Everyone knows the cost of a wedding can get out of hand, especially when it seems some businesses automatically mark up their services when nuptials are involved.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that the minute you say a wedding, dollar signs go off in people’s heads,” said Angelique Sobschak, who was a wedding planner for more than 17 years.
So, how do couples avoid falling into the wedding money trap? Marketplace asked some people who’ve planned or are planning a wedding for advice on how to save money when organizing the big day. We compiled their replies from our social media channels and email.
From the bridal bouquet to the table centrepieces, flowers are a big part of a wedding, and they can also cost a small fortune. Los Angeles comedian and actress Laura Willcox, who wrote the book I Am Bride about her recent wedding planning experience, remembers being astounded by the quote she received from a New York-area florist.
“I got an email back from her that was like, ‘Well, our minimum budget is $15,000, so anything below that we find really just isn’t worth our time,'” Willcox recalls. “They must be amazing flowers!”
Some couples have avoided the upsell and found creative ways to cut their floral costs.
Sara Wells, married 7 months (via Facebook message)
“When I went in for a floral consultation, I was kind of surprised at how expensive it was … So I decided I’m just going to be my own florist. I made a trip or two to Hobby Lobby across the border. Their fake flower prices and choices are incomparable to other craft stores.
I … found that I had a hidden talent in floral arrangements! The overall cost was estimated to be under $400, compared to $1,000 (for real flowers). And later, I ended up selling most of the bouquets and made almost as much as I spent.”
Jahmeelah Gamble, married 2 years (via YouTube)
“I got all the flowers from [crafts store] Michaels. So, I think in total we spent $20 on flowers.”
Jahmeelah’s husband, Alex, also noted that, “Part of her bouquet is still alive because it was bamboo shoots,” which they bought at Ikea.
Marian Clark, getting married this summer (via YouTube)
“For me, spending $1,200 on flowers, something that’s going to die in a few days … I really struggled with spending that much. Instead, we went with just ordering some bulk flowers and just giving the bridesmaids a few roses. We’re using the farmer’s market — they have an amazing florist there, and the cost of flowers are a fraction of the price.”
The average cost of a wedding in Canada is $32,500, according to WeddingBells magazine, and at least a third of that is spent on the reception venue, food and booze. Sobschak says brides- and grooms-to-be have to be aware of all the additional charges that are often not part of the basic package.
“It’s not just the add-on on the food. Wait till you have to talk about linens, chairs, napkins, maybe an extra piece of meat. What about vegetarian options? All those things are add-ons,” Sobschak said.
Some couples have been able to stay within budget by making a few tweaks to their plans.
Lexi Kniznik, married 3 months (via YouTube)
“There was a lot of stuff that we did on our own. We sourced out. We went and sourced late-night food, certain aspects of decor. We did not go through a middleman, and we saved quite a bit of money that way.”
Kathryn Grant, getting married this month (via email)
“My fiancé and I did our research and found a venue that recently had a change of ownership. New owners are not only looking for clients but [have] goodwill. They are more likely to negotiate their services.”
Invitations and stationery
Save-the-dates, invitations, table number cards, thank-you cards — it’s hard to pin down the average cost for wedding stationery because it depends on choices such as design, paper quality and number of guests. Here are some clever ways to save on all that paper.
Christina Rufino, married 6 months (via Facebook Messenger)
“Create your own invitations. There are countless templates online, and most include the identical design for the menus and thank-you cards, as well. In our experience, we would have saved weeks of back-and-forth (as well as money) with our invite company if we would have just ordered online.”
Anjuli Semple, married 2 months (via email)
“Send out email invitations with a website containing all the wedding details and RSVP form. For guests who are not tech-savvy, like grandma or grandpa, you will need to budget a few hard copies to send out.”
Christine Pagulayan, married 3 years (via email)
“I went to a paper store to buy paper in bulk and printed menus and the seating chart at Staples.”
Catering, couture and DIY bling
Many couples expect the big-ticket items to cost an arm and a leg, but sometimes it’s the many other “must-haves” that bump up the final wedding tab. Some couples have become resourceful in checking off their to-do list without breaking the bank.
“Our wedding was on the same date as [Pi Day]. Our wedding cake was a pie, which I spent 20 bucks on … a co-worker made it for us. And our DJ? Guess where we found our DJ? Kijiji.”
Michelle Cliffe, married 10 years (via Facebook)
“We created our own wedding bands. We did a wedding band workshop with a great jeweler. I think our rings cost us, altogether, under $1,000 for both bands, and mine had a few small diamonds set into it.”
Cindy Wennerstrom, getting married this month (via Facebook Messenger)
“Amazon has been my best friend, as have some warehouses and wedding swap-and-sell sites. I bought a wedding dress from the rack, versus ordering in. Sure, it’s not brand new, but who cares? I’m wearing it for eight hours: $1,500 vs. $3,000. I’m OK with that.”
The ‘wedding share’ approach
“The industry felt all wrong to me … I developed my own concept as the antidote to the wedding ‘machine,’ as I call it. My new biz is called Love Collective. We do elopements and tiny weddings. We also do what I call a wedding share — two couples split a date, a venue, and all of the associated vendors. It cuts the cost dramatically for each couple involved.”