Spending styles vary, but every bride has a budget and wants the same results – the wedding wow factor. Couples are saying ‘I do’ to spending for their special day and the bottom line: memorable wedding costs. (Fotolia)
What’s your wedding style? An over-the-top bling bash or a modest, even frugal affair?
Spending styles vary, but every bride has a budget and wants the same results – the wedding wow factor.
Couples are saying ‘I do’ to spending for their special day and the bottom line: memorable wedding costs.
“All couples are budget conscious — it doesn’t matter whether you are spending $15,000 or $150,000, everyone wants a deal and to make the most of what they are spending,” says wedding planner Karina Lemke.
There are more options now than ever to have something “different” for the budget conscious, including a smaller restaurant wedding, a unique location or a “weddingmoon” (destination wedding), says Lemke, wedding guru at karinalemke.com.
“These are perceived more as a choice based on personal style rather than economy and that is a wonderful thing. If they don’t want a sit-down dinner but more of a celebratory cocktail party, that’s fine.” But remember, people will gift accordingly.
Lemke, who’s often appeared on Rich Bride, Poor Bride on Slice TV, is a big believer in smaller restaurant weddings of under 100 people. “Say bye-bye to rubber chicken and treat your guests to a custom-designed meal, fabulous wines and a really romantic experience for a very good price,” says Lemke, who owns Posies Flowers in Toronto (posiesflowers.com).
The average wedding in Toronto can cost $25,000 to $45,000 for around 100 people “but if you cut your numbers a bit, do the restaurant thing and hire a creative planner, you can slash that to half or less and it will be a real night to remember,” says Lemke.
Big bashes continue to be the bread and butter of the wedding business. “Classic, large, full-blown weddings will never disappear. I am currently working with several clients that are having a hard time keeping their numbers in their comfortable 400 to 500 range,” says Lemke, a wedding couturier who specializes in custom experiences that are smaller, more intimate and tailored to clients.
Huge weddings are a colossal challenge — simply finding an available and suitable venue can be an obstacle.
“With a larger wedding, no matter how much money you throw at it, and you will be throwing a lot, it will never have a romance factor, it will never have a warm intimate feel, the service will be efficient at best and the couple will rarely have time to visit with each guest for more than a moment and if they have a few lovely moments alone to enjoy, well, that will be a victory,” adds Lemke, whose clients generally spend $65,000 to $90,000 with head counts from 130 to 220. “However, I have done weddings that ran about $15,000 and some that ran around $200,000.”
Toronto wedding planner Denise Georgiou-Newell is seeing couples being more practical and avoiding major debt for wedding productions.
They’ll spend but they want quality, says Georgiou-Newell, adding that is why there’s been an increase in destination weddings and a decrease in guest count.
The average budget is $23,000 to $28,000 for about 100 people, says Georgiou-Newell, a professional wedding planner and honeymoon specialist who’s pulled together everything from a budget $5,000 wedding for 40 people to an $85,000 extravaganza for 210 people.
But just how little can you get away with spending? “You can pull off a great wedding with as little as $5,000 but you would need to compromise on quite a few things. You can elope to Vegas or the Caribbean and come back and have a small cocktail party for your guests at a cost-efficient venue or even your own home. Everyone is different,” adds Georgiou-Newell, of weddingsjubilee.com.
According to Lemke, “the biggest mistake I see couples making is that they dive into the planning head first, without really thinking about the budget and what they both want and can afford.”
Planners agree that it’s the special touches that make it unforgettable, and this can be done on any budget.
But beware: A cash bar just doesn’t fly in major cities, says Lemke. “In Toronto, people are horrified at the idea of a cash bar and I rarely see them. In the country, it’s the norm … In Toronto, it’s social suicide to consider it.”
Lemke adds that most of her brides are opting for two wedding dresses – a full dress for the day and party frock for the dancing. Also more money is going to photographer/videography – “my clients are spending a fortune on things like ‘same day edits’ of the wedding. Check the rates; it’s ridiculous!”
Make the most of your wedding budget
All couples want to stretch their dollar. Here are some tips from wedding planner Denise Georgiou-Newell, of weddingsjubilee.com:
- Hire a wedding planner. Not only do they have an amazing network of suppliers that can provide true added value to their packages, but planners also provide personalized service and fulfill the couple’s needs and wishes, distributing their budget accordingly and wisely.
- Have a Sunday wedding. “It will cut your costs on venue and alcohol, as people tend to drink a lot less if they have to work the next day. That way you can still go more extravagant on your design aspects, wedding favours, entertainment, food etc. For even more savings have a daytime brunch-style wedding,” adds Georgiou-Newell.
- Go to trunk sales, wedding shows and keep your eye open for off-season sales when shopping for your wedding dress. You can get your dream dress for a fraction of the original cost.
- Save on your bar. Instead of a seven-hour open bar, decrease it to four hours or have a consumption bar. You can serve a signature drink during cocktail hour, wine only during dinner and open the bar for the dance portion only.
- Give away one favour per couple, not one per guest.
Say “I do” to these do’s from wedding wish specialist Stephanie Thompson, of stephaniethompson.ca:
- Be really clear on what your vision is for your wedding so you’re spending money on the right things you want.
- Consider doing it yourself or finding help for less.
- Stick to the appropriate number of guests and price per person.
- Invest appropriately in areas that are always memorable — food, entertainment, decor, photography.