4 Considerations for Deciding the Plus-One Invitation Debate

If your guest list is starting to get out of control, it might be time to assess the plus-one scenario. This can be a bit of a touchy subject for guests, so tread lightly.

Image / Brides

  1. Consider your guest list. Take an inventory. How many singles are there? If it’s a small list, you can expect minimal cost versus a big impact with those guests. Allow the plus-one and be done with it. If the list is bigger, do a mock seating chart to see if there’s enough singles to fill out tables with other singles (preferably that they know) so as not to leave them as the odd man out with pairs.
  2. Consider the cost. Do you have room in the budget for an extra 50 people? That means an additional 50 meals, table space, linens, centerpieces and wedding favours. It can turn into a huge expense for 50 people you may or may not know.
  3. Consider their feelings. How would you feel if it was you? The comfort of your guests should be your priority. If you suspect your single friends might dread your wedding, it may be time to re-allocate some wedding funds to the plus-one budget.
  4. Be consistent. Not all relationships are at the same stage. Some guests are engaged, some are living together, and some other relationships are not so clear. Choose a rule and stick to it. Maybe you’ll institute a  global “no ring, no bring” rule. Maybe it’s plus-one for the wedding party only, or for immediate family only, or perhaps for those travelling from out-of-town, or for those over a certain age. Whatever you decide, stick to it and ensure your invitations are clear. I can’t stress this enough. Sometimes guests will see or hear what they want to see or hear. Address to single names on the envelope if not allowing plus ones. On the RSVP, limit the number attending by writing in the field for that invitation.

If you choose to limit plus-one guests and are invariably being asked why, be honest and cite budget constraints, venue capacity or your parents’ never-ending guest list.


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Which of your Wedding Vendors are Expecting a Tip?

One of the first things you do after your engagement is set a wedding budget. It’s important to remember to reserve a little of that budget for your vendors that go above and beyond. Prepare tips in separate envelopes to be handed out the day of. Not all vendors expect a tip, and some may be written into your contracts to avoid confusion, but there are a few that will be expecting one. Here’s the short list on who and how much is expected.

1. Your makeup artist and stylist. Just like in a salon, prepare at least a 15 to 25 per cent tip depending on the quality of the work. 

2. The Church Officiant.  This is usually a donation of $300 or more. It can be higher if you belong to the church. For a non-denominational officiant, $50-$100 is the norm.

3. Transportation. Check the contract, if the driver’s tip is not included, expect to give them anywhere from $50 and up at the end of the night.

4. Caterers. Including the maître d’, the banquet manager and the on-site coordinator. There will be a service charge (for staff like bartenders, servers, valet staff, coat room attendants etc.,) but if an additional tip is not included in the contract, expect to pay 15 to 20 per cent of the food and drink bill  and/or $200 to $300 for the maître d’.

All other vendors are not expecting it, but do appreciate a tip. If you’ve given a long-list of demands or they have gone above and beyond to give you the wedding of your dreams, show your appreciate with a little extra gratuity.


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Can you Honeymoon for under $1000?

The quick answer is yes. The long answer is… it depends on what your idea of a honeymoon includes. If you’re looking for a week of lush pampering in an exotic country, you might want to increase your honeymoon budget. If all that matters to you is that you get some kind of alone time together after your wedding, then here’s a few more cost-efficient options.

1. Go for the weekend. The internet is host to plenty of cheap (all-inclusive) weekend getaway offers. Try the last-minute deals on sites like redtag.ca or keep an eye on Groupon sites. You may have to sacrifice a hotel star or two, but you’ll still be laying on a beach in Cuba. 

Photo Courtesy of Trip Advisor

2. Rent a cabin or go camping. Think outside the box here. Grab a passport and head over the border to camp in a bordering state for a real getaway. Try Acadia National Park in Maine for $30/night. White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire for $18-$24/night. Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont for FREE. Harriman State Park in New York for FREE. (Hike and then bed down in a 100 year-old lean-to!) Minnewaska State Park Preserve, New York for $38/night. Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania for $4-$15/night. Olympic National Park, Washington for $15-$22/night. Glacier National Park, Montana for $10-$23/night. Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho has many districts for camping with varying prices. Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin for $10/night.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Maine

3. Take a Road trip. Hit the open road and bounce from Inn to Inn while you bask in each other’s company and see the sights. Map out your stays at Bed and Breakfasts ahead of time or live on the edge and just drive until you’re tired. Either way, a good ol’ fashioned road trip is good for the soul.

Photo Courtesy of WhitehallDE

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3 Wedding Musts to Splurge on

The wedding budget is a real thing, we know, and it’s important to stick to that budget. The perfect wedding of your dreams can get pricey. That said, there are tons of ways to cut costs while planning a wedding, but there are a few things worth spending the extra money on.


