Friday, June 27, 2014

How to Get Married on a Budget

The average Wedding these days costs anywhere from $20,000- $50,000. Where I come from.. that's just plain crazy talk! I'm naturally a thrifty person who came from very humble beginnings so when I hear numbers like these I get very nervous. Especially when it involves trying to plan my own Wedding!

I think one of the biggest deterrents couples have for getting married these days is the amount of money they think they have to spend on their wedding. We've all been to big, elaborate Fairy Tale weddings that other people have had and honestly, it's quite intimidating. There's an unspoken expectation in your own head that you have to 'follow suit' and do something similar.

Our society has created this big 'Wedding Industry Monster' that tries to dictate what you think have to do for your Big Day. But you don't have to do any of that crap! You and your partner can make your special day anything you want! It's Your Day! If you don't want to rack up $20,000 dollars in debt for one day.. guess what? You don't have to! There's other options :)

I am recently married and have decided to blog about how we saved over $5000.00 on our Wedding Day! I enjoy being thrifty... BUT, I like things to be nice and classy too. Here's how you can have the best of both worlds :)

Here are 8 ways we saved money for our Wedding!

#1 The 'Do-It-Yourself' Factor

I made my own bouquets the day before the wedding and saved a tonne! I bought 3 different bunches of flowers at Costco for a total of $40.00. There were some left over flowers that I used for decorations around our house.
(Costco flowers: $40 vs. Florist $300-$600)

For the Wedding Reception I created my own Playlists and used my home stereo system.
(Homemade playlist $0 vs DJ/Live Band $500-$1000)

For the reception we purchased meat for the BBQ and ready-made side dishes from Costco.
(Costco Food $200 vs Caterer $1500-$2400) 

Through the months leading up to the wedding I would pop into Value Village or the Salvation Army and pick up decorative pieces little by little. Our wedding theme was an "English Country Garden Wedding", so I would get colored glass vases, glasses, silver serving dishes, candle holders, and linens.
(Thrift shop decorations $100 vs Buying new $200-300)

I had flower arrangements through out the house made up from a mixture of store bought flowers ($30) and Wild Flowers growing in a nearby field (FREE)
(Flowers $30 vs Florist arrangements $100-300)

#2 Borrow don't Buy

My Maid of Honor offered to lend me her own wedding veil and jewelry. Even though I opted out of wearing the veil last minute, it still would have been a killer savings!
(New vs Borrowed... equals a savings of $130-$200)

She also lent me her own Vera Wang champagne flutes.
(New Vera Wang vs Borrowed equals a savings of $100)

We borrowed serving dishes, fine china and some extra linens from family members.
(New vs Borrowed equals a savings of $200-400)

#3 Look at your own Inventory

One of my first wedding resources was our own Home. Why buy new stuff if it's already sitting around your home buried away. I found that a lot of the decorations I had wanted to purchase for our wedding were items that we already owned.

I found Flower vases hiding in the cupboard (savings $30-50), candle holders (savings $50), tea lights (savings $5-10), and a nice pair of Nude high-heel shoes that were the perfect height for my wedding dress (savings $100-$200). 

Transportation to the church and reception? How about your own damn car! lol   My mom drove me and some family members to the church in my car and the Groom drove to the church in his own car. After the wedding we taped up our little homemade Bristol board cut out heart "Just Married" ($1)  in the back of his car window and put ribbons on the antenna ($1)
(Car decor savings $20-30).

My new Husband and I drove to the photo shoot together alone. It was so nice to be in his big old familiar Buick, having some precious alone time after a very hectic morning. From the church my mom drove my car to the photo shoot location with some other family members.
(Total transportation cost: $5 dollars for gas maybe?? :)  So, because we didn't rent limos for the big day that's a savings of $200-500!)

