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How Our Community Helped Build Our Joyful $12K, 80 Guest Canadian Wedding

With a furry escort and a secondhand wedding dress, no less

bride and groom holding dog on wedding day

Meagan, Public School Support Services & James, Bike Shop Manager

sum-up of the wedding vibe: Wild and woodsy with a strong sense of community and a focus on the things we love.

Planned Budget: $12,000 CAD (~$9,500 USD)

Actual Budget: $15,000 CAD (~$12,000 USD)

Number of guests: 82

bride getting ready on wedding daybride and groom during first look
Where we allocated the most funds

Catering, alcohol, and our photographer.

portrait of bride and groom on wedding dayblack and white portrait of bride and groomwedding party standing in front of colorful garage

Where we allocated the least funds

My regular hair dresser did my hair and makeup. This not only got me the look I wanted, but it also cost a fraction of the price, as she only charged me her regular hourly rate. Big, big money saver but it also ensured I got what I wanted. Plus, my dress was purchased secondhand from a shop that donates all of its proceeds to cancer research.

To save money, the catering company, La Carnita, looked after dinner but agreed to help set up the appetizers for cocktail hour and the cakes for dessert. On that note, we also hired a non-traditional catering company to save money. They gave us restaurant-quality Mexican eats at a much better rate (all in) than any catering company we reached out to. That said, because they had limited experience with catering, there were bumps in the delivery. Cakes were all “normal” cakes from a great bakery and cost a fraction of the price.

We took care of all of the planning, design, and execution of the wedding to save money. This included asking friends and family to take part in money-saving adventures, such as cutting and crafting over five hundred paper flowers to create window garland; sourcing ninety vintage flower plates for dinner; creating and installing all of the flowers including three bouquets, a dog wreath, three corsages, seven boutonnières, three flower crowns, and two flower girl crowns (the night before and morning of the wedding!).

We tried our best to use things we already owned instead of going out and buying materials just for the wedding. This including borrowing things from friends and family.

Again to save cash, we curated our own list of music and had a friend man the DJ table. We rented the equipment (mics, speakers, cords) for under $200.

Also: for late night snacks we ordered thin crust pizza to be delivered.

bride and groom standing with balloonbride and groom standing with their dogbride and groom walking with dog

What was totally worth it

Photography. Alex was the first vendor that we contacted and knew instantly that we wanted. We paid to get Thankful Registry after seeing my sister and her husband successfully use it. Money well spent! I recommend it to newly engaged friends as it is an excellent way to current items from all different companies onto one website.

inside wedding with fire placeflower girls walking up wedding aislebride and groom after wedding ceremony

What was totally not worth it

The stress I experienced planning and executing the wedding on my own; I do not think I had prepared myself for the grandness of such an event. We certainly had a beautiful wedding, but at the cost of my own mental health. I took on too much in the end. And in hindsight, it wasn’t worth the savings.
ice sculpture of bride and groom on bikesMeagan and James-452

A few things that helped us along the way

Our friends and family bent over backward to help make our vision come true… Since we planned it ourselves, we relied heavily on friends and family to see it through the day of, including a friend making boutonnières with me at 7 a.m. on the morning of the wedding, family checking on things, and those who were given “jobs” at the wedding. So, so thankful. There was so much that went on behind the scenes the day of the wedding that James and I were oblivious to. We were shielded from problems and mini-disasters.bride laughing with guestswedding details for guestsbride and groom during wedding reception

My best practical advice for my planning self

Remember to have a breakdown the week before the wedding. Having a good cry always makes you feel better. Do not bottle it up and ignore how stressed you feel. You are about to throw the biggest party of your life—that gives you license to feel stressed. Also give in to the concept that getting married is actually a big deal. No matter how chill you are, you will get swept up in it. Getting married is a magical institution, and once you are there, you’ll float through the day.
bride and groom toastingMeagan and James-435

Favorite thing about the wedding

Incredibly cliché to say, but the incredible sense of love and support we felt that day from our community. No one had prepared me for the natural high you experience when you are in a room surrounded by people who are there for YOU as a couple and just exude love. Everywhere we looked, we saw faces of people who love us and wanted to celebrate our love with us. That is an incredible feeling. Once in a lifetime.
bride and groom dancing together

Anything else

I planned the wedding in nine weeks over my summer holiday.

Our dog was an integral part of our wedding party pictures and our ceremony. We had her released by her amazing dog walker half way through the ceremony, and she ran straight to us. We really wanted her to be part of our ceremony as she is the reason we met, and let’s be real, our world revolves around her! She was an angel and everything went perfectly (phew).

We reached out to friends and family and asked for help from as many people as possible. It was a logistical nightmare but helped to keep the stress levels under control. Divide and conquer!

It was really important to us to include our nieces and nephews in the wedding. I created a special table for the kiddies that was placed directly in front of the head table so their parents could be close (and flanked by grandparents). At each of their settings was a DIYed activity bucket with stickers, simple crafts, crayons, and just fun stuff. These were made for $10 per kid.

We made all of our favors and sourced products we love ourselves. Honey from the town Meagan grew up in (I use to be neighbors with the beekeeper!) and hot chili garlic sauce that we put on everything.

The night before the wedding, we assembled fifteen of our friends and family and set up the wedding in three or so hours. It was amazing how it all came together. Almost scarily easy.

James created most of our ceremony. We had a dear friend read a beautiful non-denominational reading about love and modern marriage.

I am likely forgetting something…. But the funniest part of all this? We were going to elope!

I walked down the aisle to “Lost in the Light” by Bahamas. It still makes me cry.

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