The following is a guest post by Amanda Blake. You can chat to her on twitter at @amandablake9.

Planning your perfect day can be overwhelming in more ways than one. The biggest issues related to planning often come down to money!  Stressing about money and getting yourself into debt is not how you want to start off your marriage, so here are some amazing money saving tips that will not only keep your wedding memorable and beautiful but budget savvy too.

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with sacrificing quality, but more to do with coming up with some ways to save money on the most common expenses related to planning a wedding. After all, your big day should be special, but it doesn’t mean you need to break the bank!

10 Tips For Planning A Cheap Wedding


cheap wedding tips1) Plan ahead.

Planning and organizing is not over rated when it comes to events, big or small. The key benefit to planning ahead is that it allows you time to brainstorm which will in fact save you a ton of money. Venues, catering, and transportation can add up to mind blowing proportions of money. Leaving things to the last minute can mean you’ll be paying double the cost then booking ahead. Putting off things like booking limos or hotels if required can be a very costly mistake so be sure to get these things booked shortly after you’ve secured your venue.  It is also important to consider your guest list well in advance so you can then decide how big of a venue you actually need, how much food you’ll need, and how many party favours / thank you gifts to buy. And above all else, figure out your budget and stick to it no matter how tempting the latest and greatest wedding services, gadgets or designer dresses may be. Ladies, remember to include your make-up, hair, nails, shoes – everything into you budget planning. And guys, remember to consider how much your buddies can drink when it’s open bar.

2) Realistic Guest List

Don’t get pressured into inviting more guests than you can afford. Inviting your third cousin removed who you’ve never met is not necessary.  Flying in all your family from overseas is also an expense you need not take on, even if your in-laws are insisting all of their relatives living in the U.K. have to be there but can’t afford the flight. You have to be realistic and stick to what you can afford. Get creative and set up a Skype video chat and time it so your overseas relatives can take part in a toast or during the speeches which will bridge the gap between countries. Perhaps they can all gather at someone’s house and tune in on Skype and then host their own little celebration. Thinking outside the box and using technology will help keep your day simple and inexpensive. And while on the topic of social tools, our social circles have greatly increased thanks to social media, but don’t feel obligated to invite all of your twitter followers or Facebook friends. Keeping the day personal and intimate includes keeping your guest list personal and intimate too. After all, it’s not a popularity contest – it’s your wedding. You can always throw a budget savvy BBQ a couple weeks later and invite those who couldn’t make the official guest list if you want to include more people in your happy celebration.

3) Use Pinterest.

There are so many brilliant DIY ideas on Pinterest that are cheap, creative and guaranteed to keep your day unique. Create your own Pinterest boards to keep yourself organized too. You can DIY place settings, name cards, thank you gifts, invitations, centre pieces, flowers, decorations – you name it. And as mentioned above, once you hammer out your guest list early on you can start to plan your budget around each of things. Name cards and thank you gifts are kept personal and fun when you’ve opted to make your own opposed to using the generic cliché wedding items found at all major party stores. And should you require the more generic wedding essentials such as bubbles, organza bags, ribbon, etc. use the dollar store for these things. They are often no different in quality or manufacturer even than those found at more expensive party shops or craft stores. Other cool places to shop for decorations and centre piece items are garage sales, antique stores, farmers markets and shops outside of the city.

4) Go against the seasonal grain.

The time of year you choose to get married can have a huge impact on venue costs. Planning an Autumn or Winter wedding can be just as a beautiful and romantic as a Spring or Summer wedding. Compare venue costs season to season. The venue of your dreams can be a hundreds of dollars cheaper to rent in October or January than in May or July. Food costs can be lower too in the Fall and Winter as root vegetables are in season and a mouth-watering menu can be made using hearty, comfort foods that we all love. From the view of a photographer’s lens, the Fall and Winter can be more romantic for photo taking too. The added bonus besides a honeymooning somewhere hot after your wedding is that your anniversary will always be something nice to look forward to during the colder months and a great excuse to vacation during that time every year.

