Archive for the ‘GTA Wedding Tips’ Category

Wedding Dates to Avoid

May 27, 2011 Author: John | Filed under: GTA Wedding Tips

Wedding Dates to avoid in 2011 2012 2013

When choosing your wedding dates, it is important to avoid annual events and special events approaching.  After you’ve decided on a date that caters to your preferred weather conditions and convenience, please try to avoid the following dates. 

Long Weekends – Although it sounds like a great choice, many guests will have issues with expensive travel and accomodations.  It also may require them to cancel their previously scheduled holiday plans.

  • New Year’s Day
    Saturday, January 1, 2011
    Sunday, January 1, 2012
    Tuesday, January 13, 2013
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
    January 18, 2010
    January 17, 2011
    January 16, 2012
  • President’s Day
    February 15, 2010
    February 21, 2011
    February 20, 2012
  • Memorial Day
    May 31, 2010
    May 30, 2011
    May 28, 2012
  • Independence Day
    Always July 4.
  • Labor Day
    September 6, 2010
    September 5, 2011
    September 3, 2012
  • Columbus Day
    October 11, 2010
    October 10, 2011
    October 8, 2012
  • Thanksgiving (US)
    November 25, 2010
    November 24, 2011
    November 22, 2012

The Olympics Once every two years, alternating between winter and summer.
July 27 – August 12, 2012, London, UK

The Super Bowl – February 5, 2012 – Indianapolis, IN

The World Cup
Only held once every four years
Approx June 11, 2014 to July 11, 2014.

Final Four
March 31 and April 2, 2012, New Orleans, LA

Others that happen before May

  • Chinese New Year
    February 3, 2011
    January 23, 2012
  • Baha’i New Years Day
    Almost always March 21
  • Palm Sunday and Holy Week
    April 17, 2011
    April 1, 2012
  • Easter Sunday
    April 24, 2011
    April 8, 2012
  • Greek Orthodox Easter
    April 24, 2011
    April 15, 2012
  • Passover
    April 20, 2011
    April 7, 2012

Events that happen after May: 

  • Shavuot
    June 8, 2011
    May 27, 2012
  • Ramadan
    Duration: 1 month
    Begins August 11, 2010
    Begins August 1, 2011
    Begins July 20, 2012
  • Rosh Hashanah
    2011:   September 28 (at sundown) – 30
    2012:   September 16 (at sundown) – 18
    2013:   September 4 (at sundown) – 6
    2014:   September 24 (at sundown) – 26
    2015:   September 13 (at sundown) – 15
  • Yom Kippur
    September 18, 2010
    October 7, 2011
    September 25, 2012
  • Hanukkah
    December 2 – 9, 2010
    December 21 – 28, 2011
    December 9 – 16, 2012
  • Christmas
    Always December 25
  • Kwanzaa
    Always December 26 through January 1.



2011 Wedding TrendsThe following are some trends for all the lovely couples who are planning to get married in 2011.  One of the top wedding trends this year is vintage and retro-inspired with a modern twist. What’s old is new. We’ll see:

  • vintage wedding dresses with cap sleeves
  • beautiful textures with details
  • natural settings, including outdoor and backyard weddings
  • some vintage photography

With the environment in mind, we’ll continue to include more green, environmentally friendly weddings. Think second-hand and vintage wedding dresses, LED lighting, recycled paper invitations and programs, and food from local farms and providers. Charity donations will continue to be a popular option instead of traditional wedding favors, and more couples will be asking for donations to their favorite charity instead of wedding gifts.

The contemporary, modern wedding is still big and many rides are opting for non-traditional dress choices, such as the following

  • beautiful hues instead of the usual white or ivory
  • old shoulder instead of strapless
  • short cocktail dresses instead of a long gown.
  • mixing table shapes and sizes.
  • incorporating bright and bold colors
  • cool lounge settings, and after parties
  • cupcakes instead of a wedding cake

Lastly, social media is playing a part in the wedding planning process. Couples are keep guests informed through wedding websites and post updates about their excitement and plans on Facebook and Twitter. Posts such as “We booked the band today!” allow friends and family to feel like they are part of the planning. It’s great to have everyone involved during the whole wedding planning through to the final reception.

