A Realistic Wedding Budget, Plus 3 Tips to Create the Best Budget

There has been a lot of wedding talk around here lately and I hope for those of you who are engaged or perhaps thinking of it, these articles have been helpful. For other readers who do not require wedding advise, well maybe it’ll start you thinking about personal budgets!  When we were first engaged, I tried to do some research online about affordable weddings or how to create a fabulous wedding on a budget, but I never really found what I was looking for.  All the articles talking about budget weddings, offered advise such as, eloping saves money or use your aunts backyard to throw your dream wedding or invite 25 of your closest family and friends.  None of this connected with me, we didn’t want to elope, we don’t have a convenient backyard and a 25 person wedding would have been impossible.

This is my attempt at how to throw a budget wedding and a breakdown of our wedding expenses.  First off I would like to say that having a budget wedding, under $10,000 is not easy, unless you choose one of the options above.  I have let go of the $10,000 wedding because it was not helping me in any way, can you read all about why in this article.  We are still going to throw a wedding we can afford, one we will not go into debt over or are extending ourselves financially.  I will say my parents have also been very generous and had some money saved for our special day, which has definitely made a difference.

Ok let’s break this wedding budget down by category.

Venue: $4500 – You might think this is high, but we compared four different venues and in the end the one we chose made the most sense for space, numbers and cost. Cost compare your favorite venues to make the right financial decision for your wedding. Find my excel spreadsheet in this article.

Day of Coordinator/Set up and take down: $1300 – Was lucky enough to have a referral and received $200 off.  Also this is more expensive then some DOC’s, but she takes over 6 weeks in advance (hello no emails or vendor contact), she has an assistant, will create the timeline for all vendors and us, and performs all the set up and take down.  Some DOC’s are only there the day of to support, she is an all inclusive package and TOTALLY worth it.

Food/Drinks: $10, 000 – Yes that is a big number!  This includes all catering, the cake, and drinks.  Catering and beverages were the most important category for us.  We love great good and want everyone to have a wonderful time. Plus this was significantly less than using a restaurant or a venue with an on-site caterer/bar. Again, cost compare your venues!  It might say a minimum $8,000 spend, but when you look at their $9 drinks prices, $60 bottles of wine and $75 plates, you will be significantly over the minimum spend.

Rentals: $1650 – Since our venue is a blank slate we have to bring in the tables, chairs, bar etc.  Although this is an extra expense for this venue, on the cost comparison we still saved money. Plus this way I can pick and choose what we want on site and the style that suits our theme.

Décor: $800 – I don’t really count this category as I am buying the décor myself and plan on selling it for what I bought it for.  The option to purchase all décor myself is time consuming, but I love it.  Finding décor pieces or other items from brides is so much fun!  I wouldn’t trade that time for anything!  If you are a bride who despises Craigslist and Facebook groups best to find a rental house you like.

Florals/Greenery: $400 – I am choosing to do my own flowers for the wedding and will buy them wholesale.  We will have a lot of family here before the wedding and I figured I could make this happen.  Obviously going with a florist is more expensive but time saving, I have decided to go the DIY route.  Wish me luck!

Photography: $2800 – Having the great photographer was key for us.  I highly recommend looking at Wedding Wire.  I searched through most of our local area, saving photographers in our price range and with the style we were looking for.  We ended up with someone who is so talented, plus we have a second shooter for our wedding day and received a promo discount she was offering for 20% off through Wedding Wire.

Stationary/Website: $200 – This ended up being a little more than I budgeted for, but am so happy with the results of my DIY invites!  The blog post is coming soon! The wedding website was free through Minted.com but I paid a little extra to get the personalized domain name. I think this category can be budget or totally crazy if you want it to.  I went online to request quotes from a couple different print houses because I honestly had no idea how much the invites would cost!  They were anywhere from $120 to $800!  DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Music: $1500 – This is not confirmed at the moment, but WAY over the budget I originally planned!  I had no idea how expensive DJ’s were, apparently I thought it was the same as my high school dance days, I didn’t consider inflation, lol!  Any advise on this category and how to do it on a budget would be greatly appreciated. And no, I do not want someone running an iPod all night, too stressful!

Photobooth: $30 – With blogging I already own lights, a tablet and a tripod.  All we have to do is download the DIY photobooth app!  I will say this is the most stress-free category as I am lucky enough to own what we needed to make it happen.

Hair/Make Up: $150 – I do not have anyone confirmed but all the quotes were around this price.  I honestly do not know how hair and make up. I understand that I probably need it because I have no idea what I am doing, but they charge the same amount for the trial as they do for the big day?  Another category that is WAY over budget.