Lights transform the venue from something simple to something spectacular and magical with colours, patterns, textures, and movements. It can highlight favourite details like the centerpieces, become a main feature or be used to hide less-than-desirable aspects about the venue like dingy flooring. Lights are the unspoken ambiance that set the mood for the entire day. 

Photo Courtesy of UtahVenueMarket


Yes, you have a dance floor, perhaps a band or a kick ass DJ. But why not add a little something extra? A photo booth, a martini bar, a beer pong/flip cup table, hay ride, an illusionist, arcade games, mosh pit—the options are endless. Show your individuality and treat your guests to an unexpected activity or attraction that is entirely your own. The activity can be something that complements the wedding’s theme or just something silly that makes people laugh. As long as everyone is having fun, you’ve struck gold.

Photo Courtesy of GreenWeddingShoes

Late Night Snacks

Bringing in the food to the wee hours is a fabulous way of not only taking care of midnight munchies, but also telling your guests that you’re thinking about them. Fun makes people hangry! Food trucks are becoming a big trend and can be hired to arrive at the wedding venue at a specified time in the late evening. Some venues offer a late night option that consists of various snack foods, or a local pizza joint can be called for delivery. 

Photo Courtesy of MaryPKarnes

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10 Doughnut Towers that will make you forget about having a Wedding Cake

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a huge wedding cake with 300 servings and then be left with 250 servings taking up room in your freezer, perhaps doughnuts are the way to go. Regardless of your theme or wedding size, any baker or doughnut (donut) purveyor can help you whip something up to match your personality and style. Check out some of these yummy doughnut tower alternatives:


Photo Courtesy of Pinterest


Photo Courtesy of ArtfullyWed


Photo Courtesy of Bodasyweddings


Photo Courtesy of EmmalineBride


Photo Courtesy of WeddingForward


Photo Courtesy of StyleMePretty


Photo Courtesy of RainbowSugarCraft


Photo Courtesy of Pinterest


Photo Courtesy of MusingsbyNaomi


Photo Courtesy of LandlockedBride

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How to Hang on to the Magic when Planning your own Wedding

Weddings aren’t cheap. Can you really put a price tag on your dreams? Pffft.


Photo Courtesy of Wallippo

For a lot of engaged couples, hiring a wedding planner just isn’t in the budget. And that’s OK because the modern-day DIY bride and groom are a force to be reckoned with. Just a word of warning, planning your own wedding won’t always be fun. 


The reality is, you’re planning a major event with a plethora of moving parts. It can be one of the most stressful things you can ever do. There will be fights, tears, tantrums, and the occasional hair-pulling. From sourcing out good vendors, to location viewings, timelines, gifts, favours, food, wardrobe, rings, invitations, table seating, and then the stress of having family and friends all giving their advice, ideas, and the always helpful, unsolicited commentaries on family opinions. You no longer feel like it’s a magical day and it becomes more of a full-time job than anything else.


Photo Courtesy of Genesis Master of Events

And let us not forget the actual day. The culmination of all your careful planning. You’ll be dealing with unforseen issues and problems like late vendors, traffic problems, schedules, timing and missing or incorrect items. 

A wedding is supposed to be a beautiful and magical day for you to enjoy. But any tiny error or over-looked item and your magnificent day could snowball into utter chaos.

Assigning a family member or friend to coordinate certain matters on the day-of is great, but remember that they are technically still a guest. After three glasses of wine they may forget to do the only task you asked of them.

All of that aside, many couples do everything themselves and still manage to enjoy the best day of their lives and throw one hell of a party. That can be you too. Here’s a bit of upfront advice for planning your own wedding:

  1. Start planning early!  At least a year, two is better. This will give you enough time to make sure ever aspect is covered.
  2. Thoroughly research your vendors.  Don’t just jump on the lowest price. You get what you pay for and you don’t want to be disappointed. Be sure to read all negative reviews online in order to find any common issues. 
  3. Put everything in writing. Whether it’s a friend offering you something, or a professional service, put everything in a contract. Have a lawyer look it over. Be protected.
  4. Ask all suppliers, vendors and even your local municipality about any permits or licences you may need to get.
  5. Be organized. Make sure every delivery, schedule, supplier and contact number is all organized way ahead of schedule. Double-check and triple check your delivery dates and times.
  6. After you’ve finalized your guest list, get to preparing the centers and favours. Don’t leave anything to the last minute.
  7. Make sure whoever you have doing your “day-of ” is fully aware of the entire schedule. From the delivery times, to what items are being delivered, where it goes, etc.  Also make it very clear what their responsibilities are and what you expect of them.

In a nutshell, allow enough time, stay organized and most importantly… don’t try and do absolutely everything yourself.  Sometimes, it’s worth it to pay someone to mind the schedule.

