How to plan a wedding on a tight budget
As the general cost of living increases, many people have reduced non-essential spending by dining out less, cutting back online purchases and cancelling various streaming platforms like Netflix. In recent months, I have observed that some of my wedding clients have even trimmed their overall budget by shrinking their guest lists and venue size. Whether a wedding day is extravagant or prudent, it is simply where friends and family members gather to observe and celebrate the union between two individuals. Therefore, I have compiled a list of cost-saving tips below to help lower the overall wedding budget.
TIP #1 Only invite Family members and close friends.
Before choosing a venue for your wedding, you must know who you are inviting to your wedding. By making an effort to shorten your guest list as much as possible, Wedding couples can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars by renting a smaller venue or ordering less food served during the reception. Many times a bigger wedding is not always better, as it is better to surround yourself with people you frequently see in person and who are close to you than a whole bunch of friends you added on social media!
TIP #2 Find a Budget Wedding Venues:
Heritage Hall, located at 3102 Main Street:
Rental cost: starting at $540 with the Capacity of 200 guests
Centennial Lodge, located at Queens Park in New Westminster
Rental Cost: All-day rental $825 with the Capacity of 135 guests
Minnekhada Lodge, located at Minnekhada Park in Coquitlam
Rental cost: starting at $584 for 4 hours with a capacity of 50 guests.
Whonnock Lake Centre is located in Maple Ridge.
Rental costs start at $207.95 per hour with a capacity of 160 guests.
Creekside Community Recreation Centre is located in Vancouver False Creek. Rental cost: $140 per hour with a capacity of 100 guests.
TIP #3 Schedule an evening wedding on a Weekday instead
Many wedding venues will charge a premium rate on the weekend and a much cheaper rate for the rest of the week. A couple can save up to 50% of the rental cost by choosing a wedding on a weekday. In this case scenario, the wedding ceremony can be scheduled at 6 pm, followed by the reception afterwards. Many guests can take an hour or two from work to attend your wedding or just the reception if they cannot take time off.
TIP #4 No open bar!
On average, it costs around $60 CAD per guest when a full open bar is available throughout the reception. Depending on how many guests drinks, the total bill can cost a wedding couple thousands of dollars. There are many ways to save money on alcohol, including providing guests with only a few drink tickets and opening a twoonie bar, where the patron would subsidise the drinks served in the bar. Another benefit to these cost-saving measures is reducing the chance of guests getting drunk and causing a scene during the reception.
TIP #5 Open a Cash Wedding Registry account
Nowadays, receiving cash is much more practical than a wedding gift, especially when bills and invoices start to pile up. However, asking for money on a wedding invitation would be awkward and inappropriate. The best way to get around this is to open a cash wedding registry account. Various companies provide this service, though most charge a transaction fee of around 3%. However, one Wedding registry company called "WithJoy" does not charge anything and is free! The only catch is that options to design your wedding registry website are relatively limited compared to competitors.
TIP #6 DIY DJ
Depending on your wedding budget, venue size and the type of guests invited to the wedding party, a live DJ may be optional. I have been to a wedding where the couple hired a live DJ for the entire night, and only one couple was on the dance floor while the rest of the people stood on the sideline, just chatting among themselves. So ask around first with all those invited to the wedding before hiring a DJ! If you cannot afford a live DJ, the cheaper option is to create a playlist on Spotify on your phone app and connect it to a rented or borrowed extensive sound system.
TIP #7 Focus on one location
When both the Wedding ceremony and reception are held in one location, the couple can save money on renting a limousine and be spared from the potential headache of a traffic jam when travelling from one venue to the next. Aside from the budget venues mentioned above, other venues that can host wedding ceremonies and receptions, but are pricier, include Brix & Mortar, Swaneset Bay Resort and Country Club, Cecil Green Park House, UBC Sage, Westwood Plateau and Brock House.
TIP #8 Go for Wedding Cupcakes instead
If there are a lot of guests attending the wedding reception, it is better to purchase individual wedding cupcakes versus a multi-tier cake, as you will save money on plating costs. On average plating or cakeage fee of $3 to $5 CAD is charged for each slice of cake served. So if you have over 50 guests, the total amount for this particular service fee is quite significant. Another option is to ask the baker to make only the top-tier portion of the wedding cake while the rest of the lower cake stands are filled with cupcakes. The couple can make the traditional cake-cutting with this approach, followed by a champagne toast afterwards.
TIP #9 Create a Wedding website instead of sending out invitations
When most people throughout Metro Vancouver have access to a smartphone or a home computer, it is more common than ever that Wedding invites are sent out by the "Save-The-Date" website instead of physically mailing them. Not only does this save money on buying physical cards and postage fee, but it also allows the couple to see who have RSVP instantly, plus other responses relating to their meal preference during the reception. Best of all, a wedding cash registry can be incorporated into their website. Popular wedding website builders include WithJoy, The Knot and Zola.
TIP #10 Buy the Wedding bands from an online Wholesaler.
Blue Nile and James Allen are the most prominent online diamond wholesalers when purchasing engagement rings or wedding bands. Because these sellers do not have a physical retail store like Tiffany and sell directly to the shoppers bypassing the middleman, the saving on purchased diamonds, rings and bands can be as much as 35%. In addition, both companies provide a wide range of diamond selections and provide online shoppers with plenty of images and specifications to make an informed decision before making such a significant investment!
TIP #11 Search through Google for a photographer
When looking for a photographer that fits your style and budget, I recommend looking through several Google pages in your search. First, look through each photographer's webpage and ask for their complete portfolio and price guide. Do rely on your instinct rather than just on Google Reviews, as it is tough to tell who is a better photographer when it seems odd that everyone listed on Google Maps has a perfect 5-star review! A similar issue goes with online services like Weddingwire.ca, where many critics have complained that many negative reviews are removed or past clients seldom post them as they must jump through all the hoops to post their dissatisfaction. In addition, only paid subscribing photographers are prominently shown on Weddingwire.ca and finding other ones that may match your style and budget can be challenging.
TIP #12 It is impossible to find a good and inexpensive Videographer!
In general, the cost of a videographer should be at least 30% more expensive than a photographer, as more staff, gear and equipment are required to ensure that the video clips recorded are smooth and not shaky. In the past, I have had clients that hired videographers whose service price was much less than the 30% benchmark, and the result could have been better. If you have a tight budget, please choose either a photographer or videographer instead of both.