Archive for the ‘GTA Wedding Planning’ Category

Berkeley Church and Berkeley Fieldhouse
Rent either the Church or Fieldhouse, or both together for extra space. The Church space features 17-foot stained glass windows and hardwood floors with a mezzanine and main floor, while the Fieldhouse features French glass doors and high ceilings in the main space, plus a wooden deck and patio area. Renters can bring their own alcohol while Berkeley Catering provides food services. Expect to pay around $135 and up per person. Rentals range from $1,800 to $3,800 for the Berkeley Church and $800 to $3,800 for the Fieldhouse, depending on the day and season.

Steam Whistle Brewery
The popular brewery features beautiful cityscape views and a rustic interior with plenty of exposed brick and wood beams. A variety of spaces can accommodate anywhere from 30 to 250 seated, or up to 500 for a standing reception. Rental costs vary based on the season and day of week – prices range from $1,150 to $5,000. Catering is selected from an approved list of vendors, while Steam Whistle operates the bar – obviously, your beer of choice for the evening is Steam Whistle.

Graydon Manor Hall
The manor’s sprawling gardens could play host to your ceremony, while the estate itself is perfect for an evening affair. The home features ornate moldings, bay windows, and wood-burning fireplaces. Rental fees ($1,000 to $6,000 depending on the time, date, and season requested) include use of the dining room, library, conservatory, bridal suite, groom’s room, gardens, and courtyard. There is a minimum spend of $20,000 to $25,000 depending on your event date, and a 20% service charge for event staff and labour.

Palais Royale
This beautiful venue, open for 86 years, underwent a restoration in 2005. The current space features a plush interior with contemporary art deco furnishings, an original stone fireplace, hardwood dance floor, and a 30-foot vaulted ceiling. The Palais Royale rests directly by the water with a 2-tiered deck patio reaching out to the waterfront. The ballroom can host 350 people for a seated dinner or up to 800 for cocktails. They have an extensive list of preferred suppliers for every service your event might need. Rental fees range from $1,000 to $4,500, while prices per person are $100+ with packages available.

Edward Day Gallery and MOCCA Courtyard
The combo of indoor and outdoor space makes this gallery an attractive option. Another perk: The option to work with the caterer of your choice. With 125 to 150 capacity for seated meals and 300 for a cocktail reception, consider this venue if you’re looking for a sleek and contemporary feel. Rental rates range from $2,500-$4,500 for the indoor gallery space and an additional $300-$500 for the outdoor space. Rental rates include one staff member for up to 100 guests; additional staff is available for $45 per hour.

2nd Floor
This 3,000 square foot space on King West is open-concept with an industrial feel including exposed brick walls, large windows, and a 36-foot bar. The team can accomodate up to 180 people for a seated dinner or 215 for a cocktail party. Rental fees range from $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the day of week, and include tables, chairs, loungers, and candles. A/V equipment is also included in the rental fee and the space has a coordinator who can help to further organize your event, including providing their list of preferred suppliers.

The Carlu
Elegant and glamorous events are the best fit for this lavish ’30s-inspired space. The art deco feeling is carried throughout the historic site, located on the 7th floor of the College Park building. Renovations undergone in the early 2000s restored the space to its former brilliance, but added modern amenities and details. Rentals range from $1,100 to $5,500 depending on the room, or $15,000 for the full floor. There is a list of preferred suppliers that those hosting events must choose from.

Evergreen Brickworks
This dynamic event space can host anywhere from 70 to 2,000 guests. Evergreen strives to mix nature with an urban setting, so it encourages sustainable practices in hosting any events. Their approved suppliers are in keeping with its sustainable goals, and will help couples make eco-friendly choices. A major bonus is the 300 parking spots available for events. Rental fees vary but can reach up to $4,000 and are not inclusive of anything. A permit will need to be purchased if you intend on serving alcohol.

Sunnyside Pavilion
This seasonal space provides an attractive waterside option. Sunnyside has long been a destination for sunbathing and relaxation, and the distinctly Mediterranean feel of the open-aired areas create an exceptional ceremony or reception space. There’s room for 250 to 500 individuals for a dinner; catering can be provided by the venue or an outside vendor. The rental fee is $2,500 for the courtyard or terrace, which does not include anything. Expect packages for guests to start around $100 per person.