#4 Everything's Negotiable

In any service or product there's always some wiggle room ;)

Every photographer offers their own special Wedding Packages but maybe you're not interested in all the extras that are jacking up the costs.  Break it down to personalize it for your own needs. We only wanted a couple hours of photography, no prints, and no album.  The photographer originally was offering $275 for his wedding package, but after negotiating a bit he eventually knocked the price down to $200 for just the services we specifically wanted.
(Savings $75.... But if you compare our Personalized Package vs "Normal" Wedding packages this equals a savings of $600-$3000)

Originally, a local Hair stylist was offering to come to my hotel room and wanted to charge $80 for my up-do, $60 for my bridesmaid's up-do and $30-40 for each flower girl. After negotiating back and forth a little she ended up coming down to $50-60 per up do and $20 per flower girl.
(Savings $40)

Also... looking at the sales racks really helped us out! Sean's suit was on sale for $175 at Tip Top Tailor and my Wedding dress was also on sale for $369 at David's Bridal!
(savings $800-$2000)

#5 Local Resources: Thrift Shops & Kijiji

I absolutely love Value Village, The Salvation Army and little antique shops. They have great decorative items that are perfect for any wedding theme. Given that our theme was "English Country Garden" these shops provided plenty of unique colored glass vases, glass wear, sterling silver serving platters, linens, and discount china. When looking for personalized services I found Kijiji to be a great resource. They have plenty of options for local photography, make up, hair, nails, waxing, DJ's and some really affordable, previously used wedding decor. We hired both our photographer and hair stylist from Kijiji ads and were very pleased with the results.

#6 Wedding Reception at Home

It's considered unorthodox to have your reception at your home but really people.. your wedding is Whatever you want it to be... and Where ever you want it to be. It's also a good excuse to give your home a deep clean and get things organized! For us, it also offered a really personal and intimate quality to our special day. Our first dance was in our living room surrounded by friends and family. Our speeches were done at sunset on our back deck with our puppies running around the yard. I got to use my own bathroom and could touch up my make up, hair or reapply deodorant as needed. I could go to my bedroom if I needed a moment to myself. Our home now has the added sentiment of memories of our wedding day. And there's nothing like waking up in your own bed... your.. Marital Bed! We got to use all the left over food for the following weeks for meals or snacks. I portioned out leftover meat and side dishes into multiple freezer bags for quick meals later on. I was worried at times that having the wedding reception at home would feel too relaxed,  or not 'special' enough. But it wasn't like that at all. Everything seemed super euphoric and happy, and although there was a feeling of comfort it was still an exciting night.
(savings on renting a venue $300-$1000)

#7 Think outside of the Box

I wanted to spend the night before the wedding in a hotel room with my best friend/Maid of Honor. So, I booked a room at the most economically priced and centrally located place... The Motel 6! It was perfect!  Location wise, it was only a five minute drive to the church and the MAC cosmetics department at the mall!
(With taxes it was $119, but compared to the "swanky" downtown luxury hotels it was a savings of $100-$200)

Also.. I went to Starbucks the morning of the wedding day and said to the barista, "I'm getting married today!"... and guess what? Free lattes for me and my maid of honor! Boo Ya!
(savings $10)

Instead of going to a special salon or spa, I chose to get my make up done at MAC Cosmetics in the local mall. It's a great deal! For $50 worth of product you get a free make up application! For my purchase I bought the foundation and the lipstick she used so I could touch up later through out the evening!
(savings $65-$110)

For my hair stylist I decided to check out some 'fresh new talent'! On Kijiji there was an ad for a young hair stylist who was looking to expand their clientele. She works at a well known, higher end salon in town and was looking to expand her own business. The salon she works in normally charges $70-110 for bridal up do's. After negotiations she offered to charge only $60 for my bridal hair, $50 for my Maid of Honor and $20 for each of the Flower Girls... plus she came to our hotel for free!
(savings of $10-$50.00)

Although to some people it's considered 'taboo' we decided to go with email invitations. This not only saves money on the cost of the invitations themselves but also for the cost of stamps... which are crazy expensive these days! I personally also find that invitations always just get thrown in the garbage anyway!
(savings: $300-$400)

#8 Let your friends and family help you

I'm a 'fiercely independent woman' as my, now, husband describes me. I personally find it hard to let others help me because ever since i was a child I've always had a 'I want to do it all by myself' attitude. But when it came to planning a budget wedding I needed to drop my 'I'll do it myself' attitude and let others be there for me. We didn't really need to 'ask' for help because we had such a huge out pouring of people offering help with everything.

