Author Topic: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?  (Read 27137 times)

lax4life93

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How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« on: February 09, 2015, 09:54:20 AM »
Hey guys, we need some help.  We are planning a wedding, and we are being blown away by much of the costs.
How do we bring down the bill?

Background:
- We are from Edmonton, AB, Canada. (winter from Oct-March, mosquito's in summer, etc etc)
- Guest list is approx 62 people; only 52 adults (This has been cut down a lot already.  Its just close family and friends, many +1s cut out.  We dont see this getting any smaller)
- Location not imperative: could be in the city, or a close destination such as Banff, jasper, Canmore, Waterton etc because the guest list is travelling from all corners of the province
- We do not have any family that can host the event, no farms, no acreages, etc.
- Our group size is difficult to do anything in the public parks in the area

What we have reduced already:
- Guest list is narrowed down quite a bit.  hopefully some wont show up?
- Invitations / save the dates are going to be DIY craft time or electronic (cost is negligible)
- Dress/suit is going to be minimal: She is going to get a cocktail style dress she can wear again, and I will be ordering a Navy suit online (I need one for other reasons, so might as well use it for the wedding too!)
- Desert/cake is going to be us/family making cupcakes or picking up some M&M triple chocolate cakes and cutting them up.  Cost again is minimal
- Decorations are going to be almost none.  We will likely DIY a centerpiece out of craft supplies, but nothing extravagant
- Flowers: few and far between: Whatever we decide to go with will be from Costco because they are great quality and cheap! We will make our own arrangements or whatever we need
- Wedding bangs: Going with something simple, on sale through a family friend at a discount
- We are not doing a rehearsal dinner or anything like that
- Ceremony site will likely be outdoors and FREE!
- DJ will be a iPod.

Where we are having trouble:
- Venue costs: Typically $500-$750...
- Meal costs: Buffet at $45 per person (This is insane.  We are starting to look for other caterers, but then we loose many of the venues we looked at, because you must use their kitchen)
- If we go with outside caterers, then we have to investigate table, chair, table cloth, etc etc rentals, tear down and set up, because everything was included in the other costs.
- Drinks: We are feeling pressured/obligated to supply at least 1 drink ticket, and then cash bar from there.... but that is just added cost.  Corkage is more expensive than getting them to supply wine, but we are not sold on the supply wine idea.
- Commissioner is more or less non-negotiable... and they all work together to set prices
- Photographer: I am pushing to just have our friends take pictures and such, but she wants a professional for at least an hour, and we seem to be at a stale mate.

 As much as we want to have this social gathering of the families and such, if its going to be this expensive, maybe we will just go down to city hall and sign the papers.

Anyone have any experience/ideas?

netskyblue

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2015, 09:59:47 AM »
The cheapest reception is going to be a morning or afternoon "cake & punch" reception. 

Dinner & drinks is always going to cost more - you can eschew alcohol, but I get the impression that won't be well-received among your guests?  The only real way around that is to have the reception at a time of day where alcohol would be out of place.  Or suck it up and don't serve it.

I'm a red panda

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2015, 10:03:51 AM »
Quote
- Drinks: We are feeling pressured/obligated to supply at least 1 drink ticket, and then cash bar from there.... but that is just added cost.  Corkage is more expensive than getting them to supply wine, but we are not sold on the supply wine idea.

Honestly, I think the idea of a drink ticket, unless this is common where you live, would not go over well with most guests.  Work functions have drink tickets.  I've been to a few weddings where there was a hosted bar only for certain drinks (house red, house white, and a beer) and all else was a cash bar, so that is one option if you don't want to go full open bar. Otherwise, just go cash bar.  Most people grumble about a cash bar, but the weddings I've seen with no bar have been a lot more grumbling...  (unless both sides of the family are into that...)



How fancy of a wedding do you want? A $45 per person buffet sounds really high, I had a multi-course plated dinner for $25 a person (and my wedding was anything but budget, quite honestly).  But my SIL had a cold cut sandwich platter that the family set out after buying the ingredients at a grocery store- saved a ton of money and was still a very nice wedding reception  (she also provided wine and champagne for her guests, she bought it all and family members took shifts to serve; that might not save you if corkage was high- her site did not have one). She had over 100 people at the wedding, so it wasn't a small thing.

A sampling of appetizers can also be less expensive than a full meal. 

A family friend had punch bowls, one spiked, one not as the only drink option at her wedding.

The only real way around that is to have the reception at a time of day where alcohol would be out of place.

What time is that?

<--- I don't drink, but I can't think of a time of day where my family wouldn't expect a drink for a reception :)
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 10:22:42 AM by iowajes »

Mom of Boys

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2015, 10:07:30 AM »
Would eloping be possible? When my husband and I decided to get married, we had little time to plan (upcoming deployment) and little money. We found a cute chapel in our town and were married for just $100. The minister took all the pictures and we went out to eat afterwards. My husband wore a suit and tie while I wore a simple dress I could reuse for any occasion. It was simple but the venue was quite nice. Having been engaged previously to someone else who wanted a "traditional" wedding, I found the time, effort, and money it took to make such an event happen was just not worth it. I do not regret eloping at all. It was very romantic!


