When we got engaged we were already extremely in debt, and struggling to survive in a city we couldn’t really afford to live in. I was still in University and Devan was making decent money but we were drowning in debt. We knew our wedding wasn’t going to be over the top, however I was determined that through a little hard work and a little creativity, we could have an absolutely beautiful wedding on a budget. Now this may not be possible for everyone, but it’s all about who you know and making the most of your resources and creativity. Do you know someone that owns a bistro or is in the catering business? Perhaps you know someone who lives on an acreage or a farm that has a beautiful piece of land. My saving grace was that I had a lot of people around me who knew what they were doing and were willing to help me cut corners in every way possible. Everything you see here was pretty much hand-made with lots of TLC. So here are my tips for having a beautiful budget-friendly wedding.
Typically, I would say this could be one of the larger costs for a wedding, and in our case it was. However, I had my eye set on Whonnock Lake Centre in Maple Ridge, BC from the day that I moved to Maple Ridge. It was exactly what I envisioned – a rustic hall overlooking a beautiful lake in the woods. I figured that having the perfect space would make it so I didn’t need to do a whole lot to decorate (saving me money in the end). There are definitely ways to budget for a venue though. Consider looking up farms in your area that rent out their property for weddings, or if you know someone who has a nice property, that’s even better! Just remember, a simple space can become whatever you want it to be through a little love.
This is one area we definitely budgeted on. Part of the reason we chose our venue is because they let you bring in your own caterer, and all of your own booze. We found a caterer that had amazing reviews for $22/person. If that’s still a little to steep for your budget, consider having only close family and friends for dinner or have pass-around appetizers instead. Come from a big family? I guarantee you can round up some aunts to make an amazing feast. For our cocktail hour and midnight lunch, my mom and her sisters made all of the food ahead of time which included pulled pork sandwiches for our midnight lunch! So good!
This is where your creativity really has to kick-in and I can guarantee Pinterest and Michaels will be your best friends. My bridesmaids, my mom and I pretty much hand-crafted the majority of our decorations (with the help of Devan). We rented our chair covers and table cloths from a local company that had fairly good prices. (Tip: hit the wedding shows and often you will get a coupon for décor rentals and services). Our wedding had a caesar bar, a trail mix bar and a s’mores bar which were all a huge hit, and fairly cheap to do! We made our own table numbers, seating chart, centerpieces, flower arrangements, and did all of our own set-up and take down. Note: if you can’t access your venue the day before, you will have to have a team in place to do your set-up on the morning of. I was lucky enough to have several friends and family members who made this possible.
Ok so this is one area where I really lucked out. My mom and my Aunt owned a bridal shop together for years when I was young, and luckily my Aunt still owns the bridal shop today. I was able to get a great deal on a beautiful dress. Don’t know someone in the industry? Try looking on wedding buy and sell sites on Facebook, or discount bridal shops in your city.
Luckily, my cousin is crazy talented and just happens to be a professional photographer in Vancouver. If you’re in the Vancouver area and looking for a photographer, check her out! http://www.sarahjanemphotography.com/
My mother is a SAINT! She made all of our bouquets, boutonnieres and floral arrangements herself! We simply ordered the flowers from a local wholesaler and they were delivered to our house 2 days before the wedding, allowing her to make the arrangements ahead of time. I am so happy with the way they turned out!!
My beautiful friend and bridesmaid made our cake and cupcakes by hand. Another friend of ours made this beautiful cake stand to display them. See! It’s all about utilizing the talents of those around you. 😉
Other things to consider
- Need a wedding coordinator to help with the day of? Check out wedding coordinator programs in your area and you might find there are some students who want to build their portfolio for free!!
- We got a great deal on a DJ but you could always opt to just use an ipod or have your friend’s band play at your wedding.
- Limo services? We planned on renting 2 large SUV’s instead for the wedding party, but due to a mix-up with the rental company, we ended up piling into my friends crossover. No big deal and I’m glad we didn’t end up wasting the money on this.
- Bartenders – if you’re able to bring in your own booze, you will likely need to hire a bar tending company or have someone you know run your bar. Just make sure it’s someone you trust!
- Gifts for the wedding party – Etsy was my best friend on this one. I purchased hand made clutches for the girls, and filled them with things they may need for the day-of, including Kleenex, a mirror, lip gloss, mints and even a mini hangover kit. For the guys we got them a bottle of their favorite booze with a set of transformer cufflinks (purchased on Etsy as well).
- Favours – make your own! We made home made blueberry jam for our guests to take home!
Ultimately I learned you don’t need to spend crazy amounts of money to have a beautiful wedding. All things considered, we spent just over $10,000.00 for around 130 people, and it was worth every single penny.
What are some of your ideas for saving money and having a budget-friendly wedding?