May 11, 2011

Saving without skimping - the Wedding Edition

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When we started planning our wedding, I also drastically cut back on my spending. Wedding vendors often demand a 50% deposit on signing, even if it's six months to a year ahead of the big date. The biggest purchases usually need to be booked/ordered well in advance. If your venue also requires a minimum catering charge, the estimate keeps rising.

According to's annual survey, the average Canadian wedding will cost just over $23K. Unless you are very creative or have a small wedding party, this will not get you very far in a city like Toronto. Without going into masses of details, what we did to help manage our budget was decide at the outset what our priorities were, so we would know where we would be willing to splurge and where we would cut back if required. I also created spreadsheets detailing estimates and actual costs so we would know throughout the process where we stood, how much we owed, to whom and when.

Our priorities were: Photographer, Venue, and Food

To offset our big ticket priorities, we saved on the following: 
  • Decor (very simple with some DIY projects, since we already picked a beautiful venue) 
  • Dress (my dream dress was 3x more than the one I chose, although I ended up wearing three dresses, two pairs of Louboutins and a pair of Havaianas...) 
  • DJ/musicians (generous gifts from talented friends) 
  • Transportation (no limo -- I went to my wedding in a minivan!) 
  • Invitations/programs (designed and printed our own) 
  • Minimized guestlist (rule of thumb for minimum criteria: have to have visited each other's homes and have called each other in past year)
We also had tons of help and support from family and friends. We managed to fit in lots of "extras" like a fun photobooth ($$$), custom cake toppers ($), a lion dance, a late-night poutine buffet, and our favourite desserts from nearby (Mom's kitchen), local (Dufflet's) and afar (Germany via USA).

Looking back on our wedding day, we are pretty happy with our decisions. Everything that we splurged on was totally worth it, and everything that we saved on did not make any sort of negative impact on our day. Some of the "free" things turned out to be the highlights! I think an important lesson is to ask friends and family for help when you need it -- they are often eager and willing to pitch in, and enjoy being a part of the festivities.

Here are some of our (aka my) DIY projects:
Silk flower pomanders, to hang on shepherd hooks down the aisle.
Painted wooden dowels, to be affixed with streaming silk ribbons. For a celebratory wave from guests.
Placecards with dried flowers for colour and dimension.

During this process, some of the things I cut out of my regular expenses (which are now ongoing savings) included:
  • Coffee ($2) - drinking office coffee/tea/water, saving $45 monthly
  • Lunch ($8) - brown-bagging, saving $180 monthly
  • Books and reading materials ($10+) - regular patron of the Toronto Public Library, saving $20-$30 monthly
  • Shopping at malls, shops and online stores, saving oooOoOooodles ($500+) monthly
The good thing out of this behaviour-changing exercise (aka saving bunches), besides comfortably paying off our wedding costs as each bill came in, was my realization of how much stuff I was buying and wasting money on. I still struggle sometimes with my willpower, but my willpower usually wins. (However, sometimes when it loses, it loses big-time.)

We wanted a big party to celebrate our union and this new stage of life with our friends and family, but we were cognizant of not going into debt or hurting our future to achieve what we wanted. As I look forward to some of my short- and long-term goals and desires, I want to make sure that my money works for me and does not hold me back from accomplishing what I want out of life.

1 comment:

Vi said...

Good job with your will power and saving $$$. My wedding was ultra-low cost... but it was very small compared to what most people have. I'm having a hard time with my lego/toy spending. Currently trying to talk myself out of bidding on an auction for a pirate ship because it's still in a price range I feel it's under-valued at.

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