Greg

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2015, 10:08:41 AM »
My wife and I had a structured potluck reception dinner.  We provided a nice venue, adult beverages (and others) tableware.  Folks really outdid themselves and it was one of the best receptions I've been to.

The Taminator

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2015, 10:11:41 AM »
I'm in the midst of planning a wedding as well. And we are in Toronto so I feel your pain regarding the expenses.

I agree that the best way to save is to have a cash bar. Or just do a cocktail reception since food is a huge expense. Also, a weeknight will cut your costs by a couple of grand but it's challenging to get people to attend. Skip the favours. People don't need any more junk. We'll be making a donation to a charity instead. Not sure if this is a savings or not but if you totally skipped it, that would definitely save you a bit.

Otherwise, I think you're on the right track.

sugarsnap

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2015, 10:12:44 AM »
I would fight for a photographer as well. I had a very small, inexpensive wedding 15 years ago and still regret not having nice photos. Of course now says folks have nicer cameras and perhaps you can find a somewhat skilled friend from your guest list to take some nicer photos?

It sounds like you have cut down everything you can besides food and drinks.

Riff

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2015, 10:19:28 AM »
- Photographer: I am pushing to just have our friends take pictures and such, but she wants a professional for at least an hour, and we seem to be at a stale mate.

If photography is not a priority/not important to you, by all means just have your friends do it because you won't be disappointed.  Photography is one of those things where more often than not, you get what you pay for.   If you want awesome photos and go cheap, you're going to be disappointed (YMMV, of course).

Full disclosure, I am a photographer and I do photograph many weddings.  Often when I meet someone and they ask what I do, they immediately go into their horror story about their awful wedding photos and how they regretted hiring their friend's cousin with the "nice camera." 

Wedding budgets are all about setting priorities.  For some it's the food or the dress, maybe the photography, often the booze.  Put the money where the priorities are, and you won't regret it.  So if photography isn't a priority, don't spend.  If it is a priority and you don't spend, this is where regret comes in. 

I'm a red panda

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2015, 10:24:48 AM »
My wife and I had a structured potluck reception dinner.  We provided a nice venue, adult beverages (and others) tableware.  Folks really outdid themselves and it was one of the best receptions I've been to.

This sounds awesome! 
It could be difficult to pull off on a wedding where most of the guests have to travel to reach the location though.

I totally agree with the person who said skip the favors.
I'd also skip any sort of "exit"- bird seed, bubbles, sparklers, whatever.  I never understood the point of those. Though my own wedding is the only time I can think of that not happening at a wedding.

Riff

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2015, 10:31:17 AM »
Of course now says folks have nicer cameras and perhaps you can find a somewhat skilled friend from your guest list to take some nicer photos?
The nice camera myth.

"Oh, what a wonderful dinner you've prepared here!  This is one of the best meals I've ever had!  You must have a really nice stove."

Don't hire someone because they have good tools :)

AlwaysBeenASaver

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2015, 10:36:03 AM »
I've attended a potluck wedding reception and it worked very well. I don't know the costs, but it was a in a park with a large reservable room that I think had a kitchen too. I'm sure the cost wasn't high. Guests could be asked to let you know with their RSVP what type of dish they'll bring (salad, main dish, whatever) so you can make sure everything is covered. Close family can be asked to bring whatever is missing. You can suggest out of town guests pick up beverages (soda, wine, juice, water) or easy snacks (chips, dip, cookies) on their way to the reception.

sandandsun

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2015, 10:37:54 AM »
Several years ago, my wife and I started planning our wedding, got overwhelmed, and decided to elope.  Best decision we ever made.  We spent maybe 2000-2500 total - that was travel, VERY nice accommodations in a major city (where we also held the wedding), etc.  I think about 800 of that was for a professional photographer- probably the most well-spent money of all.
Go as cheap as you want on everything else, but do pay for quality pictures- you'll never regret it. 

I'm a red panda

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2015, 10:38:50 AM »
Of course now says folks have nicer cameras and perhaps you can find a somewhat skilled friend from your guest list to take some nicer photos?
The nice camera myth.

"Oh, what a wonderful dinner you've prepared here!  This is one of the best meals I've ever had!  You must have a really nice stove."

Don't hire someone because they have good tools :)

But they also said "somewhat skilled friend".  Which isn't the same as "guy who bought a DSLR and has never moved it off green square".  Sadly, there are way too many people out there who call themselves professional photographers without having much skill. You have to be really careful hiring photographers.





canuckie

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2015, 10:48:34 AM »
I think that drink tickets/cash bars are pretty common in our area. I wouldn't bat an eye at either. I was thinking of doing something similar. Include a drink or two with dinner, and then cash bar after that.

In terms of reception venue, I suggest looking around for a local community hall. We booked ours for $125 plus liquor licence and insurance (so around $300 all in). Some community halls require you to be a resident of the neighbourhood (we booked ours through my grandparents), but others don't. We get the hall from 9 am day of wedding to 9 am the next morning. This means we have a lot more freedom and flexibility than at a traditional "wedding venue". We can buy our own alcohol, which will save a ton compared to going through the venue. We are thinking about self catering (fiancÚ's mom is a kitchen genius), or perhaps hiring a local food truck as a fun and inexpensive alternative to the traditional catering route.

