The 5K DIY Wedding: The Canadian Edition
Hello friends! Wedding fever isn’t going anywhere – which is great, because we all love love!
There is no denying that money is going to play a huge role in wedding planning, because that is a fact of life. But, my wonderful friend Julie Crawford, has a different take on the concept of ‘budget weddings’ – which as a definition, as she explains, has rather gloomy connotations but rather focuses on creating an ‘affordable wedding’. This is more than semantics, this is a happy philosophy that is a great way to achieve a fabulous wedding day, but is a brilliant way to start new life as a married couple!
I’m super delighted to bring to you the second part in The 5K Wedding Series and this time we’re heading over to Toronto, Canada for the Canadian Edition!
All costs are listed in CAN$
Julie Crawford is a blogger, knitwear designer and lives in Toronto, Canada.
Our wedding budget was $5000, and we ended up spending $$5091, which is pretty darn close! I hate the term ‘budget wedding’, but we decided to have a more affordable one for the usual practical reasons – we wanted to buy a home in the near future, spending crazy amounts of money on a single party seems kind of reckless. But, also because Guy (my now husband) is British, and we were applying for his permanent residency here in Toronto, Canada. In Canada, if you apply for a permanent residency after marriage, the person applying can’t work while they are in the review process, which meant my husband couldn’t work for a year. Knowing that we were going into our first year of marriage on my salary alone meant that we were happy to be frugal, because it meant we would be together!
I had an evening ceremony – 7pm to 1am – on a Friday night, and had an open bar and hors d’oeuvres – rather than a sit down dinner. We got engaged on Christmas Day, and got married March 6th – that’s only two and a half months for the wedding planning. And honestly, I think it was the best choice- having a shorter engagement meant that decisions had to be made quickly, and it helped keep things on budget- after all, I couldn’t spend 8-12 months mentally blowing it up in my head into The Biggest Event of All Time, so it’s easier to be sane and keep perspective- after all, it’s just one day.
There were 54 people (including myself and my new husband), and it was held in downtown Toronto. Our families and friends were all amazingly supportive. So many people gave up portions of their weekends in the weeks leading up to the wedding to help make things, and the gift of their time felt so incredibly loving, it just underlined how right it all felt. Vendors, on the other hand, were a lot less enthusiastic, but that makes sense – the smaller the budget, the less money they get paid. Calling around to locations and caterers gave me a wide level of responses, most of which were along the lines of ‘you can’t get married in a city this expensive for $5000, it can’t be done.’ Well, the joke’s on them.
The most important part of a wedding is, for me, that it’s fun and you show your friends and family a good time, in whatever way that is fun for you. We chose to focus on a few main things – we decided to skip the dinner, and do passed hors d’oeuvres instead, which had the biggest impact on our budget. We made sure everyone coming knew in advance, so that they didn’t turn up expecting an eight course meal with a midnight buffet, like I’ve seen at some weddings. Having an open bar was important to us, so we made sure to provide that- we had a selection of beer and wine available to our guests for free for the duration of the night. A wedding is the party celebrates your love, but it’s the marriage that is the real gift and the real event.
The Budget Breakdown
Venue: $577.50 I made a lot of inquiries into different spaces, and in end I chose a historical trust building that was so beautiful, it required very little decoration. I added tea lights and flowers, that’s it. We got married in March, which is unpredictable weather-wise, and had the ceremony and party all in the same space. We got married on a Friday evening, because it was a lot cheaper then. We got married nearly five years ago, and I’m told the same venue is not quite as cheap as it was then, but before I found this space I was thinking of having it at an independent art gallery (independent is the key word there), since they often have great rental rates and are pretty accommodating about loads of decorations.
Dress: $600.00 Through the whole process, I told myself that it was ‘just a dress’, and focused mainly on the silhouette that I wanted (mermaid), and didn’t obsess over whether it was lace, taffeta, or whatever (wedding dresses are almost always entirely polyester, anyway- seriously, read the tag). I searched OnceWed and PreownedWeddingDresses, which have hundreds and hundreds of dresses. Let’s face it- you know someone only wore it once and had it dry cleaned, so it’s going to be in incredible shape. I did the alterations myself with the help of a friend. Another friend helped me sew white crystal and pearl beads onto a bit of white ribbon (75 cents!) for a wedding headband, and it turned out beautifully. My shoes are silver shoes I got at a discount shoe chain for $40. I’ll definitely be wearing my fab silver shoes again- and I won’t have to pay more money to have them dyed!
