Where to Cut Corners when Planning Your Wedding | Erika Gayle Blog

Where to Cut Corners when Planning Your Wedding

by Erika Hodson

November 28, 2018

Weddings can get expensive REAL fast. Your venue, entertainment, dress, catering, cake… the list goes on and those numbers sure add up quickly! If you’ve never planned a wedding before, you may be left wondering… where do you actually need to spend the money, and where can you cut corners when planning your wedding?

So, to help you out, here’s a list of the things that I’ve noticed in my career, of ways you can save money during wedding planning.

Wedding Favours

I have to start here by saying, I’m definitely not here to judge or shame anyone on the choices they make for their own wedding day! It’s YOUR day, and a celebration of you and your relationship, so really it’s up to you to do whatever you want! It’s 100% your call where you want to spend your budget, and where to cut corners when planning your wedding.

I do however want to say that… I think wedding favours are bullshit (most of the time). As a photographer, I notice a lot of things that go unnoticed by most people attending weddings. Wedding favours tend to get left behind, “forgotten”, or straight up tossed in the garbage after the reception is over. Do you really need to send your guests home with a monogrammed wineglass with your names and wedding date engraved on it?

If you really must have wedding favours, why not donate to an animal charity instead? One of the weddings Shawn and I had the pleasure of attending this year donated money to Bright Eyes Dog Rescue in lieu of wedding favours. Or, if you’re a cat person, why not Regina Cat Rescue? If that’s not your style, opting for an edible wedding favour that’s less likely to get tossed is a great option. Things like little jars of honey or jam, or homemade pickles are big hits at weddings. Even a few chocolates or treats instead of one more keychain for the landfill are much better options, in our opinion. 😉

Cake / Cupcakes

Okay, I have to start this paragraph with a side note, too; I LOVE CAKE. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely sample the cake at every wedding we shoot (after taking an epic photo, of course!) and I FREAKING LOVE CAKE. It’s secretly my favourite part about shooting weddings (among other things of course!). Shawn and I intend on having a cake at our wedding… but just a small one for ourselves! Here’s why…

I see SO MUCH wasted cake at weddings!!! Here’s the thing… especially if you have other treats or desserts available at your wedding, your cake might not get entirely eaten. I’ve heard of some weddings where the cake didn’t even get sliced up and got forgotten about!! By the end of the night, there’s often dozens of cupcakes left over – and who’s going to eat all that cake?! You can try to force your guests to take home the leftovers, but… If the cake isn’t a big deal for you, you might think about opting for something different.

But we still need to serve dessert?!

One option you might entertain is a Cookie Table – Shawn and I have plans for one of our own at our wedding in 2020! The tradition of the cookie table was born in Pennsylvania, and generally the family members (or guests!) are asked to bring their favourite cookie recipe to share with everyone. The bonus? Cookies are a hell of a lot easier to stuff into guests pockets as they leave than messy icing-topped cupcakes. 😉

HOWEVER – if you’re a cake lover and can’t resist sweets like me and just have to have cupcakes at your wedding… consider checking out Sinfully Sweet in the Cathedral area of Regina. We live about a block away and I’m over there several times a month snatching up cupcakes (their “lust” or chocolate strawberry cupcake is my FAVE!!!). A suggestion, however – under-buy for your cake or cupcakes. Not every guest is going to want cake so you may end up with more leftover than you anticipated. If you’re trying to cut corners when planning your wedding, this is a big one!

The Traditional Guestbook

Are you really ever going to look back on it? Ditch it. If you hired a photographer for your reception, you’re going to be able to see in your photographs who all was there, anyway! If you really want something to look back on – there are a ton of other options rather than just looking back on your guests’ messy handwriting. Try a Poloroid guestbook instead, or opt for our photobooth! 😉


Providing alcohol can get expensive VERY fast, especially if you have a lot of guests. If you’re providing your own booze and bar, hire a local charity to bartend for you. A lot of local charities will provide volunteers to bartend for a small fee, or for tips! Plus, you’re giving back to the community at the same time. Win-win!

Stick to the basics for your liquor – you don’t need 43 different types of drinks. Beer, wine, and three or four types of liquor is really all you need. Any unopened booze can usually be returned as well for a full refund, provided they’re unopened. On that note – make sure your bartender knows to not open another bottle/box of booze until needed. If it’s open you won’t be able to return it. Even if it’s just the beer box that’s been cracked!

