned in her contract nor was it mentioned to myself or the bride’s wedding planner at any time during their past visits or communications. Last night, when we returned to the venue to dismantle/takedown our decorations, the manager of Mirage Banquet Hall (Narinder) demanded that we pay him $300. That was literally the very first time we were told about any such fee we had to pay!!

And this is happening over and over and over again to many other decorators, DJ’s and wedding vendors across Surrey!

These new fees have been initiated by the so-called “BC Banquet Hall Association”, a non-existent organization with no website or number that can be found online. I am a small decor company (200max guest events) and mainly setup at hotels, golf courses or country clubs. However, I feel horrible for the Indian decorating companies that cater to 600+ events and rely heavily on these banquet halls for business. Most of these decorators are forced to either increase their pricing to their brides, pay the fee, or they will be banned from decorating at these halls. And many are terrified to stand up to them or speak up in fear of it.

Unfortunately due to these new fees, we are now simply refusing to setup and provide linens & decor for any of these Indian halls in the future. Who’s to say this “association” won’t charge us $2, or $3, or even $5 next year? I rather avoid all the drama and politics, than be a part of it. This type of mafia-mentality is absolutely unethical, immoral and corrupt. We have decorated many different venues, and have had nothing but professional and pleasant treatment by the managers & staff. But the way we were treated & harassed at this particular hall last night was simply disgusting and shameful.

Not Impressed,
Sharon Kawano

24Hours Vancouver