Plan a Wedding on a Budget: 7 things to Consider, plus 18 ways to save!

Janet Doyle

Dec 17, 2019

According to TheKnot.com, the average couple spends $29,450 on their wedding. Even attending a wedding typically costs $888 while members of the wedding party can expect to pay well over $1000 to be a part of the big day. Given the high cost of the celebrations, it’s easy to see how many people go into debt for their wedding.

Money can often be a hard topic for couples to address, so many couples end up avoiding it. Business Insider reports that 45% of couples don’t discuss debt before getting engaged, and 76% of those who went into debt for their wedding fought about expenses. Unfortunately, almost half of all newlyweds who found about money considered getting a divorce – not the ideal start to married life.

Before you start shopping it’s best to talk with your partner about how much you want to spend Here’s how to approach your wedding as a team:

1.       Decide on what parts of the wedding are important to each of you: do you want to focus on food or photos? Decide up front what your priorities are, and then you’ll have a guideline as to where you can cut costs and where you can splurge.

2.       A smaller guest list is the best way to trim costs from the beginning; at an average of $200 per person, you can save $2000 by removing 5 potential guests (and their dates!).  

3.       Another option to save is to invite friends and close family to the ceremony and extend the invite to additional guests for the reception.

4.       Look for discounts online: Weddingwire.ca has a number of offers that will save you 10-20% on the venue, makeup, and/or hair services.

5.       When requesting quotes, use the word “Event” or “Celebration” instead of “Wedding”. Many companies charge more for wedding related services.

6.       Watch out for hidden costs: In addition to the costs you might not have thought of, you’ll want to look over the details of every contract before signing. You may be surprised by things like postage, the marriage license fee, or dress alterations. Additionally, many wedding vendors include hidden fees in their contract for things like delivery, setup, overtime, or equipment rentals, so make sure you

7.       Don’t forget to be mindful of your friends’ budgets; dresses, events, and parties can put undue stress on your friends. Keep the focus on the celebration and allow your friends to cut costs by choosing their own dress, doing their own hair and makeup, and hosting parties close to home to cut back on travel expenses.

Once you’ve got your priorities sorted out, you can decide where you want to cut costs:

Date

  • December and January are typically the least popular months for weddings, meaning venues have more availability and more room to negotiate.
  • Saturday is by far the most common day to have a wedding, but you can save thousands of dollars by booking on a Sunday or a non-weekend day.

Invites & Printing Costs

  • Digital invites are an affordable and popular option, and it’s a much simpler process than traditional mailouts for you and your guests.
  • Homemade invitations are an affordable option, but even with a DIY design you are still responsible for printing and mailing costs.
  • If you do print invites, instead of printing individual invites, itineraries, and maps, create one trifold containing all of the important details instead of printing individual cards to save a significant amount on printing costs.
  • Traditional weddings offer each person a printed program and menu, but you can save money (and time!) by creating one big program and/or menu at the entrance.

Fashion & Beauty:

  • Bridal gowns can be incredibly expensive, but you can find beautiful dresses at a fraction of the cost by buying a sample or used wedding dress; opt for a slightly larger size for alterations to fit.
  • Consider doing your makeup instead of hiring a professional; professionals often charge for a trial run as well as the day of, which can add up to well over $100.
  • Look into makeup and hair schools where you can find students who are willing to charge less as they build a portfolio of their work.

Venue:

  • To cut back on costs significantly, get creative and select a location for the ceremony that doesn’t cost anything. Popular options include a backyard, beach or a park, and they can make for an incredibly beautiful backdrop.
  • To further cut back on costs, you can opt for a standing ceremony to forgo chair rentals. Some restaurants will allow you to use their space if you meet a minimum amount of food sales; so, reach out to your favourite restaurant, a brewery, or coffee shop to see what they can offer you.

Food & Drink:

  • When choosing your menu, explore different options with your caterer such as a buffet instead of sit-down dinner service or family style service.
  • You can often save by opting for a non-traditional, lighter meal such as brunch or lunch.
  • With the popularity of food trucks, consider hiring one to cater your event and provide a unique, hip experience that will make your wedding meal memorable. 
  • Don’t feel the need to offer an open bar; offer beer and wine only, or a free cocktail hour followed by a cash bar. If you are renting a venue, see if you can stock the bar yourself and buy in bulk.
  • While traditional wedding usually features a multi-tiered cake to cut and share with guests Cut a small cake for tradition and serve a sheet cake for guests to eat.

Decorations:

  • Flowers are often a significant part of the décor budget, you can save by invest in a florist for the most-photographed flowers (the bride’s bouquet and head-table arrangements), and DIY the rest.
  • If you aren’t feeling inspired, peruse Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace for wedding décor; often there are brides that have bought decorations they no longer need that you can pick up for a bargain.

Entertainment & Music:

  • Look for a local music school where you can inquire whether students or teachers would be available to play.

Many couple choose to forego the DJ and create a playlist of music on their own, making it much more personalized. Rent a speaker setup and a mic and have your MC manage the music. To get an idea of what you’ll need for music, consider the following moments:

  • Pre-ceremony seating music
  • Processional (parents, bridal party)
  • Processional (bride)
  • Recessional
  • Cocktails and dinner
  • First dance
  • Parent dances (father/daughter, mother/son)
  • General reception

With some thoughtful planning you can have an incredible celebration without going into debt or spending your life savings.