Wedding costs have a way of ballooning out of control. Few couples plan a wedding without a budget, but creating a budget isn’t simply knowing you have a set amount to spend then maxing it out. Here are some helpful suggestions for managing your budget and getting the most for your money.
Decide what is important to you Sure, you’d like to have it all…but if you can’t, you need to decide what areas are most important to you. Is it the wedding gown? An abundance of flowers? A top-notch photographer? On the other side of the equation, what are you willing to let go of?
Pass on some things altogether If a fancy wedding cake isn’t high on your list of priorities, just don’t do it. Serve cookies instead. You can also pass on bouquets, a photo booth for the reception, and a limo or vintage car rental. Keep in mind that a “wedding dress” doesn’t have to come from a bridal boutique.
Research Once you’ve decided how much you have to spend, start researching. Get a real sense for how much things cost. You may want to play high end, low end. What’s the cost of your dream venue? What is a low-cost alternative? With some real numbers in front of you, it is easier to make decisions. It also saves you from getting mid-way through your planning and realizing that you haven’t earmarked nearly enough for a particular category.
Trim your guest list You may think you want every single person you know at your wedding, but a more intimate wedding can be really lovely. Ask yourself, “Will this person be in my life in five years?” And “When was the last time I saw them or had a real conversation with them?”
It’s totally fine to keep the ceremony and dinner to a more manageable number and then open the doors for the reception.
Be flexible If you can be flexible with your date, you can save on the venue, catering and other vendors as well. Stay away from Saturdays. Considering a venue that is not right downtown can save you cash too. There are many great venues within a reasonable drive and wedding vendors located in the suburbs or rural areas may be willing to beat the price you’ll pay right in the city.
Host at home Booking a wedding venue can cost a lot. See if you have an appropriate space within your circle of friends and family. It could be the party room at your condo, or the home of a relative. If you are looking at a venue, consider an all-in-one location that can accommodate your ceremony and reception.
Use recycled décor There are a plethora of wedding groups on social media where couples are reselling their décor and other wedding items. If you’re flexible in your design and creative in your thinking, you can set yourself up with centrepieces, seating charts, signs, and other decorations for much less than you would spend buying new.
Flowers Recently we hosted a wedding where the bride forgot her bouquet. We ran outside and cut a bunch of flowers from our yard. With a little ribbon, she had the perfect, free bouquet – no one realized.
Research can also pay off when it comes to flowers. See what is in season and locally grown for the date of your wedding. Talk budget with your florist and let them know that you are open to their recommendations to get the most bloom for your buck.
Go with non-floral centrepieces/décor and incorporate candles/twigs/greenery instead. Keep the blossoms in the bouquets. Forgo boutonnieres all together.
We’ve seen some great faux bouquets too, which gives you the option to re-use someone else’s flowers or create your own bouquet out of paper or fabric flowers, vintage brooches, buttons, etc.
DIY With some advance planning and elbow grease, you can do a lot of things yourself from invitations to wedding favours and decorations. Just be cautious about tackling more than you can reasonably handle.
Less expensive alternatives Try contacting the local university for music students to play during your ceremony or dinner. Vendors just starting out will often offer a lower price as they attempt to build their reputation and portfolio. If the venue has a built-in sound system, you can pass on the DJ and prepare your own dance-a-thon playlist. Use your judgement though……if photos are at the top of your priority list, it makes sense to book a professional photographer with solid reviews whose work you can view beforehand.
Swap a sit-down dinner for a cocktail reception with finger food You’ll pay less and have the added bonus of getting more face time with your guests. Also shrink the bar menu down to a couple of options to save further.
Leave ‘wedding’ out of your requests When contacting a caterer or other service provider, try not to mention the word ‘wedding’ as often there is a markup for weddings. For example, when ordering a cake, say you need a cake for 100 people, not a wedding cake.
Build in a buffer Building a little extra into your budget for unexpected costs will save you stress if an additional expenditure comes up.
Plan and plan some more Last-minute decisions don’t allow for space or time to think. A longer lead time gives you a chance to find sales and work on discounts.
When you get married it can feel like there are a million things to do…and it can feel like a million people want to help. There will be certain people that will expect to be included in the preparations – bridesmaids/men, best men/women, and perhaps parents or siblings. There may be other special people that won’t be central figures, but you’d still like to give them a little job or carve out some time for them on the big day. What follows is a list of tasks and activities that you can delegate or offer to make everyone feel involved. Just remember to keep tabs on who is doing what!
