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Vancouver Budget Wedding:
Carla + Matt

February 6th, 2012 by Jeannine

Vancouver Budget Wedding: Carla + Matt

Fate played a huge part in Carla and Matt’s love story. The pair first met at the Lilikoi Clothing store in Nelson, BC during the 2007 holiday season. Matt was just watching the storefront for his cousin, while she went on her lunch break. In walked Carla to shop for a purse and she and Matt got to talking. It was a memorable chat but the two didn’t think it would lead to anything. A year later, they randomly found each other on an online dating site. On their first date, they reminisced about their chance encounter and the rest was history. Matt popped the question in November 2010 while they were on vacation in Buenos Aires. They went up to the rooftop of their hotel with their favourite bottle of Argentinian wine, and Matt got down on one knee and proposed underneath the moonlight.

Carla and Matt married 7 months later on June 25, 2011 with 100 of their friends and family at the Museum of Vancouver. They planned their $13k wedding on their own but saved themselves the stress and hired a day of wedding coordinator. They incorporated a lot of DIY elements to really personalize their day. Carla made all the centerpieces, seating chart, table name cards, hand-sewed napkin rings, and folded origami place cards.

Friends and family played a huge role as well. Matt’s mom made their wedding cake while a friend, Calla Sasaki, made their delicious cupcakes. The cold-smoked salmon served during dinner was caught by Matt’s friend during his stag in Tofino.  One of Matt’s cousins played DJ all day and night and even supplied the party with beer from Phillips Brewery in Victoria. Having such supportive people around them really made their day that much more special.

A Few Words With Carla…

During the planning stages, how did you imagine your wedding?  Did the final result live up to expectations?
“We really wanted it to be relaxed and casual, but still holding the traditional elements of a formal wedding.  I felt that we pulled this off really well and we were so happy with how the day turned out!  We also had a really fun party, with an open bar and lots of dancing and mingling!  Our wedding day went off beyond our expectations.”

Why did you choose the Museum of Vancouver to get married? Does it have any special meaning to you?
“We only looked at two venues… We had been to the MOV just once together and when we were looking online for venues, we remembered what a nice little area it was.  So, we went to take a look at it and knew instantly… this was where we wanted to get married!  It is meaningful to us in the sense that we both love to go for walks on the seawall, we live close to the area, and it fell in line with our theme – which was casual and local, but still elegant.  And it’s a gorgeous venue!

On the practical side of things, it was also very reasonably priced and they allow you to bring in your own caterers and alcohol (which was a MUST HAVE for us when choosing a venue).  And, there was plenty of booking space available… we booked in January for a June wedding – impossible for some more popular venues!

We also loved the idea of being able to walk along the seawall to our wedding night hotel, which was the Granville Island Hotel… which we did – around 1am – all still in our wedding attire!  It was such a fun walk!”

What personal or unique touches did you have for your wedding?
“It was really important to add some personal touches to the wedding… almost all of the décor was DIY, not for the sole purpose of saving money, but also to make it unique and special.  Our table names were ‘tree’ names, which are the streets in our neighborhood of Vancouver.

The bridesmaid dresses were made by Matthew’s cousin (Barbara Boswell), who is the owner/designer of Lilikoi Clothing in Nelson, BC.  This was such a beautiful and meaningful element to have at our wedding, as it was where we first met.  And they were a gift to us, so they were free for the bridesmaids!

The birdcage was my wedding planners idea… purchased from HomeSense.  I wasn’t sure if anyone would use it, but it made for a really pretty wedding card holder!”

What music did you use for the ceremony? Did it have special meaning to you?
“Honestly, I had no idea what I was walking down the aisle to… and I still don’t know!  Our music was picked out by one of the groomsmen (Nick Blasko, who was also our DJ for the night) the night before… Stressful, yes… but it all worked out perfectly!  All I know is it was something pretty and classical.”

Which wedding traditions did you stick with and why? Which did you leave out and why?
“We kept most of the traditions, with the exception of a few.  We did not have a formal receiving line after the ceremony, no garter toss, and no formal father/daughter or mother/son first dances.  These elements just didn’t seem natural to us, so we left them out.  Other than that, we really did stick with most of the traditions.”

What did your guests think about your wedding?
“We hope people had a great time!  We got a lot of compliments on the beautiful venue and ceremony, and our party was loud and rockin’ till the very end of the night! The salmon was a hit! We were also so lucky to have sunny, warm weather (even though it rained all morning!).  We were able to get married outside and also take the dance/party outdoors into the evening, which is exactly what we had envisioned.”

