Unexpected tips for an inexpensive wedding

Wedding pros offer unique tips to save and still have your dream wedding.
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So you want your wedding to be the event – nay, the experience – of the year, while still sticking to a modest budget?

It's possible, according to some wedding pros who know.

"If you have some flexibility and you're willing to step outside that comfort zone of what you think that dream wedding looks like…it can be just as amazing," said Alison McGill, editor-in-chief of Weddingbells magazine.

Indeed, so-called unconventional weddings, which eschew the traditional structure of church ceremony, dinner reception, then dancing, are becoming the norm, she said. To get more insider ideas, we asked McGill and Laura Atendido, creative director with Laura and Co. Events in Toronto, for their best tips on how to have a dream wedding on a budget.

Go green with centerpieces

Flowers may be the go-to centerpiece, but Atendido said she's seeing more couples opting for fancy foliage.  Greenery costs a fraction of what flowers do and it's still beautiful, she said.

Rent trees

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You can take that greenery idea even further — take a tip from Kate Middleton and decorate with trees. You can rent faux and real potted trees from prop companies and greenhouses for a lot less than the cost of a florist, said Atendido. And dining amidst life-size cherry blossoms is something your guests won't soon forget.

Let the photographer leave early

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You definitely want to capture all parts of the day but that doesn't necessarily mean hiring a photographer from morning until late into the night. Cut down on per-hour costs by having the photographer duck out when the important moments are over, said McGill, who stresses that a professional photographer is still a must-have at a wedding.

Make wine pairings work

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While at first glance wine pairings may appear to cost more, if it means closing the open bar during dinner, you could balance out costs. Ask your venue if that's possible, said Atendido. "The experience of wine pairing with each course will surely be something guests will talk about — for a long time," she said.

Use the rule of five

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Atendido likes the rule of five when it comes to chopping the guest list: "If you haven't seen or spoken to them in the last five years, they may not need to make the list," she said. By scaling back on numbers, you allocate more money to splurge in other areas.

Eschew summer and weekends

Peak wedding season is June to mid-October in Canada. If you can plan a wedding outside those months, or on a day that is not Saturday, you can scoop up big savings, said McGill. It may mean no garden wedding but that doesn't mean it can't be as beautiful. Today, it's not unheard of to even have a wedding on a weekday, she said.

Mix up ceremony seating

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A creative, cost-free tip: consider getting married "in the round" with guests seated in a circle around the altar area, said Atendido. Arranging the chairs in a more original format will make a huge impression.

Katrina Clarke is a Toronto-based journalist who writes about relationships, health, technology and social trends. Find her on Twitter at @KatrinaAClarke.