TOTAL: $22,530

You may notice we do not have favours or gifts listed on our budget.  We have opted to not have favours or a wedding party, allowing a bit of savings in the budget.  I have also not included the dress or suit, I do realize this will be part of our overall wedding budget but we didn’t want to feel held back in terms of setting an amount on what we are going to wear.  We are spending a lot to throw an amazing party, to try and fit within a $300 dress budget might not be realistic.

There you have it, our honest wedding budget.  I have lumped items together in this list, but in reality we have every item accounted for separately.  When we first started with cost comparing four different venues, seeing the numbers right in front of us helped it all make sense.  When we narrowed it down to our dream venue, we knew the items we would keep and what didn’t serve our day.  What works for us might not for others, or what is important for us, may be less for another couple.

At the end of the day I think three things are important when it comes to planning your wedding budget.

1.  Create an affordable budget for you.  Another couple might have a budget four times the size of ours or one that’s a quarter the size, but that is what works for them and this is what works for us.

2. Don’t go into debt.  We all want to throw the party of our dreams, I totally get that, but waking up the next day under a pile of debt, for one night, might not feel so good.

3. Stick to your budget.  Once you have agreed a budget that works, stick to it!  I think it is so easy to start buying items not on the list or going after more expensive rentals, but if it’s not part of your original budget, best to leave it.

All you brides to be out there I hope this helped you with your budget, or at least starting to plan one.  I would say setting the budget and how much you want to spend is probably the hardest part.  You have to do research, connect with vendors, and get accurate numbers for your city.  Once you’ve done that all you need to do is find the vendor that is right for you, the bulk of the work is completed.  Trust me, when you have your budget, the rest will be a breeze!


You’re Engaged, Now What? 4 Tasks to Get You Started.

For all you new brides out there you may have realized shortly after getting engaged that you are not a wedding planner! (It was a surprise to me too.) And bringing all your Pinterest dreams to life might take a lot more effort than you ever imagined. I thought I’d jump into wedding planning and know exactly what to do, boy was I wrong. I wanted to start buying décor and making DIY’s, which I’m pretty sure is the last thing you focus on, oops! Check out the 4 tasks below that will help you get started planning your big day and make you feel confident moving forward.

1. THE BUDGET – First thing we did, after I realized I had no clue what I was doing, create a budget. Then I took it one step further and actually mapped out four different budgets, comparing the costs of our top venues. We thought our favorite venue on the list would be a lot more money because of all the rentals we needed, turned out it wasn’t. Having the comparison right there allowed us to see how the budgets added up. We were able to realize having a caterer of our choice and a host bar at our favorite venue was the same price as another venue we were considering. You can download my excel spreadsheet HERE. Start comparing and make sure to calculate everything! It’s easy to leave out little details, but they add up so quickly.

2. YOUR GUEST LIST – After we locked down our budget, based on an approximate number of people, we started to make our real guest list. For us our friends and family were most important, so we created that list first. Once we had the number from this list, we let our parents know approximately how many people they could invite in order to stay within the budget we were estimating. (Yes we told the moms how many people they could invite! It worked though.) You can download the excel spreadsheet HERE for your guest list. It’s an easy way to keep track of everyone.

We accomplished those two tasks first which seemed the most logically to start with! Now what? I had no idea. I went to the internet, there was too much information, I still didn’t know where to go next. This is what helped me with the next steps of planning.

3. THE CHECKLIST – I found a master checklist and this has made all the difference in the world. I can see the timeline. I know what I need to do next. I can make notes and check items off my to do list. I don’t know about you but I love paper lists! Digital is not the same. Plus I have this lovely wedding binder where I can keep all my quotes, vendor information and timeline notes. You can find the beautiful checklist I am using from BOTANICAL PAPERWORKS.

4. A WEDDING BINDER- Once I had my checklist I created a wedding binder where I could include quotes, ideas, inspiration, a DIY list, vendor information and so much more. It’s really easy to update Mark when we have items to discuss like the venue costs or catering quotes. I, of course, took the budget route, went to my local copy shop for a binder and tabs. It’s nothing fancy but it’s durable and easy to update.

I hope these 4 tips help you get organized on the road to your big day.  For me having everything from the budget to décor to  timeline all in one place has definitely taken the stress out of planning.


All photos and words created by Tijana Popovic of A Plentiful Life.

Wedding Binder – printables link courtesy of Botanical Paperworks

DIY or BUY, What To Do When It Comes To Your Wedding?

When we first were engaged I had messages flooding in from everyone saying they couldn’t wait to see what I would DIY for the wedding. I was obviously excited to DIY and made a dream list of everything I wanted to make. Some things I could create on my own, others would go quicker with a team and a few were for Mark (don’t worry he knows). In the wedding planning reality (more on that in a few weeks) DIY’s and décor come much later!  But I couldn’t wait.