Another suggestion for your bar – instead of having wine on each table, have vouchers available! It’ll help stop you from having 15 different open bottles at the end of the night that you’ll have to pour down the drain. Keep in mind also that red wine is typically more popular than white.

Fancy-Ass Cake Cutting Sets

Omg, just stop. Your venue should be able to provide you with a cake cutting knife… and if they don’t? Well, we’ll be cutting our cake with a regular-ass peasant knife, thank you very much. 😉


Don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciate a nice pair of shoes, especially when I get to photograph them! Here’s the thing, though… if you’re wearing a floor-length wedding gown, you won’t even be able to see your shoes. A lot of my brides opt for comfort instead of style for their shoes, and don’t regret it one bit. So instead of buying those expensive Louboutins, throw on some bedazzled Chucks and call it a day. Trust me, your feet will thank you. 😉



Yes, decor for your wedding is important! It helps set the mood, the tone for your day, and often incorporates your tastes and personality. But… when your wedding is done, what are you going to do with all the centrepieces? The easiest way to save some money on centrepieces is to scour your local used wedding groups on Facebook. Often you’ll be able to score an entire lot of centrepieces at a fraction of the cost you’d have paid for them new.

Instead of jars with some fairly lights stuffed down in them, why not try using FOOD as a centrepiece? Remember above where I crapped all over having cake at your wedding, even though I love cake? Why not incorporate your cupcake addiction into your centrepieces and encourage your guests to dig in? Cupcakes within reaching distance are far more likely to get eaten than if they have to walk across the room and risk some shaming stares because it’s not their first trip over there. 😂

Other ideas I’ve come across are appetizers or charcuterie in the centre of each table. Depending on the timeline of your day, your guests may be starvin’ Marvins by the time they arrive at your reception. Snacks at each table will help keep those hangry tummies at bay!


My favourite centrepieces at weddings are usually the cute and simple DIY ones, like this one from Megan and Mike’s adorable backyard wedding. Sweet and simple is all you really need. Simple DIY centrepieces are a no-brainer to cut corners when planning your wedding.


I might catch some hate from DJs for this one but… an ipod set to shuffle with your favourite wedding tunes can be just as fun. Just have your most musically inclined friend help you out, and boom, done! Shawn and I are opting out of a DJ because Shawn is the music nerd in our relationship and is spending the next year+ of our planning process perfecting our playlist. It’s got a LOT of disco music on it and I can’t wait. 😂

That being said, if a raging party is important to you, you may want to find a DJ or at least an Emcee that can help provide that atmosphere. A good DJ can keep a dance floor packed… but if your friends aren’t the dancing type, that likely won’t matter. Shawn and I are a pretty relaxed and laid back couple. So, having someone screaming at everyone over some music to come hit the dance floor really isn’t our cup of tea. Hence, our disco ipod playlist!


Guests will remember 3 things…

  1. The Meal
  2. The Booze
  3. The Party


After that? Your cute signage, outrageous centrepieces, and monogrammed shot glass wedding favours are pretty likely to be forgotten about. Your friends and family are attending your wedding to celebrate YOU and your love for each other, not nitpick about the fact that they didn’t get sent home with a wedding favour they’ll forget about in a few days.


That being said…

Yep, I’m going to come off biased here, but… don’t skimp on your photographs. I’ve been in this industry a hot minute and I’ve heard COUNTLESS tales of brides getting back awful photographs because they tried to save a buck, and hired someone with 0 experience. Chasing down their photographers for months or sometimes even years after their wedding, just hoping to see even one of their wedding day images. It hurts my heart every time I hear one of these stories. Some brides even have their photographers disappear on them after their wedding. As a result, they never see any of their “professional” photographs that they paid for. Photography is decidedly NOT a place to cut corners when planning your wedding!

When hiring your photographer, make sure to do your due diligence and do your research! Stalk them on google, social media, and read over their website. Often if a deal seems too good to be true, it is. Now, there are some very talented photographers out there that definitely provide great results and under-charge for their work. So, it’s important to do your research. Hire a photography team that suits your budget, tastes, and most importantly, your personality. Your photographer will be spending all day with you, so wouldn’t you rather have someone you get along with? We love working with offbeat and crazy-in-love couples. If you love big adventures, sunbeams on your skin, and wind in your hair… we might be the team for you. Click here for more info. 😉


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