it's all about me; wedding planning; diy wedding; budget wedding tips; budget wedding dress

My $10.50 wedding dress: tips to save you time and money on your wedding

People never believe me when I tell them my entire outfit for our special day was $52.50. And that included my delicates. It’s true. I wore my dream dress without breaking the bank.

I get asked all the time how I did it. So I’ve decided to share a few tips to help save you time and money on your wedding. As an event planner in a former life, I know first hand how to trim while still getting everything you want.

The Dress

Every girl wants to look perfect on their wedding day; no matter what the definition of perfect is to them. Start dressing shopping early. When you find a style you like, look online. Guaranteed you will find the dress, if not one very similar, at a fraction of the cost.

wedding planning; time and money saving tips; wedding budget; frugal wedding

Don’t leave it to the last minute. When we’re pressured to find something we always overspend. If you decide to order online make sure you leave enough time for delivery and alternations. Try on accessories when you’re shopping in-store so you can buy these online too. I bought my dress for $10.50 and veil for $17, both from eBay. Picked up my shoes on a Boxing Day sale for $22 and my skivvies for $3 at Winners.

Other great options for frugal dress shopping are consignment stores (most bridal shops have a section tucked away in the store somewhere) or consider a less formal dress and purchase from a big box store.

Wedding party

Choosing who to stand in your wedding party can be stressful. One way to cut down on the stress and budget is to have one to two people stand for you. It was a no-brainer for me to choose my best friend. There was no trying to coordinate everyone to go dress shopping, managing the dynamics or chance of offending anyone.

By having only Dani stand for me I purchased her dress, earrings and hairpiece and gave it to her as the maid-of-honour gift. The dress and earrings came from Le Chateau and can easily be worn again to Christmas parties, etc. She picked up the shoes at what was Zellers (in Canada) and is now Target for under $30. The hairpiece was handmade.


The venue can often be where your budget starts to hemorrhage. First consider having your wedding on a day other than a Saturday and during the off season. We held ours on a Friday evening in the winter and had the pick of dates.

Look at facilities like a restaurant, local art gallery or museum where both your ceremony and reception can be hosted. This will save on transportation costs, especially if you’re willing to take a cab at the end of the night or jump in with friends. These types of venues have great backdrops for your photos as well.

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Ask if you can use outside suppliers or bring in things like a candy bar. Many venues allow this. The candy bar was our dessert table and doubled as our thank you gifts. Hubs and I love candy apples so we had some made. I tagged them at home with a little note thanking guests for “sharing in our special day”. People could make little loot bags with all of our favourite sweets.

Does the venue have a sound system? If so, ask a couple of your friends to put a playlist together as their wedding gift to you. This way you’ll know you get the music you listen to and guaranteed people will be shaking it all night long. Same goes if you know anyone who’s handy with a video camera.

Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate. A proposal is always provided for a reason: as a starting point. Ask for things like room & linen rentals to be included if you reach a certain food and beverage bill.

Guest list & stationary

Who to invite can be the hardest part of planning a wedding. From family pressures to not wanting to leave anyone out can bring unwanted stress and anxiety. Choosing a smaller venue forces you to keep the numbers light(er). Plus it gives you the perfect excuse when Great Aunt Molly twice removed on your mother’s side asks about her invitation.

wedding planning; time and money saving tips; wedding budget; frugal wedding

We kept our guest list to immediate family: aunts & uncles (no cousins) and close friends. For every person and/or couple there is at minimum an invitation and thank you including postage, food and bevies. Even if you don’t have a sit-down dinner or open bar, basic costs are inevitable.

All of our stationary was purchased online. You can save on delivery charges if you purchase all at once though. I made a coffee table book with pictures of us from over the years on one side and drew lines on the other page for people to sign. Incorporating pictures from your wedding in your thank you cards gives your guests an extra little keepsake. I purchased this simple yet elegant box at Winners as a card box and it is now part of the décor in my living room.

Getting ready

Your wedding is one of the most exciting times of your life. It can also be one of the most stressful. Consider staying in the comfort of your own home the night before your wedding and having services come to you. This is an easy way to help reduce the stress as you’re in your own bed and don’t have to worry about rushing anywhere in the morning.

wedding planning; time and money saving tips; wedding budget; frugal wedding

I had fruit on hand with some pastries, my bestie brought Tim Horton’s and whoever wanted to spend the morning with us could. Many hairstylists and make-up artists travel. I do recommend paying for a trial before hand for both of these. Take lots of pictures so your stylists nail it the day of.

Les fleurs

I’m a big believer in keeping things simple. The theme of my wedding was actually “simple elegance”. This included the flowers.

“The centrepieces made that wedding” said no one ever. So don’t over do it. I talked to the floral supplier at Costco well in advance of our wedding and ordered 18 bunches of roses (2 dozen roses per bunch). I did all of my centrepieces and two bouquets for under $400 including the thorn stripping tool from Lee Valley, ribbon & floral tape and 20 rectangular vases from the Dollar Store.

wedding planning; time and money saving tips; wedding budget; frugal wedding

My family and friends who spent the morning with me getting ready were asked in advance to help put the flowers together. Trust me, no one decided not to come because I was putting them to work. They were more than happy to help and it saved me from doing everything.


When I first scoped our budget photography was absolutely a priority for me. I knew that I wanted our entire day captured. Frugal me didn’t want to pay for it all though.

I negotiated with our photographer for him to snap our wedding but I would do the editing. While it can be time consuming it saved me thousands of dollars. Literally. Professionals are so good at what they do that generally very little editing is required. Those pictures that may need layering or major touch-ups? I asked friends to do those for me.

wedding planning; time and money saving tips; wedding budget; frugal wedding

Know what you want in a photographer. I knew I didn’t want the traditional, posed wedding shots but more of a photojournalistic style. I was also willing to go off the beaten path or climb abandoned buildings to get that picture. Your photographer has the eye. While you’ve planned every little detail leading up to this moment, if you can just go with it and trust their eye, guaranteed you will have amazing photos that you will be proud to have on your mantle forever.

No stress

Want to skip the fuss of a formal wedding? Head down to City Hall for your I do’s, out for a wicked dinner then host a kickass backyard party for your friends and family. Guaranteed you’ll have a great time.

If you’re planning a wedding or event and have questions, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to be a part of your special day.



8 Responses

  1. it’s so accepted and cool to go frugal nowadays. that just wasn’t the case when we were planning our wedding 13 years ago. i love how simple you made yours. i bought my dress for $700 and it was “shocking” because that was apparently me being “cheap”. LOL. also, no photographers shot in digital back then. DIY weddings….i would totally do that if i could do it over again!!

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