I should probably preface this with a disclaimer. This was a perfect wedding for me. My experiences shooting weddings all showed me the elaborate choices each couple made had meaning or value to them. So please take all my suggestions if you have a similar mind (or wallet) to me!
My priorities in life is to travel, study, make art, etc and I didn't want to basically spend $30K on one day, when it could take me around the world. For others, this day is very important and I respect those who do spend that amount of money. I've shot for those exact people and I think their special day was still unique and wonderful.
Thank you to my sister, maid of honor, best man and family who planned and pulled the whole damn thing together.
Here is the breakdown of my $10k wedding!
- Size -
Keep it small. We kept it to 60 people. I was bummed not being able to invite more of my coworkers and other friends, but in the end I liked how intimate the wedding was and how people made friends and generally didn't feel alone at my wedding. Our wedding party was also small: it was just me, Josh, his best man and my maid of honour.
- Venue -
Josh and I believe one thing: what people remember most about a wedding is how good the food is and an open bar. People never seem to remember the decor as vividly as the closer family does, the colours as much, etc as they do the overall setting and whether they enjoyed their food or not!
Josh and I scouted many places for our venue. What we could not get over was the rental fee ontop of the catering/food that was separate at many venues. The suggestion for Seasons in the Park at Queen Elizabeth Theatre came from our officiant. It was perfect: there's a food and beverage minimum we had to spend in order to book the venue. It depends on which room you book at the venue, but we ended up booking the Garden Vista and Skyline room. We held our ceremony in the Vista room which was beneath the Skyline and it was perfect.
With open bar, table wine for each table, a top notch three course menu, parking for our guests, we spent around $4,000. Service was fantastic. We had a full view of Vancouver in the Skyline Room. The children and out of towners could enjoy the massive park, the rose garden, go to the Conservatory or simply to the fountain at the top. I honestly loved the simplicity of the Garden Vista Room as incase it rained, everything was indoors!
- The Dress & Tuxes -
Dress shopping wasn't fun for me at all in the beginning. The first place I went to in New Westminster basically was crammed full of grad kids and the girl measuring me passively aggressively fat shamed me. The second place was booked up for two weeks. Me and my bridesmaid went into a place called Bliss Bridal. In the front was new items and the back consignment. It was the only place that let us wander without hustling us out even if we didn't have an appointment. We set one and left. Before we went to our appointment at Bliss, we went to a shop in East Vancouver. I don't think they took us too seriously because my bridal party was only me and my bridesmaid. Even booking the place felt like we were prioritised last because of our size. The following week we went back to Bliss and it was fun. Selma and I dug through clothing and searched for the dress.
If you know me personally, you know that I love thrifting. A part of me cannot get over how much waste clothing generates and especially that a wedding is only one day, I was more drawn to the consignment section of this shop. If I had bought a new dress it would have been a Truvelle dress, as I love Gaby Bayona's work. But viola, Selma pulled out three beautiful dresses that I tried out, one of them being the one.
How much was it? With alterations, the sash/accessories plus tax, it was $1,300. The bridesmaids dresses range from $250 and up. You also have the option of putting your dress up for consignment after.
The guys went to Black and Lee's Downtown. They paid $500 and reported they were super knowledgeable, quick and super friendly.
- Decor, Favors, Gifts -
The favors are from Godiva. They were $300 for 60 guests with gourmet candy bags for the children (mix of boutique candies). The table decor was thrifted and all together was $80.
- Invites/Stationary -
Well. I am a graphic designer at my day job. SO. If you are not, might I suggest Canva which is FREE? I used Canva for the save the dates. I sent most of my invites via email that linked to a Google form. Once the person RVSP'd in my google form, it would send the results to an Excel sheets that collected their yes/no, dietary restrictions, their address (to send thanks to) and their guests/+1s. Arranging the tables was SUPER easy having this Excel sheet. Same goes for the signage and name tags - I designed them myself. You can email me here if none of this makes sense but you're intrigued.
- Cake / Cupcakes -
Cupcakes are seriously the best. I find that they are some sort of social food: people come up to grab one and they end up talking to each other about the flavor, etc. And if you can't finish your cupcake, you can easily take it home.
OK. Some cake baker will seriously fight me, but a tip I got from a frugal friend was do NOT mention wedding when ordering cakes/cupcakes. It also helps if your wedding is small like mine, too!
I ordered my cake from Cupcake. It's actually just meant to be a birthday cake, but they can also tier it for you. I got this tip from my friend who's a fabulous, frugal blogger whose website is here. My husband and I made the cake topper. We found two peg pieces and glued it onto a wooden heart, both from Michaels. I covered it with a coat of paint and painted the little faces on them.
$300 for 60 cupcakes, 1 cake.
