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I am in full wedding planning mode. As a personal finance blogger I can share some ideas on How to Save Money on Your Wedding.

This website has always had wedding topics.  Perhaps I watched too many episodes of A Wedding Story on TLC when I was younger.  Now that my partner and I have the gargantuan task of planning a destination wedding (with a small guest list, maybe less than fifty to sixty people or so) I am in full wedding planning mode.

So far, with wedding planning I am shocked by how much things cost.  Just because you throw the word ‘wedding’ flowers become instantly expensive and bouquets are a few hundred dollars!  Just because it’s the ‘most important day of your life’ we’re not planning to spend more than $25,000 (and ideally, I hope to spend less than $20,000) on the wedding.  Hopefully under the average cost of a wedding in Canada when I wrote that post a few years ago (which was $23,000)… now the price has inflated up to $30,717 for 2015, according to Weddingbells.ca.. though this includes the honeymoon and engagement ring so it might be skewed.  You can buy two gently used compact cars for that price!  That being said, there are areas of the wedding celebration that I am willing to save money on and other areas where I don’t want to skimp out on (for example, hiring a professional wedding photographer, that is a must for me… I don’t want to look back on hideous photos of myself 40 years from now).

In addition to limiting the guest list, here are some ways that I am using to save money on our wedding:

Make Your Own Centrepieces

Centrepieces are expensive!  The more tables you have the more it will cost.  No one really notices the centrepieces anyways so why not make your own or skip a floral centrepiece?  You could also use silk flowers instead, like the ones from Afloral.com.  Or repurpose your ceremony flowers as centrepieces, or use the bridesmaid bouquets, put them in a hurricane vase and voila, you have a centrepiece!  My favourite dollar store, Dollarama has lots of simple vases that you can use to make centrepieces, and of course, you can’t forget the mason jar if you are opting for a hipster chic theme at your wedding.  The Knot also recommends adding more greenery and sticking to one or two types of flowers to save money.  Finally, uses candles is a great way to save on centrepieces.

Save on Stationary

Instead of spending tons of money with stamps and stationary, we opted to send electronic save the dates.  Paperless Post is a great option and has fancy looking save the dates for free!  There are tons of options.  We will continue to use electronic invitations and print out a few invitations for those that would like them.  The great thing about electronic invitations is that people can just RSVP right away (or there is less barrier to RSVP-ing sooner).

We are doing a combo of both (paper invitations for those who want them).  We sent them out and one friend scoffed and said “paperless invites?” and I told her that if she wanted a paper one I can send one to her.  Personally I think it’s nice to have electronic because it’s just going to go in the garbage anyway and might as well save few trees.

Save Money on Your Wedding Dress

The average wedding dress can cost over $1200.  That’s a lot of money!  That’s an international flight!  For something that you are going to dry-clean, keep in your closet and put in a box?  Instead of spending that much on your wedding dress, opt for bridal swaps in your area, used wedding dresses (if you have a taste for a designer wedding dress but don’t want to pay the designer price, you can go to Once Wed, a site for used dresses).  Also, another way is to buy your wedding dress online.  As long as you have your measurements and you know your size, it can be a great way to save money if you don’t mind your dress being made in China (though probably most dresses are made in China anyway).

Wine and Beer Instead of a Full Bar

If you are having an open bar, that’s great!  Those are the best weddings!  Instead of a full bartender serving cocktails and specialty wedding cocktails, opt for just a bar with wine and beer and soft drinks.  That will save you money and guests are appreciative of any type of alcohol!


Finally, don’t be afraid to negotiate.  Speak to your vendors (your photographer, your caterer, your music etc.) and ask them whether you can have a discount.  It doesn’t hurt to ask, the worst is they say no and they judge you (haha).

Save on your Engagement Ring

Everything these days can be found online.  I am still in awe of my engagement ring (can’t help it, I’m a crow I admit it.  Like shiny things) and my fiancee bought it online.

Readers, do you have other ways in which you saved money for your wedding?

Article comments

Trish says:

Just got married and used some of these tips! We managed to pull off a 15K destination wedding including flight, Villa accommodation, dress, suit and both our rings!

My dress I ordered online from a UK based retailer, both rings from a smaller jeweler who was having a 50% sale off inventory. We did combo invitations as well but mostly online at mywedding.com and only a few for our older guests.

We got married in the Caribbean so our flowers (my bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets) were made by a family member from the abundance of tropical flowers literally growing wildly around the Villa we rented.

We saved on venue costs by renting a Villa for a week with a large yard which doubled as accommodation for us and some of our guests AND venue for the ceremony and reception! The owner (who was an ex-pat herself) was super nice about helping us source rentals (Tent, chairs, tables), caterer (omg the food was so fresh and delicious!), photographer etc for super reasonable prices. (Helped that the local exchange rate was 1CAD:2XCD!)

Our centerpieces were made from local materials – we created faux manzanita tree centerpieces using recycled spray cans, branches and hanging ‘crystals’ ordered online from China surrounded by tea lights.

The end result was a FAB, stylish, non-traditional 130 guest wedding that people are still talking about! Could be a function of the Open bar lol..(we bought some drinks locally and also encouraged guests to pick up a bottle at the duty free on their way in)

Point being – a wedding doesn’t have to be expensive to be FAB!

Kyle says:

Thanks for chiming in Trish! Congrats on what sounds like an awesome wedding day!

Young says:

@Trish- Omg, $15K for 130 people? amazing!!

Lee says:

A few other ideas:
– negotiate with your destination wedding provider – the more people you bring, should bring down the cost of everything exponentially, even for 5-star resorts.
– buy a dress you can re-sell. I fell in love with a custom gown from a local eco-friendly designer in Vancouver (Pure Magnolia) who will then consign the dress when you’re done with it! Or you can just buy the consigned dress and have it altered – then re-consign it! Brilliant!
– steer clear of typical golf courses, local resorts and hotels – use city parks & community spaces instead – much cheaper and they are way more lenient about allowing you to bring your own caterers, alcohol, etc…
– go off the beaten trail for caterers – food trucks, small independent caterers starting out, etc… will provide tremendous value. We found our 5-star amazing caterer through a local community festival, and probably saved 1/2 (but now he’s crazy busy and I’m sure charges what he’s worth) – people still rave about the food at our wedding to this day, 3 years later!

(of note, we managed to pull off a 100 person local Sea-to-Sky wedding with full dinner, open bar, band, hotel room (3 nights), minimoon, dress, his suit/shoes, rings, all for $21k).

Kyle says:

Thanks for the tips Lee!

Young says:

@Lee- Wow, good job!! Great tips, thanks!

KC says:

Being in the middle of wedding planning myself, it is a shocker at how much everything costs.

Everything that you’re suggesting is pretty similar to what I’m doing. Definitely get a high quality photographer. It pays to have good memories from the wedding 🙂

As for centrepieces, if you do make your own, you should be able to sell them after the wedding to someone else thus, recouping your cost.

I was hoping to do electronic RSVP but at least half the guest list are not very computer literate so we’re doing the old fashion route but also adding the option of RSVP online through The Knot. So far, it’s worked fantastic 🙂

Most of all, keep track of the budget. That saved our butts countless time 🙂

Young says:

@KC- That’s a great idea to send mail invites and ask people to RSVP online or through email. All the little cards (like an RSVP card, or an address card etc. etc.) just baffle me. It’s so much extraneous stuff and so much.. paper! That’s what we did too, our paper invite is just one card.