As we approach our 2 year wedding anniversary, I am becoming nostalgic about our big day. It truly was the perfect day. Perfect weather, a perfect ceremony and reception, and a perfect honeymoon. We were engaged for 13 months, and overall our engagement was pretty smooth. For a usually stressed out person, I was a Bride-chilla for the most part. (People were actually shocked at how calm I was on the wedding day). It was so cool to see all of my ideas come to fruition at the end of the year. I have decided to do a blog post about this, not only to remember the moments we cherished, but to show you how we planned a wedding under $15,000!
Before I get into the details, here are a few of our major cost savers and numbers.
Things we saved on: Church.
My wants in a Church were as follows: a center aisle, stained glass windows, and enough room to fit 200 people. After we looked at a few different places, and were appalled at the amount of money it cost just to rent the space for 2 hours (1200 for some places!), we checked out the church that my sister and brother got married in. It was a church in downtown London, and it didn’t look extravagant on the outside, but the inside blew me away. We spent less than $150 on it, and had our rehearsal dinner in it as well. It fit all of my criteria, including the cost!
Saved on: Venue
My criteria for a venue was more specific. It had to fit 200 people, let me decorate how I wanted, not come with a theme already (i.e. a rustic venue), and it had to let us bring in our caterer. A huge saver was our caterer. When a venue comes with one- that ups the price by a landslide. If you aren’t set on a venue, look into caterers who work independently! We asked our caterer where she has done weddings, and she found our venue for us! It was modern enough, and a blank canvas for me to work with. We had it for two full days, one for setup and the other for the wedding- and it was just under $1000!
Saved on: Booze
We had a choice to make- did we want to have a smaller wedding with booze, or have more people and no alcohol. We chose friends. People were welcome to drink between the ceremony and reception, but we had a booze-free wedding. We made it fun with little extras in the evening like a pop bar, a cotton candy machine, bubbles and balloons! Neither Simon or are are big drinkers, and neither are our families. If you choose to forgo alcohol for YOUR day, your friends and family will understand because they truly are there for YOU.
Saved on: Plus Ones
Every person and their mother will ask for a plus one. Be warned. Sorry cousin Bob- no I don’t want to pay all of this extra money for you to bring some random to my wedding when you know a ton of people here. Here were our exceptions: if they have been together for a long time, if we knew the significant other, if they weren’t going to know anyone else at the wedding, and if we saw us becoming good friends with them down the line. It gets expensive when everyone asks for one. However- a lot of people may have never been to a wedding and don’t know the proper etiquette! So be kind, and let them know that if more people say no, they can bring them!
Saved on: Florals
Don’t get me wrong, The flowers were stunning, the consultation was thorough, but my jaw dropped to the floor when I found out how much bouquets alone would cost me. I had zero floral knowledge at all, but I am crafty as heck. So off to Hobby Lobby I went, bridesmaids in tow. The flowers at Michael’s in Canada didn’t look as nice, and were twice the cost. After I discovered my hidden talent of floral design, I spent 1/4 of the money I would have spent on the faux florals. After the wedding, I resold them. I ended up making money off of these bad boys! Flowers are a huge expense, and it really only lasts one day. Unless it is your greatest desire to have real ones, look into fake flowers, or having someone help you with them!
Things I spent on: Bridal Party
We had a huge wedding party. And we loved every second of it. Looking back at photos, Simon always tells me that he felt like he had an army of support. We each had 8 on our sides, and even then they were hard to choose! The only expense is the gifts. We wanted to spoil our party and do more than just one gift, so for the girls I did their jewelry, and robes. The boys were gifted their socks, ties, and favourite chocolate bars.
Spent on: Photography
In the grand scheme of things, our photographer was a steal! She was amazing, and her package included a second shooter as well- which we wanted. I believe we spent a couple hundred more over budget but boy was it worth it!
Spent on: Limo
This one was the brain child of my parents. They thought it would be easier to get a limo to transport all of the ladies to and from the venues. However, they did not like the look of the party bus- so they decided on a Rolls Royce limo! Boy- were we okay with that!! It was a lovely last minute gift from my parents that we will forever cherish.
Overall, we managed to come in under our budget, with the help of both of our parents. The day went by so fast, but was my favourite, ever. Below I’ve posted a few of my favourite details from the day. Enjoy!
