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Big day, huge price tag: The skyrocketing cost of a wedding

If you're about to get hitched, hang on to your wallet.


Each year, Weddingbells Magazine surveys thousands of brides- and grooms-to-be for a glimpse of their wedding wants and needs. Then, it crunches the numbers to forecast trends, including how much the average wedding will cost, and releases an annual survey.


The forecast for 2015? A cool $31,717, this year's poll indicates. [That's up from $27,899 forecast that the magazine made just three years ago.] The online survey involved more than 2,000 participants, between June 2014 and this March.


Before you decide to elope, consider that whopping figure includes some big bells and whistles: a honeymoon averaging $4,489 and an engagement ring at $3,125.


Weddingbells editor Jen O'Brien says that average gets skewed by larger cities. Booking a venue in downtown Toronto will cost considerably more than one in Corner Brook, N.L., for instance.


Canadian couples will typically spend more than $30,000 to pay for the costs of their wedding, a Weddingbells Magazine poll indicates.


Pictures: bridesmaid dresses perth


The pressure of Pinterest


Both the betrothed and those in the wedding business point to media, especially social media, as having a massive influence over spending. In particular, Pinterest — the popular site where users share photos and inspirations like a virtual clipboard — is widely used for wedding inspiration.


"[Couples are] spending a lot of time on Pinterest before even becoming engaged, so they're not really willing to compromise on their dream days — they have an exact vision of what they want, and they're going to get it at all costs," says O'Brien.


Online site drives up wedding expectations, costs


She adds that 75 per cent of people surveyed by her magazine end up blowing their wedding budgets.


Andrea Hounsell, owner of the St. John's-based wedding planning company Something Borrowed Something Blue, agrees.


"I think that people are seeing a lot more photos of weddings than they used to before, and a lot more inspiration pictures," Hounsell said.


That inspiration adds up.


Wedding photographers routinely charge upwards of $3,000 for one day of service. With widespread exposure to professional photos in unique locations, couples now want unique mementoes of matrimony: one Corner Brook-based photography company has worked with couples who have booked helicopters in order to get the perfect shot — on a mountaintop.


The big cost ... of chair covers?


Even scaling back to simple decor might not be the answer.


"If you have 300 guests, or 250-plus guests, it doesn't matter how simple your decor is. Just chair covers alone are $4 to $5.50 per chair cover," Hounsell said.


"Times that by 300 people, and you have a very large chunk of your decor budget probably eaten up already by that point in time."


The Weddingbells survey cited venue and catering costs as the single largest expense, up to one third the total cost for the event.


And if you're wondering who's footing this bill?


"About half the people we surveyed said they're relying on their parents to chip in," O'Brien said.


"And actually 61 per cent of brides indicated that cash donations are an important part of their wedding budget. So people really are relying on those envelopes full of cash on the big day to pay for everything."


Consider the winter wedding


One way to save big is to skip summertime.


Half of the 2,600 marriage licences issued by the Newfoundland and Labrador government in an average year are handed out in just two months: July and August.


O'Brien said venues can charge a premium during that period, and couples can score better deals negotiating during the off- season.


Hounsell adds it's important to plan ahead, and shop around. "Get a little idea of how much things cost from decorators beforehand," she said.


"Then set a realistic budget for what you want your decor to be, before you get into the nitty gritty details of picking out centrepieces and linens, because you really can go from zero to 60 very quickly."


'Everything was kind of a shocker'


Bride-to-be Faith Parsons has taken some of these tips to heart.


She's on track for an October wedding, with a $5,000 budget.


"We did a lot of the DIY. We got a lot of things from the dollar store, and spray-painted them ourselves, and did glittering ourselves. Just to keep costs down rather than get somebody else to do it."


But even then, Parsons was caught off guard by the price of planning.


"I found everything was kind of a shocker. I didn't expect it to be so expensive," she said.

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