The Burroughes Building
This newer event space was originally built as a department store in 1907. The venue has been renovated to carefully preserve its character; exposed brick, wood details, and chandeliers help to create a stylish and urban feel. The 3rd floor (350-guest capacity), 6th floor (450 guests), and rooftop (100 guests) include incredible views of the city. Seated capacity depends on the configuration of the space. Rental fees range from $2,800 and up for the raw space, and guests are welcome to bring in their own vendors, along with purchasing their own alcohol and permit.

Design Exchange
Originally built in 1937 as the home of the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Design Exchange now plays host to incredible exhibitions and a variety of events each year. Highlights of the space include wood finishes, marble details, incredibly high ceilings, and eight murals by artist Charles Comfort. The setting is perfect for parties of 150 to 250, and the rental fee of $4,712 includes chairs, tables, linens, lighting, the sound system, signage, cleaning, security, and some staff. There is a preferred list of caterers and a suggested list for other services.

Hart House
Since its opening in 1919 this unique space in the heart of the University of Toronto campus has played host to numerous events. The grey stone walls, ivy-covered outdoor space, vaulted ceilings, and Gothic arches lend an old world feel. The quad and Great Hall hold up to 250 guests with a dance floor and a nondenominational chapel is available to couples. The rental fee is approximately $3,000 and catering is provided in-house with meals beginning at $50 per person.

99 Sudbury
If you enjoy contemporary, minimalist spaces that work as a blank canvas you should consider this venue, as there are a variety of options available. The Glass Factory, The Lounge, and 99 Gallery can accommodate from 25 to 300 guests for seated dinners and 250 to 800 guests for cocktail receptions. Each space has a loft-like vibe with plenty of wood and exposed brick. Rental rates range from $1,500 to $4,500 depending on the date selected as well as the space utilized.

Arcadian Court
Since the opening in 1929, this venue has hosted Toronto’s first auto show, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s first radio broadcast, and Sotheby’s first auction outside of Britain. The Court’s most beautiful qualities are the grand arches and beautiful chandeliers. The space can accommodate up to 520 for a seated event or 1,200 for a standing reception. There is a rental fee that ranges from $1,000 to $2,500 and a minimum spend for food and beverage that ranges from $6,000 to $25,000. Rental fees include service staff, standard linens, tables and chairs, standard flatware and glassware, candles, and table numbers.

Andrew Richard Designs
The Atrium and The Loft are available for events in this blank-canvas space that allow couples to feature their own aesthetic. The venue offers services such as catering, bar services, staffing, rentals, décor, florals, lighting, production, A/V elements, and entertainment. Venue staff assists in event coordination and help to select the best fit for your event from their preferred vendors list. Rental fees begin at $3,500 and depend on the spaces selected, all other fees are above and beyond.

Eglinton Grand
Ever wanted to see your name lit up on a marquee? Formerly The Eglinton Theatre, the historic landmark has been restored to its original 1936 form. The venue can host dinner from 50 to 550 and receptions for up to 1000. Venue rental includes catering staff and bartenders, tables, banquet chairs, china, cutlery, glassware, linens, and napkins, with packages provided to potential clients. Fees range from $1,250 to $4,500 depending on the day of the week. If your event exceeds 175 guests the rental fee is waived.

Artscape Wychwood Barns
With a long and narrow event space, Wychwood Barns offers the opportunity for a unique event layout. The venue features concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and 22-foot ceilings and windows that provide plenty of natural light. You can supply your own liquor, but must select from a list of approved caterers. Rental fees range from $3,000-$3,500; furniture is available to be rented.

The Fermenting Cellar
In the heart of the Distillery District lies this rustic space that is often transformed for the most chic and sophisticated events. The raw space lets you work with any theme you like all while hosting up to 300 people for a seated dinner or 600 for a stand-up reception. Rental fees range from $4,000-$8,000 for the space alone. When hosting a full event, minimums range from $8,000 to $22,000. You can avoid the room rental fee, staffing charges and 15% Landmark Commission Fee by selecting in-house catering.

The ROM is an exceptional part of Toronto’s cultural landscape and hosts everything from small events to gala receptions regularly. The original stonework heritage building lives side-by-side with the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, and events can be held in both. The original museum’s high vaulted ceilings, soaring windows, and detailed stonework offer a more traditional space, while the crystal has a more modern feel. Rental fees can range from $500 to $12,000, and fees per person can begin around $100.

