Turquoise Événements’s 17 Tips & Tricks To Save Money When Planning Your Wedding!
When I planned my own wedding last year (2019), saving money was very important, as I didn’t want to be down 10k post-wedding. There are a lot of things that I did to eliminate costs or keep them low, and I figured I would share those tips and tricks with you. The post contains some more robust and concrete examples (things that I thought of and did), but also, some very obvious, no-brainer type things you probably already know (but just in case, I’ve included them).
ORGANISE IT YOURSELF
Well, that was an obvious one. You’ll literally save thousands of dollars by planning the wedding yourself, but you’ll be investing a lot of your time (time is money right?). Just make sure you know what you’re embarking yourself in and always remember that you can always hire a wedding planner (like me!) halfway through if you discover that planning aint your thing.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, PRIORITIZE WHAT’S IMPORTANT & TRY TO SAVE WHEREVER YOU CAN
Another obvious one, but worth mentioning, cause sometimes, you can forget the importance to do so (if you want to save money) and you can let others influence your choices. I cannot stress this point more. The one thing I kept telling Alex during our wedding planning process, was to keep.it.simple. By keeping it simple, 1) You’ll minimize the amount of work and things to worry about on your big day and 2) You’ll end up saving money on things people don’t even care about.
All I’m trying to say, is try to save money wherever you can, by eliminating unnecessary things. Picture yourself in 10 year’s time, or, not even, in a year. Will your guests remember the favors you gave out at your wedding, which could end up costing you $1000? I think not. What about the elaborate decors at the sweets/midnight table? Highly doubtful. Prioritize what’s important to you and your husband and focus your attention/money there.
A great example I read is a bride who chose to have an open bar over giving favors, and I completely agree. We did the same (not as a one-or-the-other type scenario) but we chose to have the open bar as it was something super important to us and then skipped on the favors as we didn’t see much value in them, and a possible unnecessary spend of $500-$1000.
CHOOSE AN UNCONVENTIONAL VENUE
Alright, this one could be a myth, but I’ve always been under the impression that those big fancy Italian venues in St-Leonard cost a fortune to have your wedding at (I have also heard though that you can get a discount if you do your engagement party and wedding at the same venue. So worth exploring). With that said, there are definitely venues out there that will allow you to save money: community centers/city owned property/venues, chalets, etc. The nice thing with the majority of these suggestions, is that you’ll be allowed to bring in your own food/caterer, alcohol, etc. which is where you’ll really be saving money (on the rental fee too, more likely). Personally, there are 3 venues that I recommend/suggest for their beauty and affordability (however, I only have actual experience with one of them, La Vieille Brasserie in Lachine), which you can find on my Recommended Montreal Wedding Vendors blog post!
CHOOSE A BYOB VENUE
My math could be totally off, but when I was planning my own wedding, I costed out different venues and different types of venues and determined that a big wedding spend is booze (if you’re going the open bar route, which we wanted). As nice as restaurants and big venues were, the fact that you have to buy all your alcohol through them at their selling price (hello $45 wine bottles that are only worth $12 at the SAQ), means you are spending thousands and thousands on booze. We chose a venue that let us bring our own alcohol and so only spent about $15 on alcohol per person and it was a boozy open bar wedding.
PLAN AN OFF-SEASON WEDDING
This could be another myth, but if you plan your wedding during off-season, I’ve heard its cheaper, and it makes sense. If you choose “x” venue for a summer wedding, they have a bunch of demand for that date, along with any other summer date. However, if you choose that venue for a winter wedding, where there is little to no demand, they may be willing to cut you a deal, as a cheaper rental is better than no rental/cash flow at all.
DON’T GET MARRIED ON A SATURDAY
Tied to the previous one, this one’s definitely not a myth. I know, because when I was doing my venue research, I got quoted lower prices for Friday or Sunday weddings. In hindsight, a Friday wedding wouldn’t have been all that bad. If anything, you start later, so people don’t have to miss work or just dip out an hour earlier. Or, they miss the ceremony but make it for the reception.
DON’T GET MARRIED IN A BIG CITY
Bon, you’re gonna start to tell yourself, is half this blog post untrue with all of these possible myths, but here’s another one lol. I heard that weddings in big cities, like Montreal for example, could be more costly than smaller towns or even, on the outskirts of the GMA (Greater Montreal Area). I know I purposely chose a venue in Montreal for ease of accessibility for my guests, but if that’s not an issue for you, or if you want to provide transportation to your guests, a wedding outside the city may be cheaper.
