Tim Hortons logos on the wedding tux? Couples hit up sponsors to subsidize their big day

A growing number of couples are soliciting sponsors to help them pay for their wedding and avoid being saddled with debt.

Trend has plenty of critics who say it's crass

Jason Mielke and Rebecca Winter Hansen have already convinced sponsors to donate essentials such as the wedding dress and a gluten-free cake. (Jason Mielke and Rebecca Winter Hansen)

Samantha Hartley may want corporations to sponsor her wedding, but she has her limits.

"I kind of draw the line with any logos on my dress," she says.

The Guelph, Ont., woman is seeking cash donations and sponsors for her wedding in November 2018, part of a growing trend of couples looking for creative ways to fund their big day without breaking the bank.

Hartley has posted her quest on two crowdsourcing sites, including Sponsor My Event. It regularly features eager brides- and grooms-to-be seeking sponsors, promising that in return, companies will get their brands exposed to a captive audience.

"If you want to have the master of ceremonies mention [the sponsor] several times during the night, I'm OK with that," Hartley says.

Samantha Hartley and Chris Denis are seeking sponsors and donors for their wedding in November 2018. (Samantha Hartley)

Jason Mielke and Rebecca Winter Hansen of Moose Jaw, Sask., have already convinced businesses to offer up essentials such as the wedding gown and a gluten-free cake for their wedding on Nov. 25.

But they're still looking for sponsors to provide items on their wish list such as a gospel choir, a plane ticket for the best man and spa services for the bride.

Most importantly, Mielke and Hansen say they need a big-time sponsor to fund the wedding reception of up to 150 people.

They, too, draw the line at logos on the wedding dress — but the tux is fair game.

"If a major sponsor gets on board like Tim Hortons or Enterprise Car Rental, or say the Toronto Maple Leafs or whomever, I'll be putting a logo on the back of my suit jacket," Mielke says.

The couple also pledges to mention the company during media interviews. They say they've been flooded with interview requests ever since they launched their website promoting their campaign.

"The value for their stepping up to sponsor what's left in our wedding will be huge for whatever company gets on board," Mielke says.

A still from the couple's wedding website. (Jason Mielke and Rebecca Winter Hansen)

While soliciting wedding donors such as sponsors may be innovative, the trend has inspired plenty of critics who claim it's crass.

"This is just tacky, tacky, tacky," says Toronto-area wedding planner Christine March.

"You either rethink your expectations or you wait a bit longer and put money away."

March says one option for cash-strapped couples is to elope — something both her children did, even though their mother works in the wedding industry.

"I totally supported their choice."


Hartley says eloping is not an option.

Her mother died of cancer in December and then the disease claimed her aunt six months later. Her fiancé, Chris Denis, also lost his father to cancer three years ago.

She says their wedding of 70 guests is an opportunity to help lift people's spirits.

"All the turmoil and negativity that's going on, we kind of want to throw it for our family to have them celebrate something," she says.

But the couple can't afford a wedding. Hartley just graduated from college with a paralegal diploma. Denis, an irrigation technician, has two children from his previous marriage and is paying child support.

Samantha Hartley says eloping is not an option. (Samantha Hartley)

Their parents don't have the cash either.

"Money's tight in the family and we don't want to put any more of a burden on our parents," Hartley says.

She believes turning to companies and the public for help isn't much different from asking family to pay for the wedding; it's just casting the net wider when relatives can't contribute.

"It's outsourcing it to different people."

Sponsors step up

Hansen and Mielke also say eloping at the courthouse isn't an option. "A courthouse is a place of pain, divorce and disappointment," Hansen says.

They also don't want to sink into debt. Mielke recently lost his job in the oil and gas industry and Hansen is starting up a career in motivational speaking.

The couple says seeking sponsors is a way to connect with their community and show couples they can throw a wedding without worrying about big bills.

"Our mission has got to do with bringing community on board and the fact that nobody has to incur a $60,000 debt," Hansen says.

"There's no shame in asking for help," adds Mielke.

"There's no shame in asking for help," Jason Mielke, here with fiancée, Rebecca Winter Hansen. (Jason Mielke and Rebecca Winter Hansen)

The couple says so far they have locked in about 20 sponsors.

Judi's Wedding World in Moose Jaw is providing both the wedding gown and the bridesmaid's dress.

Owner Judi Richards isn't sure what kind of promotion she'll receive in return and doesn't care.

"This isn't something we went into to get a whole bunch out of it," she says. "We wanted to support them." 

When the couple solicited Tina Couzens, she donated a couple of silk bouquets from her Moose Jaw shop, Evans Florist.

"It almost sounded like sponsoring a ball team to me," she says.

The bouquets had been on display in her store for years. Couzens chose not to donate anything new.

"I don't agree with a sponsored wedding," she says. "I believe that these people should save money for their wedding and do it like everyone else."


Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Based in Toronto, Sophia Harris covers consumer and business for CBC News web, radio and TV. She previously worked as a CBC videojournalist in the Maritimes where she won an Atlantic Journalism Award for her work. Contact: