Updated: Jan 22, 2019
Congratulations! You’re engaged! Pop the bubbly, call all your friends and family who are going to say “WHAT?! Really?!” or “Finally!” and gush all over your shiny new bling. For a blissful little while, everything is sunshine and rainbows and nothing can wipe the goofy grin of being engaged off of your face. YOU are a fiance! And no one can take that away from you. At least until you start some real planning, and some real pricing. Suddenly, apparently you are a poor fiance. Weddings are expensive: period. It’s not to say that every wedding is a budget blowout, $100k affair. It’s just realistically, a wedding is a really expensive party that every couple is entitled to. But there are ways to make the pill a little easier to swallow. Below I’m outlining just a few tips to making your special day a little more affordable, and therefore, a little more enjoyable! It’s a long one, but if you read through I promise you won’t be sorry if you’re planning on a budget!
T’is the Season
It is no secret that there is preferred pricing during what is considered the off season in the wedding industry. The trouble is these days, that with trends coming and going and changing every year, it’s hard to determine what the off season is. Typically, there is a pricing structure for different seasons that looks something similar to this: Jan - Mar is part of the off season (understandably so: heavy snow=less clients=more availability), Apr & beginning of May some venues will offer a sort of pre-season pricing, though often times these weeks get looped in with the off season or high season. Mid-May to mid-September is high season. Late spring and summer weddings will always be popular, as more people are available and the weather is just easier to predict. Once upon a time, September weddings were not very popular with it being back to school and back to the normal grind, though these days, moody, intimate fall weddings are so trendy that the month has become part of high season. November through the January end up falling back into the off season, with the exception sometimes of the date closest to Christmas, as well as New Years Eve, where a premium may be charged again, because of current trends. Choosing to host your wedding during the off season will definitely save you an amount per person, not to mention with bigger venues you might actually be the only wedding happening that day or weekend. Off season weddings also allow you to flex your creative muscles and come up with a theme/look that no one else will have!
Timing is Everything
Just like with the seasons of the year, time of the day actually makes a huge difference. If you aren’t a stickler for tradition, and could opt for an elevated brunch experience, or an intimate high tea, or a moonlight bbq on a terrace, or even more daring a midnight market type event, venues and caterers are sure to shell out some steep discounts. These days, trend is king, and if you can be daring enough to set a new trend when it comes to timing, not only will your venue be thanking you for setting them apart, but they will certainly be showing some appreciation in lower numbers. Having your wedding during an off time allows for all of your vendors to potentially double book themselves, which essentially puts more money in their pocket! (ex. A solo guitarist who’s playing your morning ceremony and brunch cocktail hour can likely still book an evening ceremony and reception - meaning you may pay less but they still double up on business). It’s worth having the conversation of how much you can flux the time without making your entire guest list and wedding party uncomfortable.
Makers gon’ make
Always had a knack for the arts and crafts? Somewhat of a creative genius? If so, there’s no better time like the present to teach some of those skills to your friends and family who are begging to help out, and get crafting! Many brides nowadays are opting for a more minimal décor look, or trying their hand at making instead of buying. If this is something you can factor in your timeline, all power to you! There are endless amounts of crafts you can do depending on the theme you are going for, and if you plan ahead of make a schedule for it, purchasing supplies and getting crafty is much more affordable than pre-made items, which you are usually paying more in labour than the actual product. So those paper flower walls you’ve seen on Instagram, or Origami crane backdrop you’ve fallen in love with? But in some elbow grease and it will feel doubly as good when you see your creation on your big day, and know you pocketed some of your hard earned moolah in the process.versation of how much you can flux the time without making your entire guest list and wedding party uncomfortable.
Skip the Frills
Once upon a time, a wedding was a simple ceremony surrounded by likey only immediate family, who also served as the witnesses. Maybe the small group would go out for dinner, or, if the couple was lucky, the parents would throw a party afterwards with the couples’ closest friends and family in the backyard or the Church basement. Nowadays, it’s no surprise that like with all industries, weddings have become a business. While some people, myself included, love a big party, not everyone finds joy in the frills. There are a lot of items that can be stripped away from your celebration, and likely, no one will even notice. Examples as follows:
Programs - while they can be a beautiful way to keep guests entertained while they are waiting for your walk down the aisle, paper is pricy and unnecessary. If a program is something that your wedding needs because it has a lot of elements that not everyone will understand, maybe opt for one program on a chalkboard. Over 50% of individual programs get left behind, so that is literally your money blowing away in the wind.