DON’T MENTION YOUR WEDDING
This one’s unfortunate and sadly, true. Vendors will actually charge you more for something if you tell them its for a wedding. Obviously, this isn’t true for ALL vendors and sometimes cannot be avoided, but if you can, or if you want to test it out, try it and see. If anything, tell your caterer you just need their services for a 4-course dinner and once the contract is signed, let them know its actually for your wedding (haha jokes!).
LOOK FOR BUNDLE DEALS
Speaking of vendors, pretty often nowadays, you’ll find that some vendors offer multiple services, instead of just one. I’m thinking DJ / animation / MC / photo booth package, photographer / videographer / photo booth package, flowers/decor package and hair/make-up package here. If you book more than one service with one service provider, you’re more likely to get a better deal on these services than if you were to book them on their own, from different vendors.
GET AS MANY FREE THINGS AS YOU CAN (OR BORROW THEM!)
There’s no real “nice” way to say this, but if your cousin makes great cakes, ask her if she can make yours for free (worst case, offer her an exchange of services where you can owe her in time, versus money). If your best friend’s sister is a make up artist, see if she can do your make-up for free. If your aunt is a photographer, see if she’s willing to be the photographer at your wedding for free. If you don’t ask, you’ll never get anything, right?
However, with anything you get for free, its important you make sure that the person offering you, say, to be your photographer for free (true story), is committed to doing her/his job and that they have minimal credentials (i.e. good camera and some experience). Ask them to see a small portfolio of their best work photographing people; that should give you a good enough indication of whether or not they’ll be able to capture one of the most important days of your life.
Alternatively, if you can’t get things for free, try to borrow some! (Obviously not a wedding cake, lol). But, let’s say your best friend’s mom has a bunch of jars and vases, which would be perfect for your sweets table set-up, see if you can just borrow them for the wedding and then return them to her after. You can then easily go to Bulk Barn, stock up on candies, and fill those vases and jars up and voilà! You have a sweets table (:
DIY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
If getting free things is not an option or doesn’t work out for you, try to do as much as you can yourself. I’m going to break this point down into a few sections, focusing each area on things I think can easily be done yourself (these are real examples of things I did myself for my wedding).
But of course, everything in moderation, right? As much as I would have loved to, say, prepare the charcuterie and cheese boards for the cocktail at my wedding (you literally un-package things and spread them out on large boards/plates) you can’t have the bride doing that on her wedding day. So, make sure it makes sense for you to do something yourself before you commit to doing it.
DIY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE – FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS
Honestly, I love flowers and florists, some of them truly are artists, but at the end of the day, you’re putting flowers together, not conducting heart surgery. Obviously, if you want a stunning fresh floral arrangement for your wedding arch, DIY might not be the best idea (you probably also aren’t reading this blog post lol), but if you’re just looking for some small bouquets to put in vases as your center pieces (like I did) and small bouquets for your bridesmaids, this is something you can definitely do yourself.
For me, it was super important to have fresh flowers, but I wasn’t willing to pay the price for professionally made arrangements (quotes I got were priced at about $1000 – just for the center pieces). I spent less than $200 at Costco for an assortment of flower bouquets (roses, carnations, spider daisies, baby’s breath and hydrangeas) and had way more flowers than what I needed to make 13 center pieces (12 small bouquets + 1 box of flowers, the equivalent of 2 small bouquets) and 3 bouquets for my MOH/bridesmaid/daughter-in-law.
Turns out that at the Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville Costco (formerly the Saint-Hubert Costco), you can place flower orders with Sandra, the lady in charge of the flowers there (you can probably do this at all the other Costcos too, but this is my personal, real-life example). We placed an order with her a week prior to (probably best to go a bit earlier than that lol) and got to choose the bouquets of flowers of our choice, as well as colors. Sandra was also able to advise us on what flowers would be best, etc.
The day before the wedding, I went to Costco, picked up my bouquets, got together with my sister and MOH, and together, we spent a few hours assembling the center pieces and some bouquets (I didn’t end up making one for myself as I won a contest on Instagram and got a free bouquet. But otherwise, I would have probably spent an extra $40 for more flowers and made my own). The center pieces mostly consisted of us putting some flowers together and then putting those into vases. The bouquets were a bit trickier to make, but still highly manageable. There are a lot of YouTube videos out there too to show you how to make them. You just need to make sure you have some good tape (they recommend green florist tape but any strong tape will do, to wrap near the middle of the stems so it all holds together well) and then wrap it up with some ribbon et voilà (:
DIY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE – PHOTO BOOTH
I also loved the idea of a photo booth, but A) did not want to spend $500+ on a professionally hired service and B) I really wanted people to use a Polaroid camera (worst case, people could also just use their phones). So, besides the cost for the Polaroid which is not a one-time sunk cost, film and props cost about $150. I purchased the Polaroid on bestbuy.ca and ordered a bunch of film on Amazon. For the props, I bought a bunch of random accessories at Dollarama, including pre-made wedding themed photo booth props (pieces of card board that you tape a stick to) and printed some phrases off of the same floral stationery we used for our invitations, table seating, menus, etc. And voilà! Homemade photo booth.
