The following post is a guest post by Cristina from FabulousSavings.ca!  Enjoy!

This post is for all of you frugal brides interested in planning a wedding on a budget. Since neither my fiancé nor I am rolling in pools of money, we, like most of you, have to be smart with our spending. Along the way, I’ve kept track of any new way to save, so I can share my knowledge with fellow brides. Hope you enjoy them!

This post is for all of you frugal brides interested in planning a wedding on a budget!

Announcing Your Engagement

  • Buy sophisticated stationery from Wal-Mart or Michaels & make your own.
  • Create free engagement card online & e-mail your announcement.
  • Create a wedding website & let your family & friends follow along with your wedding plans. (eWedding has a free website option, as does The Knot for its members.)

Visit Wedding Tradeshows

  • Most companies with booths offer special tradeshow deals. (I saved over $500 on my DJ!)
  • View examples of invitations for inspiration if making your own.
  • Watch bridal wear fashion shows for dress ideas, especially if you’re considering having a dress made.

Create Budget & Checklists

  • Create a budget spreadsheet to keep things in check. Always update deposits left & what’s owed.
  • Keep a wedding planner with contracts, checklist & a copy of your budget.
  • When you feel the urge to spend more on cake or decor, review the budget list to see where else you can shave expenses. Seeing the numbers will keep you in check.

Saving on/at the Venue

  • Book your venue during months like January, February (excl. Valentine’s Day) & March to keep plate prices lower.
  • If you want a golf course for your venue, book in the off-season (Oct-March), like I did.
  • Book Sunday instead of Saturday.
  • Ask the venue rep if you can supply your alcohol to save money.
  • Ask the venue rep about any hidden fees for bottle corking, wine/champagne pouring, chair covers, etc.

Shopping for the Dress

  • Tell your bridal boutique rep your budget & to only bring you dresses within it.
  • If shopping for a classic design, browse last year’s rack of dresses that are always in style but reduced in price.
  • Shop the sample dress rack. Your dress will be cleaned, steamed & pressed before your day.
  • Have one made! A seamstress is ideal & frugal for brides who have a specific look in mind or want to mimic celebrity styles.
  • Shop vintage stores for something simple & add embellishments (bows, ribbons, lace, etc.) to personalize it.
  • Rent a dress to avoid the post-wedding maintenance costs.
  • Found “the dress?” Write down the dress number, designer & size you need & comparison shop online at reputable sites like www.bestforbride.com to see if it’s more affordable.

Music, Photography & Videography

  • As mentioned before, visit wedding trade shows for special deals.
  • Make sure you read your contracts & negotiate prices before signing.
  • Always ask for references & examples of his/her work to assess the value.
  • Hire a friend or family member who’s a photographer or videographer. They might donate their services as a present, so you only pay cost.
  • Place disposable cameras at guest tables for more affordable pictures of the evening.
  • Ask the DJ about extra charges for overtime in case the party lasts longer than expected.
  • Ask the DJ about extra charges for using any props he/she owns.
  • Ask the DJ if he/she is insured. Insurance covers your behind should an equipment malfunction damage the hall or injure a guest.

Flowers & Centrepieces

  • Move decor like flowers & bows from home to church to venue to save money. Assign a friend or family member to leave a bit earlier & deliver them.
  • Make bouquets yourself with silk flowers. Shop flea markets with a discerning eye for authentic-looking artificial flowers.
  • For real flowers in bouquets or centrepieces, choose affordable in-season flowers. Use more baby’s breath & rose buds to make an arrangement look fuller.
  • Buy inexpensive centrepiece vases from Wal-Mart or Dollarama & fill them with non-floral (more affordable) decor like rocks, water & floating candles.
  • Ask bridesmaids to set their bouquets at the edge of head table after walking into venue for effortless decor.

Wedding Invitations

  • Find online invitation software to download & make your own. Take advantage of free trials to sample different styles.
  • Make your own by shopping at craft stores for card stock, ribbons & other embellishments.
  • Have an online company like VistaPrint make customized invites. Use free VistaPrint Canada coupons for a discount.
  • Make one invitation complete with its RSVP card & have it weighed to determine postage fees. If costs are too high, buy thinner card stock & cut down on embellishments.

Wedding Favours

  • Donate a small amount per guest to a charity. Most, provide you with an elegant certificate you can frame & display & cards you can give to individual guests to say “thank you.”
  • Give out small decorated boxes filled with chocolate treats. To save money, see how to make your own origami boxes out of paper & accent with ribbon.
  • Create a CD with classic love songs – a frugal yet meaningful favour!

Honeymoon

  • Book all-inclusive to get the most bang for your buck.
  • If you don’t mind honeymooning a while after your wedding, let the vacation price determine when you go! Book a last-minute package for huge savings.
  • Let guests help you out! Register for your dream honeymoon at a site like TravelRegistry.ca. Guests can either put money towards your honeymoon or purchase gifts like a couples massage.

Keep in mind that the planning can get pretty hectic at times. But if you have a budget spreadsheet and some folders to keep things organized, it’ll be a lot smoother. I hope you enjoyed my tips. Good luck and congratulations to you all!

We at FabulousSavings.ca offer online coupons for Canada, and our team is proudly frugal obsessed. We love sharing and hearing about money-saving tips on Twitter (we’re @CanadaCoupons) and discovering other Fabulous Savers in the frugal blog and personal finance community. Connect with us and share your savvy saving secrets!