For a wedding to be legal all you need is your marriage licence, an officiant/commissioner, witnesses and a free and willing partner. Realistically, you could get the whole thing done for less than $200. And if you check out our Bona Fide Budget Bride Gloria and her husband Brian, they pretty much did just that!
But these days, wedding websites and magazines have you convinced that it’s not a real wedding unless you have eight dozen mason jars, twelve bridesmaids, a photo booth and a late night food truck. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things – but you don’t need them to have a wedding. There are things you can eliminate from your wedding to save on stress, cash and time. From the easy to controversial cuts, here are 18 things you don’t need at your wedding!
Save the dates
Save the dates go out before the official invitations to make sure guests reserve the date and start to make their travel plans. They’re more important if you’re having a destination wedding or getting married on a holiday. However, a text or email can get the job done just as well and save you printing and mailing costs!
Some couples opt to print programs for their wedding ceremony so guests know what’s happening. But trust me, no one has ever been confused about what’s coming up next at a ceremony or accidentally left early. Ceremonies are usually quite straight forward so feel free to nix the programs. The only reason these might be necessary is if you have guest participation elements to your wedding, like songs you want guests to sing, and need to give them the lyrics.
Bouquet toss/Garter toss
This is one tradition that actually makes me cringe a little bit. Why do we need to single out the singles? A wedding can be hard enough for singles who have to deal with nosy questions from relatives and lots of reminders about eternal love. So why are we forcing our friends to stand up and vie for a bouquet/garter that symbolizes they’ll get married next? What if they don’t want to get married? And the whole thing where the groom has his head up the bride’s skirt in front of both of their families – save that for the wedding night!
I’m going to be blunt: no one wants or needs a wedding favour. Those adorable match boxes you ordered online with your wedding date on it? Half of them will be left on the tables. The other half will be thrown out in the hotel bathroom garbage can. You’re hosting an awesome party for your guests – you don’t also have to send them home with a little notebook, candy bag, candle, etc.
Formal rehearsal dinner
Before you panic, I’m all for rehearsing your ceremony and eating dinner. But, it seems like these days rehearsal dinners have taken on a new life where the couple is expected to treat the wedding party and multiple family members to an extravagant meal after spending 20 minutes practicing lining up at the church. What’s wrong with running through the ceremony and then ordering some pizza?
Speeches & slideshows
Okay, so this cut probably won’t save you any money but it will save you time and stress. If public speaking makes you want to hyperventilate, don’t give a speech! You can catch up with your guests one on one instead of addressing them from a podium. And if it’s the night before your wedding and you’re scrambling to find a photo of your groom from elementary school for the slideshow, just cut it. Sure, slideshows are cute but no one is dying to watch yours. Of course, if you love giving speeches and making slideshows, go for it!
So while I do think it is helpful to have a seating chart so people know what table to sit at, it’s not necessary to make out a little escort card for each and every person with their name and table number. You can simply post the chart and call it a day. People will read it and figure out where they should be going. Especially these days, when escort cards are more often fancy objects like oyster shells, cookies or little wood logs, you can cut this element and save the hassle.
Harder to Cut
Centrepieces are absolutely gorgeous and can be made out of flowers, candles, books, you name it! But, they’re not necessary. I’ve eaten at countless tables without a centrepiece and I’ve survived just fine. No one will be upset about the fact that they will actually have room for their drink and plate on the table. And no one is going to make a fuss over the fact that they can see their dining mates instead of talking through a giant flower vase all night.
Fancy wedding cake
Those stunning five tier cakes you see on Pinterest can easily cost thousands of dollars. Skip the fancy wedding cake and opt for something cheaper. You could get a simple slab cake from Costco and dress it up yourself with some flowers. You can order a small single tier cake from a bakery just for the cake cutting. Or you can forgo the wedding cake all together and just do a dessert table!
Wedding party gifts
Your wedding party does not need gifts. Believe me, they’re not standing up there with you in the hopes of receiving a nice pair of earrings or cute bracelet. They’re there because they love you. If you feel like you really need to give your wedding party something, opt for something practical, like paying for everyone to get their nails done before the wedding. Or do something sentimental ,like a nice card and photo of the two of you.
It hurts me to say it but you don’t need an open bar. I know they’re the best part about most weddings but your guests will still be happy with other bar options. You can do a cash bar, a toonie bar or a by-donation bar. You can give out a limited number of drink tickets. You can just have a wine and beer bar. It’s totally up to you! But you don’t have to empty your wallet for an all out open bar.
Flower girls/Ring bearers
Listen, if you don’t have young children in your life that you’re close to, do not panic to recruit a bunch to be your flower girls and ring bearers. Incorporating children into your wedding can be messy. They’re not great at following instructions, they can get stage fright, they can cry and they do not like waiting around to pose for pictures. So unless there’s a child in your life you can’t imagine getting married without, don’t force it!
Full day photography
Many photographers offer a cheaper rate to only use their services for a few hours on your big day. If you don’t need pictures from morning to night, opt for a half day package and just get shots of the part of the day you want to remember the most. Maybe you just want shots of the ceremony and some portraits afterwards but can live without photos from the reception.
Bridal shower/Bachelorette/Engagement Party
I told you these would be controversial! But yes, it’s very possible to have a wedding without any of the pre-parties. If you don’t like being the centre of attention, want to save yourself the added stress/time/money of planning another big event, and want to simplify life for your bridal party and family, don’t have any of these parties. They are completely optional! Your wedding is the only party you should be worried about. If you do want to have some pre-parties but don’t want to go too wild, do something small such as a bridal party sleepover instead of a bachelorette or brunch with your family instead of a bridal shower.
This controversial cut hurts the most because I absolutely adore flowers. Wedding florals are the absolute dreamiest. But – they’re also the most expensive. A single bridal bouquet can cost upwards of $100! And then there are the rest of the bridal party bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, flowers for the ceremony space, for the reception venue, etc. etc. Flowers add up really quickly! And they don’t last. Your flowers might not even make it to the reception, depending which blooms you pick. You end up handing the bouquet away while you’re at the ceremony and you don’t touch it all during the reception (assuming you’ve cut the bouquet toss). But if you really can’t imagine your wedding day without flowers, just buy the ones you absolutely need, like the bridal bouquet, and skip the others.
Despite all the mason jars, chair covers, candle holders and wooden signs you see in every Facebook wedding group, you don’t actually need all of this stuff. Your guests are not going to notice the little details. If your venue is already in good shape, you don’t need to deck the place out with anything extra. Save your money and skip the hassle of DIY projects, running around to different flea markets, and spending time on your wedding day setting everything up and then tearing it down again.
Two words for you: iPod + speakers. There’s your DJ/band!
A wedding without a wedding dress? Clutch your pearls and say it isn’t so! But yes, it can be so. Wedding dresses are extremely expensive and not everyone wants to spend thousands of dollars for a dress they’ll be wearing for eight hours. So there are alternatives. Bridesmaid dresses are a great price-savvy option that you can get in white. You can also just head to the mall and search for a fancy dress that’s your style. And lastly, don’t forget about consignment shops or other second hand wedding dress options.
Full disclosure: I have not planned and am not currently planning a wedding. However, I do have a bit of experience: I was in two weddings last summer and have attended and been in many wedding before that. I run the social media and blogs for a wedding officiant company. And I listen to a bunch of wedding podcasts, because I’m really into weddings! Through all of this experience and research, I’ve come up with some opinions of my own about what I would and, for this post, what I would not want at a wedding. That being said, this is just my opinion! And in case you want to know the things I think are important to include in a wedding, stay tuned for that post coming soon!