Toronto Wedding Trends of 2010

Feb 8, 2010 Author: John | Filed under: GTA Wedding Dresses, GTA Wedding Tips

It’s important to know the latest wedding trends to ensure that you’ll well dressed for the occasion.  If you’re getting married, it’s you should already be well aware of the trends.  As a new bride to be, I’m assuming that you’ve already attending some wedding shows, checked out various wedding stores, etc.  Every year, designers introduce fresh designs and concepts.  Here are some trends of 2010: 

White & Soft Green – With the new trend toward green and ecofriendly weddings, these colors will look very trendy and perfect for 2010.  Some tones of purple and lilac may also be among the trendy colors.

Black accessories – With trendy light colors, contrasting accessories will create a sharp, modern, and trendy look.  Items such as black roses, decorations, or any other accessories will give a sophisticated and well designed/dressed look.

Pink dresses – One of the top choices of 2010 are pink dresses.  Wedding dressses in paste/classic pink will look great. Flapper dresses along with a mid-calf fitted length style will give a trendy new look to the traditional pink.

Red wedding gowns – Red is sharp, viabrant, and the right choice for the spring of 2010.  Red with classic and pastel white will add color and romantic look and feel.

Mini wedding dress – The fresh trend of spring 2010 is short dresses. You can pair your look with some ankle tied flip-flops or sandals to give a dramatic look.

Bright orange color scheme – Bright orange color will work marvelously if combined with soft peach tones. Use orange petals and camera for the maximum effect around the reception table. You can tie the peach gift boxes with orange ribbons. Also add tiger lilies and orange gerberas into the bridal bouquets

Bright Yellow and Turquoise Shades – If you are looking for a big tropical scheme in the spring of 2010, you can focus around Bright yellow and Turquoise shades. You can mix these colors in the spring of 2010 with the hot wedding theme. Bold boxes can be tied with blue and yellow ribbons. You can order the florist to introduce the slash of the same colors in the bride’s bouquet. This even will be more coordinated with the wedding cake cuts.

10 Things Not To Say At Wedding

Jan 22, 2010 Author: John | Filed under: GTA Wedding Dresses, GTA Wedding Tips

A wedding is an auspicious event that not only celebrates a union of two people, but joins two families together as well. On this happy occasion, a wrong comment, even if its said as a joke, can have a lasting impact on the whole marriage, turning it into an eternal tiff rather than eternal bliss. So make sure you’re not the one responsible for a spat or an uncomfortable atmosphere by avoiding these ten remarks, because when it comes to a wedding, silence is surely the best policy!

1. Never make any mention of past marriages

Past is past and it should remain that way. The couple is starting a new life and therefore, reminding them of a previous marriage in any way is the last thing you would want to do. Even funny comments like, “This one is way better than your last one” or “I hope this one lasts longer than the previous one”, are a big NO.

2. Don’t pass a negative comment about the bride’s dress

The bride’s dress should not bother you because you’re not the one who’s wearing it, and obviously she wouldn’t be wearing it if she thought it were bad! So comments like, “Wasn’t it available in a different color?” or “I think this should have been a little longer/shorter” or “Why didn’t you go to that designer I told you about?”, should be avoided. You don’t want to make a bride loose her confidence on her special day!

3. Don’t criticize the menu

It’s their wedding, therefore they decide the menu. So whatever comes your way should be appreciated. Still if you feel that you can’t have the food over there, then a polite comment like, “My stomach is upset”, or something similar is a better option than actually criticizing the food.

4. Never compare the bride and the groom

Never compare the bride and the groom even if the bride is downright ugly or the groom has the looks of a Greek god and vice versa. As long the couple is happy with each other, you should be happy for them as well. Some people even have the audacity to whisper in the bride or the groom’s ear that they could have done so much better. This is plain rude and a comment like this deserves nothing but tight slap on the speaker’s face.

5. Check before mentioning a deceased family member

A wedding is a happy occasion and the mention of someone who has passed away can give the event a sad atmosphere, especially if that person was close to the bride or groom and their families. Hence it is always better to play it safe and avoid mentioning such a person because you never know who you might end up upsetting.

6. Keep the secrets about bridge and groom to yourself

Everyone has secrets and everyone has done crazy things in the past, and just because someone is getting married doesn’t mean he/she would want their spouse to know, especially on their wedding day. However, relating a funny incident is completely harmless, but besides that, all the wild crazy stuff should go with you to your grave.

7. Don’t tell mother-in-law jokes

Mother-in-law jokes are no doubt very funny but a wedding is not the best place to share them, especially when two newly made mother-in-laws are on the loose. You never know how they or other people might take them, that is why its better to save them for another occasion.