Photography is a sticking point for us too. I can offer no help here.

I've also found a lot of good sensible resources on apracticalwedding.com

eae550

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2015, 11:05:03 AM »
I think it's very rude to have a cash bar. You are hosting the event and if you wouldn't charge someone for a drink in your home, don't charge them at your wedding! One idea is to do a morning wedding with appetizers/brunch/coffee and cake, etc...(something within your budget with or without alcohol) then you could choose an "after party" bar that evening for people who stick around and want to continue the partying...and you wouldn't be obligated to pick up the tab for that.

MayDay

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2015, 11:19:22 AM »
We had an 11 am wedding and lunch reception. Free red wine, coffee, tea, and milk. Since it was lunch most people had zero or one glasses of wine so cost was reasonable. Lunch food was cheaper, too, and a plated meal was cheaper than buffet as there is no food waste.

Either serve alcohol or have a cake and punch reception would be my vote. Cash bars are so so rude.

caliq

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2015, 11:23:01 AM »
I don't think cash bars are rude -- but I'm young and it's much much more likely that my peers who are getting married have significant student loan debts or aren't making the big bucks yet.  I think we all understand that and at the end of the day, it's about enjoying yourself, your new spouse, and your friends and family.  If your friends and family would rather you put yourself in a bad financial situation than pay for some drinks (or *gasp* not drink at all!)...meh.  Maybe they aren't close enough friends or family to have been invited in the first place ;)

lax4life93

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2015, 11:29:29 AM »
All very great input.

ELOPING will be tough, this will be the only wedding for either of our parents, and although they say "do whatever you want" they want to be part of some kind of ceremony.
I'm starting to realize our priority isn't to have a big fancy "wedding" but rather just a family get together and dinner.  What I said we should do is just get married where ever, then have a HUGE multifamily potluck celebration somewhere to celebrate it and just tell everyone that we are now married.  This might be plan B.. or plan C.  She isn't sold on the idea.... YET

TIME OF DAY: This is something awesome I have never considered.  Maybe we can do it over lunch to keep costs down as suggested! AWESOME.  We are already having it in the "off season" to keep costs down and give us the ability to negotiate with the venue if we decide to go that route

VENUE:  The Community hall is a great idea... we need to look into this further! I just hope this doesn't become a logistical nightmare with chairs and all that jazz.  Does anyone have any experience with this to let me know how it worked for them?  Please and thanks :)

BOOZE: Drink tickets are very common here, and it gives you control over what happening.  IMO the open bar weddings I have been to just get messy haha, we want to avoid that.
If the idea like the community hall presents itself, we know a couple bar tenders and we could buy COSTCO booze for next to nothing.  This could work out well together.

FOOD: Currently, venue catered $45 per person is the cheapest we have found, and its not overly fancy, but its not bad either.  Plated meals will cost us more.  I think we will find trying to go the route of the community hall and getting our own caterers will be much cheaper as canuckie mentioned.  We are persistently looking into this
Potluck with be very difficult with the distances people are traveling currently, I am not sold if this would work.

PHOTOGRAPHER:  Most of the comments have been around this because its a tough one to figure out.  This is where I think we will compromise, and please let me know if you have any experience with what my "plan" might turn out like.  FIRST, we hire a photographer for a half hour or so to shoot us in our formal dress at the ceremony location, and then have our quick 15 min ceremony with a couple photos.  SECOND get the family and friends to shoot some photos throughout the night.  We don't really have any photography friends, but we don't care too much about the reception photos.  This way we get great photos when they matter for a price, and then misc photos throughout the night.  I keep telling myself this will work.

PARTY FAVORS: I never liked these things, unless you can eat them.... and then I eat them that night at the wedding.  If we do anything it will be something for the kids not the adults, like little bottles of bubbles, and they can play with it at the wedding, so this would be dollar store cheap!

KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING!!! They are all awesome, thank you so much :)

seattlecyclone

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2015, 11:30:24 AM »
Try to find a venue that doesn't charge a corkage fee for bringing your own alcohol. At our wedding we had to pay an hourly rate for the venue to supply a bartender, but we brought all the alcohol (a keg of local beer and a couple of cases of wine) and only spent a couple hundred on drinks for everyone. I don't know your family and friends, but mine didn't go crazy on the drinks so I doubt we would have saved any money by offering tickets (and it's much classier to go without).

The real big cost seems to be the food, though. I don't know of much of a way around that other than to rope a bunch of family members into cooking stuff.

BonBon

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2015, 11:33:17 AM »
As far as venues go, I don't know how fancy you want things, but consider checking out community leagues. Your wedding sounds like it will be the size that could be easily housed by one. My local one holds 65 people and is one of the smaller ones in the area. I'm actually not sure of rental costs but I don't think they are too bad. I would then look into getting a liquor licence and buying booze and doing a cash or twoonie bar (I've done this for a number of events I've hosted before (although never wedding) and you can often end up making money on liquor even if you offer a few drinks free... Unused liquor can often be returned to the place of purchase so you don't have to worry about buying too much). I also don't think it is tacky to do a twoonie bar at all (or even more).  Get a friend or friends to run the bar for you. 
Community League rentals will also open up the fact that you will have a kitchen available to you typically so you could do food yourselves to really cut costs (or will a few helpful friends).
I think a photographer would be worth it but at least with a lot of my friends (when I was on facebook) it seemed like a lot of people were really good so you might be able to again work with friends for it. I also have friends who DJ so they have done a number of my friends weddings. See what talents exist in your friend group. Inviting a few of them might pay off in other ways.