With a variety of spaces available for events, the AGO is an excellent choice for any admirer of the arts and lover of a luxurious event. Couples can celebrate in Walker Court, Galleria Italia, Sculpture Atrium, FRANK Restaurant or Baillie Court while enjoying a meal prepared by their executive chef or special events chef. Capacities for seated dinners range from 70 to 300, with reception capacities ranging from 130 to 450. Rental fees range from $1,500 to $5,500 and include furniture rental, while minimum spends vary from $3,000 to $30,000. The cost per person is usually around $250.

Casa Loma
Searching for an old castle in Ontario? This is likely the closest you’ll get. The landmark Gothic Revival house was originally constructed between 1911 and 1914 and features 60-foot oak beamed ceilings, bay windows, wood paneling, and hand-crafted ceilings. In addition to these architectural marvels there are marble details and plenty of greenery on the premises. Rental fees are around $3,500 while the price per person tends to begin around $150 and increase based on personalized details.

Toronto Botanical Gardens
There are two primary event halls at the recently renovated Toronto Botanical Gardens – the Floral Hall or the Garden Hall. Both spaces include stunning views of seasonal flowers and provide an excellent space for wedding photos. Rentals range from $1,200 to $1,300 for the Garden Hall and from $2,100 to $3,100 for the Floral Hall, with free parking available. There are 12 preferred caterers for the venue and there is a corkage fee applied for alcohol brought into the space.

Storys Building
Located on Duncan St., this 170-year-old classic brick-and-beam building is a relatively new entry on the Toronto venue scene, having opened to the public in October 2011. It boasts over 14,000 square feet of event space over several floors, with each allowing for 150 seated guests or 225 for a stand-up reception. The on-site chef works with clients to plan imaginative and innovative dishes and the bar is handled on-site. Rentals for weekends are $5,000 per floor and include set-up, labour, security, cleaning, furniture, and all other operating costs. The average cost per person for food and open bar ranges between $125-$150 plus tax and service fee.

The Great Hall
The Great Hall is an important and vibrant piece of the music and arts community in Toronto. The space was built in 1880 and has been restored to its former Victorian glory. The Main Hall includes a balcony, curved glass, wrought iron railings, and 40-foot ceilings. Capacity is 250 for seated guests and 500 for a cocktail reception. The cost is approximately $1,000 to $3,500 per day.

This modern, chic space, located in the TIFF Bell Lightbox, is an upscale and stylish wedding spot, with breathtaking views of the city and an ornate and sloped ceiling. Accommodation is available for up to 150 seated or 200 for a cocktail reception. The rental fee starts at $2,000 and is based on date and time of year; the fee includes staff, white linens, tables and chairs, flatware and glassware, printed menus, candles, and table numbers. Catering is provided on-site with menus beginning at $60 per person. Beverage charges are based on consumption.

5 Brock Events
Placed in the centre of Parkdale down a quiet alley, this gallery, once a warehouse, has retained its original character and includes exposed brick, wood-beamed ceilings, and concrete floors. Art curated by the owners can be left up for your event, or you are welcome to showcase your own pieces for a fee. The space holds 150 for a seated affair or 250 for a cocktail reception. The preferred caterer is Eatertainment but couples can explore outside catering, and alcohol can be brought in. Rental fees are $2,000 Sunday to Wednesday or $2,500 Thursday through Saturday.

Todmorden Mills
This Toronto heritage site is set in 15 hectares of green space in the Don Valley and the grounds contain several historic homes in which events can be held, including the Brewery Gallery, the Papermill Theatre, and the Papermill Event and Museum Gallery. Each space is simple with minimal décor and an industrial feel. Rates range from $125 to $250 per hour with a three-hour minimum required. The only downside is the lack of a full kitchen.

National Ballet School
There are several spaces owned by the National Ballet School available to the public for renting; however, Currie Hall is the most conducive to a wedding. It can accommodate up to 130 seated guests or 220 for a cocktail reception. The space includes a wood dance floor, high ceilings, large windows, dark wood trim, and a state-of-the-art kitchen. Catering services are provided from a list of preferred partners, and a special occasion permit must be obtained. The rental fee is approximately $3,000 with additional time available at $250/hour – a great bonus if you want to party a bit later into the night.

