Adjusting to the “new normal” of the pandemic means life goes on. And major life events, like getting married, are still a go.
So how might COVID-19 impact your big day?
While the pandemic may complicate planning, it can’t stop you from throwing a beautiful wedding.
“There are a lot of creative ways to still make the wedding happen if you keep an open mind,” says Carmen Luk, the lead wedding planner at Devoted To You in Toronto.
Sure, your wedding may not look exactly how you envisioned it. But smart planning can make your vows memorable for you and your loved ones. Here’s what to do.
1. Create a pandemic-friendly wedding budget
Budgeting is a key part of planning any wedding, but it’s especially important if the pandemic has impacted your finances. Fortunately, some aspects of the pandemic make it easier to save for your wedding.
Due to the pandemic, you’ve likely already cut back on gasoline, travel and entertainment. So, you can direct those savings right into your wedding fund. You can also try to trim other household costs, like your grocery bill, to boost your savings.
2. Use your TFSA funds to help pay for your wedding
Do you have a tax-free savings account (TFSA)? It’s a savings plan that allows you to hold various investments. The big perk is that you won’t have to pay any tax on the money growing in your TFSA – even when you withdraw funds.
And, you can use the money in it at any time, for any reason. So why not use it cover some of your wedding costs? With a TFSA, you can put whatever you take out this year back into your account the following year. So it can continue to grow to help pay for your next big-ticket expense.
Don’t have a TFSA? Canadians, age 18 and up, can set one up at any time. The sooner you have a TFSA, the sooner you can start growing your money for your wedding, your dream home or anything that’s important to you.
- Need help getting your finances on track? Talk to an advisor to help you develop a realistic budget and savings plan. (Most advisors now offer to meet Clients virtually.)
3. Talk to a lawyer about your wedding contracts and a pre-nup
You may not have envisioned a lawyer as part of your wedding planning team. But Luk says consulting one can be especially important during the pandemic. Why? Because we’re living in a time where lingering uncertainty or changing regulations could disrupt your plans.
“A lawyer can tell you what happens, and what your financial obligations are, if the wedding needs to be postponed or doesn’t happen,” she explains. “It helps you understand what you’re signing up for.”
A lawyer can help you understand your rights. For example, your contract may allow you to transfer the wedding to another date. This way, you can adapt your plans to the pandemic without losing your deposit.
There’s also the consideration of getting a pre-nuptial agreement, also known as “the marriage contract.” A lawyer can set up a marriage contract* that outlines things like division of assets and spousal support.
Do you have kids from a previous relationship? You may want your children to inherit some of those assets, instead of your spouse. Depending on your province, a lawyer can draft a prenup* that ensures those assets aren’t considered joint property if your marriage doesn’t work out.
(*Please note that in Quebec, only notaries can set up a marriage contract.)
It’s also important to have a will in place if you want your children to receive your inheritance instead of your new spouse. A lawyer can properly draft your will and ensure that your concerns are addressed.
Look at it this way: a wedding lets you hope for the best and a prenup lets you prepare for the worst. So while a prenup doesn’t sound romantic, it’s a realistic way to give you and your partner some clarity and peace of mind – in case you both choose to separate.
4. Be flexible about your wedding reception
A vaccine on the horizon brings hope that weddings can go back to normal in the coming years, but some flexibility will help you hold a gorgeous wedding now.
Are you thinking of having a medium-size crowd, say 25 guests or more? Then you may want to plan an outdoor wedding in the warmer months, since outdoor venues have higher guest limits. “Or, consider separate evening and afternoon receptions, if your budget allows,” Luke advises, “This way, you can safely host double the guests.”
What if you’re on a tighter budget and you’re willing to sacrifice some customization? “Look at micro-wedding packages – pop up-style ceremonies that typically allow up to 10 guests,” recommends Luk. “It shares the cost [with other couples] and offers peace of mind, because you choose your package and everything’s included.”
5. Take your wedding celebration online
“Streaming your nuptials online was the wedding trend during the pandemic,” Luk says. “ And it’s the easiest way to celebrate with loved ones around the world.”
You can hire a videographer who can both stream your wedding and edit it into a video afterward. Or, you can choose a wedding package with live streaming included.
Make your ceremony feel personal by keeping the link private and inviting your guests to RSVP, just like they would for an in-person reception. And consider mailing out wedding favours or celebration boxes. This way, your loved ones have a keepsake from your wedding.
Focus on the future
We’ll be honest: a small-but-special wedding celebration may not replace the big wedding of your dreams, and it’s OK to feel a little let down. So look to the silver lining: the money left over in your budget, thanks to your smaller wedding.
Put those funds toward some equally-exciting goals, like the down payment on your first home. Or stow them away to fund your dream vacation once the pandemic ends. After all, the wedding is just the start of your life together. And, no matter what, your wedding budget will help you make beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.
This article is meant to only provide general information. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada does not provide legal, accounting, taxation, or other professional advice. Please seek advice from a qualified professional, including a thorough examination of your specific legal, accounting and tax situation.