After the completion of my first DIY, the wedding invites, it had me thinking of DIY vs BUY, which is better?  Let’s take a look.

INVITES – After going through this DIY over the last couple weeks, I can tell you it cost more and took longer than I ever expected.  In the end I am thrilled with how it turned out and I completed it on a budget, but if I had to do it over I might simply purchase a suite on Etsy and print it at a local shop.  Since I was trying to customize a simple invite, it actually made it a little more difficult. Having a standard 5×7 invite is actually easier, and what print shops are set up to do. Verdict: BUY (and if you want to DIY add some gold leaf to the invite or do a pretty seal on the envelope or wrap the invite up in a beautiful way.)

SIGNS – Every wedding needs signs to direct the guests and insert a bit of fun into the décor.  We are going to DIY the signs (I have a very long list) and this seems a bit daunting.  Does anyone even care?  Lol.  I guess I do.  I have a vision for the party and really think the signs will bring the décor together. I am making these signs with the knowledge I should be able to sell them for the cost of what I will create them for.  After looking online I also think there are some great options on Etsy or free printables you can find that will work.  Think of your theme and look for a style that will fit with the look you are trying to create.  Verdict – DIY or BUY (I am on the fence with this one.  If you have time it’s easy to DIY signs of any material, but if you don’t then find an option within your budget.)

FLORALS – This is a tricky one.  I am trying to do this on a budget and am determined to do my best!  Flowers are expensive, so we are going to try and design them ourselves.  I am doing this with the knowledge that it will take most of the day before, but I have a lot of support and there will be an army of ladies to help.  There are a lot more DIY flower shops now where you can buy your flowers and greenery in bulk, creating what you would like. It’s an affordable way to get the flowers you want, but it’s definitely a time investment.  If you don’t want to DIY then BUY, but make sure to stick within your budget, this is an area that can easily get out of control. Verdict: DIY (It’s easy to find beautiful vases for any budget to go with DIY flowers.)

DECOR: Most of the décor I want I can find second hand, and there won’t be much to DIY.  I have a few smaller projects that I am going to DIY but they are pretty straight forward.  I have already checked off two large items I was going to DIY because I found what I needed on a Facebook bridal swap and it was at a price lower than we could have created the DIY for.  Décor is so personal, and there are so many options to finding what you want from thrifting, bridal swaps, DIY’s and also BUYing what you need.  Verdict: DIY or BUY (Depending on what you need, both options work.  I bought one of our DIY’s since it was more affordable and half the work is done, all we have to do is customize it.)

WHY: Mark said something wonderful the other day.  I was super frustrated with the invites because I couldn’t find an affordable paper option and felt like I was getting nowhere.  He said, Tijana why are you making these?  To save money or because you really want to create them?  Although I wanted to save on the invites, I actually wanted to make something beautiful more.  It was a great moment. Ask yourself WHY.  Don’t simply DIY to say you did or save money, do it because you love it and want to have that experience.  DIY projects definitely take longer, require more trips to the store, but in the end you made something special for you wedding.

I hope these help you get started on your DIY and BUY lists!  As always, make a plan, know what you want and in this case, cost compare to see which option works better for you.


All words and phots by Tijana Popovic of A Plentiful Life

My Honest Struggle about the Reality of Our Wedding Budget

I’ve been dreaming about a $10,000 wedding, well my dreams were crushed when we actually laid out our wedding budget (including every little detail). I think it’s definitely possible to have a $10,000 wedding if you have a smaller guest list, a free venue or backyard to use for your ceremony/reception, or perhaps live in a city more affordable than ours!  We have around 120 people on our guest list, needed a bigger venue and wanted to get married closer to home, which doubled the dream budget.

Well this lead to some serious money guilt.  Anyone else ever feel this? I talk about living your best life on a budget and here I am about to spend a lot of money on our wedding. The idea of having a more expensive wedding made me feel like a DIY Frugalista Fraud. I thought I’d be letting myself and others down by not having the cheapest wedding on record. Lol. To be honest when we did our first budget I cried. (Poor Mark, he’s a champ!) I cried at the amount of money we’d be spending on one day, on the disillusion that we could have a budget wedding and that I couldn’t figure out a way to have a super low budget wedding. (Believe me I tried!) Although I want to celebrate with all our friends and family there I couldn’t get over the amount. I literally have a $400 wedding dress budget as I planned on renting one, not because that was my dream, but what I felt I had to do to keep the budget down.

We chatted about the budget at length and what Mark made me see was that we can afford our wedding, it’s within our means, and we won’t go into debt to throw this amazing love celebration. I’ve realized that is the most important and in alignment with the life we are leading. Our wedding budget might be too high for one bride or too low for another, but it works for us. The take away isn’t that our wedding is more expensive than I’d first imagined but rather we won’t go into debt, our budget works for us and although we can afford it we are still making smart choices. My parents also generously gave us some money they saved up for our special day, which has been a huge help.