The Estates of Sunnybrook
The Sunnybrook Hospital property has four spaces available for events, all of which donate their profits to the hospital. Spaces include hardwood floors and well-maintained rooms with simple but elegant décor. Capacity ranges from 40 to 160 for seated events or 60 to 200 for standing receptions. Rental fees ($450 to $3,000) cover room set-up, tables and chairs, linens, tableware and candlesticks, as well as servers and bartenders. All rooms include a minimum revenue requirement for food and beverage; average cost is about $165 per person including the taxes and service charges.

Gardiner Museum
Located at Bloor and University, this minimalist space features floor-to-ceiling windows and a contemporary design. The Terrace Room includes stunning views of Queen’s Park and the Royal Ontario Museum, and couples can also rent the lobby designed to include black-glass countertops and limestone floors. Catering is exclusively provided by à la Carte Kitchen Inc. or Jamie Kennedy Event Catering. Both vendors also handle inquiries for availability, rates, planning, and site visits. Rental fees for the space range from $1,500 to $1,800.

Choosing a wedding venue can be an enjoyable experience if you’re looking at the right locations. The following are some recommended venues in and around Toronto region.

  1. Black Creek

    1000 Murray Ross Parkway
    Toronto, Ontario M3J 2P3
    Tel: 416 736-1733 |

    Endless possibilities, in a timeless setting. The historic atmosphere, exceptional banquet facilities and catering services make Black Creek an ideal venue for Wedding Ceremonies. 

  2. Casa Loma

    1 Austin Terrace
    Toronto, Ontario M5R 1X8
    Phone: 416-923-1171

    When planning your wedding reception or wedding ceremony and reception, Casa Loma provides the perfect setting for an evening you will never forget. Enjoy the exclusive use of three charming main floor rooms. Experience the unique ambiance of The Great Hall with its 60-foot oak beamed ceiling and towering bay window, the rich wood paneling and hand crafted plaster ceiling of The Library, and the splendid marble and lush greenery of The Conservatory. The venue can accommodate groups of up to 550 people.

  3. Atlantis Pavillions

    955 Lake Shore Boulevard West
    Toronto, Ontario M6K3B9
    Phone: (416) 260-8000

    This unique landmark location features four spectacular ballrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. Panoramic views of the Toronto Skyline and Waterfront. Exceptional food and service are features that make an event at Atlantis unlike any other.

  4. Hart House

    University of Toronto,
    7 Hart House Circle
    Toronto, Ontario M5S3H3
    Phone: (416) 978-2452

    Hart House is a unique downtown treasure steeped in history. Elegant rooms and beautiful architectural details are perfectly complemented by modern cuisine and exceptional service. Whether you envision a small and intimate gathering or a large-scale celebration, Hart House can offer the perfect space and all the elements you need to design the wedding of your dreams.

  5. Whistler’s Grille and Cafe Bar

    995 Broadview Avenue
    East York, Ontario M4K2S1
    Phone: (416) 421-1344

    Whistler’s Grille and Cafe Bar is available for special occasions, functions, weddings and corporate events. The second-level McNeil Room boasts a stunning view of the Don Valley. Accommodating up to 300 guests, a 16-foot ceiling, natural oak decor, and an in-house DJ service, the McNeil Room is a popular choice for weddings.

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.

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.”


When her elder sister decided to get married, Sonia Singh knew it would be an elaborate affair. What this 27-year-old freelance writer hadn’t

bargained for was her sister’s approach – she wanted the wedding to be the event of a lifetime. When the day dawned, she was “more of a host and less of bride”. The five-function event included a hen party and sangeet. “Marriages are so unpredictable. The least you can have is an elaborate wedding,” says Singh.

She was entirely on trend. Weddings and all the traditional paraphernalia associated with them are increasingly becoming more important than the institution of marriage itself. Item girl Rakhi Sawant’s reality TV swayamvar exemplifies the trend. Surprisingly, Gen X is focusing on tradition, which is increasingly fashionable.

Sociologist Mala Kapur Shankardass agrees that “it has become trendy to show that you are in with traditional mores. And what better way is there to indicate your cultural awareness than having a traditional wedding?”

