I wrote posts throughout our wedding planning process detailing the decisions and options that went in to each choice. Many of the other posts have great ideas threaded through the comments, so be sure to check out the complete Wedding on a Budget series of posts. Below is a summary of my top 15 ideas.
I was a hard ass on keeping the whole thing to a reasonable figure, $7 000 was the number I tossed out and when all is paid out later this week we’ll have done it for closer to $5 000.
I did have some help from friends connected to various wedding services we needed, that helped cut down our costs considerably, but all of these tips are all valuable and easily executed by anyone getting married to save serious money.
Photos by Carolyn Egerszegi Photography. No Use Without Permission. All Rights Reserved.
1. LET’S DO LUNCH
By getting married at 11a, and having a luncheon wedding we cut down on many expenses all in one swoop.
First: lunch menus are cheaper than dinner menus.
Second: people don’t drink as much at lunch as they do at dinner.
Third: the party had to end by 3:30p because the venue was being used for an evening wedding, that cut down on the bill.
Fourth: no DJ. This isn’t a high school sock hop.
If the afternoon thing seems a little lame and you want to have a raucous party, you could always do a formal luncheon, cut out to do some photos and then reconvene at a friends house to do it up BYOB style.
2. NO KIDS
Sure, kids meals are cheaper than adult meals, but by eliminating children from your guest list you’re cutting about $10 a head off the list and saving all your guests the stress of chasing after little ones.
We approached all our guests with children (which was nearly all of them) and asked them individually how they felt about this. With a guest list that would have had 20 children under the age of 5 and only 50 adults, all our friends were grateful to have an adult afternoon. This is a wedding, not a birthday party.
3. GET MARRIED IN A PARK
Most parks offer free and easy to access for a wedding. Promise not to make a mess, or set out too many chairs, blast music or get in anyone’s way and you can have your 20 minute ceremony without any hassle (or cost).
Our Ferguson Point wedding in Stanley Park was right across the street from where we had the reception and at a perfect location for photos. Everything was in one place and we didn’t have to pay a facility fee. (things may be changing for weddings in Stanley Park)
By getting married in a beautiful park surrounded by sea, trees and flowers, you don’t have to pay for costly venue decorations that will be up for all of 20 minutes.
4. MAKE YOUR OWN WEDDING FAVOURS
We got married at The Teahouse. What goes better with tea than cookies? I asked my grandmother to make us cookies for a wedding gift. We placed them in hurricane lamps and had people take them when they left. The bags were simple brown paper bags we had our 2 yr old son decorate with finger paint. Personal and cute and just $5 for 100 bags.
5. STAY OUT OF THE WEDDING AISLE
When looking for decorations or supplies for your wedding, stay the heck away from anything labelled WEDDING. They see you coming a mile away and jack up the prices faster than you can say “I do!” Wander into the regular corners of your craft and decor store and you’ll find much better items in all the colours that are suitable for weddings, without the price tags.
For example, at Michaels you’ll pay $16 for 12 gift bags in the wedding aisle. Head over to the candy/party aisle and you can get 100 for $6.
6. SPREAD THE WORD
Use your social networks to ask for advice of your friends (both real and online). Having trouble finding a photographer? Put it in your Facebook profile and get input from the internet. Exploit your 6 degrees of separation. The web is how I found both my wedding photographer and celebrant.
7. HAVE YOUR RECEPTION AT A RESTAURANT
The decorations are built in, the tables are set up, the silverware and stemware match, the kitchen is up to speed. Restaurants get fresh flowers in each week and, honestly, there’s not much you need to do. You could leave it as is, and it would be beautiful.
8. CATER IT YOURSELF
The flip side of the restaurant wedding, is having it in a big hall. Much like I had my grandmother bake the cookies for favours, I’ve heard stories of weddings that had nanas doing the food or everyone going pot luck style. A hall with a kitchen will give you the flexibility to freestyle on the food.
I took a photo of the Eiffel Tower the day we got married. I dropped it into iPhoto with my MacBook and made 50 copies of the postcard with the wedding invitation on the back. They were all personal and done with ease for about $1 each.
10. GET A FREE WEBSITE
Instead of printing up guides for your guests coming to town, and maps of the venue and having reply cards in your invites, you can create a free website/blog and have your guests interact with you there. WordPress and Blogger are two of the easiest free options. Simply get brideandgroom.wordpress.com or hisandhers.blogspot.com and included it on your invitations. Google Docs has an easy to use form that will populate your RSVPs in a spreadsheet so you can track food allergies and replies as they come in.
The website will also let you post fun videos, photos and blog entries as you’re planning the wedding.
If the website is too complicated, and all your guests are on Facebook, you could even simply create a Facebook Event page for your wedding and have everyone invited and RSVP that way.
11. GET THE FLOWERS AT A GROCERY
We had our flowers done at Whole Foods. And they were BEYOND gorgeous. Florists were quoting us at near $200 for a bridal bouquet, Whole Foods got it done closer to $75. Jen brought in a photo of the bouquet she wanted from a magazine, and they matched it perfectly. Our entire floral cost was $350. That included 10 centerpieces, 8 corsage / bouts and the bridal bouquet and they were all beyond stunning.
Jen wanted to walk over a path of petals when she entered the park. We had the store save the dying and wilted flowers they couldnt sell and they ripped the heads off for $5 a HUGE bag. Done.
12. DON’T GET A CAKE
If you get the right menu at the restaurant, dessert is often included in the meal. The cake is just there for show, and nobody ever remembers what it looks like. If you really want to have the cutting ceremony, then just walk up to a high end grocer or baker and pull out of their cooler the day before the wedding. I found a beautiful 7″ coconut cake for $25 at Whole Foods.
13. DON’T HAVE A WEDDING PARTY
Nobody really wants to wear a sea foam green dress and get their shoes dyed to match. By eliminating the wedding party, not only do you remove the cost of frivolous dresses, but you also cut down on flower costs since they don’t need corsages. I’m not saying you shouldnt have bridesmaids, or a best man, but does everyone really need to be so matchy matchy? Let them wear what they want when they stand beside you.
14. LIMIT THE GUEST LIST
55 people. That’s all we had. Closest of friends, a few cousins and family. That’s it. There’s no need to invite colleagues, clients, friends of friends, people from high school, etc etc. We kept the list tight to the people who are the most important and it kept the costs down.
15. DITCH THE TUX
Renting can have it’s place at a wedding to cut down costs, but when you look at whether or not you can re-use things after the wedding, sometimes buying is better. For our wedding chairs, we bought 8 from Ikea that will double as patio chairs when we have barbecues, or extra seating at Christmas dinner. For my suit, we bought a new shirt and tie and had one of my older suits tailored. All those for the same cost as renting an outfit, but this is one I get to keep and wear again
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