In the weeks and months leading up to the wedding I would have my mom come over and we started deep cleaning the house together; washing all the baseboards, cleaning out behind appliances, washing the windows inside and out, sanding and painting our back deck. She was a huge help! And it gave us mother-daughter time together :)

Our Groomsmen and a couple of their girlfriends helped us get the house ready the morning of the wedding. They were setting up the tables, candles, linens, serving dishes, tidying up the house, out picking wild flowers and then arranging them through out the house. My aunt offered to cover our wine costs for the event and she also did my moms hair and makeup for the big occasion. My maid of honor prepared her famous Mango Chutney Turkey burgers and a Mushroom Quinoa side salad. She was also fully prepared for any emergencies with her well packed, extra large suitcase (which included champagne glasses {wrapped in towels} for our morning mimosas at the Motel 6! And I quote her, "We will NOT drink champagne out of plastic cups!" lol)

My In Laws provided serving wear, extra champagne glasses, an extra outdoor table and made delicious side dishes including my favorite appetizer of all... Deviled Eggs! My mom lent me her fine china for fancy dishware. My cousin served as a great organizer/planner for the 24 hrs leading up to the big "I do's". She had her own little note pad and pen and kept track of Everything! She also did the final touches on the bouquets while I was getting dressed. It was so wonderful to have my closest, nearest and dearest friends and family helping us out for our big day!

It's times like these where it's ok to lean on others for some help because, as your friends and family, it's really an honor for them to be there for you. Everyone was so happy and energized to help us out... we feel so incredibly loved and cherished :)
(savings: Priceless)

Overall, we pulled off a lovely and wonderful Thrifty yet Classy Wedding... And we did it Our Way! Don't succumb to all the evil temptations of the "Wedding Industry Monster"! Make your special day about what the two of you cherish and hold most important, and do it all in a price range that you can afford :)

Bootsy :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Near Death Experience

When I was 6 years old I almost drowned.

I was at a local, outdoor community swimming pool with my mother on a sunny afternoon in St Albert, Alberta. I was in the shallow end of the pool and my mom was laying on her towel nearby beside the pool. Next to the edge, standing and chatting, were a group of young life guards enjoying the sunshine and joking around. I was told to stay in the shallow end but I also thought that there would be no harm in holding on to the side of the pool ledge and venturing a bit deeper... maybe just by a foot or two. I was pretty good at treading water, and it wasn't technically the 'deep end' so I felt pretty confident.

The pool was brimming with little, wet bodies, laughing and jumping into the pool from the sidelines. I was holding on to the edge, practicing my treading water here and there, when the waves from the kids cannon balling in beside me seemed to be getting quite intense. I turned and saw that I was now a foot away from the edge and the waves seemed to be coming non stop. This all happened within seconds. Then it started to get worse. One wave would go over my head, mouth full of water... I recall looking up at the lifeguards, silently begging for help with my eyes, while they stood feet away talking and joking. Again, my head went under and panic came over me. The water was taking me completely under.
I don't think I'm going to make it.

Then, all of a sudden, I remember this dark shadow flying over me, in slow motion... followed immediately by the biggest wave that completely and ferociously twisted my body and sent me spiralling down even deeper. Along with that huge and seemingly last fatal wave, came arms and hands that lifted my body completely out of the water, and held me up on high. My mother had come to my rescue.

She recalls the scene as having happened within seconds. She was nearby watching me in the shallow end, she laid down, kept checking on me visually. The next time she looked she couldn't see me. She got up immediately to then witness me going under the water and struggling for air. I was only one or two feet from the edge, she ran and took a flying leap over my body landing next to me in the water... causing that large, cannon ball wave that seemed so deadly to me at the time. The water was only 5 feet deep and she was able to stand on the floor of the pool when she lifted me up. She was absolutely furious with the life guards standing mere feet from me and we left immediately after she tore a strip out of them.

I was only 6 years old, but I knew then what had almost happened. I knew that my mother had saved my life. I remember that day vividly and I believe that it marked for me, in my little life at the time, the personal knowledge and understanding that my mother was truly my greatest Protector.

Bootsie :)

Thank You Annie, I love you  xoxo