Say yes to less money stress


Your big day needn’t cost you big bucks.

“My philosophy is that a wedding isn’t about the wedding day. It’s about the beginning of a lifetime,” says 23-year-old Grace Grundy, who’s getting married in June.

She and fiancé Dan Nicholson are planning to spend under $10,000, about a third the cost of the average Canadian wedding. They’re expecting around 100 guests.

Grundy met her fiancé at Dalhousie University in their first year, so the school is a special place for them. Grundy now works in online marketing, and Nicholson is the president of the Dalhousie Student Union.

The couple will hold their wedding and reception on campus through Dalhousie’s conference services. They have a wedding package for around $800 that includes the venue and a sound system.

To cut costs, Grundy and her fiancé have used electronic invites instead of printed invitations, will serve appetizers instead of having a sit-down dinner, and will skip the flowers.

“They’re just so expensive and there’s a lot of other ideas to enhance décor in a room without having to use flowers,” she says.

According to a 2014 survey from Weddingbells, a wedding-planning site, the average cost of a Canadian wedding is around $31,000. But Grundy is not the only one focused on keeping costs down.

BeckyAnne Brydon, 29, married Ian Corse-Scott in September 2015 after a year-long engagement. Their wedding cost between $10,000 and $15,000.

Brydon cut costs through a simple trick: not buying anything that wasn’t on sale.

“We bought everything on the cheap and cheap. Because we had a year for planning, I actually lived online on Kijiji, I went to (the thrift shop) Value Village several times a week and collected things over time.”

Brydon says that creativity and the help of her friends went a long way.

The couple made decorations, bought everything used, designed their invitations, made the wine and picked the flowers. A family friend made beer and another friend was the DJ.

They also married at Brydon’s family farm, so they didn’t have to pay for a venue. The biggest splurge was her wedding dress, which cost $2,500 to $3,000, and was paid for by her parents.

She says that a large part of over-spending on weddings is caused by the pressure to have the perfect wedding, and pressure from family and friends.

“You need to have a certain type of cake, and you need to have a certain type of dress, and you need to have a certain type of wine … people fall into that, and what ends up happening is that they have to spend shit tons of money.”

Grundy agrees, saying that while she was looking on the website Pinterest for wedding ideas, she was shocked by the extras available to newlyweds-to-be.

She says there’s no point for brides to pay for makeup artists or hair stylists, when they can either do their hair and makeup themselves or enlist the help of their bridesmaids.

Claudia Habib started Simply Weddings, a wedding consultation and planning service, in 2003.

The lowest-cost wedding she’s planned was under $1,000 and had around six guests. The largest was $250,000.

She says that future spouses should keep their guest list in mind.

“Certain things are going to cost the same whether you have 20 people or 200 people. A photographer’s still going to charge you the same for his full day, no matter how many people are attending the wedding,” she says.

“When you get into the multiplying costs of food, décor, beverages, that number can be significantly altered by the number of people at your wedding.”

All elements of a wedding depend on the budget, she says, and suggests prioritizing what’s important to the couple and focusing on those.

Keeping the costs down

Buy used: You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on decorations. Many people sell theirs after the wedding. There are countless buy-and-sell Facebook groups, Kijiji ads, and thrift shops where you can find great stuff for a fraction of the retail price. And it’s good for the environment.

Frivolous flowers: A single flower arrangement can cost up to $100 – and they’ll die in a few days. There are alternatives to decorate and add colour, such as candles, garlands and bunting. Or better yet, pick your own flowers.

Inexpensive invitations: Depending on the number of guests, invitations can be costly. Consider making your own, or get some help from an artistic friend, and print them at an office supply store. Or use free e-vites.

Brewing your bar: Alcohol is expensive and guests often expect an open bar. If you want to put in the time and effort, try brewing your own beer or wine. A $100 kit can make around 30 bottles of wine. It might not taste as good as store-bought, so you might want to get your guests a little tipsy with the brand-name stuff first.

Stay home, save money: Skip the plane to Cuba. Sure, the soft white sand and hot sun might be appealing, but destination weddings are costly – both for you and your guests. If you want to get married on the water, don’t fret. Nova Scotia has plenty of gorgeous beaches and parks where you can tie the knot. There’s Peggy’s Cove near Halifax, Mavillette Beach near Yarmouth, Inverness Beach in Cape Breton, and many more. You should probably do it in the summer, though.

Get by with a little help from your friends: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from relatives and friends. A friend skilled at Photoshop can help design the invitations. Do you have a buddy in a band? Ask them if they’ll consider playing at your wedding. Of course, don’t mooch off your friends – offer to pay them or do them a favour in return.