When it comes to saying I do, love isn’t all you need. When the average cost of a wedding in Canada is $30,000, tying the knot requires a big financial commitment, if you’re going the traditional route. There’s no doubt about it: weddings are expensive. We share 9 tips to save money on your wedding.
1. Wear something borrowed
Have you heard of the traditional wedding saying, something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new? Said to bring good luck, borrowing an important item to wear on your big day is both sentimental and cost effective. Whether you’re sporting your mom’s vintage dress or grandma’s ring, these tokens of love represent the happiness that will continue on through your new family. You may even be able to score a gorgeous vintage dress or rent a designer piece for the night –as long as it’s pre-owned, it counts!
2. Take your time
If you’re not in a rush to hit the altar, you’ll have time to shop around for the best deals. Find the perfect venue, dress, and videographer on your own time, once you’ve had a chance to browse different shops and price-compare. A longer engagement period will allow you to look for wedding dress sales and coupons for stationary like save-the-dates and thank-you cards. You’ll be able to secure services like caterers and photographers at a set price that won’t go up by the time your big day comes. Plus, you’ll have more time to save up money to put towards your wedding. On the other hand, having a shot gun wedding means you’ll have less time to dwell over the details. The shorter time line won’t let you be too elaborate. Instead, you’ll be focusing on the important things like you and your fiancé!
3. Hire the right people
Everything from invitations to DJs are more expensive when you mention the W-word. Find a freelancer or talented young professional just starting off in their field, whether it’s a photography student or young chef. Ask around for recommendations and review portfolios before committing. You may even find you have a master pastry chef in your network, or learn that the 1000 photo package is way too much. Recent brides are your best resource.
4. Choose an off-peak time
Saturdays are the most popular days for weddings, but Fridays and Sundays can work just as well. Work around a long weekend to accommodate a Sunday night wedding, or opt for a trendy Friday night bash. For something different, plan an elegant daytime reception or brunch, or even a cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres. You’ll come across lower prices when there’s less competition for specific dates. Plan for November or January-March (not including Valentine’s Day), when wedding season slows down. Remember to also take advantage of seasonal sales like buying bridesmaid dresses around prom season and red decor after Christmas.
5. Choose the right venue
Non-traditional wedding venues like gardens, museums, and restaurants can save on costs -- but keep in mind, spaces that aren’t equipped for parties will require necessities like tables and chairs. Some people look for venues that don’t require you to use their own caterers, so you can find one that suits your budget. Others prefer having a reception at a restaurant so you pay for the food and drink without the added cost of a space. Consider having your ceremony and reception at the same place to save on your wedding. If you have out of town guests, getting married in a hotel will save on limo costs and possibly earn you a discount on room rates. You can also consider unique locations like the courthouse (you can still wear a fancy dress and invite guests!), your university campus (they usually have stunning backdrops), or renting a lovely house or villa in the countryside (where you can hire a caterer and have a low-key party). Look for a venue that is beautiful the way it is. That way, you can save on decor and extra frillings. Consider a garden so you won’t need extra flowers, or opt for a December wedding when places are already decorated for the holidays.
6. Beach, anyone?
A destination wedding can actually be much less expensive than a traditional one. You’ll pay a couple thousand dollars per person for your resort stay (sometimes the bride and groom cover the hotel cost for any guests). Keep in mind, your guest list may be shorter, and some guests may not be able to attend due to financial reasons and time off work, but your costs will be lower and the scenery will be breathtaking. You’ll also get to save on a lightweight wedding dress, and since resorts are all-inclusive, you won’t have a large liquor bill. Cheers to that!
Many brides are surprised at how costly flowers can be. Choose a flower that’s in season and local so the florist doesn’t have to import it. Use one kind to limit your costs, and don’t rule out the grocery store or wholesaler -- it’s much cheaper than using a florist. If you’re crafty, you can buy flowers from a wholesaler and put them together yourself. You can also use artificial flowers or make paper ones. Some people skip the flowers all together and use other decor like books or lanterns to decorate their venue.
8. Forgo the wedding cake
These usually go uneaten anyway. Your guests want dessert after dinner, but it doesn’t have to be a cake worth hundreds of dollars. Unless you’re set on the typical wedding cake toppers and photos, another sweet alternative will do just fine. If you don’t need an elaborate cake, consider alternatives like cupcakes or something more creative like a candy or ice cream bar. Tiered cakes are very expensive -- the more height, the more money. Eliminate the frills like fondant and sugar flowers and decorate with something non-edible like real flowers or ribbon. You can opt for a home baker to make one for you or have a small cake for display and a larger sheet cake in the kitchen to serve.
9. Go DIY
This is where you get to be creative, save money, and really shine. The easiest way to save money on your wedding is to do it yourself! Make your own invitations with calligraphy for a personal touch. Have a friend act as your DJ or make your own playlist. Create your own centerpieces from flowers from the supermarket, candles, or items themed to your wedding like books, fruit, or branches. For party favours, make a treat like your family’s famous cookies, or skip the favours all together and note that you’ve made a donation to charity. Whatever you choose to stand out, your guests will always remember your wedding with character.
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