8. If you had/have other plans don’t make any mention of them

People invite you to their wedding because they want you to be a part of their special day and want to share their happiness with you. Saying that you have to go somewhere else or had to be somewhere else gives the impression that rather than being a part of their joy, you were actually doing them a favor by attending the event, and this could even hurt their feelings.

9. Don’t predict the future of the marriage

As a joke, many people, especially the bride and groom’s friends, actually make bets guessing how long would it take for the couple to break the marriage bond. Believe me its not funny, on the contrary its rude and offensive and I shouldn’t even be telling you to keep away from such games, you should be sensible enough to know that yourself!

10. Stop bragging about your gift to the couple

Ok, just because you gave a great expensive gift or a fat cheque to the newly wed couple doesn’t mean that you start bragging about it. Not everyone can afford it and your showing off can make people feel inferior and uncomfortable with their gift or money.

Some businesses find a way to thrive even in the toughest of economic times.

During the Great Depression, movies and radio found great success as relatively inexpensive forms of entertainment.

While many businesses are struggling today, one niche enterprise has done well. The popularity of beach weddings has continued to grow this summer.

“The beach wedding business has been great,” said Darrel Jones, executive director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council. “We get an average of seven to nine leads a week (at the TDC). That has grown each year.”

The TDC has advertised its beach wedding opportunities in a popular wedding magazine called Knot. Jones said that has been successful in drawing couples to the Emerald Coast.

Although beach weddings have been big business in the area for years, the economic slump had organizers worried.

“I knew it was a reality out there that people were hurting and people were having to cut back” said Cecilia Cappella, owner of Tropical Beach Weddings in Navarre. “Everyone was concerned. I was concerned as a business owner, being self employed, but I have not seen a decrease at all.”

Cappella said she did not have any wedding cancellations this summer because of lost jobs or anything to do with the economy. She said she only had one couple call to downgrade a previous plan.

Financially, Cappella said she was even with last year’s summer numbers. Things have gone so well this year that Cappella has decided to expand her business next year to add another wedding crew to her staff to increase the number of weddings her company performs.

“It was a very good season. We’re still doing weddings. I’m slammed for September,” she said.

Maggie Halsey, owner of Barefoot Weddings in downtown Fort Walton Beach, said the biggest advantage to a beach wedding is the savings. She said a typical church wedding costs $10,000 to $12,000, whereas the most expensive package she offers is $2,500, which includes the bouquet, photos, chairs, music, decorations and officiating.

“It has been phenomenal,” Halsey said. “I have been really blessed. I just took my first day off since July 4 this past Sunday.”



Sharon Naylor, author of over 30 wedding planning books, has just published the perfect book for brides and groom looking to save money on their wedding expenses. “1001 Ways to Save Money … and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding” is filled with expert advice and insider tricks to show you where you can make cuts to your wedding budgets, and how to make them. We asked Sharon to give us her top tips on creating a wedding budget and where you can really save some money. Here’s what she had to say:

How does one create a wedding budget?
The best plan for creating a wedding budget is taking a series of important steps before making your first plan or purchase. You can’t create a realistic budget, one that will allow you to choose most of the elements you want for your big day, without knowing approximately what things cost in your area. For instance, you don’t want to create a budget and then get stunned when you find out that photography packages start at $5,000 in your area when you only budgeted $1,000 for that. Do plenty of research, invest your time in meeting with all kinds of experts, getting printed price lists, and really knowing the ballparks of what everything costs. Then sit down and look at your available funds to figure out what kind of wedding you will have.

Now there are two more steps here:

  1. Talking with parents to see if they will be willing and able to help pay for the wedding. (Not all parents can split the bill or foot the bill these days. Many offer to pay for the flowers or the bar or the honeymoon, etc.)
  2. Make a Priority List of which wedding elements are important to you (catering, entertainment, gown, and photos) and doing the math to decide you’ll spend, say, 75% of your budget on those things, while spending less on (or doing without) the others. It may take a few steps and some extra time, but it’s so worth it to create a good, flexible budget that keeps you reined in, yet still able to spend a little more than you planned for here and there without a ton of guilt. The best budgets are just there to guide you, not make you feel guilty or stressed … they’re designed to keep you from losing control.


