Last Updated on February 10, 2024 by Sandra Adamson
Wedding Budget: A Bride’s Guide
How to plan your dream wedding: Whether you’re on a tight wedding budget or not!
Whether you are planning your nuptials on a tight wedding budget or not, every bride or groom-to-be should think about a few key areas when talking dollar signs.
It is normal for most couples to feel overwhelmed by everything they need to plan and budget for when it comes to their special day. While you may want to splurge on some things, it is not necessary to splurge on every category. I often recommend couples sit down and imagine what their dream wedding would look like. In this exercise, it is important to take note of what elements stood out the most. Was it the stunning dress or handsome suit that makes you feel your best? The delicious catering, beautiful venue, brilliant bouquets, music, or photography that captures every special and perfect love-filled moment? Maybe it was something else completely. Whatever your dream wedding entails, instead of splurging on everything, focusing on two or three key areas and scaling back on the others still results in a beautiful wedding that you will be happy to remember and cherish.
A Venue with a View
When you think about your dream wedding, is the backdrop an oceanfront oasis or lush rolling green fields? If you are dreaming of a venue with a view, consider setting aside a larger portion of your budget for this.
Check out this article on Nova Scotia Wedding Venue Tips to get the inside scoop and top 20 tips for choosing the perfect wedding venue. There are always wedding venues for any wedding budget. Wedding venues in Nova Scotia range anywhere from $800 and up. If you’re on a tight budget, I would suggest having a peek at the options your local community offers such as legions. On average $40 a person can be expected for a sit-down style dinner.
Consider hosting the ceremony and reception at the same venue. Doing this can not only save on venue costs, transportation, and decoration but also ensure that a wedding photographer’s coverage is continuous. With that in mind, the less travel, the more time for your photography coverage.
Say I Do to You Hair-Do
Hair and makeup are never necessary, but for many brides, it is the finishing touch that gives them the fairytale feel they’ve been dreaming of.
If you aren’t keen on doing your hair or makeup for the big day, know that price ranges for these services vary greatly depending on styles, length of hair, services offered, and experience. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 – $650 for a hair and makeup package for the bride, and more if you decide to add additional people to the list.
Ask for a trial run of your hair and makeup a few weeks before your big day. Or better yet, schedule it for the day of your engagement session so you can see how you will look in your photos on your wedding day, You may need to pay an additional fee for this service, but many brides want to make sure that their hair and makeup vision is indeed what they want.
Another idea is to ask close friends or family who may specialize in hair or makeup for their expertise. This could double as their gift to you on your special day, and save you money and the stress of finding someone to do the job.
Boutonnieres, Bouquets, and Ballgowns.
One of the first questions that many brides ask when they get engaged is, “What am I going to wear?”.
Picking the perfect wedding dress is a very special occasion in itself. However, it doesn’t have to take up a huge portion of your budget. Consider looking for sample sales. These are dresses that have been tried on already and can be discounted anywhere from 10-50% off. Trunk shows are also a good option. While these dresses are not always discounted, many trunk shows will offer you a discount for ordering a dress on the day of the show. Attend any wedding shows you can as many vendors offer discounts during those shows. If you’re a DIY chick like me, design and create your wedding gown. My gown was about $200 in materials and two years of my time, the result of a one-of-a-kind wedding gown. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 and upwards of $10,000 depending on the gown Nova Scotia.
If owning your wedding dress or suit isn’t on your list of must-haves, consider renting an outfit for a deep discount. You will still look and feel fantastic and your wallet will thank you for it!
Bouquets and boutonnieres are the finishing outfit touches that many couples love to have. Florists will work with you to pick your favourite flowers or foliage to add to your look.
Certain flowers and foliage are much more expensive than others. This depends on the season and a variety of other factors. Ask your florist to see flowers that are in season that match your colour scheme.
