Stacey, Magazine editor & max, university student advisor
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A super playful, colorful wedding with food trucks, inflatable dinosaurs, bolo ties, and a mariachi band.
Planned budget: $10,000
Actual budget: $13,000
Number of guests: 175
LOCATION: Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Where we allocated the most funds:
Food and drink! Though we started off with the idea that we might just do a cocktail reception, ultimately we wanted to a) eat a delicious meal on our wedding day and b) make sure our guests had full bellies so they wouldn’t get too drunk. (It turns out that no amount of tacos could have prevented the hangovers that were to come, but we tried.) It could’ve been much more expensive than it was—we used food trucks from local heroes Tacofino and Vij’s Railway Express and the per head price was almost half of what catering companies were quoting—but feeding 175 people adds up no matter what. We also wanted to have an open bar, and though we got a deal on some kegs from a friend who used to work at a brewery, and Max’s parents took care of the wine, it turns out everyone really wanted to drink hard liquor, so our bar staff had to run out halfway through and restock… so that racked up a bit of a bill we weren’t expecting.
Where we allocated the least funds:
We got a steal of a deal on the venue. The Russian Hall had just undergone renovations when we stumbled upon it, and they’d never actually done a wedding before, so they charged waaaay less than the industry standard. And they had library-style chairs and folding wooden tables that worked just fine for our needs, so we didn’t need to rent any furniture at all. There were also lots of things we just skipped all together because we weren’t excited about them or didn’t care. The goal was to have a fun party and personal ceremony, not to follow every tradition. We were happy with paper plates and napkins from the food trucks, so we didn’t bother renting plates or cutlery.
We skipped paper invitations in favor of good ol’ email, and we passed on wedding favors all together. Our rings were both passed down from family (mine from my grandma who had passed away a few months earlier, and Max moved his signet ring, gifted by his mother years ago, from his right hand to left during the ceremony). Max’s mom did the flowers—she used to be a florist—and his dad took care of the wine. My mom planned out (and paid for) all the desserts. And we both got our outfits off the rack (mine from Ted Baker and Max’s from Simons) so we probably spent less on those than most people. Oh, and we made our own playlist (and had a lot of fun doing it), so no DJ. We used butcher paper instead of proper tablecloths, so we saved money there AND gave our guests somewhere to doodle (we put crayons on every table). And since we were getting married in town, we just cabbed home afterward—no hotel or limo costs to worry about.
What was totally worth it:
A day-of coordinator. This was a last-minute decision. We both love planning and producing events, so we were pretty confident in taking charge of the wedding from the beginning, but as the date began to creep closer, I started having nightmares about missing the party because I was too worried about the logistics of whether or not the taco truck showed up. We decided it was a good investment to hire somebody to handle any day-of problem-solving so we could actually enjoy the party we planned. It turned out to be well worth it: when the bar ran out of booze and ice, when a wedding crasher wandered in off the streets, when it turned out we miscalculated the spacing for seating and had to revise the room layout on the fly, she was on the case, and we were none the wiser.
We also splurged on some very silly surprises for the dance floor: we bought three inflatable dino costumes and asked some friends to come hit the dance floor in them; we hired a mariachi band to show up unannounced so we could bully a family friend into singing “La Bamba” for everyone; we threw some flamingo pool floaties into the mix, and they were a hit. Oh, also, 11 p.m. greasy pizza was a slam-dunk. All hail the midnight snack. Since our venue was so reasonably priced, we were lucky enough to be able to rent the hall for a few hours the night before and the next morning as well, which meant we got to take our time setting up and taking down. I can’t even imagine how we would have got it all done on the day of the party. Another decision I’m happy with is that we didn’t bother getting the photographer to document the “getting ready” part of the day. That allowed us to extend the time he was at the actual party instead. (We also did our bridal party photos before the ceremony, which allowed us to actually spend time with our guests from start to finish instead of taking a break in the middle… highly recommended.)
What was totally not worth it:
We decided to have some signature cocktails (a “Dark and Stacey” and a “Maxwell Mule”), but getting the special ingredients for that was a little pricier and slowed down the bar service. We got a bunch of colorful Solo cups because we thought it would be most cost-effective than rentals for the cocktails and draft beer, but people didn’t reuse them like I thought they might, so the bar staff wound up having to go buy more plastic cups halfway through the night, which meant they were probably more expensive in the long run. My best friend made us an AMAZING alcohol calculator, but we really misjudged how much wine and beer our guests would want to drink (they turned out to prefer cocktails), so we wound up with like six cases of wine and an extra keg and a half.