Is there a time of year when you can really save money?
Absolutely! January through April is the new Hot Season when it comes to looking for lower-priced packages in every area of the wedding industry. Mid to late-April is my own favorite time of year for a low-cost wedding, since you get the start of gorgeous spring weather for one-third the cost of a September or October wedding (which are now two of the priciest times of year). November is also a well-priced month, but keep in mind that many families have their vacations already planned, or would never dream of missing a family Thanksgiving elsewhere. Just be cautious about planning your wedding during your region’s rainy, stormy, icy, snowy or hurricane seasons just to save a buck; it’s not worth grabbing an insanely low price package when there’s so much weather threat to your day and to your guests’ traveling safety.

What’s your number one wedding dress budget-shopping tip?
Get on the mailing lists of several bridal gown shops, so that you get advance, VIP notice of upcoming and last-second-planned designer trunk shows and sample sales. At these events, you can find gowns for up to 75% off, as well as shoes, veils, headpieces and accessories for up to 70% off! You should also sign up at your favorite designers’ Web sites as well, since they sometimes plan last-minute trips through your area and their staff will e-mail you to invite you to the sale.

Are there any items a bride should splurge on?
Really good shoes. Just like with the gown, it’s all about how you feel as well as how you look, and you’re going to be in those shoes all day and all night. Comfort is key. One of the new trends is for the groom to buy the bride a fabulous pair of designer heels as a wedding gift, because she may already have jewelry or wish to borrow from her mom. Grooms say their brides swoon over a great pair of Louboutins or Jimmy Choos. Wearing a pair of phenomenal designer shoes will make you feel like a true VIP on your wedding day.

Are there any items a bride should not cut from her budget or not look for a cheaper alternative?
The food, the food, the food! While there are lots of ways to get more catering for your budget dollar, it’s never a good idea to underfeed your guests. Guests get very angry when you cheap out on the catering, especially since they have gone to so much effort to be there with you on your big day. The true gift you’re getting is your guests’ presence at your wedding, so feed them well, be extravagant, devote a larger portion of your wedding budget to unique and delicious food stations, passed hors d’oeuvres, a fantastic sit-down meal and desserts.

The second item to invest well in, and not attempt to replace with a cheaper alternative, is your photographer. Yes, they’re expensive, but the good ones are truly worth it. Those gorgeous photos get more valuable over time, and this is not a day to trust to an amateur or the cheapest “expert” you find. Research well, ask friends who they hired, and invest in the best package possible. It’s worth every penny to get such masterful images of your day.

Is there a tactful way to ask mom and dad to help out?
Most parents expect to play a role in contributing to the wedding, so the best way to initiate this particular conversation is to make diplomacy your number one goal. Plan a get-together such as brunch or dinner at your place, if possible, with each set of parents separately. Here’s the ideal approach: “Mom, Dad, we’re so excited to share the wedding plans with you! We’d love to have you join us to tour potential reception sites and taste wedding cakes, and we definitely want to hear how you’d like to contribute, what you have in mind, what you’d like to work on.”

Mom and Dad should be told your initial wishes about the wedding, such as the number of guests, time of year and formality, so that they know the scale of the wedding (and also so that they don’t try to pressure you into having the wedding of their dreams!). With open communication, parents can tell you how much they were planning to contribute, or they can ask you to help them figure out what a wedding costs in your area. You’ll get much better results when you invite parents to participate and allow them to state what they’re comfortable with, show them your priority list and share your excitement about the wedding planning process than if you just tell them what your dream wedding is going to cost or try to guilt-trip them into contributing more than they can afford. (NEVER say your future in-laws are giving $X,000 — keep all donations discreet.)

Now if you initially told your parents that you’re paying for the wedding but time has passed, expenses have piled up, and you now need parental help, it’s fine to be direct: “We really wanted to foot the bill ourselves, but even with our modest plans things have mushroomed to greater expense than we expected. So if your offer to help with a financial contribution is still on the table, we’d love to take you up on it.” Being direct like this is always going to improve your odds of success.

Check out some more of Sharon’s books (and her blog) at her Web site,


black and white wedding dance

We’re not saying we don’t like these songs (okay…we don’t like the "Chicken Dance"), but we think it’s time to reconsider whether these really are wedding music essentials. Here are eight songs you might want to add to your "do-not-play list."

1. "YMCA" — Village People

Why to Skip It: The fact that everyone knows the words, everyone knows the dance, and that this song fits lots of occasions — between innings at a baseball game, for instance — does not automatically qualify it as a must at your wedding.


2. "Chicken Dance"

Why to Skip It: At a wedding, everyone’s dressed to the nines and feeling festive. Is this really the best time to flap your arms like a chicken in front of that cute bridesmaid/groomsman/new spouse? Didn’t think so.