In the months, weeks, days before:
Creating ceremony programs (great for techie youth or grownups).
Crafting table centrepieces.
Creating or packaging wedding favours.
Wedding dress shopping. A grandmother or godmother would be thrilled to be invited along.
Making “goodie bags” for children attending the reception (going to the dollar store and selecting crafts/toys/trinkets, creating a special colouring page, etc).
Creating a photo collage to display at the reception.
Creating a slideshow or video with photos/video clips of the couple through the years to play at the reception. Great for a tech savvy teen.
Addressing invitations (or if you know someone paper crafty , making invitations from scratch).
Choreographing a dance for the reception. A great way for either partner (or both) to spend time with some special people. Kids will love this.
Airport pick-ups for out-of-town guest arrivals.
Before and during the ceremony
Picking up flowers/bouquets from florist
Placing some decorations at the ceremony location and/or reception venue.
Help the bride get dressed/hair done/make-up. Grandma might love to be part of the action
Place reserved signs for seats at the ceremony location
Ushering – it may have fallen a little out of fashion, but showing people to a seat is often appreciated by guests who don’t know where to sit at the ceremony.
Handing out programs at the ceremony or bubbles for afterwards.
Carry the rings (caution that small children may be unpredictable in this regard)
Being part of the wedding procession (ring security, flower girl, maid/men of honour and best men/maids)
Delivering a reading or poem during the ceremony.
Singing or playing an instrument during the signing portion of the ceremony.
Making announcements before the ceremony (couple have asked that guests not take photos during the ceremony. Join us for a group picture after the ceremony. Remember to turn off your phone.)
MC at reception.
Making a speech/toast.
Unofficial reception photographers (great for kids who will be on their phones all evening anyway) You can even make them a badge or card on a lanyard to display.
Responsible person to take care of gifts and cards.
Delivering bride and groom a safe ride to where they are spending the night.
Winter is wrapping up, your venue is (hopefully) booked, it’s time to get into the heavy-lifting of planning your wedding. Planning should be fun. Take alook at the trends we see rolling out for 2019’s wedding season.
Vibrant Colours–A bright start to your future!
Neutral, clean, plain colours have been on-trend for weddings but starting in 2018, colours have started catching on. We aren’t just talking about any old colours, think vibrant and bright like orange purple and green.
Wedding day hairdo straightened out.
Braids and floral head pieces are some of the favourite choices for brides these days. Whether you’re wearing your hair in an up-do or down, there are so many ways to play with braids and flowers. Another trend has brides trying their favourite do(s) before their wedding day to see which style suits them and their hair-type best. Rather than choosing one style and making it work this gives you the confidence of knowing your chosen style will work for you on your wedding day.
Paper flowers–no water required.
While we’re on the topic of flowers, what do you think of the flower paper trend? Not only is it popping up in wedding décor, brides are also using paper flowers to make their bouquets and boutonnieres. If you’re thinking of getting involved in a little DIY for your wedding day, this may be the perfect choice for you.
Veils–What’s behind them anyway?
Veils, which were out of favour for a number of years, are finding their place on brides once again. We’re not talking the short, shoulder length, white veil either. Theyare really making a statement with colours and patterns but especially huge, cathedral-length veils. They can add a new dimension to the look of your dress and the reaction of your guests as you walk down the aisle.
So how do you like them…pineapples?
There is always a new, fun way to embrace a trend and you are certain to be on pointif you use pineapples. While traditionally pineapples were the symbol of royal privilege, they have become a symbol of social events, friendship, and most importantly,hospitality. Leave one outside your door if you are receiving visitors or consider using them as a centrepiece on your wedding day.
Save the date videos – setting the tone.
Save the date cards and postcards are no longer the in-thing. A far more expressive and fun way to let your guests know they are going to be invited to your wedding is a fun video reminding them of what’s to come. Easy to share and sure to set the tone, this is your chance to showcase your creativity and to start telling your story.
First look, forever memories.
Traditionally, the first time the groom gets to see the bride is once she walks down the aisle. Couples are now choosing to see each other before the ceremony. This is a great time to take pictures without your guests around, and for you to really enjoy the intimacy of the momentyou first set eyes on each other.
