It’s common knowledge that a wedding is the most expensive party most people will ever throw.

Diamond rings made from gemstones mined from the Northwest Territories are a popular purchase. photo courtesy of Kennady Diamonds

Every little part of a wedding – from the venue right down to the invitations – is going to cost money. And these costs add up quickly.

The expected cost of a wedding in Canada in 2015 was $30,717, according to a Wedding Bells magazine survey – and one of the priciest items couples purchase for a wedding is an engagement ring.

Last year, the rate comparison website RateSupermarket.ca pegged the average price of an engagement ring to be $4,957.25.

In general, men are encouraged to spend at two or even three months salary on the engagement ring but where does that leave grooms who don’t necessarily want to spend a fortune?

“It is kind of a good rule because it keeps the guys from cheaping out,” joked Patricia

Caffet, director of the NWT Diamond Centre.

“But I personally don’t like it because some people are just starting out and they can’t afford it,” she said. “They have small children at home. They need diapers, they need milk and they’re also spending on a wedding.”

Caffet said there are ways to save money when buying an engagement ring.

The NWT Diamond Centre offers a layaway option where the buyer can pay a down payment and then take six months or more to pay off the purchase.

In addition, you can compromise on some of the four C’s that determine the value of a diamond (cut, color, clarity and carat).

“You can sacrifice any one of those four things in order to enhance another area to keep the price relatively stable,” explained Caffet.

If you’re willing to sacrifice clarity – a measure of the imperfections in a stone, which are often invisible to the naked eye – you can save some money.

The most sought-after diamonds are colourless, which means yellow, blue or green gems can be more affordable.

“If you’re looking for size then you can go down in colour and go down in the clarity as well and get a much larger stone,” said Caffet.

In terms of shape, regular round diamonds are the most expensive so there are savings to be had if you go for oval, heart-shaped or a princess cut diamonds.

“Everyone’s preferences are different and there are many ways to work around that,” said Caffet.

Fact file: Highlights from the 2015 Wedding Bells magazine survey:

  • The average age of Canadian brides was 30.
  • The average number of wedding guests was 129.
  • More than one in four women chose their engagement ring before becoming engaged.
  • Forty per cent of engaged brides thought pre-nuptial agreements were a good idea.
  • Twenty-three per cent of weddings occurred in August.
  • Seventy-five per cent of brides agreed that they were likely to spend more than anticipated on their wedding.

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