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Love can be a lot of things – blind, patient, kind, and, as it turns out, it’s expensive too.

According to the 2018 Cost of Love study, the cost of a relationship from the first date to the “I do’s” is $72,082.57, up 8% from last year. The sixth annual study calculated the average costs associated with a one-year dating period, a one-year engagement period, and a wedding. In fact, the big day alone, with a honeymoon to follow, averages $46,401 according to this year’s study. That’s almost two-thirds of the cost of love alone!

For rich or for poor

For the first time, we also polled Canadians to gauge how they felt about spending over $45,000 on a wedding. The survey found that 41% of respondents said they would never spend this much on a wedding, while 38% said this is a bit too expensive, 16% said this is a reasonable cost, and 5% said they would definitely spend more.

“When preparing for life’s milestones as a couple, like getting married and having a family, finances have to be considered,” said Janine White, Vice-President of Marketplaces at RATESDOTCA. “While spending $45,000 on a celebratory event may make sense to one of you, the other person may want to invest in a home. Financial priorities between a couple may differ, but it’s important to find common ground by creating a budget, making compromises, and finding ways to tackle debt together.”

When asked if they’d prefer to spend over $45,000 on a wedding or spend that money elsewhere, 45% of survey respondents said they'd rather use the money towards a down payment on a home. Only 6% said if they were engaged, they'd use that money towards a wedding.

Younger, single respondents were most likely to say if they were engaged, they would prefer to spend the money on a trip instead. Married respondents, on the other hand, were more likely to say they’d rather put the money towards a down payment.

Food and accessory prices on the rise

The year-over-year growth was mainly affected by slight surges in the cost of dating, as well as the wedding. The national rate of inflation (1.9%) could be a factor, in addition to the slowly strengthening loonie. Perhaps most notable, however, is the rising cost of bride attire and food.

While the average price of a wedding dress floats around $1,500, other items like accessories, shoes and a veil need to be considered. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicated a 2.5% increase in accessories and jewellery, a 1.7% increase in footwear, and an almost 3% increase in food prices between 2016 and 2017. In line with the CPI, the 2017 Canada Food Price Report out of Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph anticipated a 3% to 5% increase in the price of food early last year; while food purchased at restaurants was expected to increase by as much as 4%. As a result, dinner dates – from pizza chains to steakhouses – in addition to venue catering may have required extra cash.

So you found the one. But at what cost?

One Year of Dates = $12,417.77

12 Fancy Dates = $4,089.38 24 Casual Dates = $543.12 12 Movie Dates = $580.80 2 Weekend Getaways = $912.13 1 Beach Vacation = $3,281.50 Other Expenses (flowers, new wardrobe) = $3010.84

  • Nice dinners + theatre tickets
  • Average cost per date = $340.78
  • 12 takeout dinners + 12 coffee dates + year-long Netflix subscription
  • Average cost per date = $22.63
  • Movie tickets + concessions
  • Average cost per date = $48.40
  • One-night stay + $100 credit card bill
  • Average cost per getaway = $456.07
  • Seven-night stay at Caribbean resort + flight
  • Average cost per person = $1,640.75

One-Year Engagement = $13,263.80

  • Another year of dates = $5,213.30
  • Engagement ring = $4,957.25
  • Engagement party = $2,000
  • Other expenses (flowers, new wardrobe) = $1,093.25

Tying the Knot = $46,401

  • Bride Attire = $2,155
  • Groom Attire = $295
  • Ceremony venue = $2,653
  • Reception venue = $20,000
  • Other expenses (rings, flowers, entertainment, photography, stationary, etc.) = $18,266
  • Honeymoon = $3,032

Budgeting for your big day

The majority of survey respondents said they'd use their own money or savings to pay for the wedding (72%), though single respondents and those under 35 were more likely to say they’d ask their parents or family to help pay for the wedding. Almost half of survey respondents said they'd simply have a smaller wedding if they wanted to cut costs (48%), while 14% said they’d prefer to have a celebratory dinner with friends and family as a cheaper alternative. When asked if they would delay their wedding or simply not marry to avoid the cost of a wedding, one out of 10 agreed.

If wedding price tags are giving you cold feet, here are some steps you and your partner can take to subsidize the cost of love:

Make a financial plan along with your wedding plan

We may not be relationship experts, but we do know that if you plan on spending the rest of your life with someone, you should talk about money prior to the big day. Discuss your spending and savings habits, establish a joint budget, and create a dedicated savings plan. This way, you can manage any debt the two of you may already have, and avoid accumulating any more from wedding costs.

Reward yourself for coming this far

Once you’re engaged, apply for a rewards credit card that can earn cash back towards gas or groceries, or even points towards travel to help you pay for that honeymoon.

For example, with the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card, cardholders earn four Scotia Rewards points for every dollar they spend at gas stations, grocery stores, dining and entertainment experiences, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, merchandise, experiences, charitable donations, investments and more.

You can also earn 25,000 bonus points if you make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you pay off your balance in full at the end of each month to avoid paying interest charges.

Invest in a bright future together

If you’re looking forward to things like buying a house together and starting a family, you may want to look into high-interest savings options like GICs and TFSAs to give your savings a boost.

As a bonus, make an agreement to put all cash wedding gifts into your savings as well.

Check out how the Canadian Cost of Love has increased over the years: Cost of Love in Canada – 2017 Cost of Love in Canada – 2016 Cost of Love in Canada – 2015 Cost of Love in Canada – 2014.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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