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10 ways to cut wedding costs

January 16th, 2013 by ,    photos by

As wedding photographers, we see all kinds of weddings - from the small scale and intimate to the large, elaborate and oh-so-glamorous. Here are 10 ways to save on your big day...


Weddings can be expensive – but just because you said “Yes!” doesn’t mean that you have to spend your entire life savings on one day. Unless you have access to Kim Kardashian sized funds, you will have to allocate a budget to your wedding and find ways to stick within it. As wedding photographers and as a couple planning our own engagement – we have 10 tips to share with you that may cut costs for your big day.

1) Skip 'Save the Date' stationary

We initially planned to have 'save the date' postcards or notices sent to our invitees. We then realized that meant allocating an extra amount we didn’t have in the budget for stationary and postage. Instead, we made a 'save the date' video with our cinematographer Patrick Hodgson and sent it electronically to our friends and family. We were so happy with the results and it was a great way to save costs, include our friends and leave a memorable impression!

Check out our ”The Office” spoof 'save the date' video.

2) Have a small bridal party

Having a large bridal party automatically increases costs: flowers, boutonnieres, gifts, and other miscellaneous items you may be paying for. So before you include all your cousins and friends you’ve made in the last 20-something years, make sure to select the most important and closest. Not only will it save costs and be less people to corral on the day of the wedding (and other wedding-related events), but it will feel more intimate and special to have your nearest and dearest sharing the special day with you.

3) Hire a photographer for less hours or skip the second shooter

As wedding photographers, we often work with couples with varying budgets. If a couple is looking for a way to save costs, we often recommend hiring us for less hours (such as skipping the preparation hours in the morning or leaving earlier in the evening). You will often hear that having a second shooter is important. It depends. We are having two photographers at our wedding, but we are also having a larger size wedding. For those who are having less than 100 people, one photographer can totally cover the entire event thoroughly.

4) Get married on a Friday or in the off-season

Fridays and Sundays are off-days and as such, venues will typically provide a discount to you for having your wedding on those days. More so, vendors you work with will also have a better understanding of your budget constraints given the off-day you chose. It gives you leeway for better price negotiation as well as allows the vendor a desirable opportunity to service two weddings on a weekend (likely yours and another Saturday booking). Never be afraid to negotiate costs. This also applies to the off-season (November-April).

5) Try a unique space - like a restaurant that you can rent out

Getting married doesn’t mean you have to hold the reception in a banquet hall. There are so many beautiful and unique event spaces in Toronto such as restaurants in the Distillery District or financial district that are happy to host your wedding functions. Usually the cost is lower as there is no rental fee for the space, chairs, tables or linens and you can customize the menu to suit your needs and budget. One of the most beautiful and affordable spaces is the Rosewater Room.

6) Hire local small business’ that are just starting up (bands, photographers, DJs)

We found our band at a local bar. Given that they were still starting out, we were able to secure their services and talents at an unbeatable cost. Look for wedding vendors just getting started, review their work and obtain referrals. When we first started with wedding photography our prices were very reflective of our experience. Look for the same in other businesses!

7) Close the open bar during dinner

We’ve attended a few weddings recently where the bride and groom decided to close the open bar service during the dinner service. As first we thought, bummer! But we were so preoccupied chatting and enjoying our meal during dinner that we never even noticed. As long as each table has some bottles of wine and water available, closing the open bar during dinner can save you a few thousand dollars. Another perk – this also allows your guests a bit of a ‘break’ in their consumption...which could prevent Uncle Al from giving one of his famous intoxicated speeches!

8) Skip the floral centrepieces

I love flowers. But flowers are expensive. That is one thing we learned through wedding planning which came as a shock. If you don’t care too much for flowers, there are many ways to create different centerpieces that won’t run you up a huge bill. If you are having a travel-themed wedding, what about using globes for centerpieces? Love books? What about stacking some of your favorite literature works at each table. Candles are always very romantic and if placed in beautiful vases or jars, they can give a whimsical effect to the room. Fruits, lemons/limes and berries have also been a common trend for spring/summer weddings . The opportunity for creativity is endless.

9) Make good use of your talented friends and family

Have you heard of 'friendors'? These are friends who are vendors. If you are lucky enough to have a friend in the baking world, or a photographer or makeup artist as a pal, then inquire about securing their services at a reasonable cost. If you don’t have any friendors but your friend's mom makes amazing baked goods, see if she can help you with a sweets tables and skip out on the traditional cake. We have a friend who makes delicious cookies and she has kindly offered to help us with the favors for our guests. Maybe you have a friend who is really crafty and good with DIY crafts. Offer to make her/him dinner one night in exchange for helping you with those invitations!

10) Hire a day coordinator as opposed to a full planner

Some brides just don’t need a wedding planner. If you are entirely capable of handling the whole event planning process, definitely do it. If you feel you need help, a wedding planner is for you. For many brides today though, with the access to sites such as pinterest, style me pretty, and, we want to be involved in everything from the beginning to the end. As such, hiring a day coordinator (may come with your venue!) is a great financial decision to make. They are usually a fraction of the cost of a full wedding planner. Typically, they arrive the day of the wedding and ensure that everyone knows what to do, where to go and that any problems are sorted out quickly – often without you even knowing!

Your life ahead

We hope these tips have been useful! Remember – your wedding day will be special and memorable regardless of how much you choose to allocate to your budget. After the wedding, there is a life ahead for you and your partner to plan for! Don’t overspend unnecessarily!