3. "Stayin’ Alive" — Bee Gees

Why to Skip It: There aren’t too many people who know more than one line and one dance move to this song — leave "Stayin’ Alive" to the Saturday Night Fever reruns.


4. "Every Breath You Take" — The Police

Why to Skip It: The Police are legendary, but the tune is a little high school dance-ish, and the line "Every move you make…I’ll be watching you" is a little stalker-ish.


5. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" — Bonnie Tyler Why to Skip It: This song is worth skipping if only to avoid any guest from reenacting the profanity-laced rendition made famous from Will Ferrell’s wedding in Old School.


6. "Macarena" — Los Del Rio

Why to Skip It: You may know how to do the dance — but do you really want to? Besides, everyone has a few certain relatives they’d rather not see get down with that hip swivel move.


7. "My Heart Will Go On" — Celine Dion

Why to Skip It: We’re not passing judgment on Celine Dion, but Titanic propelled this song into the realm of romance cliche. Besides, remember that Leo died in the movie — a bit tragic for a wedding.


8. "Mony Mony" — Billy Idol

Why to Skip It: Not sure what Billy Idol is singing in this song? Most other people don’t know, either, and when that’s the case, a good 10 percent of sing-alongers will find a way to say something objectionable.


Summer weddings are becoming even more popular among the beach crowd. Sun worshippers delight in using the sun, surf, and sky as a backdrop for their important day. That is certainly true for the summer of 2009.

Those who can’t afford or simply don’t see a need for a lavishly extravagant wedding, often opt to keep it intimate and personal. Sometimes that means simply inviting a few family members and friends to share in the event. But beach weddings can also be lush for those who want a celebration as big as their love.

Today’s bride is no longer, pardon the pun, married to wearing white. Elegant ivory, soft eggshell, and tantalizing taupe and beautiful pale pastels will be popular. Wedding party members may be dressed in deeper shades of the bride’s own color or they could go even bolder in complimentary shades of blue, green, or orchid.

The beach bridal dress may be less detailed with regard to beading and lace but it will definitely have its own appeal in beautiful lightweight silks and satins and gossamer chiffons that whisper softly in the summer breeze. Off the shoulder, strapless, or Grecian style dresses will ensure that every bride looks her most beautiful on her special day.

The bridal party may wear dresses that match one another or feel free to choose their own based on the bride’s basic design and color scheme. Even the groom and his groomsmen may be allowed to go light and free; opting for stunning dress shirts and pants instead of suits and tuxedos.

Of course the more traditional bride may still want a certain amount of pizzazz even on the beach, adding beautiful accessories like hats and gloves to polish off the women and lightweight jackets with or without ties for the men.

However, beach weddings aren’t for everyone and the summer bride feel free in choosing an alternative venue. Art galleries, museums, and lavish hotels will be popular choices. So are weddings at home, in the garden or park, and at churches, community centers and halls. The rule is there are no rules anymore. Brides and grooms are free to let their imaginations soar to build the perfect wedding day that suits who they are as individuals.

There will be formal, semi-formal, and casual weddings galore this summer. It’s all about the couple, their families, and their lifestyles. Anything goes. But more brides than ever may cut back on the extravagance because of the waning economy, carefully choosing only those things they consider absolutely necessary.

Summer wedding dresses for 2009 will be romantic and nature will play an important part. Floral designs in lace, beading and accents will be found in a lot of today’s gowns. But that’s not all. Grecian and Roman elegance in stunning refined cuts will also popular. Ruffles and netting will abound for some brides while others opt for something sleek, smooth and oh so sexy. Ruching and pleating will be a part of many of today’s favorite dress choices and extravagant beads, sequins, and jewels aren’t going away either. Dresses may be long, short, or anywhere in between. They could hearken back to the days of Victorian modesty or let it all hang out like the free love 60’s. Not everything will be all white here either. Colored beads, stones, ribbon, and accents will make today’s wedding dresses very unique.

Some brides will choose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s dress instead of buying a new one for two primary reasons. Number one, it is a part of their commitment to going green. Secondly, the vintage look is hotter than ever before. Halter, spaghetti strap, and strapless gowns will remain popular and be accompanied not only by plunging necklines but plunging backs as well. And don’t forget the one-shoulder goddess gowns that have become so popular the last couple of years. A few will also still feature the mermaid or fishtail look as well. Look for whites, to be certain, but also look for soft champagne colors, barely there pinks and cool platinum.

