With all the reality television shows featuring elaborate weddings that cost tens of thousands of dollars, it’s understandable if you worry it’ll be impossible to stick to your wedding budget.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  What if we told you there were ways to pull off an amazing – even elaborate – wedding without spending a fortune? Here goes…

16 Time-Tested Tips for Planning a Budget Friendly Wedding

1. Know your wedding budget limit

This may be obvious, but because it’s so important it needs to be stated first.  Decide on how much you can afford to spend before you start shopping for wedding supplies, or booking venues.  This will prevent you from overextending yourself early in the planning process and running out of money for later expenses. Now you know…even the Canadian government provides a wedding budget calculator!

2. Shop online

Remember that it’s easy to find budget-friendly wedding decor and supplies online, and they’re often much less expensive than what you’d pay in a brick-and-mortar store.  Look for customized favours, cake toppers, tiaras, wedding party gifts and pretty much anything else you can think of.

3. Look out for coupons and deals

Sign up for email newsletters from your favourite online wedding supply stores as far in advance from your wedding as possible.  These newsletters will inform you about the latest deals, provide you with coupon codes, and let you know when new products are available.

A word of caution is in order though.  Beware of unscrupulous retailers who mark up their prices to make a post-coupon price appear to be a good deal, when it’s not.  Before you buy, double check prices elsewhere to make sure you’re paying a fair price.

4. Seek out free shipping

Use free shipping offers to make your wedding supply shopping effortless and affordable.  You’ll not only save time, but save money on gas since you won’t be driving yourself all over town to look at supplies in person.

5. Get discount supplies for DIY work

Look for sales on DIY supplies that you can use to create your own custom invitations and decorations.  It’s possible to save an incredible amount of money when you take advantage of DIY deals, and it’s a ton of fun to create your own stuff!

6. Host your wedding on a weekday instead of Saturday

Saturdays are by far the most popular day to get married, and the pricing for wedding venues reflects that.  You can save significant sums of money if you book your wedding during a weekday.  And don’t worry about it being more difficult for those on your guest list to attend.  These days, most people work weekends anyways, so no matter what day of the week you schedule your wedding, there will be guests who will need to book time off work.

7. Have the ceremony and reception in the same venue

Rather than pay to use one venue for your ceremony, and a second one for your reception, host them both in the same place.  It’ll save you money, and be more convenient for you and your guests. Boy, are there some gorgeous Canadian wedding venues you can take book!

8. Book your venue in advance before prices rise.

And leave yourself lots of time to research which venues give you the most bang for your buck.

9. Keep your guest list small

There’s no need to plan a wedding with an enormous guest list numbering in the hundreds.

If you’re on a budget, you’ll save money on the cost of food and the venue if you keep your guest list smaller and more intimate.  Start with family only.  Then add your closest friends.  And expand your list from there as your budget allows.

10. Skip a pricey dinner and have a cocktail party instead

If you’ve looked into the cost of serving a full dinner at your reception and there’s no way it’ll fit into your budget, scrap tradition and have a cocktail party instead.  Serving hors d’oeuvres and providing a cash bar will be far more affordable, yet still have that elegant vibe that we associate with weddings.

11. If you must have dinner on a tight budget, choose comfort foods or a buffet

Before you decide that serving dinner is too expensive, be sure to consider passing on the grilled steak or chicken cordon bleu and going for comfort foods instead.  Think BBQ chicken, pulled pork, mac and cheese, corn on the cob, a pasta bar, and simple salads.  A buffet is another great way of enjoying comfort foods on a budget, while still providing a great selection of food to choose from.

If you choose the right foods, you’ll save money, yet still enjoy a fun and delicious meal.

12. Skip the champagne toast

When it comes to the champagne toast, keep in mind that there are options other than champagne for this.  You can have a cash bar and allow guests to choose their own beverages for the toast.  Or, you can serve a budget wine, if you can afford it.

13. Don’t go overboard on floral decorations

Flowers are often one of the most expensive items on the wedding supply list, but they don’t have to be.  Use a minimalist approach to flowers and you’ll still have them for the most important things (ex. the bridal bouquet, boutonniere, flower girl bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets).

And rather than paying for elaborate floral centerpieces on the reception tables, use a sleek modern vase holding a single rose or carnation in a color that matches your theme. Finding wedding decor online is a snap and way cheaper cheaper than at pricey floral or decor boutiques.

14. Choose a photographer in your budget

Don’t feel pressure to spend big bucks on an expensive photographer.  No-one ever looks at family photos and thinks, “Gee, they should have hired a better photographer for that,” and your wedding is no different.  Hire the best photographer you can afford and don’t worry about it.

15. Don’t get married in peak wedding season

Just because everyone else is getting married in July doesn’t mean you should too.  Save money by having your  wedding in the off season.  Fall and winter weddings can be just gorgeous anyways!

16. Use a fake cake

You don’t have to spend money on an expensive wedding cake.  Use a fake one for display purposes and serve guests inexpensive (but delicious!) sheet cake from the kitchen.  Or, skip the wedding cake altogether and serve an alternative budget-friendly dessert instead.

 It’s Easy to Stay within Your Wedding Budget!

With a bit of creativity – and flexibility in terms of wedding expectations – you’ll have no trouble at all meeting your wedding day budget.  And remember, it’s not how you decorate or where you host your wedding that’s most important: what matters most is the journey that you and the love of your life are about to embark on.