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Budget Wedding Bells

The current trend is for elaborate, costly weddings, often paid for by the bride and groom themselves rather than the bride’s parents. But you don’t have to go broke on a lavish ceremony and reception-some of the most memorable weddings are simple, elegant and affordable affairs.

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Save with Planners

Hiring a wedding planner may seem like an unnecessary expense, but there’s a lot of work to be done and they can save you big money by negotiating discounts from preferred suppliers. Many will charge 10 per cent of your wedding budget. If this is too steep for you, go for a partial package at a reduced rate, where they take care of the matters that you know less about and you take care of the rest. It is also possible to hire a planner for the day of the wedding only, for about $500. This way someone else makes sure everything goes smoothly, allowing you to fully enjoy the day without having to worry about the details.

A Special Invitation

Instead of choosing traditional engraved invitations, check out your favourite stationers. Staples stores offer reasonable printing prices. Or consider the homemade approach.

Printing vs Engraving

Good printing looks handsome and costs about half as much as engraving. Paper quality affects cost, too-a pretty, lightweight paper can be per cent cheaper than heavy card.

Your Own Fair Hand

A hand-written invitation reflects who you are and is more intimate than a printed one-and costs much less. If you cannot hand-write your invitations, ask a friend who is good at calligraphy. You can buy exquisite stationery and even good-value do-it-yourself invitation kits.

Special Effects

To dress up plain invitations, add foil or ribbon. Sprinkle a little confetti inside the envelope before you seal it.

Hi-Tech Invites

Design and print your invitations on a computer -you can download graphics from the Internet and use a fancy font. You could also scan in images of the venue.

Move the Date and Get Half Off

Instead of getting married on a Saturday in June, which is popular and so costs more, choose another month and day-January, February, March and November are quieter times for suppliers. With less competition for the resources you want, you can get a much better rate, saving to 50 per cent of the cost. Your honeymoon will cost less too, if you go out of season-Mexican and Caribbean holidays are much cheaper in the spring and fall than in the high season winter months. It may also be cheaper if you choose a Friday night, as opposed to the ever-popular Saturday.

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Winning Venues

Prices range substantially, depending on taste and budget. The most popular places, like public gardens, university settings, country inns and facilities with garden settings, are usually the most expensive and often require booking two years in advance.

Backyard Weddings

If a friend or relative has a large backyard, you may want to have the wedding there. You save on paying for the venue, but you’ll have to rent everything yourself. The cost of renting a tent, dance floor, tables, chairs, linens, dishes and flatware can cost between $30 and $35 per person. Rentals are cheaper off-season, but you may have to throw in the cost of some outdoor heaters.

Hotel and Banquet Halls

Many establishments provide everything you need for one price, cutting down considerably on the amount of planning you have to do. Some will even include the invitations, chapel and minister, cake and deejay. Prices range greatly, from $30 to over $100 per person, depending on the location, setting and meal you choose. Make sure you get a signed contract that is as detailed as possible to avoid surprises.

Budget Locales

Local community centres, condo party rooms, school gyms and church basements are available at very low prices. If you are planning to serve alcohol, though, check to see if you can obtain a liquor license. Local legion halls will generally provide everything you need at a very reasonable price.


A professional wedding photographer charges on average $1,500 for the day. There are lots of ways to reduce the expense and still capture the memories of the day.

Living La Vie Local

Inquire at the photo shop where you take your film to be developed. They will likely know of photographers who charge considerably less. Before committing, look carefully at their portfolios to make sure the quality is satisfactory.

Photography Deal

Ask the photographer if he will just deliver the proofs and negatives or electronic files. You will save big money by printing them yourself and creating your own wedding album.

Candid Camera

Hire a professional photographer just for the ceremony and perhaps the formal lineups, and ask a friend to shoot informal photos at the reception. If you use a digital camera, you can email photos to your guests.

Hidden Cameras

To capture informal moments you’ll treasure, put a disposable camera at each table. These can be purchased for about $10 each.

Budget Blooms

Flowers are beautiful and don’t need to be extravagant to look elegant.

The Bouquet

Use only flowers in season, if possible, and either arrange them yourself or ask a friend or relative to help-people love getting involved in wedding preparations. You could even use a kit, available from some florists or craft shops, to make silk flowers. Or try a mix of real and artificial to stretch your dollar.


Make double use of the flower arrangements, both at the ceremony and reception, so make sure they are easily transportable. Buy potted plants, which cost less than cut flowers, and will not wither and die. Tie ribbons around the pots and let guests take them home.