Archive for the ‘GTA Wedding Jewellery’ Category

‘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.”

Here are some money saving tips that FB would like to share with you. Use a couple of tips to save a few bucks or use more and save $1000+.

The Most Important Money Saving Tips

  • You will save yourself an enormous amount of money if you get married during the off-season months of January, February, March and November.
  • Getting married on any other of the week other than Saturday.
  • There is no official name for this disease but many brides get it.
    • 1st Symptom – around 3 months before your wedding, you’ll begin to second-guess your decisions.
    • 2nd Symptom – You’ll get scared and think about what you can do to make your wedding better or more unique.
    • 3rd Symptom – Then you’ll ask friends, family, co-workers and anyone that will listen to you, about what they think of your new ideas.
    • 4th Symptom – and most dangerous…you make a few phone calls and start up-grading a few of your packages.
    • The Cure – stick to your original budget. As the wedding draws near, your emotions take over…ignore them.
  • Vendors are well aware of the disease. That’s why every contract allows for you to upgrade a package at any time but there are rarely loopholes for downgrading.

The Wedding Attire Search

  • If finances don’t allow you to purchase a designer wedding dress, consider renting. Look at it this way, if you’re the type who wouldn’t even consider wearing your mother’s dress, why do you need one collecting dust in the closet.
  • Never mind buying an expensive silk gown. Stick to polyester blends. They’re cheaper, don’t wrinkle as much and are easier to clean.
  • The more beading and detail on the gown, the more expensive.
  • Most of the big bridal shops have huge sales once a year, usually held at hotels or other big venues.
  • To take care of the something old-new-borrowed-blue, look to family and friends for items you can use.
  • Go shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses during prom season and after New Years. There’s nothing written in stone that says you have to buy your bridesmaids dresses at a wedding shop, and generally your prices will be a bit cheaper elsewhere.
  • Shop for those pretty little wedding shoes in the summer, when white shoes are on the shelves of every shoe and department store, or you’ll have to buy them in a bridal shop and pay their prices. Shop in the afternoon, your feet swell during the day and they’ll also be swollen on your wedding day. FB prime advice … try “Payless”.
  • Men’s Tuxedo rentals are pretty much all the same price no matter where you go. The thing to check on is the condition of the suits and accessories.

Flower Power

  • Unless you plan on keeping your bouquet on display in your home, don’t bother with a duplicate to toss.
  • Instead of tossing your whole bouquet, just pick one flower to throw. We all know what condition the bride’s bouquet is in after 30 women (or more) start clawing at it.
  • Silk flowers save you a lot of money and they’re already preserved. The Bride can have fresh flowers, but there really isn’t any need for everyone else to go fresh.
  • If you’re using flowers in your centrepieces, decorations or large altar arrangements, go with silk. Would be nice if your guests could actually use the centrepieces that they just won again. You could re-use the decorations and larger arrangements at home, party accents or resell them on the Babbling Brides Board to another FB.

I Have No Idea How To Decorate!

  • To decorate the head table and save money buy vases, line them up and place the bouquets in them on the table and place votives in between.
  • Before shopping for candles and candleholders anywhere else, be sure to check out a couple of dollar stores.
  • Dollar stores and chains like Wal-Mart and Zeller’s also carry many items that can be used to decorate your ceremony or reception locations.
  • When decorating the church or reception venue use silk flowers.
  • Check with your florist or garden centre to see if you can rent plants, some places do.
  • Kill 2 birds with one stone and use your guest favours/bomboniere as your centrepieces. Buy a raised cake plate and display the favours on each table. Your MC can make an announcement explaining.

How Can I Cut Corners on the Invitations?

  • To make your invitations more personal and less expensive, do them yourself. There are a number of paper stores and websites availabile where you can find original ideas and ways to make your own invitations.
  • Order your invitations over the Internet instead of a printing shop (it’s a little cheaper). Mail order is another possibility.
  • Order a plain invitation from a company and decorate it yourself. All you need is a hole-puncher and some ribbon and/or parchment paper.

I Don’t Want to Spend a Fortune on Favours/Bomboniere

  • Please, go to a DOLLAR STORE first and check out their selection of party favours.
  • Some bomboniere stores decorate the gift for free and some don’t, so make sure you ask.
  • Instead of buying a trinket that will be tossed into a drawer, make a donation to a charity. This is a new trend that many brides are choosing. Pick a cause that means something to you. Your MC can say something like: “Instead of favours, the couple has decided to make a donation in their name to the Lung Cancer Society. The bride’s grandfather passed 3 years ago from this disease.” Donations always get a round of applause…ever see anyone clap for a candy dish?

Wedding Cakes too expensive? No Problem!