Static Void

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2015, 11:34:55 AM »
- Guest list is approx 62 people; only 52 adults (This has been cut down a lot already.  Its just close family and friends, many +1s cut out.  We dont see this getting any smaller)
...
- Our group size is difficult to do anything in the public parks in the area

...Just to be sure, I would definitely encourage second-checking the public parks option. 62 people in a park isn't that many.

(Obviously, I don't know your area. We had a very nice brunch-picnic-wedding at our local park, ~100 guests. We chose the one that had bathrooms, and put some better soaps in 'em. :) Guests brought blankets & lawn chairs. And other park users were quite tolerant and even slightly tickled. We're in California, so that helped with the weather and the availability of excellent and economical catered Mexican food.)


BonBon

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2015, 11:39:26 AM »
Also I was at a wedding once where their were disposable cameras on the tables for guests to use and take pictures so that the bride and groom ended up with photos from the evening (I think you can get disposable cameras for around $5) so if you want pictures from the party without having a photographer there that can be a fun and relatively cheap way to do it.  I also was at the wedding recently where the couple had photographer for just one hour after the ceremony and did all their pictures in that time. Afterwards they had a friend with a digital polaroid walk around and take pictures of everyone as part of the guest book which was a fun way to get pictures of all the guests too.

I'm a red panda

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2015, 11:48:41 AM »
Quote
Also I was at a wedding once where their were disposable cameras on the tables for guests to use and take pictures so that the bride and groom ended up with photos from the evening

Did they get good pictures?

The few friends I've known to do this said that it wasn't worth it. Maybe there were a couple cute ones, but mostly kids took the cameras, or really drunk friends...


The cost of developing film, I'd consider this an extra, not a frugal measure.
I like the polaroid guest book idea, but again- not that frugal.


I do have great pictures guests took though- so I think getting the word out that you need pictures of the ceremony and reception to your friends and family, ahead of time, means you're likely to get a few nice ones in.  (I do think the compromise of at least an hour with a professional is a good one.)

lax4life93

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2015, 11:52:12 AM »
DISPOSABLE CAMERAS:  I was at a wedding once where they did this, and it was OK.  some good some bad, etc.  But another I have been to they encouraged people to use their smart phones and such and setup a twitter account and get everyone to #wedding their photos and share them, so then everyone could use them! you could do it with instagram too!

I love the idea of the photo guest book, and I'm sure we could wrangle up a few of the friends to go around taking pictures of all the couples, or even set up an "informal photobooth".  We have had these at company events and they are always a blast!!

Fodder

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2015, 11:55:10 AM »
I think your drink ticket idea is likely fine.  Open bar seems to be more of a sticking point in Toronto (in Canada) and in the States.  I'm in Ottawa and very few of the weddings I've been to here have been open bar - it's not a big deal here.

Meal cost does seem high, but you are right that is often attached to the venue, and when you bring in outside food, you do have to figure out all of the table/chair/linen situation stuff.  Does the $45 include all the taxes and gratuities?  Because if it does, I would leave it at that because by the time you take care of the nitty gritty, I'm not sure you'll end up much lower.

I would absolutely 100% recommend against a potluck reception.  That's not a fair thing to ask of your guests, especially if they are travelling.  Plus then you have the complicating factor of making sure hot food is kept hot and cold food is kept cold. 

As for photos....I'm with your FW.  10 years down the road, the food will be pooped out, the drinks peed out, the clothing long-gone....the only thing you'll have to remember are photos.  I don't know if you need a professional, but you do need someone who is designated to do some photos for you.  I wouldn't go the disposable camera route - film is stupid expensive these days, hard to find places that develop, and then most of the pictures will be crap because the camera quality is crap.  I've been married almost 9 years and have not yet regreted what we spent on wedding photos.  You should check your local college to see if there are photography students getting into wedding photography - you might be able to find someone new, enthusiastic and inexpensive.

BonBon

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2015, 11:56:56 AM »
So because I know the general area you are in check out secla.ca (I don't think it directly covers your area but close) and it will link to all the community leagues.  Lots of the halls are larger than you need (150) and I think they are around $750 for the rental but then it frees you up for booze and food to do whatever. I know that the forest terrace heights one is much smaller 65 people and I assume it would be cheaper but I actually don't know.  Chairs and tables exist at the site so that shouldn't be a problem. Lots of them don't list rental costs but a phone call is all it takes to know.

mlipps

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2015, 11:57:41 AM »
We had a brunch wedding and it was lovely. Ceremony was at 10am, then the meal was steak, crab eggs benedict, or french toast. We didn't serve alcohol for other reasons, and a brunch wedding was a good way to make sure it wasn't missed, but just serving bloody marys & mimosas would be cheaper than a full bar too. I think our meal was about $25/person. We had it at a Bed & Breakfast and they had an all inclusive package that we used because we were planning the wedding long distance, so I can't remember exactly how much of the cost was attributed to the meal. ETA: This was a waiter served (guests did not have to tell us in advance what they were eating) plated meal. We had about 40 guests.