5) Say Yes to the Dress and then Sell it.

Many of my friends have sold their wedding dresses afterwards on craigslist or kijiji. This is a smart money saving trend as you can get up to 50% back (maybe more if you’re lucky) of what you paid for your dress. Wedding dresses can cost a small fortune to preserve over the years in order to prevent them from yellowing which in the end is a shame. They also take up a lot of valuable space if you live in a small condo or house. So why not pass on the joy and sell it? The dress in memory and photos will still be sentimental and beautiful regardless if it is hanging in your closet or boxed under your bed. Alternatively, consider buying your dress used online and keep passing the dress along. If your dress is good enough for someone else, then the opposite is true too!

6) Hire students to be your photographer.

This is far from a crazy idea. Looking up students at local colleges or universities who are excellent photographers is way cheaper than hiring a self-employed professional studio photographer. These students need the hours, practice, and business to build their portfolios and they have fresh-thinking, creative ideas and skills that will be perfect for your big day. Of course make sure to view their portfolios and work ahead of time and properly interview them.  Have them take your engagement photos to personally see them in action and build a relationship. By tapping into the student base of Ryerson or OCAD downtown Toronto is a cost effective way to capture your memories that will save you hundreds of dollars.

7) K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple stupid. Don’t forget to factor in why the two of you fell in love in the first place. Get inspired by the little things that make the two of you click. Where you first met, your favourite place to get some peace and quiet together, your hobbies (shared or different), your favourite flavours in food or drinks, your favourite spaces around the city or outside of it… the list goes on. If the two of you both love eating and drinking at small, trendy snack bars then maybe choose against the traditional sit down dinner and go with a funky cool menu that is designed for sharing and passing trays around. This encourages guests to mix and mingle more without that sit down, stay at your table feeling. If your favourite pass time is hiking or camping then consider getting married outside of the city at a less expensive venue that caters to a rustic, natural setting. If you research B&Bs, some of them will allow you to host weddings on their properties and you and your guests can stay the night. Or, rent a big cottage for a weekend and get married lakeside. Encourage some of your friends to bring up their music equipment and hire them as your DJ. Network within your close group of friends because they can be excellent and willing resources of help. Your options are endless and you can exercise a lot of creativity without limitations of liquor licenses and time restraints that some of the more downtown venues have.

8) Bake your own cake, or ask mom.

Wedding cakes are gorgeous to look at. They sit there on display, waiting to be sliced and served and smeared on the face of the bride and groom. But these cakes can also cost you a fortune and half of your guests decline a slice anyways which means you’re stuck taking a lot home and freezing it because you spent so much money on it. Again, use your network. Ask mom. After all, she used to bake you some pretty awesome birthday cakes as a kid, right? Ask your friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents… Alternatively, maybe do cupcakes or cookies instead. Either way, a cake made with love by people who love you dearly will have a much more personal feel than a store-bought cake that ran your visa bill way up. Besides, fondant icing looks amazing but it doesn’t taste very good so why pay for something you or your guests aren’t really going to enjoy that much anyways?

9) The Wedding Planner.

This ties in with #7 on this list, but forego the hiring of a wedding planner. Ask your friends that have walked the aisle before you for some tips or advice on how they planned their big day as well as how they managed their stress levels, organizing skills, time and more. Browse the shelves of Indigo or Chapters for wedding planning books and draw inspiration from them if you’re unsure. Again, seek out Pinterest for DIY ideas and ask people you know within your social circles that share your taste for help or ideas.

10) Just throw a party.

Getting married on a shoe-string budget can still be amazing, fun but maybe make it a night to remember and not a whole a day thing. The best part is the party after you say ‘I do’ anyways, so consider doing a small low-key service with close family or friends in your parent’s backyard or at city hall and then invite a bunch of people to meet you at a late night reception that’s themed more like a party without the sit down dinner and speeches. Save yourself a ton of money and celebrate the night away.