So, it begins! The biggest money challenge of my life thus far! Getting out of school debt was one thing, but staying out and planning a wedding is another totally different beast! After the highs of announcing our engagement, it's now time to pound the pavement and do the research to pull this thing off! With the average Canadian wedding cost at approximately $30, 000, I'm determined to get the biggest bang out of my buck!
First, I've listed our must haves:
- Tea Ceremony
- Chinese Menu
- Photo booth
- Clean and nice venue
- Decent quality alcohol
- Dessert Table
At the moment, I've been doing a ton of online searches for venues in the area that can accommodate our guest and are able to cater a Chinese menu. There is surprisingly not much selection in the downtown area that's meet our standards. We've been visiting the conventional large restaurants, banquet halls, hotels and other local venues. Even stretching to the more Chinese dense areas of Markham and Richmond Hill. Pretty much anywhere that can host a wedding! We've driven out for appointments, casually dropped into local venues, asked friends and family about their experiences. I know dropping in is a bit frowned upon but it's the best. During appointments everything is more staged for us and we don't like that. At a drop in, we can see the place the way it truly is everyday.
What I've learned so far:
- No two venues are the same
- Find out what the venue's gratuity is. It can make a big difference and so far I've been quoted anywhere from 12-17 percent! Which is a S*&% ton when you are talking in the tens of thousands.
- Landmark and rental fees are BS
- Some places allow you to bring your own alcohol or do open bar (do the math to see if it's worth it!)
- Spreadsheets are your friend
- Married friends are a great source of advice
- Friends are a great source for hook ups
- Pinterest and Instagram is great for ideas but everything nice cost a crap load of money
- Deciding to invite or not invite kids, or invite some and not others is a touchy and hard subject. Chinese weddings do not have a children's menu. Each person is considered a head and will be charged as a full adult and receive all the same courses and portions. Chinese banquets are also about 10 courses long.
- Not inviting certain people is ok, you are bound to insult a ton of people from food choices to location to even not being invited! But for the sake of your sanity and wallet stick to what you want and just don't worry about it. Your mom's friend's friend's date and her not so close co-worker is not worth it. Neither is your friend's date, who's whom they've been dating for a week. To me, I think about two major things. Will they be in my life in ten years? Real life and not Facebook friends. And am I willing to spend the cost of hosting them regardless of receiving lucky money? If not, then no and cut. I'm a bit ruthless that way. However, I do take into special consideration my parents brothers and sisters. I may not know them all very well and I'll be fine without their attendance, however they are all getting older and this would be a great reason for them to travel here and all be together.
- Avoid the w word. Anything with wedding in it for some reason cost considerably more.
I've also put out a bunch of feelers out there and asking friends and even work associates for recommendations on everything. And sometimes, we get really lucky when someone says they know a guy who can do something we are looking for, or they know a girl who does this as a hobby. Venue and location is pretty much going to take the bulk of your budget and it requires the proper time and effort to research it properly. Once that is settled, it should be much easier to book and scout everything else out once a date and place is set. Or so, I'm hoping so!