The average wedding costs $30,717. For a single day, it’s hard to justify when anyone getting married is also likely saving for his or her first home and/or planning to start a family.
Not to say your wedding day isn’t important, but is it worth $30,717? This is a question I ask myself constantly in the midst of my engagement to be married. I know two things: 1) I don’t want to throw down over $30,000 on my “Big Day” but 2) I also have expensive taste.
With these disparate forces at play, I have set out on a journey to create a budget chic wedding. Here are some of the ways I’m saving money and keeping the wedding bill below average.
Decide what’s most/least important
First off, you need to decide what’s most and least important to you as a couple. For us, the most important things were photography, food and drink, and the areas we felt we could save money on were the wedding rings, dress and tux, invitations, music and décor.
Even still, we’re trying to save money in all areas, even those of greatest importance to us. I negotiate with all vendors and I’ve saved thousands of dollars on the venue and photography. I knew my budget chic wedding will photograph well and look nice in vendors’ portfolios, and I used this as a bargaining chip. And I cut the cake – quite literally.
The vintage look is all the rage in wedding rings, so why not get an actual antique? That’s what I did and I saved thousands of dollars. There’s some unwritten rule pushed by the marketing departments of diamond jewelers that the engagement ring should cost two-three months’ salary. I think mine was two-weeks’ worth and I get complimented on it constantly for its originality. (Yes, I picked out my own engagement ring and wedding band, which was one weeks’ salary)
As a modern bride, I plan to buy my dress off-the-rack. I’m even thinking of wearing a skirt. I honestly can’t even tell the difference between a cheap poufy dress and an expensive one – they all look the same to me, and it’s an overdone, dated look.
Take a cue from style star Olivia Palermo and try something different. To be fair, Palermo’s dress is likely not inexpensive, but it’s easy to replicate for under $500. (I’ve looked into it)
Furthermore, don’t burden your bridesmaids with $300 polyester dresses they’ll only wear once: the current trend is mismatched dresses in the same colour hue, so adopt it.
Wedding invitations are one area where you can easily save a few hundred dollars or more. Even if you are not totally down with evites, there are a few online vendors that offer modern, high-quality stationary at a fraction of the price of traditional stationary providers.
Minted and Wedding Paper Divas have a great selection of designs to fit any style and palette. I sent out “Save the Dates” via Paperless Post and plan on snail mailing the invites using one of these online vendors.
Additionally, I created a wedding website where guests can view detailed information on the wedding like the schedule and accommodation options, and where they can RSVP. This saves on printing, and there are many wedding template websites to choose from. I ended up picking Riley & Grey after receiving a 50% off offer, but I also looked at Squarespace and Appy Couple, among others.
“That wedding had the best DJ,” said no one ever. So, for this reason and budget considerations, I’ve opted to build my own playlist. The venue has promised a “plug and play” sound environment, so I’m bringing my iPad equipped with Spotify. You can splurge on Tidal, but I’ve heard it’s not really worth it.
If you can, choose a venue that looks great on its own and fits your theme, then you won’t have to fill it with decorations. I’ve booked a stark, industrial converted warehouse and my theme is “industrial chic.” (If you’re curious what this looks like, check out my Pinterest Board) Décor is going to be minimal and flowers will consist of mostly greenery and shrubs. My dad is building a wood backdrop for the altar using old barn board and I will add a few knick-knacks here and there, but the theme is already played out in the venue setting.
Finally, if like me, you waited to come of age to actually afford a wedding, you can borrow a bunch of your friends’ decorations. They spent a ton of money on their weddings in their 20s, and now I’m 30 and have my pick of second-hand décor!
Additional financial considerations
- Start a wedding fund. Instead of getting married and then paying off the wedding, we set up a wedding fund that we contribute to monthly. It’s making for a long engagement (two years!) but we will actually have the money upfront to pay for the wedding.
- Skip the registry. Unless you actually need plates and pans for your new home, skip the registry. Your guests will likely give you cash in its place that you can use for the honeymoon.
- Get a travel rewards or cash back credit card. Charge all wedding-related expenses to a rewards credit card and see your cash back balance or travel points grow, which can be used to recoup some of your expenses or fund your honeymoon.
Author: Kerri-Lynn McAllister is the Marketing Director at RateHub.ca, a website that compares mortgage rates, credit cards and deposit rates with the goal to empower Canadians to search smarter and save money. Kerri-Lynn is getting married in August 2016.