What did you splurge on and what did you save on? Why?
“I feel like my one splurge was hiring a day of wedding planner.  You’d think a budget, DIY bride would find a way to handle it all, but it was seriously well-spent money.  Our wedding planner was unbelievably helpful and made the day run ‘magically’ smoothly.  So much stress was lifted off me once I knew she was in charge of running the events of the day. Our wedding planner was Jessika Houston from Diva on a Dime Wedding Design.  Her rate for the day was about 3 times less than other wedding planners I had heard of.  And she was amazing!

We saved on transportation (no cost – we just got rides to the venue and we walked to our hotel at the end of the night!).  We saved on flowers by only getting the basics – bride and bridesmaid bouquets and a few corsages/boutonnieres.  Our venue was such a beautiful outdoor landscape that adding our own flowers really wouldn’t of added that much anyways! We saved on photography by only hiring our photographer for 5 hours, instead of all day – a huge cost savings.  It was very important to have ‘some’ professional photography (we still had over 500 photos!).  We didn’t feel the need to have thousands of professional photos and we still have hundreds of candid shots taken from friends and family.”

If you could’ve done something differently, what would it be?
“Honestly, not much really… things were as perfect as they could have been!  If I had unlimited funds for throwing a wedding, I think we would have missed out on some of the elements that made it so unique to us!”

How did you manage to keep everything below budget?
“Both of us were keen to do this on a budget, so we just worked hard to not spend our money on things we didn’t want or need.  We were lucky to have so many friends and family lend their support in various ways to make our wedding unique and elegant.

Here are some of our cost saving tips:

  • Pick a venue where you can bring in your own caterers and alcohol (we were even luckier as all our wedding wine and most of our spirits were purchased in the US and brought over the border by friends of ours).
  • We hired student bartenders… they were awesome and less than half the price of professional bartending services that we looked into.
  • Our caterers were amazing… they allowed us to bring in some of our own food elements and that kept our costs down.  Their rates were incredibly reasonable and it included all the linens, plates, cutlery etc.  Extra linens and wine glasses that we rented through them were significantly cheaper than other party supply rental companies.  Their food was delicious and their service was outstanding!
  • Search places like Craigslist – I not only found small items (candy sacs, aisle runners, etc)., for a fraction of the cost, but also found links to various wedding vendors and got lots of DIY ideas.

After planning a wedding, what one advice would you give to future brides?
“Make it your day and have the elements that you want.  Try not to be swayed by outside forces telling you that you ‘must have’ this or that.  For example, we weren’t picky about having paper invites – so, we created our own e-invites and a custom made website (thanks to Matthew, a computer programmer).  For us, it was perfect.. and free!  ‘Splurge’ on the items that really matter to you.

Do lots of research… there are deals out there.  Don’t assume because you’ve heard or seen that it costs a certain amount for a vendor that you can’t find a better deal.  We were so happy with ALL of our vendors and most of them were significantly lower priced that the average prices I had researched.”

Carla and Matt’s Vendors:

Ceremony venue: Museum of Vancouver
Reception venue: Museum of Vancouver
Wedding Dress: Venus Bridals, from Isabelle’s Bridal
Bridesmaid Dresses:  Lilikoi Clothing
Tux:  suit from Banana Republic
Photographer: Melissa Montgomery Photography
Flowers: Flowers for You on Broadway
Hair Stylist:  Chris Funk, Beautymark
Make-up Artist:  Laurie Leone
Invitations: e-invites and website (created by Matthew and I)
Cake: made by Kathi Carrico (Matthew’s mom)
Decorations: mostly DIY, but centerpiece vases and table runner were rented from All Occasions Chic Décor Rental
Wedding Favors: candy sacs filled with organic jellybeans from Whole Foods
Music for ceremony/reception: Nick Blasko (Matthew’s cousin).
Transportation: n/a
Wedding planner/coordinator:  Jessika Houston from Diva on a Dime Wedding Design
Caterer: Fiesta Creative Catering
Bartenders:  Metropolitan Bartending School
Miscellaneous Rentals:  Lonsdale Event Rentals

 All photos courtesy Melissa Montgomery Photography

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  • May 5th, 2014 at 12:46 pm
    Lisa says:

    I’ve been considering hiring student bartenders for our wedding, as we are having a very simple bar (beer, wine, and strongbow cider) that won’t require much skill to run. How did you contact your students? I can’t find anywhere on Metropolitan Bartending’s website where you can get in touch with students or recent grads. Thanks!


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