Wedding planning is not for the faint of heart. Here are tips from a couple whose bank accounts survived.
1.) Defend your dream of a small wedding.
The biggest challenge we encountered was definitely culling the guest list. As a recovering people pleaser, it was challenging not to give in to the guilt of not inviting so-and-so. As a compromise, we invited more guests after our dinner. We found a tiny schoolhouse that we just adored so we had to keep it down to 65 people. We had an intimate ceremony, which felt genuine and sweet. My biggest worry was that it’d feel like a “performance on stage” but it was so natural and easy.
The schoolhouse we got married in on October 9, 2016
Cost of ceremony: $1150 including officiant fee + $100 violinist + $160 marriage license
2.) Ditch the banquet hall.
We held our dinner at an unassuming little Italian restaurant. They charged about $30 per head with no additional room fee. The basement was equipped with stereos so we played our own jams (no dj). If I could change one thing, we probably should’ve hired a dj because guests kept tampering with the playlist at the reception – blame beer – causing the songs to buffer. You live and learn! We still got compliments on our rocking playlist though.
We also had a cash bar. The way I see it, we don’t attend weddings for the promise of free booze – it’s about two people starting their lives together – and those who care similarly for us would feel the same.
Our dinner was gifted to us by one amazing person: someone I now get to call mom!
Our first dance, the garter toss and cutting our cake
Cost of dinner/reception: $3000 including gratuities and mic rental + $250 cake. Other desserts brought for free by family.
3.) DIY if you dare.
I loved creating all our quirky personalized wedding crafts. However, I was in between jobs and had time to spare. Be warned. DIY projects can take a bad turn, cost supplies, money, time and patience. Michael’s trips add up! If you’re finding yourself stressed out, it’s not worth it. Don’t be afraid to turn to those crafty Etsy vendors! I know I did instead of creating our own invitations, favors, or menus.
Choosing a literary and handmade wedding for our wedding theme kept our budget easy and fun to follow! We gave away old books as favors and turned some into centrepieces and wrote personalized typewritten notes as escort cards. We even made our own cake stand! As a bonus, people truly remember it
Cost of decor and flowers: $850
Etsy Stationery and match box favors: $200
4.) Buy second hand.
I was a bit of black sheep bride in a sense that looking for the perfect white dress was not really my top priority. I didn’t walk into a single bridal shop. I found a size 2 David’s Bridal dress on Kijiji for $200, which happened to be in my neighbourhood. It took another $130 to get the dress altered just perfectly. I wore my aunt’s pearl earrings and wore a hair comb I snagged for $15. My cousin did my makeup for free and I splurged a bit on getting my hair done.
No fair, all Cory had to do was get a haircut! He got his tux rental free as part of a Moores deal for bringing in his groomsmen.
5.) Consider other photography options
When looking up photographers, most of the affordable options out there start at $1500, which is totally cool if that’s within your reach. We simply opted for a $400 package from a trusted friend and professional (Jackie King) to cover the important parts of our ceremony. We got an engagement shoot thrown in too! We asked family members to take photos at the reception of the first dance, cake cutting, etc. and my sister gifted us a $450 three hour photobooth station. The guests went crazy over it!
Cost of photography: $850
6.) Ask for help
My sister and Cory’s grandma baked us lots of goodies. A dear friend made our gorgeous cake topper. One of the bridesmaids made the dresses. The father-in-law let us borrow his classic car as our getaway vehicle. A family member acted as our MC for the evening. My maid of honor’s mom (my second mom) fixed the length of my wedding dress. People came the day before to decorate. A groomsman picked up the cake to save us the delivery cost. A wedding is a big event and it’s important to let people help! They truly want to.
Cost: Free, plus lots of big hugs all around!
7.) Spoil your wedding party and help to make sure to keep their costs down too:
Ultimately blessed in the friendship department, we had a large wedding party. If you have a smaller group, you might save more. I bought all of my bridesmaid (and flower girl) dresses and shoes for $650 as a gift to my girls. The five groomsmen spent their fair share of dough spoiling the bachelor, flying in and suiting up so we gifted them with superhero cufflinks, a bullet bottle opener and sent them Visa gift cards in the mail as a humble thank you.
Cost of gifts: $1000
It was truly the most amazing day of our lives! Worth every penny. We got everything we could’ve ever wanted and more. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our friends and family. We are definitely rich in what counts: love.