5 tips for planning your wedding in 5 days for less than $5,000

Shine On
A $5,000 wedding including open bar? ! It's not impossible.

After nine years of living in unwedded bliss I am getting officially hitched this weekend. The grand total will be about $5,000 … depending on how much our guests drink at the open bar, of course. While there’s been some unexpected costs (cupcakes were waaay pricier than we thought) we were still able to quickly plan to take the plunge while ensuring we won’t be swimming in debt for years to come. Here’s how you, too, can say I do while sticking to a small budget on your big day

1) Making the cut

You must house, feed and water all of your wedding guests. The top way to cut down your costs is to cut down your guest list, said Lynn Lee, the owner of Lynn Lee Fine Weddings & Events in Ottawa, in a phone interview with Yahoo Canada. According to an annual survey by Weddingbells the average wedding in 2014 was expected to cost $31,685, with an average of 128 wedding guests. We are having just 30 guests, greatly reducing our costs. If you feel you must push your guest list to triple digits then be prepared to push your budget up, too.

2) Tap your personal network

Speaking of your guests, chances are many have talents that you could showcase on your special day. I never thought I’d be on those brides, but I got obsessed with having bunting – which for the uninformed is basically a bunch of colourful triangles on a string. I looked high and low, but no dice. I was about to give up my dream when a lightbulb went off. My new mother-in-law is the Craft Queen. She ended up making us beautiful, personalized bunting. Chances are you know a Craft, or Cake, or Dress Queen. Ask them to make something for your wedding – it will save time, money and imbue items with special meaning that you can’t buy at a store.

3) Go hyperlocal

All of our favourite stores, restaurants and bars are in our neighbourhood, so we opted to go hyperlocal. All of our venues and vendors are within a 10-minute walk of our place, cutting down on wasting time schlepping around town doing research. Plus, since we were very familiar with most of the vendors beforehand we knew going in what the cost of things would likely be and thus avoided any major sticker shock.

4) Do your homework

I will admit I was shocked by the prices of many things, such as the cupcakes. In speaking with experts, like wedding planner Amanda Douglas, and doing some online research, I was quickly able to figure out that while I was shocked those were standard prices for those items. The owner of Amanda Douglas Events in Winnipeg suggests starting with a complete budget list, making a spreadsheet and doing some initial research to get a realistic idea of what things really cost. While it’s fun to pick out a pretty dress, don’t forget to add the costs of more mundane things like the marriage licence to your final budget. Also, no matter how tight your deadline is put aside one minute to search the name of people/companies online to weed out any red flags before you commit to them. Or better yet, ask people you know for recommendations for reliable vendors.

5) Hire help

Sussing out a reliable baker from one who is going to fleece you is very hard to figure out. Online reviews are not always real and even if they are they generally only show you the extremes – reviewers who are very angry or very happy. While it sounds counterintuitive, hiring help could help you save some money. I did not hire a planner, but if I were to do a do-over I likely would. Planning even a low-key wedding was fairly complex. Simple tasks like finding confetti push-poppers took hours upon hours. Those are hours I could have spent earning money to pay for the wedding. Many planners offer a range of services, from hourly rates (so they can track down bunting and confetti for you) to a full package where every last detail is taken care of.

Do you have any tips for planning a wedding or event without breaking the bank? Let us know in the comments or tweet @YahooShineCA.