For the elegant tree, this tiered wedding cake under a cloche from Hallmark
And, of course, there is a slew of do-it-yourself options for crafters of various skill levels. You can use your invitation to make either of these stylish ornaments. An empty glass or plastic ornament can also be filled with a little sand from a honeymoon trip as a keepsake.
If you’re looking for more ways to weave your wedding memories into the holidays, some brides have turned their wedding dresses into Christmas tree skirts.
Whatever you choose, including a wedding memento with your holiday decor will keep those memories close at hand.
We at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel wish you and your loved ones the very best of the holiday season. Take time to enjoy with your family and friends.
Over the years, we’ve had many wedding rehearsals at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel. From this experience we have concluded that: A rehearsal is great….
If it’s tricky.
With a large wedding party, a rehearsal is recommended. You are co-ordinating a lot of bodies who need to enter the wedding space, get to the right place to stand, and exit the space in an orderly fashion. If your venue has any challenges (wedding party will be spaced at varying intervals on a set of stairs for example) or is outdoors and you have a back-up rain plan you want to review, it makes sense to have a rehearsal. If you have a complicated wedding party entrance (separate songs for different people entering the wedding space or different musical cues for entrances), it wouldn’t hurt to review the timing with a rehearsal.
If you’re nervous.
Your wedding day is your day. If a rehearsal is going to give you peace of mind, do it! It can be calming to run through the physical motions of entering, walking down the aisle, and seeing exactly where everyone will be standing as you say, “I do.”
If the wedding party needs to bond.
Your wedding party might pull together friends and family from different parts of your life that haven’t previously mingled. A rehearsal is one way to get them all face to face and maybe have a few laughs before the big day. Have dinner afterward (or before) and keep people chatting.
There must be someone in charge. Without a leader, a rehearsal can drag on all night. Your wedding co-ordinator is an obvious choice if you have one. Your venue may have a co-ordinator who can help you out. Or you could appoint a friend or relative with an organizational streak and a commanding voice – preferably someone outside the wedding party. Make sure this director knows exactly what you want. You should aim to walk through the entrances and exits from the wedding space at least twice. More times if you are working out details of timing/music selection as you go.
What about the officiant?
You can have a useful and beneficial rehearsal without the officiant or celebrant present. After all, they already know where they are going to stand! All Seasons officiants will schedule a planning meeting with you about a month before the wedding, where they will go over all the ceremony details.
With that said, the officiant may be a natural choice to direct your rehearsal. They have a bounty of wedding experience and may be able to offer suggestions for where people should stand or how transitions could take place. They often have strong leadership qualities….and loud voices.
Things to avoid
It’s best to avoid having too many extra people at the rehearsal. It is nice to spend time chatting, but there is a task to accomplish. Invite the plus ones to dinner or drinks after.
Keep an eye on the clock. Even though these last preparations before the big day are exciting, don’t let the rehearsal drag on too long. People will burn out and quit listening. As well, your venue may cap you at an hour or hour and a half and you want to make sure you cover all the important details.
Don’t worry so much. Even with a lengthy rehearsal and carefully scripted plan, things may go awry. A flower girl who missed her nap may decide not to walk down the aisle or the ceremony programs might get left behind. Just breathe and carry on.
It’s your big day and you want to have fun. And you want your wedding guests to enjoy themselves. So how do you do it? We’ve got some suggestions to add some playfulness to your pledges.
Set the wedding tone in advance
Clever or witty invitations and RSVP cards will give guests a clue of what is to come. You could include a silly photo of the two of you. Examples abound on the internet.
Finding the right officiant is key. Interview officiants before booking to make sure you find someone who jives with your sense of humour. Your officiant should be agreeable to including some humour into your ceremony in the form of anecdotes about your relationship, some personalized vows, or a funny poem or reading. At All Seasons, you will find an officiant who will deliver a ceremony that suits you.
Create a program that include nicknames or fun facts about each member of the wedding party. Make it lighthearted by using some fun fonts or including a picture or artwork.
Aisle of smiles
There’s room for humour in your ceremony procession too. All Seasons officiants have seen some wacky and wonderful stuff, from a bearer of rings dressed as a bear to a burly six-foot “flower boy” who danced down the aisle tossing flower petals as the replacement for a young flower girl who couldn’t make it. There are also a ton of cute signs you can make to have kids carry as part of the procession.