Today, old is seen as new and every girl’s dream wedding just got bigger and fatter. Incidentally, the Indian wedding industry is estimated to be worth Rs 1,25,000 cr and it’s growing by 25% a year.

This is reflected in television soaps and Bollywood movies. Industry consultant Meher Sarid says her clients regularly ask her to replicate the weddings shown on TV. “Serials and movies use traditions from different parts of the country and make them ubiquitous,” she says. This is why bhangra might feature at a cocktail party for a Tamil wedding and a traditional Muslim wedding might have a mehendi party.

Market research professional Pavithra Ram says weddings are increasingly more important because “marriage isn’t a big deal anymore”. “Couples are usually seeing each other for sometime before they decide to tie the knot or are in live-in relationships. That’s why the ritual of a wedding instills a sense of newness and becomes first priority,” says the 25-year-old. Ram speaks from personal experience. In December, she cements her four-year relationship with “a wedding ceremony, a reception and a dance party”.

Wedding ritual, of course, is increasingly traditional, but not ethnic, insists Vandana Mohan, CEO of Wedding Design Company. “Contemporary and fusion are out, staunchly Indian is in, be it clothes, jewellery or decor,” she says. Streamlined fish-cut lehengas have given way to fuller ones, the décor is increasingly Indian-inspired and traditional jewellery styles such as polki or stonework are the rage. Who knows, some girl may even decide to hold a real live swayamvar, muses Sarid.


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."


The recession can make it hard to focus on the bride when the bill for the wedding is looming.

But while today’s bride is more conscious of the wedding budget, she’s still planning the ideal day, said Sue Diehl, owner of Visuelle Productions, which produces bridal shows in Green Bay and other Wisconsin cities.

"I think that brides today are not giving up their dreams of their weddings because of the economy," she said. "They’re just taking that same appropriated money and putting it in different locations."

For example, if a bride wants a big, fancy cake, she might spend more money there and less on flowers, Diehl said.

Brides seem to be sticking pretty tight to their budgets, she said, and while they’re not likely to cut back too much, they’re also not splurging like they used to.

"It seems overall, worldwide, brides are not looking to cut their budget," she said. "… But now they’re sticking to budgeted amounts, doing more unique things, so they can still fulfill all the dreams they’ve had."

Wedding experts say there are a number of things couples can do to get the most matrimonial bang out of their buck. They include:

  • Checking out bridal shows. They can be a great way to find everything you need with one-stop shopping, Diehl said. Whether it’s cakes or dresses, bridal shows typically offer a wide selection for wedding planning that can fit any budget.
  • Finding a low-cost location. A lot of brides are looking to destination weddings to save a little money, said Lisa Breault, bridal consultant and assistant manager of Elaine’s Wedding Center in Green Bay. Don’t be fooled — destinations do not have to be exotic and tropical. They could be as close as your own backyard.
  • Deciding on a different day. Couples don’t have to get married on a Saturday and more are starting to look to other days when prices may be a little bit less and venues may not be quite as busy. Plan a wedding that skips the meal — either earlier in the day or later at night — and you’ll cut your costs, Breault said.
  • Considering taking on some of the wedding-related duties yourself. If you have the time, make your own invitations, decorations and save the date notes. A number of brides are e-mailing invitations these days as well, Breault said.
  • Looking online for deals on favors, bridal party gifts and even dresses. But it’s important to be careful and read the fine print and find out ahead of time about return policies.

How you can cut costs while keeping it a special day

Weddings are expensive. Although formal data on the cost of saying “I do” is scarce, the cost often is $20,000 or more.

The Bridal Association of America, for example, estimates that in 2009, weddings will cost an average $30,860.

If you’re a bride- or groom-to-be, those numbers can seem especially scary in a recession. According to a survey in March by wedding Web site, 40 percent of brides said they have trimmed their wedding budgets, by an average of 16 percent.

But if you’re looking to cut back, where do you get the biggest bang for your buck? After all, there are lots of expenses you can eliminate, from the chocolate fondue bar to themed wedding favors. Here are five ways to save recommended by wedding planners:

Cut the guest list

One way to reduce wedding costs is to invite fewer people. The tab per person easily will make up half of your budget, said Ali Phillips, owner of Engaging Events by Ali in Chicago.

