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7 Tips for a Budget-Friendly Wedding

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Many of us have big dreams for our wedding day: a five-star venue, gourmet cuisine, a dress to rival the ones on the red carpet. However, for most of us, the budget doesn’t always add up to the fantasy. Don’t panic though. A few of the best in the event planning business have filled us in on some cash-saving tips that will help you plan a lavish wedding at half the cost.

1. Reign in the guest list

“The number one way to save money without compromising style at your wedding is to limit your guest list,” says Karran Finlay, instructor at The Art Institute of Vancouver and founder and president of Karran Finlay Marketing. Many of the costs associated with a wedding are on a “per guest” basis. The cost of food, one of the biggest expenses, is almost always calculated per plate. If it’s important to you to have the best of everything, from a gourmet meal to a designer gown, cutting the guest list can significantly help your budget.

2. Coupons and Sales

Coupons and sales aren’t just for the grocery store. Start planning your wedding well in advance so that you can keep an eye out for discounted services and products. Join sites like Groupon and Living Social for slashed prices on things like photo booths, floral services and bakery products. Local businesses often offer their goods for as much as 90% off, so that they can get the word out about their company. You can also join flash sale sites, like Rue La La or Haute Look for sales on wedding essentials like gowns, shoes and jewelry. Just make sure you read all the fine print and check the expiration date on these deals.  Jessica Bishop at The Budget Savvy Bride also recommends searching the web for coupons before making any online purchase. Sites like Retailmenot.com provide coupon codes for many major retailers.

3. Hire “Friend-ors”

Think about hiring “friend-ors” rather than vendors for your wedding needs. Bishop suggests asking friends and family to share their talent with you and your wedding. Is your cousin a burgeoning portrait photographer? Maybe she will capture your wedding in order to build her portfolio. “Have friends who are crafty? Get them together to make your décor items or arrange flowers. I’m a big fan of when families and friends come together to tackle wedding planning!” says Bishop. Be sure to ask around. Many vendors will offer you a discount if a friend or family member referred you to them.

4. Beer and Wine is Fine

Don’t feel like you need a fully stocked bar for your guests to have a great time. “Save on your bar costs by opting for beer and wine only,” says Bishop. Adding liquor drinks to your bar menu will majorly raise your bar tab. Offering your guests their choice of beer and wine is completely sufficient.

5. Open Your Calendar

There are only so many Saturdays in a year, and wedding vendors know that brides are competing for those days for their wedding. Consider holding your wedding on a Friday night or even a Sunday afternoon. You’ll often get great discounts from your photographer, DJ, and even your venue because they can’t always book these days. Even if they don’t explicitly advertise this, make sure you ask if they can accommodate you at a discount. Think about seasons as well. Most weddings occur in the spring and summer, so vendors are eager to book winter weddings when their schedule is less busy. Just ask about possible discounts for off-season weddings.

6. Get Digital

The costs of printing and postage add up, so consider sending some of your correspondence via the web. Many couples are choosing to send out their save-the-dates via email. Though formal snail-mail invitations are still the norm, you can set up a wedding website that provides additional information like maps, accommodations, and more. This will save you the cost of printing the additional invitations. Also, consider doing digital RSVP’s. “Rather than sending response cards with your invitations, request that guests RSVP via a phone call or email,” says Kelly Scott, Senior Marketing Coordinator at Karran Finlay Marketing. Guests can respond to your invitations instantly online and you’ll get a quicker guest count that way. You’ll be saving on postage, paper, and helping the environment!

7. Get Crafty

Many brides are tuning into their creative side to save on wedding costs. “One way you can save money is by doing things yourself, whether it's creating your own centerpieces and decor out of paper flowers or self-catering your wedding,” says Bishop. A do-it-yourself attitude can lead to great savings. Not the creative type? Recruit an artistic friend to help guide the way. There are plenty of resources online for ideas, like Pinterest, Wedding Bee, and Project Wedding. Check out these sites for low-cost creative projects.


Karran Finlay, instructor at The Art Institute of Vancouver and founder and president of Karran Finlay Marketing (and Kelly Scott, also of KFM)

Jessica Bishop at The Budget Savvy Bride