  • Buying a cake made with different flavoured tiers will save you money as you wouldn’t necessarily require a dessert table.
  • To get away with not paying a cake cutting fee at your venue, purchase their sweet table but serve your wedding cake for dessert. This means you’ll have to do your cake cutting as soon as your wedding party does their entrance. The staff will take the cake away and have it cut and plated in time for dessert.
  • If you’re having a dessert table, you really don’t need to buy an elaborate wedding cake, try renting.
  • Buy a plain wedding cake and decorate it yourself with silk or fresh flowers.

What about my Hair & Makeup?

  • Try to hire one person or company that does both hair and makeup.
  • Only the bride needs a trial.
  • You can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $100 for hair and $30 to $85 for makeup. Know that the more women you have that need these services, the cheaper the cost per person.
  • If hair accessories are going to be put in anyone’s hair, make sure you buy them yourself. If you leave this up to the hair stylist it’ll cost more.
  • If you have sensitive skin, we suggest that you do not go for a facial the week before your wedding. You don’t want to be all broke out for the big day.
  • Please get your nails done and make sure the groom’s hands are also manicured. More than likely you’ll be getting a picture that shows your hands and the wedding bands. People will be constantly asking to see your rings.
  • Lastly, try to find a makeup and hair vendor that will do a trial a few months before the wedding. It gives you time to work out any areas you are not happy with and makes the wedding day process much quicker

Using a Caterer & choosing a Reception Venue

  • Hire a caterer that supplies everything you need, plates, glassware, table cloths, etc.
  • Make sure you’re only charged for the services that you need. Some caterers have packages that include decorating and other items. If your venue is decorated already you won’t need the extras. Extras should be deducted from the bill or replaced with something else you want.
  • Pick fruits and vegetables that are in season.
  • Stick to serving food that everyone is familiar with. Fancy food is expensive.
  • Buffets generally cost a good deal less and give your guests the opportunity to get up and mingle with the other guests, and they can pick exactly what they would like to eat.
  • Make sure to read your contract and check to see if the gratuity is included. This goes for all services.
  • Booking a venue that allows you to buy your own liquor is more work but saves you money.
  • Depending on your culture and where you live in Canada, having a cash bar is totally acceptable. This can be a huge money saver.
  • Consider only serving wine and domestic beers.
  • Liquor (vodka, rum, rye, scotch) plus all the different mixes you’ll need adds to your expenses.
  • Liqueurs like Grand Marnier, Sambucca, etc. can put a real strain on the liquor budget.
  • Do you really need that Champagne toast?
  • Common sense tip – the more guests the more cash you’re going to put out.
  • Holding your reception in a hotel has a lot of good points. They usually decorate, have professional services, i.e. DJ, can cater well to large groups, and most likely will include the honeymoon suite, with discounted rooms for out-of-town guests.
  • If you’re having a wedding with 75 guests or under, consider having your reception at your favourite restaurant. You will already know the staff and how the food is.
  • Order child meals for kids under 11.
  • Order a teen meal (same as adults but no liquor) for ages 12 to 17.
  • Your reception is the biggest expense. It’s also where you can save the most money if you shop around and plan well!

Photographers charge too much!

Photographers equipment and development costs alone are huge. Then there are batteries, film, an assistant and the hours of work on and after the wedding. You can save money on enlargements and albums but don’t penny pinch when it comes to the photographer. After your wedding day, the only things you have left are your pictures and your video. These are the only 2 services that last a lifetime and can be passed down to the next generation.

  • Biggest tip – hire a photographer that gives you your negatives, that way you can make as many copies of pictures from your wedding day as you want without having to order them from your photographer.
  • If you choose a photographer that does not give you your negatives, always find out how long they keep your negatives on file and if you can obtain them when they are ready to discard them. Most photographers in general don’t keep negatives past a couple of years. If your photographer still won’t give you the negatives after that point without charging you money, I would question the ethics of the vendor.
  • $1000.00 for a photographer is a great price but if they charge $40.00 for an 8 X 10, where’s the savings. Don’t just look at the photo packages or wedding day shoot costs, ask how much their enlargements are.
  • If a package includes a couple’s album and 2 parent albums, ask how much that same package would cost without any albums. Sometimes it’s worth the savings to buy your own albums elsewhere and sometimes it’s better to take the albums offered by your photographer.
  • Unless you’re doing a formal shoot at the bride or groom’s house, you don’t need a photographer there. Your wedding party and family will have their cameras out anyway.
  • A great idea and one that many are using now is, putting a disposable camera on every table at the reception. Then you’ll only need to book your photographer for the church, photo location and maybe to take a few detailed shots at the reception venue.
  • You don’t need your photographer to stay until 1am. Once the bouquet and garter tosses have taken place, there are no more major events to shoot. Your 1st & last dances look the same on film.

I think I’ll just forget about a Video

Some couples think that having a video is a waste of money. How many times will we actually watch it? As necessary as still pictures are they can not capture the mood, movement and sounds of your wedding day like a movie can. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you have a great memory and you’ll remember everything about your day. You won’t, you can’t, there are too many things going on and you’re on cloud 9. Keep this in mind.

