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7 tips for planning a wedding on a budget.
CA-paying-for-nuptialsYou said ‘I will.’ Congrats! Now, before you say ‘I do,’ you need to ask yourself how much you can afford to pay for your big day.
A 2014 BMO InvestorLine study found that Canadians between the ages of 18 and 44 will pay an average of $18,150 for their wedding (100 guests) and $5,272 for their honeymoon. The study also found that nearly 40 per cent of respondents didn’t think they’d be able to afford their ideal wedding.
No need to throw in the monogrammed towels just yet. There are many ways to cut costs while making your wedding a memorable affair. Remember, it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of it all, but don’t lose sight of what it’s really about — celebrating your love and sharing this special milestone with the people you care about most.
Here are seven tips to help you plan a wedding on a budget:

  1. Crunch the numbers (and stick to them!): First, figure out how much you can, or want, to spend. Then, determine how you’ll be paying for it. Will you be drawing on savings and investments, relying on contributions from family members, using credit cards or a line of credit, or all of the above? Give yourself a range to work within, from an ideal cost to your absolute ceiling.
    Next, make a list of all of your wedding expenses — include everything from the marriage license and officiant, to the venue, food and beverages, flowers, dress, cake, hair and makeup, and honeymoon. Finally, create a wedding budget. There are many great tools that can help you, like this Wedding Budget Worksheet or this Wedding Budget Calculator. Be sure to take your budget with you as you shop and plan so you can refer back to it and stay on track. Learn more about how to control the cost of your wedding as you plan your big day.
  2. DIY when possible: There are times where it’s smart to be frugal, and there are times when it pays to spend more. When it comes to your wedding, figure out where to splurge and where to save. For the things you can save on, do-it-yourself can do wonders for your budget. Things like wedding invitations, party favours, centerpieces and even the cake can be fun projects for you or a crafty relative or friend. For some inspiration, take a look at these DIY wedding party favours.
  3. Reduce your guest list: It’s a simple equation — the bigger the guest list, the higher the costs — especially if you’re having a sit-down dinner and serving alcohol. Of course you’re going to want all of your friends and family to be there to help you celebrate your big day, but don’t feel like you have to include everyone you have ever known. Remember, you can always celebrate in other ways with colleagues, acquaintances and friends who aren’t as close.
  4. Cut the cake: Professional wedding cakes can range anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. But you don’t need to break the bank to cut the cake. There are many beautiful and delicious cakes that you and your guests can enjoy for a fraction of the cost. Check with your local bakery for deals, consider doing something different like serving wedding cupcakes instead, or, if you have the time and patience, try one of Michaels’ beautiful wedding cake projects like this three-tier Ombre Polka Dot Wedding Cake. It’s a great way to have your cake and eat it, too.
  5. Get the dress for less: For a bride, the dress is often the most important of the wedding decisions. Whether you want to look like a fairytale princess, wear a traditional gown, or try something a bit more sleek and modern, the hunt for the perfect dress can take time and eat away at your budget. Designer or custom gowns can easily soar into the thousands. But there are many ways to be frugal and look fabulous. offers a huge selection of styles, fabrics and sizes at extremely affordable prices — starting as low as just over $100. Or, for low cost and low-commitment, try renting a dress.
    If you’re a groom, consider wearing a nice suit you already own, or purchasing a suit or tux on sale. You’ll be able to use your purchase for future occasions and often spend less than you will for a rental.
  6. Have it at home or at the cottage: If you’re lucky enough to have, or know someone who has, a big enough home, yard or cottage that they’d be willing to let you use for a wedding, you can slash the costs of renting a venue. An added benefit is that you’ll be able to cater it the way you want (some venues make you use their in-house catering service). If this isn’t an option, check out as many halls, hotels, places of worship and other venues as possible until you find one that can accommodate your guest list and your budget.
  7. Use a DJ instead of a live band: Live bands are wonderful and add a certain level of energy and sophistication to an event, but they don’t come cheap. You have to pay for several musicians’ time, and since weddings usually last several hours, the cost goes up as the night progresses. A DJ costs less and will still play the music you want and let your guests get their groove on. You can also compromise and hire a live musician or two to play a song for the ceremony when the bridal party walks down the aisle, and use a DJ for the reception. Or, if you really want to save cash, build the ultimate playlist with your partner and friends.


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