After tying the knot, Hart House wedding coordinator Devon Amiga (Strachan) reveals the tips that allowed her to enjoy a gorgeous, debt-free wedding.

It all happened. We had a wedding. I got married. 

The eyeliner went on. We took photos in the woods. Petals flew through the air. Guests hurled us atop chairs onto the dance floor.

But despite planning several hundred weddings at Hart House, I found nothing could have prepared me for my own unique day. This became obvious when my planner gave me the same encouraging looks and reassurance that I give my clients every weekend. It felt surreal, like an out of body experience, and it was the greatest moment of empathy I have ever experienced in my career.

How did we do it? What methods did we use to save money and still enjoy a beautiful wedding that didn’t feel like a compromise? 

Expensive items we did without:

  • Cake. Cakes aren’t just expensive; they also have to sit for a long time before anyone gets to enjoy them. Our venue provided a huge tray per table of mini desserts. I know of people who use a prop cake for pictures. It then gets taken away and replaced by slices of other desserts. Most guests never notice the difference. 
  • Bouquet. Both my parents walked me down the aisle making holding a bouquet awkward. I don’t think anyone missed it, least of all me. 
  • Programs. What’s the point? Everyone has been to a wedding. They know what to do: celebrate. 
  • Breakfast event the following morning. We hosted a meet and greet dinner for our immediate family several days before the wedding that was a total success. My husband and I had an intimate brunch with our special friend Mr. Hangover the next morning. Three was a crowd. 

Other smart financial decisions which you should consider to include:

  • Getting married in the offseason. With the money we saved, we were able to hire a DJ. He was a great addition to the party. 
  • Choosing inexpensive clothes. I honestly think we both looked fantastic. We even had unique personal touches to our look. So shop around. Don’t splurge on accessories, especially shoes—no one can see them under your dress. My attire cost $1,430. Shlomi’s cost $570. Trust me, that’s far less than many people spend. 
  • Booking the honeymoon until after the wedding. Because we played it very safe and had funds in an account, we were able to head to Costa Rica in April for a week in paradise. Admittedly, we had some generous and unexpected financial gifts which we combined with our savings. Then again, most people also receive gifts.