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5 DIY Wedding Centerpieces we LOVE

The budget-conscious bride-to-be is always on the lookout for ways to cut costs and still deliver the wedding of her dreams. Centerpieces are an easy way to create the atmosphere you want and still be able to keep most of your hard earned cash in your pocket.

Check out these 5 DIY options that we love!

Punched Paper Candles


Photo Courtesy of Musely

Wood Block Centerpieces


Photo Courtesy of RuffledBlog

More Wood Block Centerpieces


Photo Courtesy of Indulgy

Painted/Corded Bottles


Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings

Candles, Candle Holders and Flower Petals


Photo Courtesy of WeddingBee

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5 BOHO Wedding Dresses for Under $500

Earthy Boho fashion is always a hot trend. If the princess gown isn’t for you, consider a bohemian-inspired alternative. (We’re all essentially earth hippies anyway, aren’t we?) A Boho wedding dress can be simple or intricate, but they all have one thing in common, they never go out of style. We’ve scrounged up 5 Boho wedding dresses that don’t break the bank.


Naya Dress, $350.00 from BHLDN



Queen of the Sun Maxi, $248.00 from Free People



Handmade, one-of-a-kind, $334.50 from PetitBonheurStudio on Etsy



Self-Portrait, $395 from Net-A-Porter



Harper Two Piece, $428 from Reformation

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DIY Wedding Centrepieces on a Budget

A beautiful centrepiece doesn’t have to break the bank. A creative centerpiece can be both interesting and coordinate with the table setting. Combine your favourite things in order to pull off your own easy DIY centrepieces.

Start saving your wine bottles for a rustic candle holder. If the bottles are too dark, you can spray paint them ahead of time in the colour of your choosing.


Photo Courtesy of EmmalineBride

Simple and elegant, twigs and floating candles in various-sized vases are simple to make and can be added to just about any theme.


Photo Courtesy of Cakeballweddings

If Gerber Daisies are a favourite, choose a few of your favourites and let them stand alone.


Photo Courtesy of PicsToPin

Mason jars are making a comeback in a big way. Use them with twine, ribbon, or use acrylic paint (on the inside) to create different colours of glass. Sprigs of babysbreath offer delicate romance and old-fashioned charm.


Photo Courtesy of The Frosted Petticoat

If you’re looking for the wow-factor with height, consider slender vases with hydrangea and any flowering branches you can get your hands on. The centrepiece below has wires around the stems of the hydrangea to hold tealights.

centrepiece 4

Photo Credit: Agaton Strom via Wedding Include

Fruit is a great way to add vibrant colour and an earthy feel to your centrepieces. Slice them up or use a combination of apples, pears, mangoes… all your favourites!

– Catherine Thorpe

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A Flower Wall for the Budget Bride

Flower walls are adding new heights of beauty to weddings these days—and even offering the ability to bring staggering summer beauty into the chill of a winter event.


Photo Courtesy of Weddingomania

It need not just be summer blooms though, a living wall of greens can create a gorgeous backdrop to any colour scheme. For the budget conscious, consider using grasses and ivy.

living wall

Photo Courtesy of Bridal Expo Chicago

Using succulents can create a double-duty wall that stores wedding favours. Guests can pluck their favourite from the living wedding-favour-wall on the way out.

Building a real flower wall can be expensive. If you have a Kardashian budget for a wall of white roses, peonies and hydrangeas, then flower on my friend. If not, you can construct your own flowers to create a wall of equal floral beauty.


Photo Courtesy of Kim Kardashian Facebook

Whether you use tissue, paper, or a combination of the two—creating your own flowers is a brilliant budget-saver and the result can be a statement that is just as breathtaking. Click the image below to find the DIY instructions from dream, create.

flower wall

Photo Courtesy of dream, create

– Catherine Thorpe

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Make the Most of Your Honeymoon Staycation

It's a Wonderful Life

[Photo Courtesy of Pinterest]

One of the most beautiful and touching scenes from It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, happens after George and Mary’s honeymoon money had to suddenly be used for work purposes, to support their livelihood. Left without funds to go on their honeymoon, Mary decorates their house and transforms their living room into an exotic tropical setting as a sweet celebration for herself and her new husband George.

Many couples today are feeling the burn on having to pay for a lot when they are trying to get married: there are showers, parties, the actual wedding so it’s no surprise that the honeymoon gets no love. If you’re opting out on a destination honeymoon – for now! – then here are some ways of making your staycation just as special.

home decorations

[Photo Courtesy of Celebrations.com]

Stay In – With More Purpose!

You’re newlyweds, take some time to rest up by staying home but instead of doing the same sort of things you usually do, change it up a little. Enjoy your wedded bliss by turning off your cell phones and computers. Make your time special by devoting it to each other. Or, like Mary, transform your home into some place new and exciting with a fun theme – most decorations can be bought at a dollar store and don’t worry if it feels cheap or tacky, it’s supposed to be fun! It will take some planning but it will definitely make things just a little more memorable.


