Getting married 3 times for cheap – Part 1

Weddings, the reunion of two people, is one of the biggest celebrations and happiest days in our lives. This is why a lot of people justify spending a ton of money on their wedding day.

According to Wedding Bells the average cost of a wedding in Canada excluding the honeymoon is $31,685 in 2014.

THIRTY-ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED EIGHTY FIVE DOLLAR!!!

Holy *%^&%^$%^$!!!

Whichever way you put it, that’s a big chunk of money. And that’s just the average cost. Some people actually spend more than this amount! Since I’m a part time wedding photographer, I can tell you that a lot of my clients spend a heck lot more money than $31,685. Quite a few fancy venues here in town have a minimum charge of $20,000. When you use these venues, you have your hands tied. You’re forced to use their catering company and buy things like alcohol and wedding cakes through them. Some venues even charge you a wedding cake cutting fee per guest! Recently a friend of mine held their reception at a fancy 5 star hotel. The couple invited over 200 people and from the inside scope that I received, they spent close to $45,000 on the wedding reception alone! That doesn’t even include all the extra costs like wedding photography & cinematography, wedding attire, and other wedding related items. Coming from a frugal background, I’m always shocked to see how much money is being spent at weddings. Don’t get me wrong through, as a wedding photographer I’m glad that people are willing to pay me THAT much money for my service. 🙂

When you take a step back, spending over $30 grand can and will put a big dent in your new lives together. Do you really want to spend that much money on one single day and start your new lives together in a mountain of debt? If that’s the case, that’s a rough start to your marriage. Just imagining how many arguments you and your spouse might have about money.

Not a good idea. Not a good idea at all.

Kerry at Squakfox wrote a very interesting article on how to get married for $239.

To quote Kerry:

“It only costs $239 to get married.
I squawk you not.
To get hitched (legally) you generally only need to pay for a marriage license and the services of a marriage commissioner. In British Columbia, Canada, a marriage license plus commissioner cost just $239.
That’s it.
Everything else is just pomp and circumstance.
Did you hear me?”

Kerry is absolutely right! Getting married legally, all you need is a piece of paper and a wedding commissioner. Everything else is extra.

Think back to any weddings that you’ve attended, do you still remember what the centre pieces looked like? Do you still remember how fancy the decorations or the cakes were? When it comes to a celebration, as long as you have good companies and good food, everything else is secondary.

Because Mrs. T is not from Canada, the whole wedding idea gave us a bit of a challenge. How do we get married while still celebrate our special day with all of our friends and family?

Pretty simple actually…. we got married multiple times at different locations!

We decided to have 3 weddings in total – a real wedding to get all the paperwork done, a second wedding with a reception in our city of residence so our friends and families could celebrate with us, then a third wedding with a reception at Ms. T’s home town so her friends and families could celebrate with us.

The goal is to keep things easy and simple while keeping the costs down. We did not want to spend thousands of dollars like the average couples just so we can spend the next 10 years paying off our wedding costs. Since both Mrs. T and I are very handy (OK mostly Mrs. T), we decided to do a lot of things ourselves. DIY all the way!

Home-made item #1 – Wedding dress
Wedding dress is probably one of the biggest expenses in a wedding. So many brides will look all over the places to find her perfect dress. Crazy enough, there’s even a show on TLC that’s dedicated to wedding dresses (Unfortunately, sometimes I’m forced to watch this show at the gym at work). Because Mrs. T has some background in making dresses and clothes, she decided to make her own wedding dress. She looked around online and found a dress pattern that she liked, bought the pattern and the necessary fabric, and off she went. We didn’t have a sewing machine at that time so she borrowed one from one of our friends. Since the dress will be used a total of 3 times, Mrs. T decided to alter her dress a little bit at each wedding.

wedding pic

Home-made item #2 – Wedding Cakes
Outside of wedding dress, wedding cake is another big expense at weddings. Mrs. T has always been good with baking and cooking so she decided to tackle another big project – making our own wedding cakes. Since we were having multiple weddings, she ended up making 2 cakes, one for the first wedding, one for the second wedding.

Home-made item #3 – Flower Bouquets
Before our first wedding Mrs. T went to a few flower shops to ask about wedding bouquets. The conversation always went something like this:

“How much would a bouquet of roses and sprigs of rosemary cost for a wedding?”
“ That will be about $200, depending on the size and type of roses?”

Going into the same flower store a week later and ask this way:

“I would like to buy a bouquet of 12 roses and some sprigs of rosemary, how much would that be?”
“About $30-40.”

So the word “wedding” costs $160-170!!

Talk about getting ripped off and getting taken advantage of. So just because you need a bouquet for a wedding, the price more than quadruples. No wonder the wedding business is doing well.

In the end we decided to make flower bouquets on our own. For our first wedding Mrs. T bought some sunflowers for the both of us.

First Wedding
Our first wedding and the real wedding consisted of Ms. T and I (of course), my parents and my brother, the wedding commissioner, and a good friend of ours to take pictures. The first wedding was simple and perfect. We drove to the wedding commissioner’s house, got married in a park nearby, then celebrated with wedding cake and champagne. The entire family then went for a nice Groupon dinner in town at a fancy restaurant.

Wedding pic

Wedding #1 Cost
Wedding license – $100
Wedding commissioner – $84 ($75 + HST)
Dress material & pattern – $150
Tips to the commissioner for using her place – $40 (yeah I’m a cheap tipper)
Wedding photography – Free (courtesy of our friend, I then did all the editing)
A bottle of champagne – Free (courtesy of my parents)
Wedding cake – $35 (tough to calculate exactly because we already had flour, eggs etc. for baking the cake)
Flowers bouquets – $20
Mrs. T’s makeup & hair – $80 (used a student hairdressing salon)
Mrs. T & Tawcan’s shoes – $180
Tawcan’s dress shirt & tie – $75
Tawcan’s suit – Free (already had it)
Wedding dinner for the family – Free (My parents paid, and we used a Groupon!)

Total Cost: $764. That’s only 2.4% of the average wedding spending in 2014!

Note: According to this article. The average wedding cost in 2011, when Mrs. T and I got married, was $23,330. That means we only spent 3.3% compared to the 2011 average.

Note: All images were taken by Peter E, edited by Tawcan.

You can read Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Written by Tawcan
Hi I’m Bob from Vancouver Canada, I am working toward joyful life and financial independence through frugal living, dividend investing, passive income generation, life balance, and self-improvement. This blog is my way to chronicle my journey and share my stories and thoughts along the way. Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter. Or sign up via Newsletter