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Figure out how much you can afford to spend and stick to it. Buzz Bishop of Vancouver, who is getting married this July, expects to come in under his $7,000 budget by keeping the guest list under 50, shopping around for the best deals and choosing less expensive options, such as getting married in a park instead of a church.
Save by avoiding the most popular choices
Unless religion prohibits, consider holding the celebration on a day other than Saturday. Also, choose a different day for bridal services. Most Indian brides will get their henna done on Friday, the day before their wedding, but they can save 15 per cent (on average) by booking it for two or three days ahead instead, according to Vicki Singh, project manager for culturalweddings.com. Similarly, opt for a lunch reception rather than dinner, as Bishop is doing. "At a luncheon you can do lighter fare," he says. "We're having a salad, roast chicken and dessert for $40 a head."
Search out free or low-cost alternatives
You'll find more affordable options everywhere from venues to vendors. Consider, for example, a backyard or park ceremony for a small wedding. Bishop is holding his ceremony for free at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park. Hiring a student is also a costconscious option. Kira Zack from Toronto hired two students to play harp and cello for three hours for $300. You may also consider hiring a photography or culinary student. To save money on alcohol, pay by consumption – as Zack chose to do – if you believe your guests will consume only a moderate amount.
Get more cost-saving ideas and inspiration on page 2. Shop at unexpected locations
Bishop and his fiancée cut their flower bill in half by shopping at a grocery store. Tammy MacArthur from Marion Bridge, N.S., bought a new end-of-season Alfred Angelo wedding dress on EBay for only $250. Cathy Thorne of Toronto discovered her wedding dress in the bridesmaids' department at a small bridal shop and requested it in ivory instead of fuchsia. It cost only $500.
Do it yourself
Bishop created his wedding invitations on his computer and printed them off on paper for $1 each. And instead of spending money on RSVP stationery and postage, Jessica Danylchuk, who is getting married this month in Langley, B.C., created her own website at mywedding.com and asked guests to RSVP to her invitations online. Singh adds that making sure you know how many guests will be attending is crucial to keeping costs in line, especially at large weddings. That way you'll get an exact head count and won't spend money on guests who don't attend.
Let your friends and relatives contribute
Your friends may be happy to contribute to your wedding by offering their expertise. One of MacArthur's girlfriends will make her wedding cake as a gift. "She is taking cake-decorating classes in preparation," she says. Danylchuk and her fiancé will use a family member's luxury vehicle as their "getaway" car when leaving the reception.
Consider renting or buying used
Singh knows brides who have rented a jaggo (a lantern used for traditional Indian dances) from party rental shops for $50, whereas it would cost about $150 to purchase one. MacArthur bought wedding decorations (tulle, candelabras and flower garlands) from former brides on Kijiji for half the price of new ones: a bolt of tulle for $25 as opposed to $50.
Plan the most beautiful wedding you can imagine with expert tips and helpful advice from our special wedding planning guide.
This story was originally titled "Budget Weddings" in the June 2009 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!
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