After the reception, everyone left by 2:00pm. We cleaned up the venue, went for a hike to a scenic spot for a few pics in our wedding garb (totally priceless, worth the hassle!) and then had dinner w/out of town friends who came to the wedding at 6:00. It was perfect in so many ways!

And for what it's worth, I think you're nuts to cheap out on the photographer completely. Instead, why don't you contact local arts college & see if there is a junior or senior who might be willing to do it for a reduced fee, like travel costs + $500 or so, so that he or she can get some portfolio work.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 11:59:42 AM by mlipps »

rubybeth

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2015, 12:03:21 PM »
I'll chime in with the other person who mentioned just doing the reception at a restaurant, with a set menu or a buffet. We did this at a beautiful local restaurants, and there was no charge for the space, they charged us the regular price for the meals we got (which was under $20/person), plus they had a very minimal corkage fee since we wanted to bring in our own wine (my family aren't big drinkers, but to save on alcohol, just pay for wine/beer, and anything above and beyond that, guests are on their own).

happypup

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2015, 12:04:20 PM »
We did a mid-morning wedding with around 45 guests in a public park. I wavered back and forth about renting chairs vs just doing a short enough ceremony for people to stand, but in the end we got chairs. The cost of chairs + the park fee was still way cheaper than any hall we could have gotten. I was worried about logistics, but the chair guys had done weddings at the same place before, so they knew right where to go and did the setup/takedown in no time.

For food we did a buffet at I think $20 / head, and since the restaurant was BYOB we just bought a bunch of bottles of wine and champagne. Two things may have contributed to the buffet cost being on the low side: the restaurant wasn't usually open for lunch, so there was no chance of losing sales in favor of our party, and we went pretty light on meat -- a couple pasta dishes and some sort of chicken. It was delicious stuff, though, and filling, so no complaints from the committed carnivores.

BonBon

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2015, 12:06:27 PM »
Oh and I just thought I'd throw this link out in case you don't know about getting a liquor licence for an event in Alberta.
http://www.aglc.gov.ab.ca/licences/specialevents.asp

Yankuba

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2015, 12:12:05 PM »
You should be able to do it at a restaurant or hall (at an off time) for less than $45 pp.

If you don't create a gift registry the guests will bring cash gifts and that will offset a lot of the cost. Or if you have to register you can bring the gifts back to the stores and get store credit which you can sell on eBay for 95 cents on the dollar.

Yankuba

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2015, 12:14:53 PM »
You can find a newbie photographer looking to build their portfolio via CraigsList. They may charge you a nominal fee - like $50. A couple of friends did that for their engagement photos.

mm1970

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2015, 12:17:35 PM »
I've been to a couple of brunch weddings, and they were lovely.

Many of my family members had receptions in church halls or fire halls (where there are already tables and chairs, albeit not nice ones) available.

As far as catering goes:
I second the restaurant idea.
Or, don't mention wedding.  Call it a "party".

My friend got married about 4 years ago, and her fiance was planning the wedding.  The costs for the food were pretty outrageous - $75 a person.  So she separately called a few of the caterers and asked for a quote for a "garden party", and the price quoted was HALF the wedding price quoted.

So, there's that.

CheapskateWife

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2015, 12:24:47 PM »
Near where we live, there is a old train station that has been repurposed into a museum.  They left the waiting area open and rent it out for events.  The turn of the century architecture and wood make it an interesting enough space that decorations really aren't required.  Try thinking outside the box on venue...

How about a local art museum, historical society structure, or sculpture garden?

MandalayVA

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2015, 12:34:39 PM »
As someone who got married in a morning ceremony I can highly recommend it for keeping costs down.  No one's going to complain about the lack of booze, and food can be sandwiches and salads.

canuckie

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2015, 12:46:10 PM »
I REALLY pushed for the early ceremony/cake and punch reception. Having the whole thing wrapped up by 4 or 5 would be awesome. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing with your new spouse, or you can join the more party-oriented crowed for whatever festivities inevitably develop that evening (Pub night anyone?). Sadly, FH wouldn't go for it. He really wanted the afternoon ceremony + evening dinner and reception.

RE : Community Hall - I believe most have their own tables and chairs. Ours does. I think we just have to rent or buy some tablecloths and assess the flatware situation. The hall has some, but I'm not sure if it's enough. As far as I know, if you bring in an outside caterer, they can usually provide the flatware. I'm not positive on that though.

If your looking to have your ceremony outside, check out the City of Edmonton Gazebos. We looked into it and you can rent them for $37/hr http://www.edmonton.ca/activities_parks_recreation/parks_rivervalley/gazebos.aspx.

Ultimately our guest list ended up being too big for that kind of thing, but with a wedding your size it might work well.

