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Smart Cookies

Saying 'I do' can cost up to $30,000 Add to ...

The average couple tying the knot today can expect a price tag between $20,000 and $30,000, according to MyCanadianWedding.com. Some couples will choose to cover the full cost, while others will rely on help from parents to make their dream day a reality.

It's okay to ask for help, says Anna Post, wedding etiquette expert at The Emily Post Institute, but you should "always, always schedule the conversation. Don't just spring it on your parents."

Let them know well in advance that you're hoping to sit down and talk about the budget for the wedding. This will give them a chance to think about how, or if, they can help.

Couples also need to be clear about what they will be bringing to the table - and have a realistic idea of what the wedding day will look like and cost. Create an inspiration board or come with visuals of a venue, theme and other important components of the event. TheKnot.com has an online calculator to determine what your vision will cost.

After creating your wedding wish list, consider asking your parents to contribute to areas you know are important to them. If your fiancé's parents are foodies, they might be more inclined to contribute to the meal; if your parents are all about the bridal gown, the band and the bevvies, they might prefer to spend on those areas.

Even if you plan to pick up the entire tab, having the conversation is still a good idea, Ms. Post says. Your parent may be set on contributing for reasons other than financial.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at globeinvestor.com .

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