Tips to Help You Plan a Stylish but Budget-Friendly Wedding

Choose an off-beat ceremony site then offer nibbles and bubbly afterwards to celebrate!

Not all couples have the luxury of a large budget for their wedding, while others simply don’t want to land themselves in debt. Whatever your reasons for wanting to plan a budget-friendly wedding, know that it can still be stylish and memorable. Here are some of my best tips for keeping your wedding finances under control:

Watch that guest list

Once you start creating your guest list, it can be easy to go overboard but if you’re planning a budget-friendly wedding, you’re going to have to be a little more discerning about who to invite. I suggest creating separate lists of who MUST be at your wedding, and who you would like you have at your wedding. You could even make a third list of people you could invite to arrive after the dinner to keep your food costs down.

HERE is a blog I wrote about managing your wedding B-List.

Choose a weekday or off-peak weekend

Vendors often have lower prices for off-peak dates and times. I offer a 5-minute ceremony in jeans and a sweater at lunch time during the week and on Saturday mornings – and yes, quite a few people choose this option when their goal is simply to get married!

Willing to be my last wedding on a peak Saturday? I often have couples who are thrilled to have me stop at their backyard bbq on my way home from a day of weddings for a quick casual ceremony. Work with my schedule and you might even get a wee discount!

Look for a non-traditional ceremony site

I have been so so many different locations for ceremonies over the years and the post popular is the forest! Bring in your own decor and chairs and voila – instant magic! Don’t forget to check with the conservation authority or municipality for the rules around using the forest.

Second place goes to bridges! I have performed dozens of weddings on bridges all over southern Ontario and they always make for really cool photos!

Beaches – just make sure you tell everyone involved to wear beach appropriate shoes!

Local parks! There are thousands of them to choose from and getting married in a park can pretty much guarantee people will stop to watch then cheer for your when your big kiss happens!

AirBnBs are also a popular venue for small weddings and you only need to walk steps to fall into bed at the end of your celebrations!

Ask for help instead of gifts

If you have a few talented friends who could possibly help you with aspects such as a cake or your floral arrangements, find out if they would be willing to help you instead of giving you a gift for your wedding.

Keep in mind though, just because your friend has a talent for making adorable birthday cakes doesn’t mean they will have a clue how to make a wedding cake! Same goes with your friend who likes to arrange flowers or take photos, or your friend who is always the life of the party and wants to be your officiant – I have heard all the horror stories from couples who told me hiring their friend ended up costing them more than if they had just hired a professional. Only ask your friend(s) if they have experience and skills in the wedding arena – this way you will know for sure they know what they are doing!

HERE is a blog I wrote about what NOT to DIY for your wedding!

Simplify your décor

Yes, your décor will help bring your vision to life but people tend to remember the food and the atmosphere far more than what you had on your tables, so simplify wherever you can – this includes your flowers. There is nothing wrong with using fake greenery on your tables, arch, and bouquets and then filling them in with fresh flowers from your local florist. Just make sure you have someone with lots of experience creating them for you the day before your wedding – and this should not be someone who is in your wedding party!

Search your local Facebook wedding groups for items being sold from recent weddings – buy them, use them then sell them yourself! Thrift stores are also a great place to find very cool decor items you will be able to sell later on!

Look around your how for items you can upcycle – grab a can of spray paint and spruce up old furniture, vases, jars…anything really!

Simplify the music

I don’t recommend doing this for a big formal wedding, but if you are having a casual backyard style wedding make your own playlist and have 1 person in charge of music for your ceremony and reception. Just make sure they know to coordinate with your Officiant to make sure they know the cues for each moment of your ceremony.

Make your own invitations

I remember when I was getting married just how hard it was to find exactly what I wanted for my invitations. I had a vision and I wasn’t budging from it. I wasn’t willing to choose from a catalogue at the printing shop, not that printing shops were easy to find even back then, so I spent my Saturdays walking around Toronto in search of stationers that sold all the matching items I needed – invitation cards, rsvp cards, envelopes, velum etc etc. I brought everything home and my husband and I designed the text, and printed every single piece that was needed to create our full invitation package.

I wrapped each invitation card in velum, tied a tartan ribbon around it, then sealed it with a silver wax seal (really it was silver hot glue which is a way better option because it wont crack in the mail!). In the end I was thrilled with how our invitations turned out and we got soooo many compliments and people asking where we got them.

This was when Martha Stewart was just becoming huge and the DIY wedding market didn’t really exist. Now it is so easy to order everything you need online and get to work with your design and home printer! I know there are multiple websites where you can design everything yourself – just make sure you have someone proof it for you before you print just in case there are any typos or omissions.

Stock your bar yourself

If your venue will allow you to bring your own alcohol, stock the bar yourself to save on costs. If you are having your wedding on private property like your own backyard, keep your bar options to a short list so you don’t end up with bottles with on drink out of them by the end of the night. Don’t forget – you can return bottles that have the seal intact!

Look out for sales

As you start your search for your wedding and bridesmaid dresses, keep an eye and ear out for sales. If you can, buy dresses off the rack to save on costs. It’s always a good idea to be thinking a year ahead for your decor as well – if you have an Autumn themed wedding, check the sales at craft stores in October and November the year before and pick up your items for sometimes 80% off! Same goes for a Christmas theme – hit those Boxing Day sales!

Rent the suits

Instead of your groom buying a brand new suit, consider renting it instead. You can save a lot of extra money by doing this. There are several suit rental stores in every part of the city and you will find lots of options for colours and fits to suit all of the guys in your wedding party.

DIY as much as you can

Again, if you have lots of décor ideas that you love, decide what you can create yourself on a budget. Rope in your creative friends – they will definitely want to help – don’t forget to feed them!

I have been part of quite a few making parties in the months leading up to weddings. They are always lots of fun and it’s a nice way for the girls (and sometimes guys!) to spend an evening chatting and getting to know each other. I have rolled and tied beeswax candles, ties thousands of bows, cut out stars to be strung up, made labels, buttons, and stickers….and made signs, folded programs, and assembled fans for those August weddings when the air is like pea soup!

Make it fun and festive and don’t forget to send a thank you card to everyone who helped!

Contact a local school about music

If you love the idea of having live music during your ceremony, contact your local university, college, or high school to find out whether any students would be willing to play for a reduced fee. There are so many talented musicians out there just waiting for their big moment! All the music teachers in your town will know who their top students are and who is ready for a professional gig.

Need a piper? Contact your local legion and police department, they both often have their own pipe bands!

Hire a family-owned restaurant

Instead of searching for a wedding caterer, you may want to consider hiring a smaller, family-owned restaurant to assist you on the day. Just make sure that your venue allows offsite caterers. Being in a small town myself, I often run into our local restaurant owners and chefs at backyard and farm weddings as it’s a great way for them to showcase their food to your guests, and get them coming in to the restaurant after your wedding as well! Win-Win!

Food trucks are always a great option – just make sure you have enough of them to feed all of your guests quickly!

Get a credit cards that gives you reward points

I have a travel credit card and pay all of my business expenses with it – I earn enough points to put a big dent in the bills when I pay them each month. Paying for all of your wedding expenses on one card will help you keep track easily and you can celebrate every time yo pay for your wedding with points!

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