Of course we had to have Starbucks! But not every barista has the prettiest font. My maids sneakily had my close friend Mikaelee- of Flourish Artistic Design- design these custom cups for the morning of! She even used my signature name of “bridesbabes” for my girls!
Of course I had to get a photo with my babies! I found these adorable bride and groom dog costumes at TJMAXX, I couldn’t pass them up!
These were the custom robes, designed by Evelynn by Nicole Snobelen. I was one of her first bridal robe customers, and now she does hundreds every year! I got to pick the fabric, and the price was way better than those on Etsy.
Instead of buying, I made these bridesmaid hangers for my girls. I just painted some Walmart hangers and used my steadiest writing skills!
First look with dad. A tender moment.
Some of my details:
Clutch: Kate Spade lookalike from Aldo
Jewelry: all Kate Spade New York
Garter: Free from a contest at Ballett’s Bridal in London
Heels: My something borrowed. These were my mom’s wedding shoes that I always wanted to wear, and they happened to match my dress perfectly. She even put on these appliques herself back in the day.
Keds: I wanted a comfy dancing shoe, so I got these Kate Spade glitter Keds, and my feet could dance all night!
Our “vintage postage” style invites. Symbolic of the long distance we endured over 5 years.
Bridal portraits in a greenhouse- the perfect backdrop.
Our amazing squad. I DIYed these signs using wooden hearts from Michael’s, chalkboard paint, and Popsicle sticks.
The boys ties are from The Tie Bar, and Simon had a custom tie clip with our date engraved, from Etsy. The boutonnieres were also made by me.
Our programs doubled as fans for the hot August weather, and were created by my brother, Patrick, and printed and cut by Minuteman Press London.
My sweet nephew, Theodore. We got his adorable blazer from H&M.
He carried me down the aisle like a pro.
Instead of the trendy sparklers. we gave our huge bridal party bubbles, for our grand church exit. It was an overwhelming moment to go into a huge crowd of loved ones.
Our decorated venue, Ilderton Community Center.
For something to do or talk about, we created activity books. They included wedding Bingo, bridal party bios, photos, order of events, and a crossword with trivia about the bride and groom.
Our place cards were individually hand stamped, and placed in a Ferrero Rocher. Thankfully my bridesmaids took that job of sticking them into the chocolate, because it was a lot harder than it looked.
Every table was a piece of our story. The globes represented our journey of long distance love. Each globe was a place that was special to us; from a family cottage to Apple Picking. Accompanying it was a photo and description of why it was important to us. It sat atop a gold painted plant holder from The Dollar Store, adorned with willow leaves. The globes were another Dollar Store DIY. They were originally bright green and blue, but I used chalkboard paint to glam them up, and Mikaelee from Flourish Artistic Design wrote the places on them. (Thank goodness for her!). The photo frames were under $3.00 each from Ikea, and I used leftover ribbon from the bouquets to add some colour.
DIY seating chart: Do I regret hand stamping each name and table number? In the end, no. During? Well, that’s another story. I used luggage tags from Hobby Lobby and my antique trunk as part of our subtle “journey” theme.
Cake: I did not want to spend $200 plus dollars on a cake nobody would eat. I saw this adorable tart cake at Sobey’s for $25 that matched our colour scheme perfectly, and made the cake topper myself!
Sweetheart table: We had somewhat of a sweetheart table, where we were with everyone, but a bit separated, which was the best of both worlds. The stunning linens and backdrop were rented from A&B Party, and the Mr&Mrs sign was a Winners find. I DIYed the S & S sign from letters at Walmart.
Little Touches: The signage was around the room to add gold and personal touches. The gold frame was thrifted and painted, and the W was painted and filled with glitter!
The head table had gold chargers from Michael’s, which I scoured many stores to find 18! The gold rimmed glasses were for Simon and myself, as my parents were gifted them from their wedding day.
My mom surprised Coca-Cola loving Simon with the wedding themed signature Coke’s for the bridal party.
More fun moments: The shoe game, always a riot!
Cotton Candy: my favourite food, and everyone’s favourite memory from the day!
Party Time: Balloons bouncing around the room, bubbles, glowsticks, and a 90s playlist.
I hope if anything, my wedding post has you inspired to get crafty for your wedding! You CAN plan a glamorous, elegant, and fun wedding on a budget.
Happy 2nd anniversary to my best friend and husband, Simon James. Love you, always.