Jouer

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2015, 12:58:44 PM »
Tip if using ipod for the music: make sure there is proximity to an outlet or have some battery powered charger available. I attended an outdoor wedding last summer - the battery from their iphone, which they were using for music, died part way through the reception. My wife and I jumped in to save the day but we didn't have a set list made up so had to DJ for a while. A few others took turns DJing though and it ended up being fun.

I second the drink tickets followed by cash bar being ok in Canada. Get your best man to do the dirty work on spreading the word about cash bar and cash gift preferences, if that is indeed your preference.

For our wedding, wife and I got married on a beach down south but threw a giant party here in town afterwards. Live band, catered cocktail food, ridiculous cupcakes, professional photography, etc. But we used a community centre where my wife attended dance class as a child as our venue. $200. We knew the band so got a steep discount. Friends with the owner of the cake company so got that as their wedding present to us....ditto for the photographer. Food was expensive but less than $45 per head. All this to say: do you have people in your life that provide these kinds of wedding services? It's a great way to cut down on costs.

lax4life93

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2015, 01:14:58 PM »
Wow, all these possibilities really give us something to think about.

The parks/gazebos would be nice but there is no alcohol permitted, so the community centers might be a better fit. 

I will have to make some calls trying to good a "party".  I didn't even realize the mark up on a gathering once someone knows it is a wedding! this could yield some more possible venues.

As for historical/museum type places, from our research so far, all of these type areas have reception halls and are not cheap here in the big city, but it doesn't mean they don't exist.  I will continue to dig into these "off the beaten path" venues.

Seems like everyone has had great success with brunch weddings.  We will have to take a good look at this :)

For our wedding, wife and I got married on a beach down south but threw a giant party here in town afterwards. Live band, catered cocktail food, ridiculous cupcakes, professional photography, etc. But we used a community center where my wife attended dance class as a child as our venue. $200. We knew the band so got a steep discount. Friends with the owner of the cake company so got that as their wedding present to us....ditto for the photographer. Food was expensive but less than $45 per head. All this to say: do you have people in your life that provide these kinds of wedding services? It's a great way to cut down on costs.

As for people who could help out with parts of the wedding, no one we know does any of these wedding things formally, but it doesn't mean we cant rope people into certain things.  We will likely try to get some of the ladies to bake the cupcakes/cakes and decorate and all that.  Depending where/when we have it, we might have someone who can take our evening photographs and everything else, but not much beyond that.  Sounds like you had quite the social network to help our with everything!

I'm a red panda

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #38 on: February 09, 2015, 01:24:12 PM »
The parks/gazebos would be nice but there is no alcohol permitted, so the community centers might be a better fit. 

A good reason to not have to serve it.

asauer

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2015, 01:31:31 PM »
We also did a potluck.  We had people sign up through an online registry portal and asked that their dish be their gift to us (no other gifts).  Wow.  People REALLY did a great job.  WAY better food than dry old chicken or fish and it gave people a conversation piece.  PLUS, we took home the leftovers and ate off of them for like, a month.

minimustache1985

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #40 on: February 09, 2015, 01:49:55 PM »
+1 to the Brunch/Lunch suggestions and looking at a restaurant.  I'm in the "cash bars are rude" camp, because it creates a class differential between your guests- your friends/family with good jobs are partying it up while others are wishing they could.  A dry wedding would not be out of place at brunch, or you could only offer champagne/mimosas.  +1 also to the gazebo/park idea.  I am not a fan of potlucks between out of town guests, food allergies, etc they are rarely executed well and even when they are it's essentially asking your guests to host.

Also on the guest list make sure the +1s you've cut are actually +1s and not significant others.  The truly single don't need a +1, but once someone has a bf/gf it's pretty crass to invite them to a celebration of love and commitment without the person they love.

For photography is there an art college local to you?  An upperclassmen photo student could do a great job at a college-student price.  To get the best students locate a professor's contact information and ask them for recommendations.

Unique User

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #41 on: February 09, 2015, 03:40:18 PM »
Hi there,

 I didn't read other responses, but wanted to quick pipe in -  Our wedding was a similar size and we found it to be much more economical to have the wedding at a small restaurant (local, on the river, organic, quality place - we could have gone "cheaper" but we love this place) with a set menu.  Now, mind you, we did brunch.  But we did a multiple course plated brunch including  local organic sausages, bacon, quiches, salads, stuffed strawberry French toast, yogurt parfaits, and flourless chocolate cake...maybe other stuff? Can't even remember.  We did host a limited bar including mimosas, bloody Mary's, and espresso beverages (plus juice, tea, water, coffee). Other beverages (beer) were purchased, but I am pretty sure no one did that because hello, brunch/blood marys.  For 55 guests, we were at 3k which included gratuities, all food/bar, dessert, the venue (there was no additional fee for this because it was a restaurant) and the place was cute enough (exposed brick, etc.) that we didn't decorate (just star fern stems which I got for $54 total).  So yes, we ended up at $55 per person, but that was the total cost and people raved it was the best food they had ever had at a wedding (maybe just being nice, but seriously, I am a foodie and it was so good).