[Photo Courtesy of Condé Nast Traveller]

Enjoy Free Events in Your City

Many cities have fun free events going on almost every day, from concerts to festivals to farmer’s markets. Check your local listings online and look for something that you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance to. Or go to a park with a picnic lunch and a book, and let the afternoon while away.


[Photo Courtesy of Photo Weekly Online]

Try Something Completely New

It could be anything from a new restaurant to an adventurous outing. Go hiking, swim at a public pool, try a new cuisine, bike around an unfamiliar part of town, or go skydiving. Step outside your comfort zone a little because this fun new thrill will be an exciting way to start the rest of your life!

Dawn Lo is a contributing writer to the Bridal Guide.

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How to Plan a Great Wedding Reception on a Budget

The wedding reception is the crown jewel of the wedding day. The dress has already wow-ed the guests, the couple has already said “I do,” and now it’s time to celebrate. Even if you don’t have a big budget that doesn’t mean you can’t have one of the best wedding receptions your guests have ever been to.

There are 8 main features in a wedding reception:

  1.  Venue
  2.  Catering
  3.  Cake
  4.  Bar
  5.  Decorations
  6.  Flowers
  7.  Photographer
  8.  Music

The secret to a having an awesome wedding reception on a limited budget is to cut down on each without cutting anything out.

Step 1: Find a cheap venue


[photo courtesy of investinged.com]
The best thing to do is find a package deal – it makes life easy and you get discounts on catering, decorations, alcohol entertainment and more. If you can’t find one then look around at free or cheap wedding spots, like parks, backyards, community centers, and beaches.

Step 2: Find a cheap caterer
Food and alcohol are the biggest expenses for a wedding reception, but you don’t have to pay over $100 a person. Some ideas to cut down on cost include hiring friends, family, or culinary students, having a buffet style dinner, or hiring a restaurant for a “party” (weddings are more expensive.

Step 3: Get a cheap wedding cake


[photo courtesy of Sweet Naturally Bakery]
Cakes can be expensive, up to $1000, but they don’t have to be. Hire an up and coming baker or go for a cupcake tier, which is much cheaper.


Step 4: Cheap bar options
The cheapest thing to do is have a limited bar where guests pay as they drink, but if you decide to please the guests and have an open bar you can limit the bar to beer and wine, or restrict the open bar to select hours of the night.


Step 5: Get cheap decorations


If you want to save money, DIY. Buy decorating materials from Wal-Mart, the dollar store, Amazon or eBay. Just remember to keep it simple and modify and personalize the decorations so they don’t look cheap.


Step 6: Buy cheap flowers
Flowers are always expensive, but you can haggle to get the best deals. Great money savers include watching YouTube videos on flower arranging doing it yourself, and ordering whatever flowers are in season.


Step 7: Hire a cheap photographer
Wedding photography doesn’t have to be professional. In this day and age everyone has a high resolution camera phone and there are lots of photo sharing options, including the Free Wedding Registry we offer at the Bridal Guide. You can hire a friend or an amateur for the ceremony or for a short photo-shoot in the dress, but keep it small.

Step 8: Hire a cheap DJ


[photo courtesy of iweddings.com]

The DJ is the most important factor in having a fun wedding reception. Luckily more and more people are learning to DJ. Use your connections and hire someone who’s inexperienced, just make sure to run through the song list and make sure they know how the equipment works. Paying a lot for a DJ doesn’t ensure they’ll be good, but having a run through and telling them what you want will help make your wedding reception fun for sure.

Jillian Zacchia is a contributing writer to The Bridal Guide.

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Tips to Avoid Wedding Planning Mistakes

[photo courtesy of Its a Bride’s Life]

Planning your dream wedding is an exciting and stressful time. There are many aspects to think about and make sure to plan correctly in order to achieve the vision that you have in mind.  However, there are a few tips to keep in mind when you are discussing and checking off each task.


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The Fake Cake: Is it Right for Your Wedding?

[photo courtesy of Showcase]

Fake wedding cakes are a great way to save money when planning your wedding.  The cake can be made of styrofoam and then decorated like a real cake. Most guests don’t end up eating the cake for a variety of reasons — from the simple fact they cannot eat it to they are having too much fun to notice it is being served. A fake cake is a great option for some, but it depends on your wedding vision and whether you have any budget restrictions. (more…)

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When Parents Are Paying

Weddings are beautiful, momentous and one of the best days of your life. They are also incredibly expensive! While some couples pay for the wedding bill themselves, other couples have the financial support from their parents. There are a few couples, however, that encounter parents that believe since they’re paying, they’re the ones who will make the decisions! Stress, disputes and family fights all can occur if the bride and groom do not set out rules a head of time. How can a bride avoid a hostile takeover of her big day? Here are a few tips! (more…)

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