Weddings: RBC shows how to avoid debt

(NC ) — Engagements are exciting, but the wedding budget is the hard part. Today the average cost of a Canadian wedding is around $20,000, say specialists in this field.

The costs rack up quickly if spending is not tracked, or if interest charges pile up on credit cards. For example, deposits are typically required before the big day for the florist, the caterer, the venue, the band, the limo driver, the wedding planner and photographer. Then there are the wedding dress, tuxedo rentals, invitations, party favours, and cake to consider.

“Couples can have their dream wedding if they stick to a budget and find a realistic way to finance it,” says Richard Goyder, vice-president of personal lending for RBC. “Be honest about what you can afford and get advice from a financial advisor, so that you start your marriage on the right financial footing.”

Don't let unmanageable debt lead you to a lot of stress, he says. Being proactive and realistic about your spending habits before the wedding sets a good foundation if you plan to buy a house, start a family, and eventually enjoy retirement years together.

Goyder offers the following tips to help couples finance a wedding:

• Set a budget: Decide how much you can comfortably afford and stick to this number. Leave yourself with some wiggle room to handle unexpected costs.

• Consider methods of payment: Cash, credit cards, and personal loans are the most popular way for couples to finance their wedding. Consider consolidating your wedding expenses onto a single card to help you stay in control of your budget. Some cards allow helpful grace periods. For example, RBC tells us that the MyProject MasterCard works like a credit card for a purchase period of six months—and that is payment- and interest-free. After that, the card converts to a low-interest term loan with a structured payment plan.

• Be flexible: Expect to be faced with tough decisions on how much an item costs for your dream wedding. Prioritize needs and wants together with your fiancé and come to a compromise.

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