Our other expenses were similar to yours, we just pulled everything back that we didn't "care" about.  Friend photographed (did a great job), friend married us (meant more that way anyway) no dance, because we just aren't dancers.  The TOTAL wedding for us was 5k (my dress and his suit plus flew in a couple people we love) and having most of it outsourced to the restaurant made it stress-FREE.  Spendy? Sure. Better than 25k? You bet. Worth the spend to us? Yup.  It was just the right balance and Everyone was happy.  Moms. Us. Friends. etc.  And that in and of itself is worth quite a bit of money.  Saving money is important, but for these once ever events, make sure you don't cut so much you no longer feel good about it (which is not an excuse to over spend, but to spend in the most thoughtful ways).  Walk away feeling balanced and like everything meaningful was covered and nothing you didn't care about was there. Then whatever your total, you will feel great.

Good luck!

Very similar to what we did.  11am ceremony at church, reception at a restaurant from 1pm to 5pm.  Friend of DH's owned the restaurant and we had bloody marys, mimosas, juice, coffee and a brunch buffet.  The restaurant had french doors to a private patio with tables outside, it was awesome.  We ended up spending about $5k for 75 people, but that was 20 years ago.  We had a photographer, it was a commercial photographer I had run into at work and she was game to do a wedding, think that was around $500.  I did go a bit over the top with the cake, but we did the flowers ourselves and invitations were done by a graphic artist friend.  Only other expenses I remember were tip for the altar servers and his suit. 
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 03:43:08 PM by Unique User »

halftimer

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #42 on: February 09, 2015, 04:53:29 PM »
My wedding (in Edmonton, more than a decade ago) was a frugal Friday night restaurant dessert reception. We had super low decorating costs due to the venue, fabulous foods, and out of town guests had supper in the restaurant while the wedding party had our pictures done. It was loosely based on a friend's wedding that is still legendary for it's beauty and simplicity: they had a brunch reception at the Hotel MacDonald and had someone serving crepes on the patio. I'm not sure if theirs was frugal (based on the venue, probably not) but we used that as inspiration to challenge having a 'traditional' wedding.  Know what is important to you - and remember that EVERYTHING is optional.

YellowCat

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #43 on: February 09, 2015, 05:24:16 PM »
Not sure if anybody has posted this yet, but you could check out www.apracticalwedding.com They've got some pretty good responses to inquiries similar to yours (just use the search function). It's a fairly not-crazy approach to wedding planning, at least compared to the rest of the internet...

In fact they just ran a post on 11 or so sample $2k budget weddings: http://apracticalwedding.com/2015/01/creative-sample-wedding-budgets/

Congratulations and good luck!!

midweststache

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #44 on: February 09, 2015, 05:42:21 PM »
All very great input.

ELOPING will be tough, this will be the only wedding for either of our parents, and although they say "do whatever you want" they want to be part of some kind of ceremony.
I'm starting to realize our priority isn't to have a big fancy "wedding" but rather just a family get together and dinner.  What I said we should do is just get married where ever, then have a HUGE multifamily potluck celebration somewhere to celebrate it and just tell everyone that we are now married.  This might be plan B.. or plan C.  She isn't sold on the idea.... YET

TIME OF DAY: This is something awesome I have never considered.  Maybe we can do it over lunch to keep costs down as suggested! AWESOME.  We are already having it in the "off season" to keep costs down and give us the ability to negotiate with the venue if we decide to go that route

VENUE:  The Community hall is a great idea... we need to look into this further! I just hope this doesn't become a logistical nightmare with chairs and all that jazz.  Does anyone have any experience with this to let me know how it worked for them?  Please and thanks :)

BOOZE: Drink tickets are very common here, and it gives you control over what happening.  IMO the open bar weddings I have been to just get messy haha, we want to avoid that.
If the idea like the community hall presents itself, we know a couple bar tenders and we could buy COSTCO booze for next to nothing.  This could work out well together.

FOOD: Currently, venue catered $45 per person is the cheapest we have found, and its not overly fancy, but its not bad either.  Plated meals will cost us more.  I think we will find trying to go the route of the community hall and getting our own caterers will be much cheaper as canuckie mentioned.  We are persistently looking into this
Potluck with be very difficult with the distances people are traveling currently, I am not sold if this would work.

PHOTOGRAPHER:  Most of the comments have been around this because its a tough one to figure out.  This is where I think we will compromise, and please let me know if you have any experience with what my "plan" might turn out like.  FIRST, we hire a photographer for a half hour or so to shoot us in our formal dress at the ceremony location, and then have our quick 15 min ceremony with a couple photos.  SECOND get the family and friends to shoot some photos throughout the night.  We don't really have any photography friends, but we don't care too much about the reception photos.  This way we get great photos when they matter for a price, and then misc photos throughout the night.  I keep telling myself this will work.

PARTY FAVORS: I never liked these things, unless you can eat them.... and then I eat them that night at the wedding.  If we do anything it will be something for the kids not the adults, like little bottles of bubbles, and they can play with it at the wedding, so this would be dollar store cheap!

KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING!!! They are all awesome, thank you so much :)

If you do an earlier event, guests will likely moderate themselves. We're doing a brunch reception after a city hall wedding. We're renting out a room at a local brewery that serves brunch, and we're just letting our guests order from the regular menu/bar, rather than catering. We figure that's about the same cost per person ($45) and people get what they actually want.