- Transportation -
Pacific Car Rentals. I rented an Escalade for a day for exactly $324.79 and got my brother in law to drive. Since we covered parking for everyone at the venue via valet, there was no issue with transportation!
- Photography/Videography -
OK. So fun, I'm a photographer myself so this is a fun question to answer. I spent I think around $1,200 including buying a polaroid camera and some film.
I'm a pretty simple person. Me and Josh aren't model-material and most portfolios actually scare me because .. usually.. the first thing a photographer drops on their front page are model-gorgeous people kissing in some lens flare explosion of awesomeness.
So my only requirement for photography at my wedding was 1. documentation and 2. nice family portraits. I didn't want too many staged shots of myself and Josh and I felt like Queen Elizabeth also provided a beautiful backdrop that any photo could looking amazing. And it did!
I chose Julian Fok, who is an amazing photographer. His work is here. I am very, very picky with photography myself. I didn't just want to hire some random person, because photos to me are still very, very, very important. I saw Julian's photos prior as he shot my friend Diana's wedding.
I hired him for a half day and added some hours of overtime into the equation. If I could hire him for all day I would have. He came with a drone and everything! I felt like the half day was a good compromise for my budget and still hiring someone whose work I value and respect. Though I was late to my own wedding, I still have photos of the ceremony, the reception and group photos within the time allotted. I think the beauty of the park added to the speediness of the photos being taken, and my family/friend group breakdown lists.
So really, my recommendation is budget your time wisely and be very organized for your photographer. You can save money this way. This is my own tip being a photographer myself. Yes. I was late to my own wedding but I still got all the shots I wanted by being clear what my expectations were and what I needed exactly.
I saved a bit on videography because I had my own equipment. I put a two camera set up which Julian hit record at the beginning and end of my ceremony.
The polaroids I found to be super fun too. I got everyone to take pictures on the side and just have fun with it. We had a time capsule where people slid these pictures in if they didn't take it home. The children loved it too - they took many pictures after being taught how to use it. My suggestion for polaroid loving people is to order your instax film online on Amazon. In-person retail is high way robbery since you buy it per box, it's available in bulk online.
- Flowers -
Proline in Burnaby. This was recommended to me by Diana from Foodology who shares her experiences and photos of her bouquet here. $520 for corsages, boutineers, bouquets and table arrangements, including delivery. You just have to set up a meeting in person - I gave Kathleen my pinterest board and she nailed it. I chose greenery based arrangement because the park was already full of flowers, so I didn't want to go too loco!
As a disclaimer, the lady here is extremely busy and it is in the middle of nowhere. Expect brief service, but don't worry: you get exactly what you tell her.
- Shoes -
- Rings -
Josh sourced (to the best of his ability) non blood diamonds and somewhat ethical gold in Gastown. The ring was from a First Nations artist who sourced the Canadian diamond. I believe the shop was called 'Silver Gallery'. My parents got the bands for us too which are plain gold bands. All in all, $500.
- Hotels for Out of Towners -
AirBnB is your friend. $500 total.
- Officiant / Certificate -
$275 in total for the paperwork, plus a tip for your officiant. I can't remember as Josh tipped her and neither of us can remember!
- Parties -
So, this is where our budget is a little over $10k (probably no more than 11.2k). We threw a party for everyone. I believe factored in, it was around $1,500 for all our festivities. Again: we believe being with the people we love, having good food, drink and a merry time is priority.
We had a very large engagement party at my place where we invited literally everyone, especially those who we wouldn't see on our wedding and just had a good time.
Our bachelorette and bachelor's party were small affairs that didn't cost us piles of money. I had mine at some craft breweries and Josh had his at an Irish pub. We also crashed each other's parties!
My sister threw my bridal party, which was a high-tea event which had a smaller amount of attendance and only people who were coming to the wedding.
Then we threw a huge party for the out of town guests who came the day before our wedding at River Rock Casino. We rented a private room in their buffet and it was great!
- Finale -
I still get compliments to this date about my wedding, and people seem to have their own personal, funny memories from the date, so I think my main goal of making it intimate succeeded!
Was it very difficult or hectic - yes. Absolutely. I'm indecisive at times because a lot of things don't matter to me as it would someone else. I'm also an anything goes person, which ... doesn't help when you get varying opinions from everyone. Also your family: everyone will have an opinion, so keep positive if you can!
In all, it kind of depends on what your priorities are. You should only pick a budget wedding if it suits your lifestyle, which it does mine. If you want the dream wedding, save up for it! Planning a wedding will have pitfalls and have you put in several corners regardless of how much money you spend! And you can do it, I believe you can make something out of whatever you have! Who needs a Pinterest-Perfect wedding anyway?