With venue and dresses under control, it’s time to move onto things like wedding rings, cakes, and flowers. Look for my article "Completing the Summer 2009 Wedding Preparations."


green wedding guide

Number of Guests – Knowing how many guests you expect to come to your wedding will help guide you when brainstorming for wedding locations. In general, two-thirds of the guests you invite will attend — even less if it is a destination wedding. A large group of guests will require more parking, bathrooms, rentals, and space. A smaller, intimate affair can take place in any number of venues, and in reality, has a much smaller impact on the environment. For the low-maintenance types, eloping with just your sweetie and a witness to the local courthouse is your cheapest and greenest option.

Travel – Ideally you want your wedding to be easy for all of your guests to arrive with minimal travel. If your family and friends all live nearby, the greenest thing you can do is have it in your home town. If everyone is scattered across the country, consider picking a central location, or a spot where a majority of your guests live. Unless you elope, at least some of your guests will likely have to travel to get to the wedding, and since travel is the biggest environmental impact, consider buying carbon offsets to reduce the carbon footprint of your guests travel. Terra Pass and Native Energy both offer carbon offsets for special events — Terra Pass’ can even specifically tailored to weddings. Also suggest that guests rent fuel-efficient vehicles like the Prius — they can check major rental companies like Avis, Enterprise and Hertz.

Ceremony & Reception Venues – Once you have an idea of how many guests will attend and in what city it will take place, you can scout out venues. Naturally green wedding spots are ones that require little fuss or decoration. Some naturally eco options include city parks, gardens, beaches, backyards, organic farms, local CSAs, national and state parks. While relatively fuss and decoration free, these outdoor locations may require renting chairs, tables, and tents, dealing with travel logistics, or even getting permits. Churches are also eco, requiring little decoration and no rentals. Many churches these days also have recycling programs and buy renewable energy.

There are many other types of venues that hold weddings regularly like hotels, restaurants, museums, historical buildings and resorts. These can be great options, since they usually have all of the chairs, tables, rentals, wait staff, catering, etc., but not all practice environmental-friendliness, so do your research and ask questions! Find out whether or not they recycle, buy organic or local food, clean with safe cleaning products, or buy renewable energy. Without these eco practices in place, your venue may not be green at all.

Reception – Keeping the reception within walking distance of the ceremony minimizes your guests traveling between the two. Also morning and afternoon weddings are becoming increasingly popular again — an option that requires less electricity and thus, reducing your environmental impact. Help support your local economy by hiring local companies for rentals, catering, cakes and entertainment. Avoid buying new things or disposable items at the reception and rely on rental companies to supply all of your linens and place settings.

Destination Weddings – Destination weddings are really fun and a good chance for a vacation, but require more time and money for your guests. Be considerate of the travel required to get to your destination and the costs associated. Look for eco-resorts and destinations that use environmentally-friendly practices just like you would with a local venue.


With our family and friends scattered around the country and Matt and me in Park City, UT, there was no easy solution our wedding’s location – almost everyone would have to travel. When thinking about locations we factored in travel times, airfare costs, activities during the weekend, car rentals, hotel accommodations and the overall feel of the wedding. We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding, because Matt and I spend so much of our time outdoors. We also wanted it to be special to us as well as a memorable location for all of our loved ones.

In light of that, we decided to have the wedding at one of our most favorite spots in the world – Zion National Park in Southern Utah. We love the serenity, the red rock canyon walls, the Virgin River cutting through it all. The park and lively neighboring town, Springdale, would be able to provide a myriad of activities for our guests to take advantage of — and the area already had a free public shuttle, so no one would need to drive once they arrived. Additionally, most of our family and friends had never been to the park and hoped to extend their stay to enjoy all that the park offered.

We searched Springdale and the National Park for the ceremony site, looking for a place that could accommodate 100 people, had amazing views and fit our budget. For the ceremony, we settled on a little hotel in town, called the Canyon Ranch Motel, which has a beautiful lawn with old growth trees. Our guests collectively booked the entire motel, which meant we could avoid disturbing others and have the whole place to ourselves. The reception was at the Springdale’s Community Center, which had an indoor and outdoor area and was just a short walk along a dirt path from the ceremony. We rented chairs and place settings from Zion Party Rentals, which is a local rental company.

