by Alex Denonville
News Editor- The Lance
I took this assignment with dread – visions of bridezillas and wallet-destroying events danced through my head as I prepared for my venture into Windsor’s 15th annual Wedding Odyssey.
The event, self-described as Ontario’s largest trade show south of Toronto, brought wedding industry vendors together under the Ciociaro Club roof, destined to be scrutinized by couples planning their nuptials.
According to WeddingBells.ca, the average cost of a wedding in Canada, including the honeymoon, is a whopping $31,000. I gasped at the statistic and set my sights on finding what Wedding Odyssey goers thought of the potentially debt-inducing sum of weddings.
I met Jason, who’s getting married in August of 2017, by the espresso machine.
He didn’t look thrilled to be there.
“[Weddings] seem more like a Hollywood premiere than just a focus on the bride and groom. Looking around, it’s gotten a little crazy,” Jason said.
With that in mind, Jason and his fiancée were on the lookout for cost savings. His soon-to-be wife will be making the party favors and he’ll look to DJ friends for a discounted rate.
Unlike a lot of couples, Jason and his partner won’t be incurring debt for their wedding, having a firm budget in mind and determined to stick to it.
“You have to set a budget because if you don’t, you’re gonna end up in debt, if you’re not already there,” he explained.
And that debt can increase other costs for newly-wed couples.
I talked to Ruth Liebman of Desjardins Financial Security Network. She helps people find any number of insurance options, which includes life insurance. When opting for life insurance, couples must cover all their debts.
“When we sit down with them to do insurance, and they want to cover off all their debts, they do carry over debt from the wedding and so they need an increased amount of coverage to cover everything off,” Liebman explained.
She pointed to societal pressure, where new couples want to keep up with what they see on TV or what other people do.
“I think that sometimes people get caught up in the moment, and so they want bigger better more lavish,” Liebmen said – and that means higher costs.
Liebman’s colleague, Cam Franzoi, managing director of the local Desjardins branch, encouraged couples to think long and hard about what they spend their hard-earned money on.
“I stayed within my means when I got married and I’d encourage anyone getting married to stay within their means. Why take on that debt if you don’t have to?” he said.
For couple Dennis and Taya, who are to be wed in October of this year, it’s financial assistance from their parents that will keep them out of the red.
“If we didn’t have help from our families, we would be going into debt, absolutely,” Taya said, adding the Odyssey gave them a chance to find cheaper options, even if the whole process is a little stressful.
I asked another couple, Jon and Karen, if they feel pressure to meet others’ expectations.
“If you fall into peer pressure or what society wants, then you’re stuck,” he said. “I could imagine, we’re a little bit older, someone who’s younger and more impressionable may have more idealistic dreams. We certainly don’t get caught up in that pressure.”
Karen added, “I think it’s up to the couple, you can have a very affordable wedding today, or you can go crazy.”
And that’s what I took away from the Odyssey – You can opt to spend the average $30,000 and plunge yourself into debt, but with all the options available, there’s no reason why you can’t celebrate holy matrimony without breaking the bank.
In the end, you can always just leave the country.
As I exit the Odyssey, I see Jason again.
This time he’s holding a brochure for destination weddings.