Nearly wed and in the red? How to save money on your wedding, P.E.I.-style

Wedding season is set to begin on P.E.I., and readers and experts shared their tips and tricks for saving money on your big day.

'My dress was insanely cheap — 17 dollars'

Marlie Rayner and her husband Scott saved money on their wedding car. 'It helps to be a track photographer at Oyster Bed Speedway,' she laughed. (Submitted by Marlie Rayner)

Wedding season is set to begin on P.E.I. — let the spending begin! 

The average cost of a wedding in Canada is $32,500, according to Wedding Bells magazine. But it doesn't have to be that way — although getting married is as popular as ever, couples are ever searching for ways to have an enjoyable big day on a budget.

"There are many ways to save money when planning a wedding," shares Kristina Fisher, who owns the wedding-planning business KLF Weddings in Stratford, P.E.I., noting she works closely with couples to maximize savings. 

DIY flowers are big

Fisher's number one tip: prioritize and spend accordingly. 

Some brides are bravely crafting their own wedding bouquets, like these. (CBC)

"Saving money is great but if your biggest concern is entertainment and you cheap out on your DJ or band, you're probably going to end up regretting that decision," Fisher said. 

More canny advice: consider a brunch wedding (less alcohol) or late-evening ceremony with just drinks and hors d'oeuvres. 

Fisher's splurge on her own recent wedding to husband Mitchell Fisher was photography — the couple allocated a third of their wedding budget for quality pictures. But they saved on flowers — she made the bouquets for a mere eight per cent of the cost of a florist, estimating her flowers took only one per cent of the total wedding budget. 

'Favours are out'

Elayne Lord of Prince Edward Island Weddings coordinates and hosts weddings on her south shore property, and shared her four top tips for pinny-pinching.

'A good friend of my husband's family made our cake for our wedding present. I bought the cake topper online,' said Marlie Rayner, who married last summer. (Submitted by Marlie Rayner)

"Favours are out," Lord said. "Place a sapling at each place setting and ask your guests to plant a tree to celebrate their wedding." You can get tiny trees for just $1 each, she said. 

Choosing flowers that are in season is "way cheaper," she said, and for food, seafood in season can be very reasonable. 

"Some of my weddings skip the dance all together because it's too loud and its hard to visit with relatives and friends — plus the cost of a DJ and dance floor," Lord said. 

Sometimes Lord's guests simply return to their cottages after the reception, change into jeans and a sweatshirt, and head to the beach for a bonfire and sing-song with guitars. 

What you said

"We invited guests to bring a food dish for the reception rather than a gift and we had the most amazing and delicious buffet meal," shared Margie Blum, who wed in 2015, in response to a post on Facebook. 

'We invited guests to bring a food dish for the reception rather than a gift and we had the most amazing and delicious buffet meal,' shared Margie Blum. (Submitted by Margie Blum)

"Fake flowers, and kept the engagement short — the longer the engagement, the more chances you will have to spend too much money!" advised Kendra Heffel, who kept her engagement to just three months. 

"Mom made my dress, we bought the bridesmaid dresses at Northern Reflections and the men's shirt and vests at Tip Top Tailors," said Elizabeth Carr. She and her husband opted not to have a meal and dance, but instead rented a private room at a pub, and bought their flowers at the grocery store. 

Keshia Ross of Charlottetown is trying to stick close to a $3,000 budget for her nuptials this fall, admitting she's "very cheap."

Lesley Caseley of P.E.I. and her husband Daniel shopped for most of their wedding decor at yard sales. (Submitted by Lesley Caseley)

Her big splurge is photography — about $1,000. She also hired a decorator for $600, and is estimating food at $600 — someone is cooking for her. Add a DJ at $500, plus $400 for the hotel and $200 to rent the Charlottetown Fire Hall for two days.

"My girls [bridesmaids] are buying their own dresses, shoes, hair and makeup," Ross shared. "My dress was insanely cheap — 17 dollars." She's also making the bouquets herself, and paid for her brother to get ordained to officiate the ceremony.  

"The biggest thing I found was to research places and people," advises Ross. "I checked out probably five different places before deciding on the fire hall because the prices for hall rentals tend to be insanely expensive!"  

"My bridesmaid is an aesthetician and did the girls makeup and nails," said Marlie Rayner, who wed her husband Scott at her family's cottage last summer, where friends with guitars sang them down the aisle. Her maid of honour made the bouquets, they borrowed chair and tents, and a family friend made the cake as a gift. 

More advice: 

  • Have guests take photos and ask for copies.
  • Use online music playlists to which guests can add.
  • Shop for second-hand decor and clothing, or borrow.
  • Re-sell what you can after the wedding.
  • Grow your own flowers.
  • Marry at Christmas when venues are already decorated.
  • Get married outdoors.
Consider a brunch wedding or evening cocktails and hors d'oeuvres instead of a more expensive sit-down meal. (Laurel Palmer Thompson)


Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a bachelor of journalism (honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email