Make a joyful noise
Provide noisemakers or bells to guests to use at the ceremony when you share your first kiss and at the end when you are formally announced as a married couple. Bubbles are also fun for young and old guests and can make for some nifty photos outside.
Lead the way by taking some lighthearted and goofy pictures with your wedding party. It will get you laughing at yourselves and each other. A photo booth with props can encourage guest shenanigans at the reception. Create a wedding hashtag so everyone can share and get in on the fun.
Set the example at your wedding reception. Let loose and show your guests you’re ready to have fun; they will follow. You could co-ordinate a fun first dance or play the “shoe game” or do something else to get guests giggling.
Let the small stuff roll off you
Chances are, not everything will go perfectly. Despite the best planning, there can be hiccups on your wedding day. Make the decision ahead of time to go with the flow and try not to let a small mistake or problem take the fun out of your wedding. Go into the day with a relaxed attitude and a smile and you’ll be laughing until the last dance of the night.
The Ottawa Wedding Chapel would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for a fabulous new year. Enjoy this season of celebration with those you love and remember to open your heart to those less fortunate. If we can keep the Christmas spirit all year round, the world will be a better place!
Our office will be closed as of 4:30 pm on Thurs., Dec. 21 and will re-open on Tues., Jan. 2.
The holiday season is upon us and as the year is coming to an end, your wedding planning may be on hold until the new year. If you haven’t started planning your summer 2018 wedding, you’ve still got time.
We have put together a list of things to start working on as soon as the holiday festivities are over. We cover the most important reservations that you must secure before you lose some important vendors and dates due to unavailability:
Create or buy a wedding binder that will hold all the important details of your wedding in one place. Use it to stay organized, store your contracts and receipts, and add any articles or ideas that you may want to use later. It might seem a little bridezilla, but it’s really a great planning tool.
Create a budget for your wedding and stick to it. Determining your budget will enable you to decide on the type of venue you want, if you can afford a reception, the number of guests you can invite, and the level of luxury implemented in your wedding components.
A guest list will help you determine your budget, your wedding party, and the size of the venue that you may need. Leave room to include the full names of your guests, contact information, and addresses. Include an RSVP section as this will be your master guest list which you can make copies of for your vendors. Purchase your invitation cards, or plan your online invites, as soon as your list is finalized.
Securing a venue is the first booking that you must focus on. Your venue(s) will host your ceremony and reception. Many venues get booked years in advance and if you still haven’t booked one yet, it is time to start making inquiries regarding availability and quotes. If you are planning to have the wedding at a private residence, then it would a good idea to inspect the house and the backyard and front yard. Familiarize yourself with the space and put yourself in your guests’ shoes. What would they need? What do you want them to see once they come in and what path do you wish for them to take to get to their seating area?
A wedding should always be documented. Decades from now, you, your children and your grandchildren will want to see you on your special day. Ensure that you book a photographer ahead of time, the good ones get booked fast. If you have a friend who is good with a camera, you could ask them to document the day for you.
Book your Officiant
Officiants are usually booked a year in advance for weekend dates. Booking early means you will have more choices.
The entertainment will depend on your musical taste and your guests. If you have always envisioned a live band at your wedding, it is a good idea to try and watch them performing at another event before booking them. Another option is a DJ who will offer a large selection of music. Consider if you need music over dinner or during the ceremony itself.
If your venue does not offer catering options then you may want to meet with several different caterers. Competition is high in the catering industry, so you may be able to get a lower price for what you’re seeking in terms of quantity and quality, if you check several companies. Keep in mind the dietary restrictions and allergies of your guests.
Create a timeline of all the events that will unfold during the wedding day. (ceremony start time, dinner, first dance, cutting the cake, etc…) Punctuality is important for vendors and your guests.
It’s not too early to work on some of your other purchases as well. A wedding dress/suit may need alterations or tailoring. Your ideas for flowers can be discussed with a florist to ensure they are feasible. Wedding cakes can be tasted in advance and designs discussed.
Each wedding is unique and has all sorts of small details that make it special. This list contains only the essentials that you should consider well in advance. There are many more elements that can be added to customize your wedding as you move through the planning process.