A girlfriend got married in a community hall (American Legion--do you have something similar in Canada?). The veterans cooked and manned the bar as part of the venue costs, as fundraising. It's a fairly popular thing to do for Midwest weddings, and pretty frugal. They also gave us access the day before to decorate, and it looked very nice. 

Our photographer is an acquaintance who wants to break into the wedding photography industry. I've seen his work in non-wedding contexts and its good. Photography isn't a huge deal for us--I said I want one picture of my without three chins (I'm not photogenic)--so it's a win-win situation for us. If you can find a similar situation, you can get a pretty deep discount and still get a skilled photographer.

Fuck favors. Outdated tradition. The favor is the party (to be fair, we're also driving home a no-gifts policy for us as well). The BF asked me about these when we started planning; I said if it was important to him, he could plan, organize, and enact the favors. It got nixed real quick.

LadyMuMu

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #45 on: February 09, 2015, 06:06:44 PM »
Have your wedding on a Friday morning like we did. Only those who REALLY want to see you get married (as opposed to just go to a wedding) will happily take the day off of work. Do it in the morning and don't worry about music or alcohol beyond a champagne toast. We ate a sit-down brunch at a 4-star restaurant with 32 guests for about $30 per person including tip, cake, etc. 

wordnerd

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #46 on: February 09, 2015, 06:55:01 PM »
Some ways DH and I saved when we got married 3 years ago: getting married on the Monday of a holiday weekend (we didn't have to pay weekend rates for food), using cheap/free venues (ceremony on the California coast, reception at a church his family ran), alcohol-free (though cheap wine and beer for 50 people wouldn't have run the total up too much, a bar certainly would have), pie (which we prefer) instead of overpriced wedding cake, no flowers (bridesmaid carried non-traditional bouquets from Etsy), prioritizing the guest list. Our major splurge was photography (about half of the wedding budget), but we decided to prioritize that from the outset, and we're very glad to have such beautiful pictures of the day, the coast, and our family and friends

kpd905

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #47 on: February 09, 2015, 07:39:00 PM »
That cost for the buffet is pretty crazy.  We are getting married in July and the cost for food, beer and gratuity is about $20/person.

gimp

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #48 on: February 09, 2015, 07:41:14 PM »
My opinions.

1.

Go to jasper. It is fucking beautiful. It's also less known than banff, despite being part of the same national park.

2.

My advice as a hobbyist photographer. You know those boring formals with everyone dressed up, looking happy but sorta somber? Those are pretty much the ONLY photos most people choose to print and display. Wacky faces, guests, etc... nah. Everyone looks at those once on facebook then ... nothing ...

So. If you want to go cheap but not sacrifice quality. Hire a photographer in edmonton. Hire the photographer for, like, a half hour to do the formals. Do it wherever they recommend - they know the best spots. Ask in your contract for the following things:

- Digital full-resolution JPEGs (you won't get RAWs - don't ask), on a flash drive or DVD, within a reasonable amount of time.
- Release to print your own photos from those JPEGs, however, do ask and pay for the photographer to get you one or two prints. Printing photos is much more difficult than you think - to do it right, you need to: calibrate/profile your monitor, figure out who to trust to print this in high quality, figure out the material (canvas, aluminum, or simple paper) and framing and mounting if any, get a printer profile from them, run the jpeg through a profile matching program, and hope it comes out right. Printing photos at your local walmart is easy, you just upload jpeg and hit auto, but you have no guarantees it'll be good and no way to fix any mistakes.
- Deliver no more than 10, maybe 20 max photos from the formals, or as few as 5. Quality over quantity. The best wedding albums might only have 60 photos from the entire event, or even less (even 20 for an 8-hour shindig.)

For photos of the event itself... well, decide if the traditional photos are worth it to you. First kiss, first dance, blah blah. If they are, decide if you need them perfect. If so, disregard what I said above and hire a guy for the full day and pay around three grand. If you can live without some of those - well, there are plenty of people just starting out weddings for money but have decent experience; this will be way cheaper, but also will have no guarantees of it being perfect.

(As the saying goes: a hobbyist practices until they get it right, a professional practices until they never get it wrong.)

Definitely do not try to hire your friend with a dSLR - weddings are stressful as fuck, and ruin friendships.

If you want to go super cheap, then simply ask everyone to take photos of the main things (kiss, dance, etc) with their phones and send you the results. You will probably find at least a couple decent photos, for free.

But make sure you understand your expectations. Cheap out if you are 100% sure you are okay if you get no "perfect" photos of the event. Since photos are pretty much the only thing that last, other than memories, do be careful.

Dimitri

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Re: How the Hell am I going to pull off this frugal wedding?
« Reply #49 on: February 09, 2015, 08:36:22 PM »
Frugal wedding in Marriage Capital of the World (aka Las Vegas, Nevada):

Marriage License - To apply for a marriage license - $60
Civil marriage ceremony - To have a marriage ceremony at the Office of Civil Marriages - $75
http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/clerk/Pages/Fees.aspx

If you want to spend a bit more - instead of getting married at the Office of Civil Marriages you can have Elvis take care of the nuptials.  I'm sure you can find something similar where you live (maybe not Elvis but at least the first two parts).

Take the savings and invest it in your future.