DIY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE – DECOR
Obviously, the less decor you have, the better. But for those essential pieces, if you can make them yourself, rather than buy them, you’re sure to save some money. I didn’t end up doing that much in terms of decor; I’d say the bulk that I did was in terms of printed things. I found a great floral design on Google Images and the quality was so good that we were even able to print it large scale (I’m talking 24″ x 36″ large). I used it for everything: invitations, table seating, menus and photo booth props. Plus, since the design was of such high quality, I was able to print it myself.
If you can’t get things for free and you’re not great at DIY, fret not, we still have some options left lol. I realized this during my planning process, but a lot of people sell their wedding decor on Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji once the wedding is done. There are also a bunch of wedding related groups on Facebook, where people also sell their things. Its definitely worth checking out, rather than splurging on brand new things. I for example bought the center pieces for my vases, along with a few other pieces, off of Facebook Marketplace and then sold them pretty much at the same price once the wedding was done. So that’s $0 spent on that decor 😉 Sure, I could have bought the materials, made them and then sold them at a small profit, but I just couldn’t be bothered lol. I found the perfect vases and the right quantity, so I bought them used.
DIGITAL IS THE NEW BLACK
Rather than taking the traditional route of paper mailed invitations (and the headache of finding out a bunch of different addresses) opt for digital ones and you’ll save hundreds of dollars on something no one really cares lmao. There are even a bunch of free wedding websites nowadays that allow you to do this and keep track of the responses.
REDUCE YOUR GUEST LIST
Another no brainer. The smaller your guest list is, the less your wedding will cost (in terms of variable costs like food and booze, for example). However, you need to be careful with this one too, because there are certain fixed costs associated to weddings – photographer, DJ, photo booth, etc. – which will cost the same whether you are 10 people or 300 people. So, just make sure your math adds up and try to keep your per head cost as low as possible.
CHARGE PER ADULT HEAD
This point is tied to the previous one. One way to do the math, is also to charge your adult guests per head (don’t charge for kids, that’s not cool). More and more, people are gifting money to newlyweds, rather than buying them a gift from their gift registry (who makes these anymore anyway?). If you want to make sure everyone is on the same page, you can put a “price tag” on your invitations, which we did. Obviously, this varies from one family to another and one culture to another, but its a sure-proof way of making sure you don’t go bankrupt after your wedding.
WAIT TO GO ON HONEYMOON
Fact: a lot of people get married in the summer. Fact: travelling during the summer is/can be more expensive. Wait for peak vacation period to settle down and travel later on in the year, like September/October even and you’re sure to save some bucks (we didn’t take our own advice because of our work schedules, but if we could have, we would have).
SEEK COUNSEL FROM OTHER DIY WEDDING BRIDES
Besides the fact that their input can be of great value to you, sit down with a bride or two and ask them about how it all went, what their tips and tricks were, how they managed to save money, what they would do differently, their must-haves, etc. I’m sure you won’t regret it and worst case, you’ll have lost a couple hours of your life, big deal.
Having planned my own wedding last year, I understand how difficult it is to not overspend on your wedding. With that said, if you’re reading this and planning your own wedding, I urge you to consider hiring a Day-Of Wedding Coordinator, so that you don’t have to do anything (but enjoy the day). Check out this blog post to read my 7 Reasons To Hire A Day-Of Wedding Coordinator!
I may have only organized 1 wedding (my own) and been a day-of wedding coordinator once (three experiences coming up in 2020!), but I have more than 10 years of event planning experience (including 5 years of professional event planning experience in the corporate world and I’m the face behind all of Turquoise Blog’s Foodies & Bloggers Dinners and Insta Foodie Dinners), a Master’s Degree (M.Sc.) in marketing with a focus on event planning and a passion for events 🙂
My Day-Of Wedding Coordinator rate is $450* – contact me today for more information; the first meeting is always on the house!
*Pricing may vary upon evaluation of your exact needs
**The contents of this blog post are only suggestions from me, based on my own experiences while planning my wedding in 2019. I am in no way trying to discredit any other businesses or vendors in the events industry. These are just my opinions, which I hope, may help some future brides with the planning of their wedding and to save some money.