Menus - see what I said up there? This goes for menus as well. Beautiful for sure - necessary? No. Again, there are alternative ways of displaying a menu - think 2 per tables instead of 1 per person, or display it as part or alongside the seating chart.
Cake servings - Cakes are one of the most expensive perishable items that you will purchase for your wedding. With cake designs ranging in price from $350-$4000. Of course, cakes these days are works of art, so there is no doubt a reason attached to the price tag. Can you make your cakes have a real moat, a working swing, and a replica of a Monet painted onto it? I think not. That said, if you are on a budget, maybe a cake is something you want to consider skipping. Consider this; most venue packages offer a dessert that works out to be cheaper per person, or that cannot be removed from their package. If this is the case, who is the wedding cake for? If you are looking for something simply to cut, opt for one tier of real cake that serves 6 people (the minimum) and let that be the cake you freeze and save for your first year anniversary.
Favours - This is a sensitive one because a lot of people believe that you should be giving your guests who gave up their evenings, and gave you a gift, a small token to say thank you. I’m not saying that you totally need to abolish the idea of a favour, but if you truly are struggling with your budget, you may need to look at what is really important. Your friends and family are there to support your marriage, not to receive gifts. If you feel strongly about offering your guests a gift, think of something that is a lower price point per person, or a gift per family or couple instead of per person.
Who Needs Tradition?
The answer is some people yes, but everyone? No. These days, more and more couples are opting for going against the grain and having a more unique celebration that is more the two of them than anything else. Don’t like mainstream music? Why get a DJ? If your venue is not a large hall and can be supported by an in-house sound system (i.e. an art gallery, a brewery, etc.) why not curate your own playlist and have a coordinator or someone else pause and play during specific times? You could make a cocktail hour list, a dinner list and a reception list that is made up entirely of songs you love. Don’t want a sit down dinner? Don’t do it! Go for a mix of food stations and passed canapés that won’t make up a full meal but can certainly do the trick for a stand-up reception. Not a stickler for flowers? Pick a centerpiece that doesn’t include fresh florals, or, go for a venue that requires very little décor.
Sharing is caring
I’m sure this is no secret by now, but there are plenty of only forums that allow couples to buy and sell or even in some very nice cases borrow décor from other couples. People planning weddings are generally pretty happy, and may even be willing to let you borrow if the timing is right and you’re really strapped for cash. Just be honest and beware. If you are going to go the route of borrowing, be sure to come to some sort of written agreement between you and the other couple that protects you both. Something simple that outlines when you can pick up and return and in what condition, so that 1) you don’t get left high and dry, and 2) the other couple doesn’t get swindled for their collected items. Similarly, once a couple has nothing to do with 90 vases, they are very likely to sell at the right price.
Ask and you shall receive
It’s that age old adage that if you don’t ask you’ll never know. Many vendors might be willing to offer discounts or in-kind inclusions if you’re honest and up front and just ask. If you’ve done your research and you know that a particular vendor might be way outside of your budget, it could be quite insulting to that vendor to ask for a discount. However, if you’ve found someone reputable within a couple of hundred dollars outside of your budget, it could be worth having a frank conversation. For instance, does your florist own vases you can rent at a cheaper price instead of having to pay a mark-up? Can your photographer include a few extra hours or a printed album instead of a discount? Can your makeup artist add on the airbrush because you and your girls all sweat profusely. The best way to go about getting deals is to be completely up front about your budget and your ask, and remember to be respectful of the hard-working people in this tough industry. If they cannot accommodate because of equipment needed, or hours behind the labour, do not argue. The last thing you want is someone who is stretching themselves thin on your wedding day.
These are just a few simple savings tips. They won’t make up for half of the price of your wedding, but they will add a pretty penny back into your pocket (or honeymoon fund).
I’d love to hear some of your tips and tricks for saving - and as always, if you have questions do not hesitate to reach out to us! We love to hear from you!