Recession didn’t ruin big weddings in the GTA: party experts

Sarina Adamo

September 24, 2009

It cost the Gaudio* (name has been changed :ed.) family of Woodbridge, Ont. $27,000 for a banquet hall that fits up to two hundred people, $5,000 for photographers, $3,000 for a videographer and $1,000 for an antique Rolls Royce rental to carry their daughter from home to her church wedding.

“I’d like to thank Visa, MasterCard and American Express for graciously sponsoring this wonderful day,” joked Giuseppe Gaudio*( name has been changed: ed.), a successful wine store owner and father of the bride, in his September 13 speech.

The guests laughed, but wedding experts say his big credit card bills are proof that the recession isn’t a factor for many couples who planned to tie the knot in the GTA this year.

According to weddingbells.ca, an online poll done in early 2009 of 1,344 engaged couples showed that the expected average cost of a Canadian wedding was $19,274, slightly higher than the 2008 average of $19,038 and the 2007 average of $17,300.  The Gaudio wedding fell into the 32% of couples who relied upon their families to help them financially.

Forty six percent of those couples pooled their savings together to pay for their wedding.  Surprisingly, only 16% of those polled would take out a loan to pay for their wedding.

“If someone likes something, the budget changes,” said Summer Varty, the owner of Summer V Incorporated which specializes in wedding, special events and travel co-ordination.

At the Sept. 13 wedding, 28 dozen white rose bouquets were set in front of the entrance of the bride’s home to decorate her path toward the waiting Rolls-Royce.  The reception centerpieces were covered in Swarovski crystals and every guest received a solid silver, engraved dessert server as a take-home appreciation gift.

Varty said that most $30,000 venues are already booked for every Saturday during the 2010 summer wedding season.

“People are still having weddings,” said Paolo Deluca, a maître d’ at Le Jardin Conference and Event Centre in Woodbridge.  “Eighty percent of people plan at least a year in advance so they don’t normally change their minds.”

The other 20% of couples are those that need have a rushed wedding initiated by pregnancy or other challenges.

Weddingbells.ca reports the average Canadian wedding size currently is 140 guests, so are people are downsizing their party size due to the poor economy?

“No, we’re just as busy as last year,” Deluca said.  “I had six weddings to run last night, the smallest was 150 and the largest was just over 300 people.”

According to Varty, all of the weddings she has planned this year have been under 250 guests.

“The budgets haven’t changed much,” Varty added. “The couples are more concerned about saving money by not hiring a wedding planner rather than the $30, 000 venues they just booked.”

She explained that some grooms might find spending $7,000 on floral arrangements is unnecessary “but when they see the final product they realize it was all worth it.”

There are frugal brides who do “stick to their ways,” Varty said. But there are other brides who have an unlimited budget for the wedding they have been dreaming about since they were young.

The wedding ceremony includes vows to commit to stand by each other for richer or for poorer. Experts have a word of advice for those who have wed during the recession of 2009: remember these vows when the credit card bills with high interest rates arrive around the same time your honeymoon ends!

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