A fun pre-wedding activity is having your bridesmaids make their bouquets the day before the wedding. Generally, a florist will help with this activity and keep the bouquets until your special day to ensure they are preserved in a cool room to prevent any bruising or drooping of petals. A bride can expect to see a range of $150 or more for their bridal bouquet alone, up to $2500 if they have a florist outfit their entire wedding including the venue with flower arrangements.
Bridal bouquet ideas – Check out this article on fake or real flowers for your bridal bouquet.
Picking a wedding dress – Check out this article about choosing from A-line to the ultimate princess gown, accompanied by a list of local Nova Scotia wedding dress boutiques and shops
Here Comes the Band
Everyone knows that the best way to get a party going is with awesome music. Maybe you have your heart set on hiring your favourite local band (or not so local – in which case, be sure to set aside some extra bucks!), or maybe you are happy with a DJ or a Spotify playlist.
Hiring a live band is a lot of fun and can be incredibly special. I always recommend asking the band what songs they will play, how long their set will be if they will play any special requests, and if they have a playlist curated for their breaks or if that is something up to the couple to make. Perhaps you are considering having live music as you walk down the aisle during your wedding ceremony? Things to think about. Cellist, violinist, pianist, or full band, the costs will vary widely in this area. A couple could expect $300 or more for live music.
It is important to ask a DJ similar questions. A DJ will also often double as an MC, or master of ceremonies for the evening. A couple can expect $500 or more for a DJ. The most wedding budget-friendly option would be to handle this yourself with your favorite playlist. Some DJs will rent out their equipment so that is also an option to consider.
If there are songs or artists that you particularly dislike, make sure to tell your DJ about them and they will put them on a “no-play” list. Some couples love the Bird Dance, others, not so much!
Cocktail Hour, Cake, and Catering
If you are anything like me, then you look forward to great food at every event you attend, and your wedding is no different.
Some venues offer in-house catering for a reduced fee or charge extra if you want to work with outside vendors for catering. It is important to be mindful of these things when booking your venue and picking your catering vendors. These fees can tack on or take off an extra couple of thousand dollars depending on the number of guests you have invited.
If you are going for a more casual vibe, food trucks are a big hit among guests. They can also be utilized as a late-night snack option when guests get hungry from dancing up an appetite! Check out this article about wedding food trucks to learn more.
So, it’s time to cut the cake! Are you and your partner dreaming of a traditional, white, three-tiered wedding cake with figurines on top, or maybe you are looking for something with a more modern twist? Perhaps you don’t want to cut a cake at all and decide on cupcakes or an ice cream bar. Whatever you decide, this is your opportunity to have fun with your choices! Many couples like to experiment with their favourite flavours or get cakes that represent their passions and pastimes.
Look at these articles on wedding desserts for more inspiration!
Freeze a piece of your dessert to enjoy on your 1st wedding anniversary.
We didn’t forget the cocktails. Signature drinks are very popular for many weddings, and for good reason! They are fun, creative, and delicious. They can also be quite expensive. Instead of having a full menu of signature drinks, it’s often recommended to keep it simple and stick to one or two maximum. Guests can then order anything else they might like from the bar. Whether you decide to have an open bar or a toonie bar, is up to you.
Perhaps one of the most important factors to consider when planning a wedding is how much to budget for photography and what style of photography you want. This is how your special day will be remembered for decades to come, so I always recommend taking a peek at a photographer’s portfolio and knowing exactly what their packages include. The last thing you want is to be let down by not having the photos you dreamed of. Thinking about night photography wedding photos, make sure the photographer you choose can deliver!
If there are a couple of key photos you would like, find examples of these to show your photographer in advance. They will be happy to make your idea come alive. Otherwise, trust their process. Remember that you picked them for a reason and they know how to make you shine!
Here are a few articles on wedding photography that I highly recommend reading before booking a photographer for your event.
Still Need Help?
Planning a wedding is a lot of work! Thankfully, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Think about hiring a wedding planner or day-of-coordinator.
The following blog posts give you all the information needed on wedding planners and planning a Nova Scotia wedding!
Capturing your L❤VE story is my passion…let’s chat!