“Looking at your guest list is really important,” she said.

A smaller guest list not only saves you on food and beverage costs, but also reduces the number of tables and chairs, centerpieces and favors you’ll need. Even your wedding cake, which generally runs $5 to $8 per person, will be cheaper. The snowball effect is substantial.

Get hitched in the morning

Hosting a wedding reception during the morning or afternoon can significantly reduce the cost you spend per person, a good alternative if you can’t bring yourself to cut the guest list.

“You’ll save almost 25 percent to 30 percent of your food and beverage budget,” Phillips said, who notes that she has seen a trend toward luncheon weddings lately.

In addition, many venues charge a lower fee for daytime receptions. In Chicago, for example, the venue fee for an evening wedding ranges from $4,000 to $8,000, said Marcia Hemphill, president of An Urban Affair in Chicago.

Because daytime weddings typically are shorter in length — four hours compared with six to eight hours at night — you may pay half the price.

Change venues

You also can save if you skip traditional spaces, such as a hotel ballroom, and host your reception at a restaurant, Hemphill said.

She said that venues such as a local restaurant tend to be more flexible and may be willing to negotiate deals. “There’s not as much red tape,” she said.

Make your own wedding album

Wedding planners say a good photographer is worth the money. But instead of paying one $800 or more to create an album for you, opt to make the album yourself.

“Have your photographer put all your wedding images on a hi-res disc,” Lauren Paige, founder of Lauren Paige Associates in Middletown, N.Y., wrote in an e-mail.

“There are many places online where you can get a professional-looking wedding album or print your images for less.”

You also could negotiate with your photographer and ask to have an album, say, a year after the wedding, when your pocketbook has had time to recover.

Get creative

Even after the biggest expenses are pared down, wedding planners say there are myriad other ways to cut your budget:

On flowers, ask your florist which flowers will be in season at the time of your wedding. Flowers that are in-season cost less.

When it comes to wedding gowns, it’s possible to find designer gowns for a fraction of retail price if you shop strategically.

For example, some bridal shops sell off-the-rack dresses, many of which are discontinued samples or overstock from designers, bringing down the price. (Off-the-rack means you purchase the gown at the store, rather than order it from a catalog.)

Finally, does etiquette require that you send your guests home with a favor at the end of the night?

“Not at all,” Phillips said. “That’s a tradition we’ve all created. It’s perfectly fine to do without.”



For many brides, their wedding day is something they’ve dreamed of since they were little girls and first heard the concept of Prince Charming.

Only two words could describe how the invitations, flowers, decorations and dresses must look on a bride’s wedding day: just so.

But while some obsess over replicating the grand fairy tale dreams of their youth, others realize that making some practical cuts when planning ahead can ease the potential for stress on their special day.

“I think that the bride can have her dream wedding, but she needs to be realistic,” said Lindsay Bennett, 31, a wedding coordinator and owner of It’s All N the Presentation.

In Bennett’s experience, the brides who give themselves enough time to plan and are willing to compromise on some aspects, are the ones who seem to have the best times at their weddings.

“Trying to make sure everyone is happy will exhaust you,” she said, and added that this can happen more often when bridal parties are larger.

She said when there’s 12 or 14 different friends – all of whom the bride might genuinely care about – that’s a lot of opinions that a woman feels obligated to consider.

“The bigger party they have, the more involved the planning will be. I don’t think brides really understand until they get into it,” she said.

Wrangling large bridal parties and lots of opinions isn’t only frustrating for the bride. It can also make things more difficult for wedding vendors. They are getting paid for their services, but most still want to provide an unforgettable experience for the bride and groom.

“I think the main pitfall can be not sticking with one idea,” said Tareeca McKee, 62, owner of Sylvia’s Flowers in Groves.

She said when too many people are involved, a bride can get overwhelmed and shuffles through concepts without feeling tied to any of them.

“It’s cliche, but I’ve always said less is more,” said Bennett.

McKee agreed. She said the most elegant wedding she’s ever done cost almost no money.

“The bride used baby’s breath everywhere, on the aisles and everything. It looked beautiful and elegant. Like a fairy land,” she said.

The bride, McKee said, got the idea from a picture in a magazine and brought it with her to order her flowers, which is something McKee recommends.