Catering: $2180.47 Here is where I spent the most time agonizing, and the most money, hands down. The biggest piece of advice I can offer on this subject is to check and see if your venue allows you to choose your own caterer, or if you have to choose from a tiny selection of ones that they work with. The site manager was up front with me about having to use one of their caterers, but I had no idea what that really meant. And I had no idea that the caterers would be so outrageously overpriced- and it was just hors d’ouevres! In the end, we got a great caterer that was not really on the list, (both the site and I did some compromising) and everything worked out in the end. People are still telling me that the food was fabulous, and I really love the fact that a resutarant did the catering. This means that any time we want, we can go to the restaurant and eat the same or similar food, and remember that night all over again. I know where I’m having dinner on my anniversary!!
Bar: $547.00 We had an open bar at the wedding, and decided to serve only wine and beer, but have a selection. I bought 14 bottles of assorted red, 14 bottles of assorted white, and five cases of beer for the 54 guests. The beer was from Sleemans, which has multipacks of different kinds of beer, which gave the guests options. I did run out of red wine, though- fortunately we have great friends who keep bottles of wine in their trunk for emergencies, and one of our friends graciously brought in three more bottles of red. So really, this is a note to have awesome friends who keep wine in their cars!
Cake: $31.00 Let’s face it- hardly any of your cake gets eaten, no matter how delicious or terrible it is. I don’t know why, but it’s true. So you can understand why I’d be reluctant to spend $300 or more on something that is going to get thrown out. My maids of honour and I chose instead to make cupcakes ourselves. And we built a great cupcake stand, from cutout cardboard boxes that we covered in a nice vinyl gift wrap, and used white pots between the layers - AllThingsCupcake helped us figure out some of the details. Another friend revealed that her parents owned a bakery (start asking all your friends what their parents do for a living), and produced a perfect tiny wedding cake for our top tier, so that we had a cake to cut, and something to put our little bird topper on (which we made, of course!!).
Favours: $10 I saved up my club points from Shoppers (like a Boots reward card in the UK) and got all the stuff I needed for my wedding favours for free with the rewards. I made little chocolate bird bests (melted chocolate, shredded wheat and coconut) and put blue and pink Cadbury mini eggs in it with a thank you note. The only costs were the plastic bags to put them in, everything else was reward points.
Invitations: $131 (including stationary, envelopes, and postage) Yet another great friend designed our wedding invitations, and another friend had access to a high quality colour print through her work, and we just supplied the card stock for the printing. We bought envelopes, and got them in the mail!
Wedding Rings: $450 My ring cost $400, and was custom made at a small independent jewelry store that also custom made my engagement ring (a white gold and diamond one, not my fabulous knitted one). I consider this to be on area we really saved- if you go to a major jewelry chain, the mark up is huge. A smaller place was able to give us great service, handmade design, and really reasonable prices. We bought G’s ring off Ebay. I love that he’s so low key like that. He loves that he could, if he wanted, “chop down trees with it, because it’s Titanium!”
Flowers: $187.00 My wedding party (two maids of honour, and the bride and groom!) went to some local flowershops the morning of our wedding and bought what we needed. I deliberately didn’t have a set flower in mind, so that I wouldn’t end up making an emotional decision to get overpriced flowers- I opted for whatever looked good, fit the scheme, and was well priced. We brought them to my kitchen and put together our bouquets and all the center pieces. Both my maids of honour each carried a single stunning hydrangea bloom- it was perfect!
Five Tips for a Fabulous 5K Wedding from Julie
1 Be flexible. Remind yourself that this is a party you are throwing to celebrate your marriage and your commitment to each other. This day does not define who you are.
2 Cash in Gift Cards. Do you have a gift card, credit note, or any kind of voucher for something free? Excellent. Now, find a way that it can cover the cost for something for your wedding.
3 Be different. Who says you have to serve a sit down dinner? Any married gal will tell you that feeding the guests costs a fortune. If you are tight on funds, I really recommend the evening cocktail party approach- I ordered only savoury hors d’oevres, and had family and friends bring some baked goods to round out the sweet element. Plus there were loads of cupcakes!
4 DIY everything. We did our own flowers, our own bouquets, the centerpeices, the cake stand, the cupcakes, the alterations, my headband, to name just a few! People will say that you are adding to your stress. To this I say that starting out your live together deeply in debt for your wedding is far more stressful. Not to mention that a stress-free wedding is impossible, no matter how much money you spend.
5 iPod your dance list and get a friend to push the play button. We did up three separate play lists- one for the wedding ceremony filler, cocktail music, and the dance playlist. We rented some speakers and a microphone for $42, and that was that.
I’m not the first person to ever try to have wedding on an affordable budget, and I wont be the last!
Some blogs that were really helpful in keeping me sane and full of good ideas were: A Practical Wedding , 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding & The Broke Ass Bride
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You can find out more about Julie’s fabulous wedding and keep up-to-date with her stunning creative projects over on her blog , KnittedBliss. You’ll also be able to find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Ravelry!
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