After I cried (on and off for a few weeks about the budget, it’s the truth) I had a wonderful friend call me and we talked about it, the guilt I felt, the anxiety, the disappointment, but then he made me think about what we wanted our wedding to be about. We came up with three words we wanted to associate our wedding with, (yes I made Mark talk about his feelings and the energy we wanted to bring to our wedding) and to recognize what was important to us. He also said something that changed it all, Tijana this isn’t your first wedding, this is your only wedding (insert ugly cry), you’ve waited for Mark and want to celebrate the love you have for each other with those you care about most. Yup. I’ve waited a lifetime for this wonderful, kind-hearted, strong, smart and hilarious man, and I can’t wait to share this moment with those we hold dear because at the end of the day moments are worth more than money.

Here we are three months after getting engaged (I’ve stopped crying about the budget), I have a long list of DIY’s (definitely a money saver), I’m on several wedding boards (wonderful items for sale and great insight from other brides), a budget around $20,000 (calculating items we can sell afterwards) and have shifted my ideas of what’s important when it comes to our love celebration. To be honest I think we are doing pretty good, considering the Canadian average for a wedding is around $32,000…I guess we are having a somewhat budget wedding. I’ll take it!

All words by Tijana Popovic of A Plentiful Life and photos by Stacie Carr Photography

The Ring

Finding our way to being engaged and deciding to get married, didn’t go the way I had imagined.  I always thought it would be a surprise and I’d be swept off my feet.  The thing about love, like real love, it sweeps you off your feet from the very beginning and everything else is a bonus.  We’ve talked about getting married since very early in our relationship.  It wasn’t something we felt we had to do, but knew one day we would want to.  Life happened, we went on a trips to Spain, LA, San Francisco, Hawaii, spent time with family and friends, bought a house, I changed jobs, Mark was promoted, the list goes on.  Then at the end of last year I felt we talked about getting married more and more, it seemed like it was time.  (Side note, I may have also had a mental break at one point, after some wine, stating to Mark that when we do get married no one will care because we’ve been dating forever, lol!)

At Christmas in the hot tub, as real men do, Mark asked my dad to marry me.   I, of course, was not supposed to know this, but my dad was bursting with joy and couldn’t contain himself.  There were definitely some tears shed and it’s been a nice little secret to hold.  Soon after Mark started asking ring questions, I realized then he didn’t have a plan or a ring.  We started talking about rings, what kind of designs we liked, the style, shape and at one point I asked Mark his budget, it was big, like more than the value of my car!  At first I was swooning, looking up all these amazing rings, they were stunning, beautiful and expensive!  Then one day, with my camera on a tripod in self-timer mode, and me trying to take a Frugal Fashion Friday photo, I had an ahha moment (these actually happen).  The ring we had been looking at was gorgeous, but in that moment I realized it didn’t fit the life we worked so hard to build.

Since being together we have accomplished so much in our careers, financially and as a couple, even though Mark had this money, I didn’t feel right spending it all on a ring.  One night I told Mark about my ahha moment and how I would like to look for something more affordable.  He actually asked me if I was sure, and I said yes.  He responded by saying, don’t you want to show this off, be proud and say my man bought this for me.  I laughed, because it was adorable, and said no I don’t.  I am proud of you, of us as a couple, the life we have built and all that we have.  I do not need a large diamond for anyone to know that.

I started searching, and surprisingly found quite a few rings under $5000 that were magnificent (article to follow next with rings under $2000! Yes I found some even less expensive but still to die for!) Then we found the one.  A ring made by Eden Philippa, a Toronto designer, using reclaimed metals and conflict free diamonds.  Here’s the catch, we bought my engagement ring, two bands for my ring and Marks ring for a little over Marks ORIGINAL BUDGET FOR ONE RING!  Now I realize we still may have spent more than some people can afford, but keep in mind we bought four rings for half the budget.  The best part!  I can’t wait to brag about how my boyfriend, oh sorry, FIANCE, found a Canadian designer using reclaimed metals, making beautiful affordable rings.

When we finally found the ring, Mark said the best thing, he told me that he loved this ring because you can see the wedding band.  I hadn’t realized it before but all the other expensive rings hid the wedding band, and this meant something to him.  I feel good that I stuck with my gut and we made the right choice for us.  I think we are beyond a time where partners have to spend three months’ salary because that is the rule or engagement rings can only be diamonds when there are so many unique alternatives or that anyone would judge our relationship based on ring.

We are choosing to get married because we want to celebrate with the people we love, in our hearts we already committed to one another.

Welcome to Wedding Wednesday.