In my catering days, I heard this question a lot, readers. The answer I always wanted to give was “how long is a piece of string?” but that’s not a very helpful answer to the poor bridey on the phone who doesn’t know how much a wedding should cost. Spoiler: it always works out to be $100 a person, no matter which way you slice it. But that’s a hard number to hear when you’re just starting to plan.
Well my loves, it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, as long as you don’t envision that great big party with 150 of your nearest and dearest. Get ready for a brutally honest post, with real numbers and figures about exactly how much we spent to get married. Dan and I got hitched a little more than a week ago, and all the numbers are fresh in my mind.
The biggest factor to consider is you guest list, because more people means more food/drink required, more chairs for bums to sit on, and more of everything in general. We chose the smallest number of guests we could get away with, without offending key family. We decided to draw the line at immediate family – no extended family, no aunts or uncles, no friends. Opening the door to even include close friends would instantly balloon our numbers and invite questions of why some family was left out. No thank you. We invited parents, siblings and their partners, and grandparents, for a grand total of 18 people including us. This was a small enough group to comfortably fit everyone in our house, so there was no need to rent out a venue or a restaurant. Win.
Let’s start with the bare minimum. If you just want to get married (in Cambridge, Ontario), you’re looking at a marriage license plus the cheapest ceremony option, the City Hall special. In Cambridge, here’s the smallest amount you would need to fork over to get married:
Marriage license: $146.00
City Hall ceremony: $125.00 + $150 for officiant (plus $1 for booking online, and of course, our friend HST gets a cut of the action)
TOTAL for getting hitched: $438.25
That’s not terrible, but those aren’t bargain basement prices. This is however the cheapest it could possibly be, and that doesn’t include any other sort of wedding-related expenses. Plus, the city hall option is limited to Friday afternoons only, between 12:30 and 4:30, booked in half hour blocks. You also don’t get to choose your own officiant, although that didn’t matter to us. Cambridge city hall ceremonies are performed by Weddings by Don, you can book Don for wedding ceremony services outside of city hall. Don was lovely, he was friendly and personable and made everyone feel at ease. There was no contact from the City of Cambridge or Don before the ceremony, but the half hour time slot is more than enough time to give everyone a run down of what’s going to happen, and then take care of the ceremony.
Our biggest hiccup with this option was getting everyone to the right place. City hall ceremonies are performed in Historic City Hall, which is the older stone building attached to brand spanking new Cambridge City Hall, and the entrance to the correct building is through an unmarked door on the side of the old stone section. We had to ask for directions from the security guard when we arrived, and all of our family and our photographer took turns getting super lost trying to find the right entrance.
We also had rings, which we bought last year, shortly after we got engaged. We bought our rings from Spence Diamonds in Mississauga, and we each paid for our own ring.
Dan’s tungsten ring: $224.87
My white gold ring: $271.20
TOTAL for matching marriage decoder rings: $496.07
We booked a 2:00 ceremony time, so to keep things logical, we decided on an afternoon reception with cake, pie, coffee, and champagne. The timing of the reception told our guests they shouldn’t expect dinner, and it gave us the opportunity to wave goodbye to our family and have some time to ourselves to clean up and pack our things for our vacation.
For the reception, my mom made the pies for us (apple struesel, pumpkin, and pecan) and we bought the cakes from Tiny Cakes in Cambridge (conveniently located across the street from city hall). I had never tasted anything from Tiny Cakes before, so in the summer, I bought six cupcakes from their shop and enjoyed a tasting session with my pal Jenn from work to decide on the best three flavours.
Jenn and I enjoyed half of each cupcake, and I took the rest home to share with Dan. He doesn’t care about cake, so I made this important decision with a fellow cake connoisseur and enthusiast. I went with carrot cake, Knotty Pine almond, and chocolate peanut butter to pair with the three pies from my mom. The cupcakes cost me between $2.50 and $3.50 each (for a total of about $17 spent on my mini tasting), and the full sizes cake versions of each cupcake flavour start at $28 (for a 6″ cake). I ordered chocolate peanut butter and carrot cake in the 6″ and Knotty Pine in 8″ (because it’s my absolute favourite all-time cake flavour and I wanted more of it). The three cakes cost us $105.00.
I made a tablescape plan in the summer too, because there were a bunch of display pieces and things I would need to get in order to serve 18 people at our house.
I also decided to throw in some homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, because they’re Dan’s favourite. At the time of this doodle, I also wanted to get French macarons from Sabletine in Waterloo, but I ended up leaving them out. Ignore the “Fossil watches” note, this was a recycled scrap of paper.
The extra forks, glasses, mugs, plates, etc all came from my mom’s work (benefits of owning a catering company, woot) at a cost of $0. If you had to rent these things, it wouldn’t be terribly expensive, and we would have only needed two dozen of everything.
The only real vendor we spent any money on was a photographer. My good knitting friend Margot had family photos done last year and she highly recommended her photographer, Sophie Sheldrick. Sophie owns Raw Footage Photography in London, and she is lovely. We loved her photography style and she was the only photographer who happily quoted a price for what was essentially a family photo session that happened to be a wedding. Every other photographer I talked to wanted us to spend upwards of $700 on a wedding package that included far more coverage time than we needed. We booked Sophie for 1.5 hours plus her travel fee from London, at a total cost of $430.95.
For our outfits, I went with a $100 dress from Modcloth (the dress I bought is called Perfect in Petals Dress in ivory, and it is no longer available), and Dan wore a black suit he already owns. We didn’t order flowers of any kind, and I wore shoes and jewelry I already owned.
For hair and make-up, I decided to have those done by professionals, since we were getting nice pictures done. My longtime hair dresser Skye did a hair trial (and minor trim) for me in August, and hair on the day of the wedding. For makeup, I searched online and found a makeup artist in the area, Courtney, owner of Peachy Keen Makeup Studio, who does beautiful, natural looking work. I had a make-up trial in late June and Courtney did my makeup the day of the wedding. I did my own nails the night before the wedding. Dan went au naturel for the wedding.
Dress: $97.99 + shipping to Canada
Hair trial (and trim): $40
Hair on day-of: $30
Makeup trial: $50
Makeup on day-of: $60
TOTAL for looking fab: $277.99
Champagne was picked up in the week leading up to the wedding, we bought two $13 bottles of Prosecco, which is plenty for a tasting amount of champagne for each person. We ended up only going through one bottle, which poured 17 sips of champagne for a toast.
Cakes: $105 + $17 for tasting cupcakes
Pies: $0 (thanks Mom!)
Cookies: $0 (already had all the ingredients on hand)
Rental plates, forks, etc: $0
Coffee: $20 (bought a bag of beans from Monigram Coffee Roasters)
Tea: $0 (our cupboard is stocked with tea at all times)
TOTAL for a tasty reception: $168.00
And that’s pretty much it. We got married, took some pictures, and met everyone back at our house for a slice of cake or pie. We are waiting on our official pictures to come from Sophie, so you can expect a whole post filled with the prettiest couple you know in the near future. So, if you weren’t keeping score, here’s the total we spent on our wedding:
Marriage part: $438.25
Bling rings: $496.07
Looking pretty:$ 277.99
Tasty cakes: $168.00
Grand Total: $1,811.26
Not too shabby, and it STILL works out to be $100 a person. Ha!
Now, please enjoy the following #marriedselfie