“We always tell brides during consultations to look at a lot of magazines, but only bring in one or two ideas,” she said. “That way, there’s very little chance of indecision.”

According to Beaumont-based wedding photographer Emily Lockard, 23, furnishing the photographer with a list of the bridal party ahead of time is another way to be more efficient. It speeds up the process of formal pictures after the ceremony and helps ensure that the priority shots are taken.

“Some think it’s not effective, but it helps because I can at least learn the names of who to call on for the different pictures. That way, the couple can get to the reception quicker,” she said.

Lockard also said it’s important to let the photographer know if the venue has any specific rules regarding photography. For instance, she said many Catholic churches do not allow flashes during a ceremony.

And then there’s the budgeting aspect of weddings.

Bennett said laying clear expectations for what is affordable ahead of time can save on disappointment.

“People don’t always know that this can get expensive,” Lockard said about wedding photography. It’s not only the time she spends shooting a wedding that a client pays for, but also the about 40 hours of editing after the fact.

Bennett also said that many brides can fixate on having every possible tradition represented, especially when it comes to the wedding reception.

“Sometimes, depending on your age group, you might not want to do the bouquet toss,” she said.

On a number of occasions, Bennett has had to drag guests on to the floor so a bridesmaid isn’t waiting for the bouquet toss alone.

“I just think that’s one of those traditions that can totally die down and be OK,” she said.

However she said that some traditions are fun and easy to include.

“Something borrowed, something blue – a lot of girls have fun with that,” she said.

Local wedding coordinator Lindsay Bennett is full of good advice if you’re getting hitched. Here are a few of her tips:

– If you get invited to multiple showers and the wedding, you don’t have to bring a gift to every one. One nice gift at one of the events will suffice.

– For outdoor weddings in the summer, or early fall, make sure you have fans or air conditioned tents. If it’s the winter or early spring have heaters.

“The weather in Southeast Texas is the worst thing to fight when it comes to planning an outdoor wedding,” said Bennett.

– Allow toasts at the rehearsal dinner, but not the reception. If someone goes on too long or tells an inappropriate story, the audiences at the former are generally smaller and more forgiving.

– “Never give a toast if you’ve had too much to drink,” said Bennett. “That never works out well.”

With destination weddings on the rise, it is becoming more and more important for couples to have a means for informing their guests of their upcoming wedding plans as well as provide recommendations for out-of-town guests.

Wedding websites allow your guests one-stop shopping when it comes time for them to arrange their travel plans as well as other details. You can be as specific as you wish and link your website directly to the hotel reservation pages that you would like to recommend to your guests.

You will find that having a website is not only a time-saver but a budget-saver as well. The multiple mailings that can sometimes become necessary to communicate with your guests can easily eat up a good portion of any wedding budget. Allowing your guests to RSVP online will also cut down on your wedding expenses. No need for RSVP cards! However, you can always order just enough for those guests who may not be web savvy.

Destination weddings have definitely become a way for couples to express their style in a less traditional way. If you choose to have your wedding in a destination location, try to make it a fun experience for you and your fiancé as well as for your guests.

Destination Wedding Tips

1. Location, Location, Location. When selecting a location, choose one that appeals to your tastes and wedding style. Keep in mind, however, that because it won’t be as easy as going down the street to the local church to attend your wedding, you’ll have to assume that your guest list may be smaller. You’ll need to get a good sense about the number of attendees you wish to have before selecting your event facility so you can be confident that it will be appropriate for the crowd.

2. Less is More. Destination weddings can be expensive not only for those getting married, but also for those attending. Try to be mindful of that when selecting your wedding site so those who are closest to you can afford to attend. Consider having your wedding during the off-season so costs will be lower. Traditionally, accommodation expenses are covered for the bridesmaids by the bride’s family and for the groomsmen by the groom’s family. All other guests should be responsible for their own expenses. Most hotels will work with you to offer group discounts.

3. Assist your Guests. You may know the location that you will be flying off to for your dream wedding like the back of your hand, but most of your guests will not. Your wedding website can be a tool to help you educate your guests about the area, local attractions, accommodation ideas, the weather and directions. Making their job easier will only amount in a larger turnout at your wedding. Use your website to remind them of the things they may not consider such as a passport if required for your chosen location.

Article by Wedding Window