  • Go for packages with one camera coverage
  • Pick a package with limited editing or none at all.
  • If you can’t afford a professional video, ask a friend or 2 that own their own video cameras to shoot the day for you. Putting an unfamiliar camera in someone else’s hands is useless. Professionals know what to shoot and how to shoot it. So, give your friend a list of events that you want footage of and how you want each shot, for the entire day. Example:
    • Pre-Ceremony: Close-up footage for 10-seconds of the different decorations.(altar arrangements, pew bows, wreath outside and unity candle)
    • The guys waiting. Ask the groom what he’s thinking about.
    • The guests arriving (especially immediate family)

Do I Have To Pay a Fortune for Transportation?

  • Shop around, there are so many limousine companies out there. Prices do vary.
  • There is no rule anywhere that says, “You have to have a stretch limousine.” The smaller the car the cheaper.
  • Other than the car and uniformed chauffeur, you really don’t need any other extras.
  • You can also save money by renting your vehicles from Budget, Hertz, etc. They all have new model luxury cars, sports cars and SUVs.
  • You really don’t need the limousine to take you home after the reception. Late-night pick-ups cost $100.00+
  • Before the ceremony, have the limo pick up the bride and her bridesmaids. The groom, groomsmen and parents can take their own vehicles to the church. After the ceremony, the bride and groom can take the limo and the bridesmaids can hop in the groomsmen’s cars.
  • You may already know someone that owns a Cadillac or Lincoln, a fancy sports car or for fun a Beetle or an antique car. Give this person a call.
  • Some couples need more then one limo. If this is the case for you, compare the cost of 2 to 3 limos vs. the cost of 1 limo bus or Chartered Bus.

Choosing Your Music Service

  • Common sense, the least amount of people providing a service, the cheaper.
    • Ceremony – An organist is cheaper than a string duo, which is cheaper than a trio
    • Reception – A DJ is cheaper than a band
  • The least amount of extras the cheaper. Lighting, smoke & bubble machines, other props, costumes, give-aways, fireworks, the list is endless, all cost money. It’s up to you.
  • A really expensive package doesn’t mean that your party will last longer or that your non-dancing guests will feel the need to shake their booty for the first time in their life. But a crappy DJ or band will ruin your reception.

Do I really need a Wedding Coordinator or Planner?

Let’s face it, the ONLY service you need to get married is an officiant.

  • Most wedding coordinators can save you money because they know…
    • about all the tips mentioned above plus more
    • what to say to and ask your vendors
    • They have connections in the industry.
  • You really don’t need a coordinator at your reception once the dance floor is open to your guests. That usually happens between 9-10pm.
  • You could hire a wedding consultant to help with the final stages of your wedding; creating a detailed wedding day itinerary, making up a checklist for items at the ceremony & reception locations, and confirming with your vendors. While she won’t be in attendance at your wedding, she has planned the day smoothly on paper. As long as you follow the times closely (not exactly) and do the events in the same order as the itinerary states, you’ll be fine.
  • You can appoint a friend or family member to be your honorary coordinator. Give her an itinerary, checklists (ceremony & reception items, photo and music list) and phone numbers for all your vendors. The honorary coordinator should be someone that’s organized, the more obsessive-compulsive the better and not scared to open her mouth when something goes wrong.


In decades past, the man got down on one knee, ring in hand, and proposed. Today, many couples jointly decide to become husband and wife. Likewise, they choose the rings together. It pays to know a few things first:

Find a jeweler you can trust. Use recommendations or family connections to find a jeweler you know to be honest and fair.

Select a style. There are many rings out there, with styles from heirloom to contemporary. Choose a style that reflects your personal tastes.

Set a price range. Have some sense of what you can afford before you even visit any jewelers. Most experts agree that the ring budget should total no more than the bride and groom’s combined salaries for two months.

Know your diamond basics. There are four
categories by which a jeweler assesses the worth of a diamond: cut, clarity, color, and carat (see below for more details).

Be sure to keep a good record of where the rings were purchased, how much they cost, the four C’s of the diamond, etc. This will come in handy for insurance purposes and if you find something wrong with the rings after bringing them home.

Also, you both just spent potentially thousands of dollars with a jeweler, so take advantage of your new status as a valued customer and consider using the same jeweler to purchase the bride’s attendants’ gifts. Don’t be timid about asking for a quantity price break.

The four C’S for diamonds

There are four qualities, or Four C’s, that jewelers use to evaluate a diamond.

Color: The closer a diamond is to colorless, the greater its monetary value.

Clarity: This term refers to the number of interior and exterior flaws that can be seen when the stone is magnified ten times.

Cut: A diamond should be proportioned and faceted to bring out the stone’s shine and clarity.

Carat: This refers to the size of the actual stone. Per carat value is determined by color, cut, and clarity. A small stone with flawless color, cut, and clarity can actually have a higher value than a large stone with many imperfections.