When the big day arrived, we found that our guests enjoyed the National Park, took the shuttle everywhere, relaxed by the pool, took hikes and spent a lot of time outdoors. Because our guests made our wedding into their own vacation, we had more opportunity to spend with them while sharing a place that was very special to us.


My hubby and I live in New York City, but most of our family is in the San Francisco Bay Area, so getting hitched in San Francisco was a no-brainer. We knew that some people would have to travel for our wedding, but since airplane travel has a huge carbon footprint, we wanted to minimize the number of people who had to fly out for the wedding and make it easiest for our immediate family to attend. Locating our wedding in San Francisco, and then having a follow up reception a month later in NYC gave our New York friends the option to skip out on flying out to California, while still allowing them to celebrate with us in a more convenient local.

Once we settled on San Francisco, we wanted to choose a place that was meaningful to us, as well as easy-to-get-to, and would allow the ceremony and reception to all be held in one place, minimizing any sort of carbon footprint (and inconvenience) that comes from having to drive from one place to another. We choose the Presidio in San Francisco — a historic military base that has been converted to a national park –because it is beautiful, serene, and my family has ties to the area (my grandfather lived and worked at the Presidio, and my grandmother is buried there). Perhaps the most important factor for us, however, (and the most important ‘green’ factor), is the fact that the Presidio has a whole host of historic buildings: chapels, cabins, officer’s clubs and the like, that are frequently rented for events – minimizing the hassle and the need to truck in furniture, seating, decor, canopies or anything else offsite. This not only made setting up a breeze, but it seriously cut down on carbon footprint to have everything available on site. Of course, guests were also happy that they could easily walk from the old mission interfaith chapel where we had the ceremony to the reception party at the Golden Gate Club, just down the hill.

My husband and I were thrilled with the location we picked for our wedding. Not only was it ‘green’, but it was beautiful and scenic, super convenient and easy for us and our guests, and special and poignant for us due to our personal ties to the area


‘Even if I had loads of money, I’d come here. I actually believe in recycling and using stuff that has been used before,’ says bride-to-be Dorothy Fletcher as she is helped by shop assistant Kayoko Yanagisawa to try on a cut-price bridal gown at Oxfam, George’s Street, Dublin

Saying ‘I do’ needn’t cost you a fortune – there are plenty of ways you can save money while still having a truly memorable day, writes FIONA McCANN

‘I’M A TYPICAL recession bride,” laughs Dorothy Fletcher as she twirls in front of the large gilt mirror in Oxfam Ireland’s bridal shop, stunning in a beaded dress with a €50 price tag.

Fletcher, who recently returned from the US and has just started up her own business, says she can’t afford a lavish wedding, but that hasn’t stopped her from making her dream come true. The budget for her wedding to her Scottish fiance Colin, is set at €7,000, and so far the two have managed to keep things more or less within their set budget.

It’s a far cry from the 1.5 million tag on the boom-time wedding of developer Seán Dunne and columnist Gayle Killilea, but Fletcher has no interest in ostentation, or indeed in little extras like hiring out Aristotle Onassis’s yacht, the Cristina.

“Even if I had loads of money, I’d come here,” she says as she flicks through the rails and rails of cut-price dresses in Oxfam. “I actually believe in recycling and using stuff that has been used before.”

This may be her intention, but over 75 per cent of the dresses before her, which range in size from an eight to a 30 and from €50 to €450 in price, have never even been worn before, having been donated from boutiques and shops around the country.

Fletcher’s one of a new breed of budget brides finding ways to tie the knot without yoking themselves to a lifetime of debt in the process.

According to Solene Rapinel, manager at the Oxfam store in George’s Street, Dublin, which stocks their bridal range, the numbers of brides-to-be finding their way to its trove of white taffeta have been increasing in recent months. “People are definitely not willing to pay as much as they did before for their wedding dresses.”

Oxfam has some 150 dresses to choose from, and new frocks are added every month to keep the collection current. And while donations continue to come in, from boutiques, bridal shops and former brides giving their one-day-only dresses away for a good cause, the supply barely meets the boom in demand. “We really need more stock because they fly out,” says Rapinel.

Viewing is by appointment only, but the bridal shop is booked up until May for weekend appointments, and already boasts a lengthy waiting list of bargain-hunting brides. As well as the obvious benefits to their bank balances, those who shop there also get a clean conscience into the bargain.

“If you buy your wedding dress here at the average price of €250 to €300, it means two families get a goat for the father, a vegetable garden for the mother, and school books and musical instruments for the children,” explains Rapinel. “So you make your family happy and two other families happy too.” Even putting the dress on hold for a mere €10 provides water to three families.