The Ottawa Wedding Chapel happily welcomed two couples to our second pop-up wedding event at the end of the summer.
Both couples had kids and wanted the children to feel involved in the ceremony. Our officiant Natasha St. Jean worked with them and in both cases it was decided that a sand ceremony would give the children an active role. It also provided the family with a colourful memento to keep in their home.
Each couple enjoyed one hour of time in the chapel, as well as a ceremony performed by one of our professional officiants. They had the services of our photographer partner, Melissa LaFrance of Direct Your Focus Photography during their ceremony and afterwards for a brief photo shoot. They also toasted each other with some sparkling juice.
Erika and Ryan
This couple came with just their two boys, so we provided the witnesses and they had an intimate ceremony in our chapel. The bride was radiant with a fantastic flower crown and the kids were excited to stand right up beside (and sometimes between!) the couple. Each boy had a ring and when the time came for the ring exchange they offered them up with big smiles.
Melanie and Eric
This upbeat couple had a great time with their three kids and their guests. The vibe was fun and relaxed and the bridal party and all the guests were dressed in varying shades of blue, with many of the gentlemen sporting dapper hats. They got some great photos in the chapel’s backyard after the ceremony.
As wedding season winds down for this year, next year’s brides (and grooms) are just getting going with their planning. They are deciding on colours, themes, venues, officiants, invitations, table centrepieces, favours, and more! And more importantly, they are deciding which wedding projects they want to tackle themselves. The do-it-yourself movement is huge in the world of weddings.
The internet is full of wedding décor inspiration – much of it handmade. Hit a few blogs or magazine sites and you’ll see stunning, Pinterest-worthy projects. Even the least crafty soul will want to run for the burlap ribbon and scissors.
If you are thinking about a do-it-yourself wedding, here are some things to consider.
Why do you want to DIY? Is it because you’re on a budget and want to save some coin? You love to craft? You think you can’t get your signature look any other way? Whatever the motivation, make sure you achieve your desired end result. Preparing for your wedding should be enjoyable and satisfying, so if the headaches and stress of DIY are going to outweigh the positives, step away from the glue gun!
Make sure to leave yourself enough time to accomplish these do-it-yourself tasks. Depending on the number of DIY projects and their complexity, the time investment could be significant. If you don’t have a lot of free hours in your regular schedule, DIY may not be for you. Brides who are crafting paper flowers or decorating their own wedding cake shaped cookie favours the night before their nuptials are, for the most part, grouchy brides. If you are a natural procrastinator, this can add an extra layer of stress to your wedding preparations. So, start early, like now, for next summer.
Don’t overestimate your abilities
If you’re not a crafty person, don’t expect to become one overnight. Some projects are tougher than others. Take a look at pinterestfail.com to see just how wrong things can go! That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try, but choose one or two wedding projects you think you can realistically accomplish.
It’s a great idea to have back-up. If your bridal party is full of competent crafty folks, by all means, throw some wedding bee nights and work together on your handmade invitations or wedding favours. It’s a great way to build anticipation for the big day and bond with your best girls/guys. Remember though, some bridesmaids are just better at “tying one on” than tying bows!
DIY projects can be a great way to involve people outside of the bridal party as well. When you can’t have all your friends and family in your wedding party, you might be able to find special projects or tasks that will make them feel included. Make sure it’s a job that’s suited to them!
Just because you’re making it yourself, doesn’t make it less expensive. If you don’t already have some of the tools and supplies, you can quickly rack up a big bill at your favourite craft shop. Consider your finances and the raw materials you may already have access to. Maybe you have a rural connection that can supply some rustic wood. Perhaps you have a stash of empty mason jars. You could save soup cans and spray paint them gold or plant succulents in cheap thrift store teacups. The best way to save money is to use what you’ve got or source some of the raw materials from your circle of friends.
Capitalize on the work of others
Your local Facebook wedding groups and Kijiji ads are full of the homemade props and décor of brides whose weddings have come and gone. Sometimes they are great deals. Keep an open mind when viewing these sorts of items. Even if they don’t match your colours or aesthetic exactly, think about how you could adapt or revamp them to suit your needs.
If you’ve considered all the facets of a DIY wedding, and still think it’s the right move for you, good luck with your crafting! Enjoy creating something special and personalized that’s just for your unique day.