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Wedding Budget Tips and Tricks

Wedding budget planning sheet, with pink ceramic piggy bank, pen and coffee. Illustrates the set-up of someone working on their wedding budget.

Ok, how is it February already? We spent so much time and energy on our exciting new changes, January completely slipped by! Thankfully it’s not too late to introduce one of my favorite new resources – a new blog series, starting right now!

Every month, ThistleBEA founder and lead coordinator, Breanne Dodge, will be sharing their pro tips on a new wedding planning topic. First up, one of the biggest challenges in wedding planning: budgeting! We picked Breanne’s brain and they have spilled their top wedding budget tips and tricks with us. Don’t forget to enter your email address to get our monthly cheat sheet! This month, a budget breakdown calculator where you put in your budget, and we suggest how to split it up!

What are some things you constantly see couples going over their wedding budget on?

The little incidentals that they forget about: guestbook, favors, experiences, entertainment, vendor add-ons – little costs can add up quickly in the budget. You will also need to put aside at least 15-18% for gratuities for certain vendors, like your caterer.

A wedding guest signs a guestbook for the happy couple.
Thanks to Leanne Sim Photography for this shot from Jenn & Ashley’s wedding!

What can couples do to maintain control over their wedding vision when they have family pitching in on the budget?

Before you start, it’s essential to set boundaries. Tell them how much you appreciate their contribution and that it’s above and beyond what’s expected, but you still have a vision for your day you want to stick to. If they want the money put towards something specific, make sure that it’s something you agree with before accepting.

What are some things you shouldn’t scrimp on for your wedding?

NEVER skimp on photos! They will be on your wall and in your wedding album forever, and will be super important to you and your children (if you have them). Wedding photos are an heirloom that should be able to stand the test of time. Hire a professional with wedding experience, and check our their portfolio. To fit the budget you can skip the getting ready pics and just cover the ceremony and key reception events.

A black and white photo showing a bride in a white lace dress walking down stone stairs at her wedding.
Who wouldn’t want a photo like this up on their wall? Photographer: Page & Holmes Photography from Alexandra & Angus’s wedding

What are some things you absolutely CAN save money on?

Décor! We specialize in DIY weddings for a reason, we LOVE how personal they are, and DIY can save money too. You can also ask your venue if they have any décor included in their pricing. Look online for secondhand décor or go thrifting for items you can upcycle. Also, join the ThistleBEA Your Community page on Facebook to buy and sell your décor, learn new DIYs and trade other wedding budget tips. Tip: if both buyer and seller are ThistleBEA clients, we can help transport at no cost! Ask your coordinator for details.

You can cut favors out entirely because guests tend to leave them behind or toss them out. If you really want to do them, make sure they are something you wouldn’t mind having tons of leftover. Or, do something like a self-serve candy bar for folks to make their own take-home goody bags. 

To save money on liquor, you can purchase your alcohol yourself from BC liquor stores. If you do this, you can also return any unopened bottles later.  

Stationary can be expensive, but you can save by designing your own using a program like Canva*.

*Tip: your ThistleBEA coordinator can provide you with some awesome templates we’ve created exclusively for our clients to use! Ask them for details on those and printing options.

What kinds of wedding DIYs are more difficult to pull off or just not worth the stress?

Unless you’re really good with florals (or someone in your inner circle is a florist themselves), it’s not worth the stress because they usually have to be prepared last minute to maintain freshness. Trust me, that is NOT how you want to spend the night before your wedding, especially if you’re not experienced.

Another tricky thing to DIY is the food – it’s usually not worth the stress of trying to do it in time. It can be harder than it looks to make 150 cupcakes look uniform, or cook dinner for a hall full of people. But if you really think you might be able to pull it off, check out this blog to see if it’s right choice for you, and this one, for some tips and tricks to make self-catering your wedding easy and on budget!

A wedding bouquet of white roses and green leafy accents, held by a bride. The close-up only shows the hand and bottom of dress behind the flowers.
Photo: Nomad by NK, of this beautiful bouquet at Michelle & Taylor’s wedding!

What are your thoughts on online wedding invitations?

Do it, do it, do it! Sending electronically is often more reliable than snail mail, which can get lost or just take forever. You can also link directly to your wedding website to make it super easy to get info and RSVP.

How do you feel about renting wedding attire instead of buying new? Is it worth the risk?

I don’t recommend renting wedding dresses because they can’t be tailored. But – secondhand dresses or suits are definitely worth looking into! They are more eco-friendly, and if you’re going for a vintage look there’s nothing better than actual vintage! For suits, renting is fine, as is wearing one you already own as long as it’s nice. You can simply add a tie and pocket square in your theme colors to spruce it up.

Is it ok to ask the wedding party to cover their own attire, or is that something we should factor into our budget?

If it’s a very specific look that they can’t wear later, then yes it would be nice to cover it. But it’s not necessary if you keep the cost reasonable. Just make sure you mention it (and any other costs associated with being in the wedding party) when you ask them so they can either decline or you can work out a solution together if money is an issue. 

For those who will be wearing dresses, just give them a color and length to stick to. For those in suits, you can just ask them to use their own white shirt and black pants and you just supply the colored accessories like the ties so they match. Make sure to ask what each person is comfortable wearing instead of basing it on gender to ensure comfort and inclusivity!

What about transportation? Any good hacks for saving money there?

Unless you’re planning a grand entrance, all you really need is reliable transportation. Make sure if you drive yourselves that you have a plan for after, like asking if it’s ok to leave vehicles there overnight, especially if drinking. Your wedding guests will also appreciate this tip: scout out the area beforehand to see if there is anywhere nearby to park cheaper or for free and note it on your wedding website so guests can plan ahead.

So there you have it, a big thank you to Breanne for taking the time to relay their top wedding budget tips and tricks! Stay tuned for part two, where we go over budgeting tips for venues and specific vendors, to help make sure you stay on track!

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