Tiaras, veils, shoes and shawls are also available, with a selection of bridesmaid’s dresses in varying styles, sizes and colours ensuring the full wedding party can be kitted out for bargain prices.

Except, alas, for the menfolk involved. “If we had donations for the grooms, we’d be very happy to sell them.”

THERE’S NO NEED to stop at the dress. Costs can be cut in all manner of ways that will remain largely invisible to guests, and canny couples are taking note. For example, venues are often the biggest outlay for a wedding party.

“People are reducing certain aspects that would have been considered discretionary in recent years,” points out Richie Huggard, conference and events sales manager at Dublin’s Burlington Hotel. According to Huggard, add-ons like chair covers and centrepieces can easily be lopped off the list and have an immediate effect on the potential outlay.

“There is a notable drop in expenditure,” says Huggard, who recalls the days when bridezillas roamed the earth. Having also worked on weddings in Slane Castle, Huggard recalls one flathulach fiancee requesting that the walls of the castle be repainted in the colours of her bridesmaid dress to ensure they blended in with the surroundings, allowing her to stand out.

Such days – and such demands – are well and truly a thing of the past, and venues are now offering more basic wedding packages that exclude such extras as matching walls or Onassis yachts.

“There’s your basic package, plus all the other options, like the rose petals flying from the ceiling and the balloons and lavish centrepieces on the tables,” Huggard points out, adding that choosing the simpler option doesn’t have to affect the festivities.

“At the end of the day the guests don’t leave a wedding saying ‘We had a great time, but they didn’t have any chair covers or ‘We had a great time but did you see the state of the centrepieces?’”

Besides, the new breed of bride is cannier than her Celtic Tiger counterpart, according to wedding planner Rosemary Muleady of

“Nobody wants a budget wedding,” says Muleady. “They still want the wedding that they’ve always dreamed of, but brides are more savvy nowadays and are looking for more for their buck.”

The tightening bridal belts are taking their toll on the wedding industry, however. “A lot of suppliers with bookings this summer were already booked from last year,” explains Muleady. “It has gone very quiet this year for bookings.”

Yet lack of lolly need not stand in the way of love, and Muleady has plenty of advice for those who long for the big day without the big spend.

“Set a budget and shop around,” she says. “Find a photographer who offers disc-only packages and then you can do the album yourself. Choose flowers that are in season rather than out of season, because they cost a lot more to import.”

Fletcher, who still has a year to go before her big day, has her own ideas about how to keep within budget. “I’m going to get hair extensions and try and do my own hair: we’ll just practice as the year goes on,” she says.

“And I already have sandals so I’m not going to spend money on shoes. If I’m in a long dress that’s flowing, they won’t even be seen.”

AS WELL AS the various other “dos” recommended by planners and brides – like hiring bridesmaid dresses, or setting up a website instead of sending out invitations – Muleady has plenty of “don’ts” for those setting out on the path to nuptial bliss.

“Don’t take out loans,” she cautions, advising couples to save for their weddings in credit crunching times. And don’t expect to get your outlay back in presents either. “Don’t rely on money gifts to pay for your wedding, because you can still get your five toasters, especially with people cutting back due to the recession.”

Finally, worried wedders should not be confused by the dos and the don’ts. Don’t forget that the big day is less about the fancy do and more about the “I do”.

Buying the knot: Six ways to cut costs on your big day

  1. Venues Shop around for venues, and bargain hard. The days when the word “wedding” would add 20 per cent to the cost of a party are gone. Bookings are down, and it’s a bride’s market out there.
  2. Dresses Try charity shops for bargain dresses, and consider hiring the bridesmaid dresses. But don’t think you’re saving by buying online – you’ll still be charged duty if the dresses are spotted by customs officials.
  3. Stationery The cost of invitations can really add up, and aren’t that ecologically sound after all. Websites are one way to go, with instructions, details, and RSVPs all available at the click of a mouse.
  4. Flowers Choose flowers that are in season to avoid the heavy cost of importing. If you feel enterprising, you can even make your own bouquets, though getting out of bed early to visit flower markets as they open is required.
  5. Photographs/videos Choose a disc-only package to save on a wedding album, or get your friends to take snaps of the day and send them on.
  6. Rings Go directly to suppliers, says Fletcher. “I can get an 18 carat white gold ring for €159 at the supplier, and they’re €300 at the shops.”