When I got married in a simple wedding two-and-a-half years ago it was the happiest day of my life, only to be later eclipsed by the birth of my daughter, Victoria.
My wedding was simple, elegant, and memorable.
We got married at a Catholic church and had our reception in the Old Mill in Toronto, an extremely popular venue for weddings. We managed to get an excellent reception room adjacent to a picaresque garden.
Looking back, our wedding was a successful endeavor not only because it created great memories, but also because it saved my wife and I two incredibly important resources for a couple just starting out: time and money.
Here’s the cost breakdown for our wedding:
- Total planning time: 1.5 months.
- Total financial cost: $10,000.
In Toronto, it is quite common for weddings to exceed $40,000 and take two years to plan. I think that’s insane. Consider the opportunity cost that is blown by spending two years of life and tens of thousands of dollars on a six-hour event:
- Delay of having children—fertility for both men and women decrease with age, so waiting for a wedding to happen may even preclude the possibility of having kids.
- Having all of a couple’s time sucked into planning a wedding rather than planning the marriage.
- Reduction of financial clout due to the insane cost of a “traditional” wedding.
- The cost of a wedding eats into the down payment for the purchase a family home.
In retrospect, I am absolutely relieved that I avoided a costly wedding (in both time and money). That single decision of having a simple wedding directly resulted in at least three extremely positive events in my own life:
- We got pregnant right away—our little Victoria was born exactly 9 months after our wedding (I have no idea how that happened!) Having our little one is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
- By having a cost-effective wedding, we had enough money to purchase our house (which we signed for at midnight the day before we got married!)
- We purchased our home before the Toronto real estate market exploded, so we avoided skyrocketing house prices (by the way, I disavow my house as an investment vehicle, which you can read about here).
Whatever a couple’s personal situation, having a simple wedding just frees up way more time and money to actually get on with things. It frees up more options to start an amazing life.
Here’s how to pull off a simple yet special wedding with minimal time, effort, and money.
Have a luncheon, not a dinner. It is far easier to book a lunch event, and these usually have a drastically shorter time horizon. We were able to book our luncheon reception 1.5 months in advance in the middle of the summer wedding season at one of the hottest venues in Toronto.
Invite <50 people. We originally planned for 50 guests, but still had 7 people self-invite. Stick to a small list and be very militant about the numbers. Just think about it: if 300 people comes to a wedding, how much time could the happy couple possibly spend with each guest? Small allows for more time with each person.
Don’t try to impress anyone. If the bride and groom commits to making the wedding unPinteresting, then it just makes everything more cost-effective and stress-free. Besides, absolutely no one remembers what the flowers, chair covers, or music was like.
Hire DJ iPhone. Setting up a playlist on a smart phone or a laptop is all that’s really required. And it’s hella cheap to do it this way.
Hire a photographer that’s good and just starting out. These guys will work for cheap, and are hungry enough to do a good job. Hard to find, but possible to find. It’s worth spending time on finding a good, new, hungry photographer.
Rent the dress, and anything else that can possibly be rented. It blows my mind that people actually buy a dress for thousands of dollars that they only wear once, and for a few hours. Renting just makes way more sense. And that goes for all the other accessories: ring pillow, tiara-thingy, and jewellery.
Get basic-level decorations. Whatever the base model of any décor, get that one. No one will notice that the chair covers are 300-count linen, rather than the 1000-count premium threads.
Forget about a color scheme. It’s just stressful to get everything to match. And expensive.
No wedding party. Just a best man and maid of honor. Keeps it simple and intimate. And there’s no need to get a set of seafoam green dresses—one less thing to do.
Take a marriage course. This is the sort of thing that couples should actually be doing before getting hitched. By actually spending time on the marriage before the wedding, it puts the focus on what’s actually important.
Having a wedding is not the main event—being married is.
Having had some time to reflect upon my own wedding two-and-a-half years ago, I am very glad that it turned out that we managed to spend as little time and money as possible on it. Our wedding was pretty great, but the best thing about it was that my wife and I got it done efficiently so that we could focus on laying the groundwork for the rest of our lives.